Pandit Pran Nath La Monte Young Marian Zazeela Jung Hee Choi Charles Curtis Terry Jennings Angus Maclise Richard Maxfield Just Alap Raga Ensemble The Theatre of Eternal Music Kirana Center Teaching Program

Morris Gong
Robert Morris Gong for La Monte Young in Marian Zazeela Imagic Light. Robert Morris 
MELA Dream House, New York. Photo: Jung Hee Choi. Copyright © La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, Jung Hee Choi 2023  


Studies in The Bowed Disc (1963)

Robert Morris Gong for La Monte Young (1963)

La Monte Young · bowed disc
Jung Hee Choi · bowed disc

in a setting of
Imagic Light, Marian Zazeela
Environmental Composition 2017 #1, v. 2, Jung Hee Choi

Thursday, December 21, 2023 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 23, 2023 at 7:30 pm

MELA Foundation Dream House

275 Church Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY

Seating will be on carpeted floor and cushions only.
For those requiring special assistance, please contact MELA at


Admission $53. MELA Members, Seniors, Student ID, $47.
Limited Seating. Advance reservations recommended.
Information and reservations:

NOTE: Robert Morris Gong for La Monte Young (1963) will be displayed in the Dream House as part of the environment until December 23, 2023. To prepare for the scheduled concerts the Dream House installation will close on December 17 and reopen at 2pm on December 27.

MELA is pleased to present two live performances of La Monte Young, Studies in The Bowed Disc (1963), to celebrate the winter solstice. The Robert Morris Gong for La Monte Young is now restored to vibration mode in the Dream House after over 57 years of dormant silence since La Monte and Marian's 1966 performance in New York City. Please join us for this rare opportunity to be immersed in the complex modes of vibration on the first day and the longest night of the winter.

In 1969, La Monte wrote in the liner notes for the Black Record released that year:

We recorded this gong duet in our studio in New York City on the date and time indicated in the title. It is a section of a longer work Studies In The Bowed Disc begun in September 1963. The subject of these studies is a four-foot diameter gong made for me by the sculptor Robert Morris.

I have always been interested in natural harmonic frequency systems. In juxtaposition to the simple harmonic structure of the justly intoned whole number intervallic frequency ratios to be found in 31 VII 69 10:26 — 10:49 PM (Side 1) all of which can be represented on the one-dimensional line, the gong represents a much more complex, multidimensional harmonic structure.

La Monte's Studies in The Bowed Disc is known to most of us through the 21-minute 15-second recording of 23 VII 64 2:50:45 - 3:11 AM the volga delta. This recording was pressed on Side 2 of the LP originally released in 1969 known as the Black Record, and has become highly influential; as Alexander Keefe eloquently stated, "[the Black Record] quickly became a founding document of the avant-garde underground, a scriptural touchstone for noise music, as well as a cult legend in post-minimalist psychedelia and sound art."

One of the performers, Jung Hee Choi writes in the program notes for this concert:

Studies in The Bowed Disc, Gong for La Monte Young (1963) is a profoundly revealing work that invites us into a world of deep introspection through the complex vibrating fields formed by a nonlinear oscillator. La Monte's use of 'sustenance' on this unconventional instrument at high magnitude amplification brilliantly brings out the substructure of its multifaceted vibrating modes to our range of perception. When put into motion with the right touch of two double bass bows, the Gong, a stunningly beautiful work of art by Robert Morris, produces primordial and phenomenal abstract sounds. As the vibrations are reinforced to sustenance, they build up dense resonant patterns from the harmonic and inharmonic resultant tones. These cloud-like waveforms gradually emerge in the air and continuously transform on various time scales, from long-lasting sustained chords to dissipating micro-sound particles. As the expansion of energy fills the sonic landscape of the Dream House, the entire space becomes a resonant chamber of the vibrating gong. 'You are getting inside of sound.'

La Monte Young pioneered the concept of extended time durations in 1957 and for over 60 years contributed extensively to the development of just intonation and rational number-based tuning systems in his performance works and the periodic composite sound waveform environments of the Dream House collaborations formulated in 1962 with Marian Zazeela. Presentations of his work in the U.S. and Europe, as well as his theoretical writings gradually had a wide-ranging influence on contemporary music, art and philosophy, including Minimalism, concept art, Fluxus, performance art and conceptual art. In L.A. in the '50s, Young played jazz saxophone, leading a group with Billy Higgins, Dennis Budimir and Don Cherry. He also played with Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Terry Jennings, Don Friedman, and Tiger Echols. At Yoko Ono's studio in 1960 he was director of the first New York loft concert series. He was the editor of An Anthology, which with his Compositions 1960 became a primary influence on concept art and the Fluxus movement. In 1962 Young founded his group The Theatre of Eternal Music and embarked on The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, a large work involving improvisation within strict predetermined guidelines. Young and Zazeela helped bring renowned master vocalist Pandit Pran Nath to the U.S. in 1970 and became his first Western disciples. Described by Mark Swed in his October 2009 Los Angeles Times blog as “pure vibratory magic," Young's Just Alap Raga Ensemble, founded in 2002 with Zazeela and their senior disciple Jung Hee Choi, has become his primary performance vehicle. "For the past quarter of a century he has been the most influential composer in America. Maybe in the world." (Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 1985). "As the acknowledged father of minimalism and guru emeritus to the British art-rock school, his influence is pervasive" (Musician magazine, 1986). “Young is now widely recognized as the originator of the most influential classical music style of the final third of the twentieth century.” (Strickland, Minimalism:Origins, 1993). “La Monte Young: Le Son du Siècle.” (L'Express L'An 2000 Supplement, 1999).

Marian Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a medium of expression. Expanding the traditional concepts of painting and sculpture while incorporating elements of both disciplines, she developed an innovative visual language in the medium of light by combining colored light mixtures with sculptural forms to create seemingly three-dimensional colored shadows in radiant vibrational fields. Zazeela began singing in 1962 with La Monte Young as a founding member of The Theatre of Eternal Music, and performed as vocalist in almost every concert of the ensemble to date, in addition to creating the visual components of Dream House, their collaborative sound and light work. Her major work, The Magenta Lights, has been described in Art Forum as representing “the subtle relationship between precision and spirituality. [She] transforms material into pure and intense color sensations, and makes a perceptual encounter a spiritual experience." With Young in 1970, she brought Pandit Pran Nath to the U.S. and became one of his first Western disciples. She has since performed and taught the Kirana style of Indian classical music and accompanied Pandit Pran Nath in hundreds of concerts throughout the world. She continues to perform with Young in their Just Alap Raga Ensemble. Zazeela’s distinctive calligraphic style appears on many of Pran Nath’s concert posters and recordings. Zazeela’s Ornamental Lightyears Tracery has been credited by Glenn Branca in Forced Exposure #16, 1990, and by David Sprague in Your Flesh # 28, 1993, to have been the direct influence on Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The Village Voice listed the [Church Street] Dream House as the Best Art Installation in New York 2014, “A charge for the mind as much as for the eye and ear, the Dream House feels like a gift to our beleaguered city, where headspace is the most precious real estate of all.” In 2021 Zazeela was honored as one of the 14 artists to receive the prestigious Anonymous Was A Woman Award in recognition of her significant contributions. Zazeela’s installations, works on paper, and performances have been presented by major American and European institutions, most recently at Dia Beacon from 2019–2022.

Jung Hee Choi is an artist/musician and has presented Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest (2007– ), a series of environmental compositions with light, evolving light-point patterns, drawing, incense, performance, and sound. Her work has been presented in the United States, Europe, and Asia including FRAC Franche-Comté, France; Berliner Festspiele, Germany; Dia Art Foundation, Guggenheim Museum and MELA Foundation Dream Houses, NYC; FRESH Festival, Bangkok; Korea Experimental Arts Festival. Choi’s work is in the collection of the FRAC Franche-Comté and Dia Art Foundation. The New York Times wrote about Choi’s multimedia installation Ahata Anahata, Manifest Unmanifest IX at Dia 15 VI 13 545 West 22 Street Dream House, NYC, “With extended listening, what at first seemed mechanically repetitious turns out to be a complex interweaving of different, slowly oscillating pitches. If you give in to it while watching Ms. Choi’s hallucinatory screen, you may find yourself in an altered state of consciousness, on the verge of some ineffable, transcendental revelation.” Choi is the senior disciple of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, and in 2002 she co-founded, with Young and Zazeela, The Just Alap Raga Ensemble. Choi’s electroacoustic and modal improvisation ensemble, The Sundara All Star Band, premiered in 2015. The members include Young, Zazeela, Choi, Jon Catler, Hansford Rowe and Naren Budhkar. The New York Times listed Choi’s Tonecycle for Blues performed by her Sundara All Star Band as one of The Best Classical Music Performances of 2017. Since 2009 Choi’s long-term multimedia installations have been presented both solo and simultaneously with Young and Zazeela’s sound and light in the MELA Dream House creating a continuous collaborative environment.