John Adams's father taught him clarinet and they played together in a local marching band. He mastered the instrument 'almost too quickly', and while studying at Harvard he found work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Elements of his upbringing were reminiscent of Charles Ives's, who also grew up in New England. Today, Adams talks to Donald Macleod about the influence of Ives on his music, including two works which reference his early life, and a work for choir, orchestra and pre-recorded sounds - On the Transmigration of Souls - written to commemorate the victims of September 11, 2001. Initally uneasy about writing a work in which he was called on to address national mourning, here too he drew inspiration from Ives's work, this time the The Unanswered Question, which Adams describes as a 'quiet spirit behind the piece'.