Monday, April 01, 2002

Steve Reich: WORKS 1965 - 1995, Part I of V

I listened to the entire 10-disc set of CDs over the span of a couple days last week, and felt they were interesting enough to do a disc by disc review of various works. I've had no previous exposure to any of his music, and the thoughts below are my instinctual feelings based on one or two listenings -- definitely not serious criticisms or analyses by any stretch of the imagination.

Disc One includes four early works, Come Out, Piano Phase, It's Gonna Rain, and Four Organs. Come Out (1966) and It's Gonna Rain (1965), were both interesting experiments, but I wouldn't be quick to label them directly as music. Really, they're more of "proof-of-concept" works that explore phasing at its most basic level. Both pieces involve a simple spoken line played on two tape tracks that start in unison. One tape track is faster than the other and the lines slowly get out of sync over time (almost imperceptibly at first). These pieces each run over ten minutes long, and in that time, you can really explore the different acoustical effects that can be found in simple sounds. However, I think that both pieces suffer from too much emphasis on phasing at the expense of the other necessities of music, such as harmony and melody. Ignoring any one aspect of music for a time can build tension, but omitting them altogether can kill a piece. That's why I find even the most harmonically interesting pieces boring if there's no rhythmic interest.

Piano Phase (1967) is a much more successful piece for this reason. Reich did away with the two tape loops, and had two performers accomplish the exact same effect on acoustic pianos with no extra mixing. The introduction of pitch levels suddenly brings this piece to a more interesting and rewarding level. I found that although this piece was twenty minutes long, it held my interest for much longer than the spoken word pieces.

The final piece on this CD was Four Organs (1970) which I just hated. I'm listening to it again as I write this, and I still don't really care for it. Some pieces on the later CDs that I didn't care for in the beginning grew on me over time, like Three Movements on disc eight, so it's not just the single listening that kills this piece for me. The work is written for four organs and one set of maracas and does nothing at all with the phase ideas explored in the first three works. Instead, the four organs explore a single dominant sonority in different clusters of chord tones over a continuous maracas part (for sixteen minutes!). Besides being boring, I think the harsh organ sonority reduces my tolerance for this piece. It might have been more successful (for me) with a mellow electric piano sample rather than the organs used.

To be continued...

Looking ahead on my "Calendar o' Stuff to Talk about on the News Page", this week will be devoted to my thoughts on the Steve Reich 10-disc set. Next week's theme will be some of my favourite young adult authors of yesteryear, including Gordon Korman, Lloyd Alexander, John Bellairs, and C.S. Lewis, among others. The final full week of school will be reserved for tying up loose ends and emptying out my topics queue before I start my summer schedule (whatever it may be). if you have an author or topic you'd like to see discussed here, feel free to e-mail me.

On the way home from class, I saw a young squirrel fall out of a tree onto the road. More scared than hurt, it bolted out of the road back to the tree, but decided to headbutt the trunk rather than climb it. It finally made it to the safety of some shrubbery after overcoming its double-smack daze. So much for the grace of nature.

By the way, there's a few new pictures on the Photos page.

tagged as music, reviews | permalink | 0 comments
day in history


Previous Post: Untitled Post


Next Post: Untitled Post

 

You are currently viewing a single post from the annals of URI! Zone history. The entire URI! Zone is © 1996 - 2022 by Brian Uri!. Please see the About page for further information.

Jump to Top
Jump to the Front Page


April 2002
SMTWHFS
123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930
OLD POSTS
Old News Years J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
J F M A M J
J A S O N D
visitors since November 2003