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American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: Q-R (Part 1–Quicksell, Quillen, Reich and Riley)

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It seemed a bit daunting to find American composers and musicians whose last name starts with Q, so we decided to include last names that start with Q and that start with R:

Howard Quicksell, also known as “Howdy” Quicksell, lived from December 22, 1901, to October 30, 1953. He composed and co-wrote a number of songs including “Sorry,” “Will You, Won’t You, Be My Babe,” “The Way I Feel Today,” and “Since My Best Gal Turned Me Down.” He was an accomplished banjo player who performed with the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. You can hear him in some joyful songs recorded with the Goldkette Orchestra in 1924 and made available for streaming through the Library of Congress National Jukebox: “I Want to See My Tennessee,” “Remember,” and “Honest and Truly.” Does that make you want to learn the banjo? You may like to check out these learn-by-ear audio books:

  1. Brown, Bill. Intro to the 5 String Banjo for the Visually Impaired. (DBM02266)
  2. Keith, Bill. Bluegrass Banjo. (DBM00414)
  3. Traum, Happy. 5-String-Banjo. (DBM00426)

Josh Quillen is a contemporary composer and best known as an all-around percussionist and steel drum performer. He is a member of the So Percussion Group in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed nationally and internationally. His compositions have been featured in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2009 Next Wave Festival and the Music for Trains events in southern Vermont. His music builds on features of American Minimalism, the art music that uses very small musical units which are constantly repeated, slowly phased and shifted throughout. Repeated rhythmic patterns are common in minimal music. If you would like to learn to play percussion, you may be interested in checking out:

Steve Reich (born October 3, 1936) and Terry Riley (born June 24, 1935) are contemporary composers who are best known to represent, together with Philip Glass and La Monte Young, the art form of American Minimalism. Both were influenced by jazz music, non-Western music, aleatory or chance music, as well as some forms of traditional music. In addition to these sources, composers like Bartók and Stravinsky were part of Steve Reich’s inspiration, and he experimented with rhythmic patterns and phasing musical motives. The Library of Congress holds Steve Reich’s manuscript to the “Three Movements for Orchestra,” which the Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress commissioned in 1981. The link to the catalog record of the 68-leave holograph score, completed in 1986 is

Terry Riley‘s composition “In C” is considered the founding work of musical minimalism. It consists of 53 very short musical phrases to be played randomly by an indefinite number of performers, indefinite instruments and indefinite times of repetitions. Riley drew much inspiration from Indian music. If you are interested in exploring American Minimalism, or want to perform some of it, you may want to check out:

If you would like to download the materials from BARD and need some guidance, or if you would like to explore more materials of the NLS Music Collection and learn about our service, please email us at [email protected], or give us a phone call at 1-800-424-8567, extension 2. We are happy to help and look forward to hearing from you.

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