Over, under, and through Terry Riley’s undeniable influence and worth, lies his whimsy. Some of his pieces make heavier use of humour than others, but a lighthearted view of the multiverse and a reverence for mutability has marked his style over more than forty years of prominence as a composer. Audiodreamographical Tales, consists of two multi-segmented pieces composed ten years apart, and showcases this splendid side of the man.
For the Autodreamographical Tales piece itself—commissioned in 1996 by Staten Island’s New American Radio—Riley made use of a dream journal he kept at that time. Incorporating his night visions into monologue and occasionally into song, Riley guides the listener through surrealistic capers incorporating a cryptic dwarf, an irritable faquir, and an assortment of concert headaches, patch cord problems, and a fawning audience. The music-grounded conundrums consume his oneiric life as thoroughly as similar concerns fill his waking hours.
The Hook Lecture (2006) employs a simpler instrumentation, just piano and voice. Deftly twisting the metaphor of a fish and a fisherman’s hook, Riley also explains in each segment what he’s about to accomplish on the piano, then deftly executes what he says. Lightness and profundity lie contentedly side-by-side.