Music: What's in a Melody?

The structure's the thing, says Philip Glass

It could be called a space-age music of the spheres, or "the motor on a space machine," as its avant-garde composer, Philip Glass, 41, calls it. Miked wind instruments and voices circle rapidly through repetitive musical patterns. An electronic organ throbs heavily in the air. In this stripped-down music, there are no melodies, no dynamic changes and no lyrics. What sounds at first like one continuous pulsing sound, however, gradually reveals all sorts of inner voices: treble runs on the organ, colorful flutters of saxophone and flute, a lone soprano voice that floats on top....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!