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post minimalism

very early on before i really knew much about music theory or composition to any degree, a high school mate of mine introduced me to Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint.

i was immediately smitten with the piece and got more into Reich in particular but minimalism and post-minimalism as a result of that. Over time, i was able to articulate why i liked it so much, because of two concepts common in that music: one is that every time something is repeated, it's not actually the same. the second is that by drawing out a repeated chord or a repeated pattern for so long, it puts more emphasis on when those changes happen and make the anticipation of those moments and the moments that they turn absolutely glorious.

There's a series of Reich's pieces in particular that go beyond that for me, however, something that those pieces achieve that i could never explain when i started to get into them, but now i can. All of his counterpoint pieces do this, moments of 18 do this, Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards does this. I used to listen to that last one in the dark on repeat over and over again. I did the same thing with Michael Gordon's Weather and also David Lang's The Passing Measures and a few others who understand the how and the why of those sorts of pieces.

and that idea is this: those pieces are the closest thing in music that i've ever experienced that feels like the suspension of time.

Hearing a piece of music is an Event that moves through our constant perception of time. Regardless of the BPM or the length of piece or whatever, time doesn't budge in how it moves forward, and our perception of how a piece moves is based on that concept and idea.

Many pieces of music whether "art" music or not move with a concept of how events happen within that concept of time. Here i'm going to make a chord change. Here i'm going to play this melody that moves to this counter line that does this. It emphasizes the concept of time, even if relative, in a context of how people perceive that time, and rely upon it for a frame of reference. When you listen to a piece like that, you may lose track of time if it's particularly good and then say, "wow, it's 10 minutes later now?", but you don't feel like time slows down.

i think i've written two pieces that try to model the idea of feeling like time has slowed down in a subtle way, but not as its thesis; performances and concerts these days i don't think lend itself to being marketable for that kind of piece without a name behind it, so my energies don't flow there. But maybe at some point, i can attempt some sort of Live session that i can put on my webserver that achieves that sort of idea and see if it resonates with other people. Something like the third movement of Weather but not the same way.

we'll see. Timpani piece to finish first, then two marching band shows, then maybe a middle school concert band piece. Clearly none of those are designed under this sort of paradigm. :)

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jess2002far
Apr. 14th, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)
Got as far as "steve reich" before I had to ask...

Have you heard "music for 18 musicias" yet? BEST chill out/meditate/do yoga/drop acid (not that I ever have)/falling asleep music ever.
lifeofmendel
Apr. 14th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
i got to hear a live performance of it in portland with steve reich in the audience. :)
jess2002far
Apr. 14th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
That's awesome :)
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