Theatre of Eternal Music
|Origin||East Coast, USA|
|Genres||Drone, avant-garde, minimalism, experimental|
|Labels||Shandar, Table of the Elements|
|The Velvet Underground|
Just Alap Raga Ensemble
various other musicians
|La Monte Young|
The Theatre of Eternal Music, sometimes later known as The Dream Syndicate, was a mid-1960s musical group formed by La Monte Young, that focused on experimental drone music. It featured the performances of La Monte Young, John Cale, Angus MacLise, Terry Jennings, Marian Zazeela, Tony Conrad, Billy Name, Jon Hassell, Jon Gibson, Alex Dea and others. The group is stylistically tied to the Neo-Dada aesthetics of Fluxus and the post-John Cage noise music continuum.
The Theatre of Eternal Music gave performances on the East Coast of the United States as well as in Western Europe that consisted of long periods of sensory inundation with combinations of harmonic relationships, which moved slowly from one to the next by means of "laws" laid out by La Monte Young regarding "allowable" sequences and simultaneities.
In 1964 the ensemble contained Young and Marian Zazeela, voices; Tony Conrad and John Cale, strings; and sometimes Terry Riley, voice. The Theater of Eternal Music's discordant sustained notes and loud amplification influenced Cale's subsequent contribution to the Velvet Underground in his use of both discordance and feedback. Cale and Conrad have released noise music recordings they made during the mid-sixties, such as Cale's Inside the Dream Syndicate series (The Dream Syndicate being the alternative name given by Cale and Conrad to their collective work with Young).
Most of the pieces performed by the Theatre of Eternal Music have long titles, such as "The Tortoise Recalling the Drone of the Holy Numbers as they were Revealed in the Dreams of the Whirlwind and the Obsidian Gong, Illuminated by the Sawmill, the Green Sawtooth Ocelot and the High-Tension Line Stepdown Transformer." Likewise, the works are often of extreme length, many pieces having no beginning and no end, existing before and after a particular performance. The Theatre of Eternal Music ensemble's masterwork, begun in 1964, is titled The Tortoise His Dreams and Journeys and is divided into several sections, of which "Map of 49's Dream: The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Light-Years Tracery," is the only one of which a fragment can be found on disc (forty minutes, with Jon Hassell on trumpet, Garrett List on trombone, Zazeela on voice and Young on electronics). The longest Dream House performance was that given at the Harrison Street gallery in New York, which lasted uninterruptedly for six years, from 1979 to 1985.