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nostalgia regarding Tubular Bells

for reasons tangental to this post, i decided to download and listen to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells for the first time in over 15ish years.

It's interesting to listen to it now compared to when i was first exposed to it, because it was during a time period where i had no real music education other than the piano lessons i had growing up. i want to say it was even before i knew who Steve Reich was or could identify the music with the concept of "minimalism".

The decision to listen to it again was to see if after all of this time and all of the education that i've gone through if i now think it's a piece of crap. And i have to say that even though there are things that annoy me about the piece now and i feel is unrefined and schizophrenic and even though i would put it at vast inferiority to the more studied minimalists of that time period, the piece still holds up for me as being a decent musical piece of work.

The problem with that is that i know how i work as an individual; i know that some of that sentiment comes from pure nostalgia, an innate remembrance of the piece from when i listened to it obesessively so many years ago. I don't have complete objectivity about it.

But i guess it doesn't really matter. It was this sort of music that resonated with me when i was younger and led to my exposure and deeper understanding of Reich's Electric Counterpoint which when it was introduced to me in ninth grade by Rick Burhans struck such a chord in me that it (along with other works of Reich) remain a staple compositional influence ten and twenty years later after the fact.

n.b. I didn't even intend for that to be a [Paarfi/Dumas] kind of sentence, but that's how it ran in my brain.

... That Tubular Bells may not be nearly as mature a piece of music doesn't diminish its meaning in my own personal history, and that's ultimately what's the most important, so i guess i should just leave it be and allow the nostalgia to be what it is without overthinking about it any further.

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May. 14th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Did you listen to the 1973 version? I think there was a re-recording of it in the 90's sometime.

To me, the original had too many shifts in dynamics. Like it'd be really quiet and then blasting a few seconds later. Years later, I found out that this was because Mr. Oldfield didn't have the time or resources to finely tune and master the pieces since he could only work on it between other artists' recording sessions and at night.

I haven't listened to it in a while, but I just remember that I accepted the jumping around-ness as part of the piece. And that I liked part 1 much better than part 2. The only musical training I have is band class, so I can't comment much on composition.

Is there any other of Reich's stuff that sounds like M18M? I absolutely LOVE putting that on and zoning out. I don't really like Different Trains, and that's the only other album of his I have.
May. 14th, 2009 07:24 pm (UTC)
different trains took me a while to get into, but i like it a lot.

some other goodies:

electric counterpoint (and any of the counterpoint series)
the desert music
variations for winds, strings, and... something.

you should also go find john adams's "Short Ride in a Fast Machine", Michael Gordon's "Weather", and David Lang has two pieces, "The Anvil Chorus" and "Cheating, Lying, Stealing" which are pretty fantastic.

The 1973 version is what i listened to. It is a rather schizophrenic piece, and yeah, i figured that the reason why was because it was essentially a hack home studio job by Oldfield. I like part 1 better than part 2 also, but i love the part in part 2 where the person is speaking grumble nonsense and the music associated with that.
May. 14th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
I remember the first time I heard Tubular Bells (on a FM radio station, not The Exorcist) and how refreshing it was compared to other "popular" music of the time.
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