28 December 2006

It's only minimalist music, but I like it

Whilst taking my early evening promenade today, I listened to Steve Reich's Electric Guitar Phase on my iPod.

During my last year in graduate school, I shared an apartment with some other guy in a big building that had many, many apartments. Naturally, there was always someone moving in or out. One day when I was walking past the garbage dumpsters behind the building, I saw a pile of junk left behind by a tenant who had probably just moved out. I went over and rummaged thru it. There was a bunch of 33 rpm records (remember them?). I found a Rod Stewart record, which I took. Then, I found this other record by someone named Steve Reich whom I had never heard of before. There were only 3 pieces in the album each with a peculiar name: Octet, Music for a Large Ensemble and Violin Phase. I got curious and took that one too. Luckily, my room mate had a record player (remember them?).

I was hooked on to Steve Reich's so-called minimalist music immediately.

But more than 10 years were to pass and the Internet was to appear before I learned that Reich was a minimalist composer. I also learned, again, thanks to the Internet, that there was also Philip Glass, my other favorite minimalist composer (I will write about him some other day).

I like to listen to Reich's and Glass's music especially when I am writing manuscripts or blog posts. In fact, right now Reich's Music for 18 Musicians is playing. The repetitious and somewhat monotonous character of minimalist music somehow seems to help me clear my mind and concentrate on the task at hand.

I gave the Rod Stewart record to a friend years ago, but kept Reich's record as a memento of that faithful day at the dumpster.


Ken said...

Have the combined Tehillim / The Desert Music album, and like it, of the two I prefer Tehillim but I'm more of a choral person.

The Amazon links from the discography on the Steve Reich website are out of date, many of the recordings have been reissued, so shouldn't be shown as not available. Searching is better.

clare said...

My husband loves Glass - and so do I. I haven't tried writing to it yet, but I can see the attraction - no words to interfere with your own. I shall have to see if we have any Reich. Thanks for the tip.


Ken, if you like choral music, you may like Glass's The Photographer.