During a recent phone conversation with the composer from his California home, I asked how he came to be drawn to Eastern music.
"It happened when I met Pran Nath. I had already been somewhat interested in Indian music before that time."
He went on to explain that Indian forms have always allowed for more improvisation and his own music has always had improvisational elements.
The label "Minimalist" has always seemed to me like a bad choice to describe Terry Riley's multilayered and ever flowing music. He's quick to agree. "It is the wrong word, but the label is somewhat unavoidable now." He also points out that his early work is now 30 to 40 years past. "My music is quite different now. Some people may want me to go back to what I did back then, but one has to keep moving on. You don't want to bore yourself. There are still elements of what's come before in the music I'm doing these days, but my approach has become much broader."