DD—At the same time though, it seems like there's a negative aspect to these same things (there usually is, of course), but because of the travel, and because of the recording technology, everywhere around the world you hear Western, industrial pop music, and maybe a lot of traditional musics are threatened.

LMY—Well yeah, that's an interesting point, for instance, all the young kids in India today are just totally caught up in American culture, watching American movies, just dying to come to the west. Terry Riley played me a tape of the Hairy Ainu tribe in Japan singing and chanting, and he said that culture is now essentially lost, because the last story teller has died. And there's no one anymore to tell those stories, and its gone. The world, however, is in a state of constant change. I am a great believer in understanding and studying history. Without history, you do the same things over and over that everybody's been doing for millions of years, but you don't know it. With history, you do the same things over and over but you know it. [general laughter] And I feel that advantage of knowing it really puts you in a position to create new things and make new discoveries, and to really make a contribution that can, in some way, help society. I think that the universe has always been in this state of change, and things have been lost, and whereas I think we should do everything we can to prevent that from happening, I think that, conversely, it's still quite a remarkable thing that we have all of this electronic communication. I think that the capability of recordings is helping us to preserve some of the material that would be otherwise lost. In other words, there's a lot of indigenous musics that have been captured before the last singer died. In fact it's like that theory of ... the closer you get to understanding something, the more you bump into it and change it, and you can't really figure out what it is. I forget whose theory it was, but it's a very famous theory and it's well known. This kind of evolution has been going on for time and eternity, and it's bound to happen. On the other hand it's a consciousness of it that will help us to be able to preserve as much of it as possible.

It's like our natural resources on our planet. We all talk about saving the rain forests, that is, some minority of us talk about saving the rain forests, and meanwhile, they're just being cut down left and right, the entire planetary climate is changing. When Pandit Pran Nath moved into his house in Kailash Colony in New Delhi, he said that it was a jungle and scorpions were coming to the door, this was in 1950, and now there are high-rises next door. I just made a trip to Idaho and I went up to the log cabin where I was born in Bern, and not too far from the log cabin, I mean maybe 30 or 40 miles away, is this valley called Dry Valley. And Dry Valley is where my grandfather Young homesteaded. My dad has taken me out there two or three times. There are no roads. There are just ruts from where the original wagons went into this valley. You drive at about three miles an hour because its so rough and bumpy, and the sage brush is so high that it's cooking underneath the car, and it's the smell of roasted sage, and you see nothing for miles and miles but cattle grazing occasionally. So this year we went out there again, and we got two-thirds of the way through Dry Valley and suddenly there was a road. A road has been put through one part of it. A paved road! And I realized that the end is here. It's too late already. I mean, we're talking about it, but there isn't that much time left. Sure, we could change it, we could stop it, if everybody moved today. But if everybody moves 20 years from now there's not going to be that much left to save. The process of change and evolution is very interesting, and it remains to be seen if the level of consciousness of all beings can raise to a plane where we will actually be able to exert positive control over our destinies or not.

DD—Do you conceptualize the tuning of The Well-Tuned Piano as a harmonic series of a single fundamental?

LMY—Yes. Most definitely. That's really how I conceptualize almost everything I do. I don't use any utonalities at all. I really feel that otonalities have such great advantages. You know, when you're working with the integers, every interval, every pair of integers will produce through the simple processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, other integers. Which means that if you play two frequencies from the integers together, that all of the combination tones that are produced, the sum and difference tones and any other kinds of combinations tones will be integers, and all their harmonics, of course, will be integers. It means that there will be a greater degree of synchronicity in the overall envelope, the composite waveform, than you can achieve through any other method of tuning. With the utonalities, you can't have that. For me, what the series of integers provides is so fantastic, and so harmonious, and so satisfying, and such a complete world of... a near-infinity of possibilities, that I find myself drawn further and further into it. Although I occasionally try something else, it doesn't give me any satisfaction.

DD—Particularly, it would seem, for your style of music, which is vertical rather than horizontal, that would be the case. I think that those people who think in terms of harmonic and subharmonic materials being created more-or-less equal have to be concerned more with linear sorts of musics than vertical ones.

LMY—Yeah, could be. I know there are a lot of people who seem to think that utonalities are important, and are important to them. Could be.

DD—When you listen to Harry Partch's music, you never hear a sustained chord just sitting there, it's always arpeggios and glissandi.

LMY—See, part of my theory... What's really unique about my music in Just Intonation is that it does work with sustained tones and that you do have this crystal clear situation where you have something like a white canvas on which very clear colors can be well defined, one from another, as well as combined to produce new colors. My theory is that you can hear intervals best when they're being sustained simultaneously. I like to give the example that if I play a sound today and I play a sound a year from today, and ask you to compare them, it's extremely difficult. If I play the sound today and a month from today, it's still hard. If I do it today and tomorrow, depending on your tonal memory, and your ability to remember pitches and all that... But if I play them right next to each other, it's getting easier. But if one is being sustained while the other is being brought in, you have a basis for comparison that is unequaled, and, in fact, I feel that that's the only way you can measure frequency relationships precisely, especially by ear. I think to some degree a case can be made for the same being true even with advanced technological equipment. I feel that a lot of work is done in tuning that is tuning in theory but which, in practice, may not really be in tune.

My music, of course, may, by comparison to some of these elaborate, melodic approaches, seem simple to some people. I don't think it's simple. I really think my music is extremely complex. But it may appear simple to someone. My music offers the possibility, because of the way I present it and perform it, myself and the groups I put together, of being really very in tune. I mean, depending on how I'm presenting it and to what degree there are live musicians, and how well-trained the live musicians are. I think that a lot of music that is written in various tunings, including Just Intonation, is not really in tune at all in performance. This is something interesting to be looked into. I know that people write in all these elaborate systems of this-many-tones-to-the-octave and that-many-tones-to-the-octave, and so forth, and I've listened to performances of it, and I know, when I've had some of the same players who theoretically play that kind of music and tried to teach them to play beat-free music, they really had a very difficult time learning to do it. I think that one of the things that my approach to tuning really emphasizes is learning to tune according to acoustical beats and I feel that acoustical beats are the only objective way that you can know whether or not an interval is in tune by ear. If you're going to work without scientific equipment to do your analysis, which is the way I like to work, although I sometimes use scientific equipment, without doubt, I think that being able to have sustained tones that you can compare over time, and thus be able to tell whether or not you have beats, and to what degree you have them, and how long the beats are is really...

DD—It's clearly the only way, as you say, aside from using some kind of instrumentation.

LMY—I offer this comment that I just made more in the light of hoping that it can be an offering to musicians seriously interested in tuning more than as a criticism. I mean, I have no reason to criticize anybody. I think it's really wonderful that people are doing what they're doing in music. Everybody is different and it's really important that they're different and that different approaches and different points of view evolve. However, I want to go on record that I think that to really be in tune you almost have to have sustained tones. You know my idea, I've presented my theory that tuning is a function of time. It's been well known that when scientists want to try to understand what some long periodic cycle, some planetary cycle is, that they look at enormous periods of time in order to pin it down. They look at not only their own measurements but the measurements of thousands of years past and see how everything compares. I really think that I was the first person in sound to make this discovery and implement it. I'm really making it as an offering to people and I hope that people can get some use out of it in their own work.

DD—It's something the truth of which anybody who wants to can easily verify. Try to tune an interval on, say, a pair of plucked strings, then try to tune the same interval on a synthesizer with stable oscillators. It's no doubt about which one you're going to get greater accuracy on.