La Monte Thornton Young (born October 14, 1935) is an American composer and musician.
Young is generally recognized as the first minimalist composer.His works have been included among the most important and radical post-World War II avant-garde, experimental, or drone music. Both his proto-Fluxus and "minimal" compositions question the nature and definition of music and often stress elements of performance art.
He formed the Theatre of Eternal Music to realize "Dream House" and other pieces. The group initially included Marian Zazeela (who has provided the light work The Ornamental Lightyears Tracery for all performances since 1965), Angus MacLise, and Billy Name. In 1964 the ensemble comprised Young and Zazeela; John Cale and Tony Conrad, a former Harvard mathematics major, and sometimes Terry Riley (voices). Since 1966 the group has seen many permutations and has included Garrett List, Jon Hassell, Alex Dea, and many others, including members of the 60s groups.Young has realized the "Theatre of Eternal Music" only intermittently, as it requires expensive and exceptional demands of rehearsal and mounting time.
Most realizations of the piece 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. His works are often extreme in length, conceived by Young as having no beginning and no end, existing before and after any particular performance. In their daily lives, too, Young and Zazeela practice an extended sleep-waking schedule—with "days" longer than twenty-four hours.
La Monte Young's use of long tones and exceptionally high volume has been extremely influential with Young's associates: Tony Conrad, Jon Hassell, Rhys Chatham, Michael Harrison, Henry Flynt, Charles Curtis, and Catherine Christer Hennix. Young's students include Arnold Dreyblatt, Daniel James Wolf and Lawrence Chandler. It has also been notably influential on John Cale's contribution to The Velvet Underground's sound; Cale has been quoted as saying "LaMonte [Young] was perhaps the best part of my education and my introduction to musical discipline.