Story according to John Varian which prefaces Cowell’s score:
“Manaunaun was the god of motion, and long before the creation, he sent forth tremendous tides, which swept to and fro through the universe, and rhythmically moved the particles and materials of which the gods were later to make the suns and worlds.”
Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th-century and influenced a generation of American and European avant-gardists from Varèse and Nancarrow to Cage and Stockhausen. As a child, Cowell displayed a precocious musical talent and started learning the violin at the age of five. Although he received no formal music training during his childhood, he showed an interest in composition. In his teenage years he experimented with tone-clusters (a term he invented) and unconventional methods of playing the piano, such as plucking and strumming the strings.