"In C" was composed by Terry Riley in 1964 and was first performed in San Francisco by an ensemble including Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich and Morton Subotnic. The first recorded version of it was issued in 1968, on Columbia, performed by eleven players led by Riley himself on saxophone. Gradually, other recordings of "In C" were released as it was performed more often; the 80's brought recordings of the piece made in Venice by Ensemble Percussione Ricera, in Farrara, Italy, by Riley himself with Roberto Cacciapaglia Ensemble, and in China by Shanghai Film Orchestra, the latter mixed by Riley, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno. Following a twenty-fifth anniversary recording in 1990, led by Riley, subsequent years saw a near exponential growth in performances and recordings of the piece. In that respect, among modern compositions, "In C" became as ubiquitous as John Cage's "4' 33" or Cornelius Cardew's "Treatise". Anyone needing proof is recommended to search "In C" on YouTube to discover several hours listening pleasure.
Although the piece has been performed and recorded across the world, using countless different instrumentations and methods including remixing ("In C Remixed" by Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, 2010) and multi-layering (Riley "In C" by Jeroen Van Veen, 2015), by well-known groupings (Acid Mothers Temple, Bang on a Can, Piano Circus...) and unknown ones, it is always instantly identifiable from its opening notes to its end. This is a measure of Riley's inspiration when he composed it over half a century ago; each of his composition's fifty-three melodic patterns was designed to be compatible and interlock with the others being played, so that the whole ends up greater than the sum of its parts. In his performing directions, Riley wrote that "one of the joys of 'In C' is the interaction of the players in polyrhythmic combinations that spontaneously arise between patterns."
All of which brings us to Jeremy Baysse's version; significantly recorded in April 2020, it was "recorded in live conditions on multitrack" with Baysse playing electric and acoustic guitars, 12 string guitars, effects, banjo, bass, glockenspiel, maracas, cymbal, great grandmother mandolin, digital and analog synths, percussion and drum machine, as well as mixing and mastering it. The end result runs for sixty-two minutes, which is considerably longer than many versions; Riley's original ran for forty-two minutes, Bang on a Can's for forty-five, however Riley's 1990 anniversary version ran for seventy-six minutes, Van Veen's multi-layered solo version for almost eighty). While Baysse's version includes all of the piece's fifty-three patterns, tidily fitted together, it never sounds as if he was enjoying the experience, more that he wanted to get it right; inevitably it lacks the joy of the interaction of players in polyrhythmic combinations. That does not mean it is a bad version of "In C", more that it was recorded during a Covid-19 lockdown which did not allow players to interact. It can hold its head high amongst the dozens of other versions of "In C", but it may always be remembered for the circumstances of its recording.
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