La Monte Young
P.O. Box 190 Canal Street Station New York, N.Y. 10013
212-966-4089 Fax: 212-226-7802 Email:

July 10, 2000

On Table of The Elements CD 74 "Day of Niagara" April 25, 1965

La Monte Young

The Table of The Elements (ToE) CD 74, "day of Niagara" April 25, 1965, is an unauthorized release of my music from my ongoing composition, The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys (1964-present).

I have taken the position all along for many years that I am the sole composer of the underlying musical composition on this recording. 

It is my understanding that the performers on the recording can no longer contest my position because the three-year statute of limitations on their claims of co-authorship expired many years ago. 

Further, I believe that my position is correct as a matter of substantive law as well. As I previously stated in an interview published in The Wire magazine (Issue 178, December 1998): "To be co-authors you had to agree that there was co-authorship, which I of course never did; also, in order to be co-authors, your section, whatever your contribution is, has to be copyrightable by itself, which the contributions of Cale and Conrad may not be."

The sound quality of my Original Master tape is certainly measurably superior to the "now restored and digitally remastered" CD made from the allegedly unauthorized copy of my tape that has somehow surfaced at Table of The Elements.  Many of the reasons for the poor sound quality of the CD are enumerated in Section II, "Sound Quality of the CD" below. The version ToE wants to release is flawed and contains several problems that were created in the process of the unauthorized copying, not the least of which is that approximately one and a half minutes of music are completely missing from their copy. 

Marian Zazeela and I listened to the CD several times, comparing it and even "A-B-ing" it with a high quality DAT copy of my Original Master tape. After several audits we concluded that the generally deteriorated quality of the CD and the deletions from the music make it a poor representation of the original, and by extension, of the music composed by me and performed with great effort and inspiration by the musicians in my group, The Theatre of Eternal Music. 

Regarding this particular selection from The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, I would not have chosen the "Day of Niagara" recording session to be released for several reasons (see Section I, "Selection of Music for First Release" below). 

That said, however, I do not object to the release of my music "25 IV 65 c. 8:15-8:45 PM NYC day of niagra" (spelling as per Angus MacLise’s Calendar Year) from The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, as long as the following conditions are met: 

1. That I receive proper credit as the composer of the underlying musical composition;

2. That I receive fair remuneration for my contributions;

3. That Table of The Elements obtain a complete version of the work from my complete Original Master, which is in much better condition than the unauthorized copy they have used to produce this CD. 

My attorney is in discussion with the attorney for Table of The Elements and I am hopeful that a satisfactory and harmonious solution can be reached among the parties so that the music from my work of this period can finally be released. 

It is noteworthy, although unfortunate, that I was never contacted by Table of The Elements regarding this release until after my attorney contacted the ToE label manager following the online publication by "Creative Loafing CL-Atlanta" of an article on the CD on June 7, 2000. According to CL-Atlanta, the CD was to be released during that first week of June, but ToE has since represented to me that the CD will not be released until August 2000. After my attorney spoke with the label manager, Marian and I each received letters of notification regarding the release from Table of The Elements, as well as two boxes of CDs, so it has been only very recently that we have been able to compare their "restored and digitally remastered" production with my original master tape of the same date. 

ANALYSES OF SOME ASPECTS OF THE ToE CD 74 "day of Niagara" April 25, 1965

I. Selection of Music from The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys for First Release

Regarding this particular selection from The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, I would not have chosen the "Day of Niagara" recording session to be released for several reasons, including, but not limited to the following:

1. The mix is totally out of balance (see #6a in Section II, "Sound Quality of the CD" below). 

2. The texture of the music is somewhat uneven, with unaccounted for stops and starts in the string section. For example, John Cale’s viola is out or unamplified for a noticeable period from about 13:12 and reenters at 16:20 with a pop and sudden surge of volume. Nice to have him back, but where was he? In the earlier sessions of The Tortoise, the strings were still experimenting with amplifying their instruments, and sometimes had to make road-stops to get their pickups back in optimum placement. Or, a peg may have slipped. In order to articulate beat-free tuning, it is best to play loudly in the process. On the other hand, during a performance or recording session, retuning must be as inaudible as possible. Although the reason for Cale’s stop may have been important at the moment, the result is that rather than sounding like a solid excerpt from an endless stream of eternal music, the "day of niagara" session gives too much of an impression of an endless stream of starts and stops. If the strings were in better balance to the rest of the performers, this problem would be less noticeable (see #6a in Section II, "Sound Quality of the CD" below). 

3. It is an atypical example of music from The Tortoise because of the brief, albeit under-recorded, appearance of Angus MacLise (see Section IV, "Appearance of Angus MacLise on this recording" below). 

4. Usually the best realizations of a given genre of my music occur later, rather than earlier, in a given period. For example, each release I have made of The Well-Tuned Piano, the 1987 Gramavision 5-hour performance from October 1981, and the forthcoming DVD of The Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights of the 6-hour, 25-minute 1987 performance, were of the final performance in a 7 or 8-concert series. 

There are many better realizations of The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys recorded even a few months later on, such as "15 VIII 65 day of the antler" from The Obsidian Ocelot, The Sawmill, and The Blue Sawtooth High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer Refracting The Legend of The Dream of The Tortoise Traversing The 189/98 Lost Ancestral Lake Region Illuminating Quotients from The Black Tiger Tapestries of The Drone of The Holy Numbers. The system of frequencies of this realization has been published and analyzed in Kyle Gann’s essay, "The Outer Edge of Consonance," in Sound and Light: La Monte Young / Marian Zazeela (Bucknell Review Vol. XL, No. 1, 1996), and the score of the work in Zazeela’s calligraphy, is published, also with analysis, in Four Musical Minimalists by Keith Potter (Cambridge University Press, 2000). 

This "day of the antler" realization of The Tortoise, and other realizations like it, also solve the problems listed in #s 1, 2 and 3 in this Section I, above. 

II. Sound Quality of the CD 1.  At 09:14 on the CD there is a serious dip in frequency with a loud wow, most likely caused by someone bumping a reel on either the playback or record machine that made the tape ToE used as a master to create this CD from.  The Original Master tape has no such noise.  2. The bump at 09:14 on the CD apparently also caused the loss of at least 15 or 16 seconds of music that is recorded on my Original Master tape but has been deleted from the CD by the inept copying process.  3. The overall length of the CD is about one minute and 25 or 35 seconds shorter in length compared to the Original Master tape.  In addition to the loss of 15 or 16 seconds caused by the bump dropout at 09:14, approximately one minute and 10 seconds is missing from the end of the reel.  Possibly, the reel the master was copied to was slightly shorter in length than the Original Master and the tape ran out sooner than the actual audio material on the Original.  4. The character of the ending sounds on the CD are different from the ending on the Original Master, caused by the factor indicated in item #3 above.  5. We were able to isolate at least one other spot on the CD where there is a very slight speed drop, less noticeable than the bump at 09:14, but nevertheless audible.  This speed drop is not audible on my Original Master tape. It is our opinion that there are probably other spots like this that we would be able to identify if we continued to endlessly compare the CD with the Original.  6. Balance and EQ:
a. In those days, I had no professional mixers and somehow managed to get all the sounds onto one track of a reel-to-reel tape recorder.  Then we listened back to the results to determine whether or not we had achieved a good mix.  Table of The Elements has found a tape in this case where the violin is extremely loud and up front.  As one turns up the volume to bring the rest of the group up to substantial audibility without using additional EQ, the violin part becomes boosted to an ear-splittingly painful level.  However, being the loudest sound source on the tape does not make a performer a co-composer. I have only had one opportunity to attempt to re-equalize the CD and I found that even with my limited home studio mixer’s bass-mid-treble EQ, a more balanced and harmonious EQ of the CD was achievable with no effort whatsoever.  Even Angus’ drumming, which is almost completely drowned out by the level of the violin on the ToE CD, was improved, as well as the voices. Give me a day in a professional Year 2000 studio with my Original Master tape and I can improve the balance on this recording by 99% to 101%. This is not the fault of whoever did the "restoration and digital remastering". They were simply uninformed and given no proper instructions or guidance. 
b. Whoever "restored and digitally remastered" the CD from the unauthorized copy of my tape for Table of The Elements was not apprised of the fact that we always insisted that the bass be boosted for playback of any of the tapes recorded by The Theatre of Eternal Music group in order to bring out the low frequency combination tones, just as we would boost the bass in the PA system to bring them out in live concerts. Therefore, the overall sound of this selection does not have the character I intended.  III. Packaging of the CD 1. The visual appearance of the ToE CD is certainly not up to the high artistic standards of my own releases of my music, including performances by various ensembles of The Theatre of Eternal Music. Obviously, I could not expect a Marian Zazeela design, but this package, other than the choice of the color purple, looks much like other bootlegs of my music: plain, totally unimaginative, and with very little attention to the visual aspect. Marian Zazeela’s lighting designs and printed calligraphy accompanied and visually characterized nearly every live performance of The Tortoise. This CD bears no graphic or other relationship to the established visual character of those performances. From the look of the CD, it is as though the company threw it away, without any investment in the production or inquiry into the history of the music. 

2. The absence of program notes, a shared characteristic with other bootlegs, is surprising, given the involvement of Tony Conrad, an artist not given to understatement. Although none of the recorded realizations of The Tortoise has yet been authorized for release on CD, a substantial amount of documentation has been published on the music, its history and its performers, but none of this information was included in the booklet. As with other aspects of the production of the ToE CD, I was not invited to contribute to the literary content of the package.

IV. Appearance of Angus MacLise on this recording

It is very unusual to find the participation of Angus MacLise in The Theatre of Eternal Music performances and recordings of The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, since this work is structured around long sustained continuous tones. In fact, this might well be the only recording from The Tortoise that includes Angus. Angus drops out of the recording early on (he does not appear on the CD after the bump at 09:14, although he can be heard playing slightly longer on my Original tape), probably because he had no complementary rhythmic part to play against. It is for the same reason that Angus did not play with the group as long as I was working with sustained tones exclusively. His rhythmic contribution did not fit in with the long sustained tones. 

It may have been purely accidental that Angus was at the recorded performance at our studio that night. According to our diary, we had organized a dinner party for several friends for the evening of Sunday, April 25, 1965, at which we were going to play music for our guests. The guests were Henry Geldzahler, David Hayes, Jim Kirker, Bob and Laura Benson, Diane Wakoski and Wesley Day. It happens that April 25 was the birthday of Frances Araby Stillman, Angus’ girlfriend, with whom he had traveled to the Middle East and India in 1964. Probably, Angus dropped by with Araby, and, of course, they were invited to join the dinner party. Because of all the years that Angus played in the group when La Monte was playing sopranino saxophone in a rhythmic style, Angus would have sat in with the group as we performed, although he had not been rehearsing with us during this period. Nor did he perform on any of the public concerts we had given of sections of The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys in October, November and December, 1964; March, October and December, 1965; February, July and August, 1966.

The barely audible sound of Angus’ extraordinarily intricate rhythms in the background on this CD does not do justice to his legendary stature as a percussionist.

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