Tony Conrad

Tony Conrad: Looking at Music

Tony Conrad, Beverly Grant, Tyler Hubby

USA 1970, 1996. 50 Min.

The big bang of Minimal Music occurred shortly after the young Harvard mathematician Tony Conrad (1940-2016) moved to New York. Working was not his goal at the time. He would much prefer to spend the nights talking with with the avant-garde artist Henry Flynt about the potential of art and music to change society. After an encounter with La Monte Young, he joined his Theatre of Eternal Music (later known as Inside the Dream Syndicate), whose style he influenced from 1962 to 1967. Together with other musicians such as Marian Zazeela and John Cale, he formed a new kind of "drone" music: a meandering, only slightly modulated sound that was reduced to a few tones.


Our «Looking at music» programme traces Conrad's musical activity – for example with an unpublished recording of a concert, which is based on the legendary live performance in 1972 «Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain», which was held in the newly founded art and performance space «The Kitchen» in New York. Music and (flicker) film here meet as a performance thanks to a multi-screen installation. Conrad wanted to create a music that was completely of the moment, without the authority of a composer and without sheet music. After the 1996 release of the CD box Early Minimalism and until his death, Conrad harked back to these origins in his drone concerts. He was also an inspired philosopher on the nature of music, as the interview «The Nature of Sound» makes evident. (bs)



Straight and Narrow

USA 1970. 10 Min.

s/w. 16mm. Without Dialogue.
Director/Screenplay: Tony Conrad, Beverly Grant
Music: John Cale, Terry Riley

Horizontal and vertical stripes flicker in black and white to the sounds of John Cale and Terry Riley. The hallucinogenic power of the projection lets the spectator perceive colours. 



The Nature of Sound

USA 2002. 10 Min.

Color. Digital HD. E.

Director: Tyler Hubby


«What is music?» Tony Conrad gives answers in an unpublished interview.


Ten Years on the Infinite Plain

USA 1996. 40 Min.

Digital HD. s/w/Farbe. Without Dialogue.
Director: Tyler Hubby
Music: Tony Conrad (Violine), Jim O’Rourke (Bass), David Grubbs (Saiteninstrument), Alex Gelencser (Cello)

Unpublished live concert recording at the Table of the Elements festival in Chicago.




DirectorTony Conrad, Beverly Grant, Tyler Hubby