「In 1989 Riley went to work in China, to prepare a recording of “In C” with a Chinese ensemble. He wanted to find out if this Western piece of art music could function inside the Chinese musical culture. It was also 25 years since the premier of the work.
The Shanghai Film Orchestra, which Riley engaged, had 35 members at the time. The instruments were all Chinese; zithers, mouth organs, flutes and percussion.
There were some initial problems at the recording, since the Chinese players were used to a pentatonic scale in C-D-E-G-A, whereas “In C” normally calls for some deviations to other tones. This caused some pretty wild intonations!
The Chinese conductor also broke a few of the rules of the work, by sometimes returning to a motif that had already been played through and finished, but Terry Riley allowed this to happen, in a benevolent acceptance of the circumstances, and the aim had never been, anyhow, to produce a carbon-copy of a Western interpretation. In spite of these recollections the recording lasted only about 28 minutes」