Music: A minimalist composer’s Mormon cosmology

Since Orson’s Telescope‘s Jeremy Grimshaw is working night and day to finish his dissertation (right, Jeremy? That wasn’t you I saw logged on to the Warcraft server, was it?), he has left it up to me to inform ya’ll that the Spring 2005 issue of Dialogue features his essay “Music of a ‘More Exalted Sphere’: The Sonic Cosmology of La Monte Young.”

For those, like me, who are too cheap to subscribe to Dialogue, Jeremy’s earlier article on Young — The Sonic Search for Kolob:
Mormon Cosmology and the Music of La Monte Young
— is available online (originally published in repercussions).

Read it — even if you don’t know a thing about 20th century avant garde music. What’s most interesting about the article is how Jeremy is able to infuse the right amount of Mormonism into readings of Young’s work without a) trying to overstate its influence and b) becoming self-conscious about the Mormon aspects of the project. I don’t know enough about the state of minimalist music criticism to fully critique the piece, but to my untrained eye, it seems to provide a needed corrective to the blind spot that is Mormonism for many critical studies of 19th and 20th century artists, which tend to both overdramatize and romanticize Mormonism as biography and discount it’s influence in terms of theme and form.

2 thoughts on “Music: A minimalist composer’s Mormon cosmology”

  1. Thanks for the post, William!

    The repercussions  article does get a little technical, and presents the Mormon stuff for a non-Mormon audience; the article in the new Dialogue fleshes out the Mormon metaphors a bit more and tempers the musicological and acoustical shop-talk.

    Incidentally, any New York ‘nackers (NYackers?) can check out Young’s work themselves. His Dream House sound and light installation is in operation every Thursday and Saturday from 2pm to midnight at 275 Church Street in Tribeca (very near the Canal/Chambers stops on the A line). It runs until the solstice, closes for the summer, then opens again after the equinox (it’s not really an astrological thing–it’s a small space with theater lights that get too hot in the summer…). 

    Posted by Jeremy

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