Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 238: Phases

The movie above and the text below were found on RSA's Arts and Ecology Blog. Enjoy!

"Steve Reich's thrilling Piano Phase was written for two players, both playing the identical musical figure. One of them then speeds up and slows down slightly so that the musical ecology between the two sets of notes changes subtly. (That's why Peter Aidu's so performance is jaw-dropping... though mainly in a kind of bizareely geeky Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not how-neurologically-do-you-do-that? way). The piece is never the same twice, and again, the listener will discern their own pulses and patterns within the piece.

For all the politics implicit in Steve Reich's work, there's a lot of that's explicit too, from his hair-pricking debut tape experiment Come Out, created from an interview with a survivor from a race riot, to Different Trains, which reflects on Holcaust transports that took Jewish children to their death.

That said, though these ideals inform his practice, Reich remains cautious about music's ability to create change the world beyond him:

I like to give this example: Maybe one of the greatest paintings that Pablo Picasso painted was "Guernica," and "Guernica" was painted as a protest against civilian bombing. Now, as a painting it's a masterpiece. As a political gesture: a total, complete failure.

But if Picasso hadn't painted "Guernica," Guernica would be a little footnote in the history of the Spanish Civil War, and now many of us know of Guernica because Picasso painted it. So he made a memorial. Because it moved him, because he was a Spaniard, because he cared about it, he made this wonderful piece.

Japanese Times interview 2006"

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