La Monte Young - Trio for Strings
  Year :   1957
  Location :   USA
  Worktype :   -
  Materials:   -
  Info :   -

  Work Details  
  Some of the features that set this work apart are the extended time structure, the long sustained tones and rests, and the independent entries and exits of the tones. Moreover, the interval of a major third is totally avoided. In fact, there is no use of thirds and sixths of any type either as harmony or implied melody throughout the entire work. Rather, I chose to limit myself to perfect fourths, perfect fifths, major seconds, minor seconds, major sevenths, minor sevenths, minor ninths, and a very occasional augmented eleventh. Even though this work was written in equal temperament, and I had not even begun to think about just intonation, I was already beginning to establish what became my own musical mode. That is, a mode in which the number 5 is excluded as a factor in producing the numerators and denominators of the fractions which represent the musical intervals. I found that major thirds and minor thirds factorable by 5 (e.g. 5:4, 6:5) and their tonal inversions (8:5, 5:3), were never able to convey the feeling that I wanted to express in my compositions. The premonitions of this unique musical vocabulary of intervallic and chordal structures had already begun to appear in for Brass (1957) and for Guitar (1958). But it is first here in the Trio for Strings that every chord, triad and interval can be found to comprise one of the dream chords or some subset thereof. These dream chords were later used as the tonal content of The Four Dreams of China (1962) and The Subsequent Dreams of China (1980). The Trio for Strings is the first work I composed that is comprised almost entirely of long sustained tones. It is probably my most important early musical statement. This work has been credited by critics, musicologists and art historians with the initiation of a new direction in music and art, since no one had ever before made a work that was composed completely of sustained tones. There was sustenance in Eastern and Western music but it was always a drone, a pedal point, or a sustained tone of a cantus firmus over which melodies were sung or played. It is very difficult to find any other examples of sustenance besides these types of drones in music before they were introduced in the long sustained tones of for Brass and for Guitar and finally crystallized into the Trio for Strings. In the Trio for Strings, there was no melody as each tone was separated by silence from its preceding and succeeding tones in the same voice. The texture is contrapuntal in that long sustained tones overlap in time. Melody exists only in the sense that one remembers and identifies events that have taken place over long periods of time. The concept of the expanded time structure comprised of long sustained tones and the unique tonal palette of the work came to me not by theoretical deduction but by totally inspired intuition, and subsequently developed into the creation of continuous sound and light environments presented in collaboration with Marian Zazeela in our Dream Houses, major installations extending over durations of weeks and years. Thus, the origins of the long sustained tones that came to characterize my style and formed the beginnings of minimalism in music can be traced to for Brass, for Guitar and the Trio for Strings.