Synopses & Reviews
Recognized as the patriarch of the minimalist movement-Brian Eno once called him "the daddy of us all"--La Monte Young remains an enigma within the music world, one of the most important and yet most elusive composers of the late twentieth century. Early in his career Young almost completely eschewed the conventional musical institutions of publishers, record labels, and venues, in order to create compositions completely unfettered by commercial concerns. Yet at the same time he exercised profound influence on such varied figures as Terry Riley, Cornelius Cardew, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, David Lang, The Velvet Underground, and entire branches of electronica and drone music. For half a century, he and his partner and collaborator, Marian Zazeela, have worked in near-seclusion in their Tribeca loft, creating works that explore the furthest extremes of conceptual audacity, technical sophistication, acoustical complexity, and overt spirituality.
Draw A Straight Line and Follow It: The Music and Mysticism of La Monte Young stands as the first narrative study to examine Young's life and work in detail. The book is a culmination of a decade of research, during which author Jeremy Grimshaw gained rare access to the composer and his archives. Loosely structured upon the chronology of the composer's career, the book takes a multi-disciplinary approach that combines biography, musicology, ethnomusicology, and music analysis, and illuminates such seemingly disparate aspects of Young's work as integral serialism and indeterminacy, Mormon esoterica and Vedic mysticism, and psychedelia and psychoacoustics. Draw A Straight Line and Follow It is a long-awaited, in-depth look at one of America's most fascinating musical figures.
"An intimate and revealing portrait of one of the most enigmatic musicians who ever lived, and a pivotal historical figure to boot." --Kyle Gann, author of No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33"
"La Monte Young has spent a lifetime treating the exploration of musical intonation as a search for spiritual truth. One of the powerful themes of this book is to trace how much Young's independent spiritual thinking springs from his Mormon roots--that one of American music's most rugged pioneers found inspiration in America's only rugged pioneer religion is a revelation, and it makes a lot of sense. I learned about it from this very enjoyable book." --David Lang, composer and winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Music
"Sure to become the indispensable work on composer La Monte Young, Jeremy Grimshaw's Draw a Straight Line and Follow It provides a uniquely balanced and engaged look at perhaps the most reclusive, enigmatic, and controversial figure of twentieth-century experimental music...Grimshaw's survey of Young's life work benefits greatly from the author's unprecedented access to the composer and his archives. The book moves seamlessly between rich biographic and ethnographic detail, sophisticated exposition of complex musical techniques, and searching interrogation of metaphysical influences and implications. From the Mormonism of Young's rural Idaho childhood through encounters with jazz, serialism, Darmstadt, Cage, Warhol, Pythagoras, Pandit Pran Nath, and beyond, Grimshaw argues that Young has consistently followed a straight line pointing toward the immanent physical presence of the Absolute in sound. What a long strange trip it's been!" --Robert Fink, UCLA
"Vigorously stimulating...It also rekindled a love for art that is challenging, a bit dangerous, and potent with change." --Mormon Artists Group Newsletter
"An intriguing read." --Deseret News
"Remarkable and indispensable...Draw a Straight Line does what only the most rewarding books about music do: it makes you want to immediately drop whatever else you're doing to go and listen to the music." --Frank. J. Oteri, NewMusicBox.org
"The biographical portions of this work flesh out one of the most doggedly mysterious figures of the experimental music world, while the analytical insights provide a compelling way in which to understand why and how Young created his extraordinary output... [It] should become an essential text for anyone interested in American experimental music." --Journal of the American Musicological Society
About the Author
is an assistant professor in the School of Music at Brigham Young University and the founding director of BYU's Balinese ensemble, Gamelan Bintang Wahyu. His writing on contemporary American music has appeared in various scholarly publications, including The Musical Quarterly
and American Music
. He also authored a work of creative non-fiction, The Island of Bali Is Littered With Prayers
Table of Contents
Introduction: Gonzo Musicology
Chapter 1: The Tabula (Not So) Rasa: La Monte Young's Early Life and Early Works
Chapter 2: Getting Inside the Sound: The Works from 1959-60
Chapter 3: The Ideology of the Drone: La Monte Young The Mystic
Chapter 4: Space Exploration, Part 1: Telos and Stasis in the Dream House
Chapter 5: Space Exploration, Part 2: Mormon Cosmology and The Well-Tuned Piano
Epilogue: After Teleology
Appendix: Chronological List of Compositions