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
1. That I receive proper credit as the composer of the underlying musical composition;
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).II. Sound Quality of the CD
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.
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.
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.