Groundhog Day

February 2, 2016 at 10:30 am

What if your life got caught in some sort of endless time loop? What if you were forced to live the same day over and over again?

What if your music got caught in some sort of endless time loop? What if you were forced to play the same measure over and over again?

Steve Reich is an American composer best known for his minimalist compositions – put simply, pieces that use a minimal number of musical resources (especially pitch and rhythm). His Piano Phase remains one of the defining pieces of the movement. Two pianists play a short phrase of music over and over again; one speeds up just a tiny bit, and eventually the two pianists are one note off from each other. The same pianist speeds up again, and then they are two notes apart. And so on. Because the piece is so repetitious, a subtle change becomes a tremendous moment.

A marvelously simple piece, fiendishly difficult to perform. This music can put you in a trance, or drive you crazy, or maybe both. But so would living the same day over and over again.

most performances take over 15 minutes … I was very happy to find this 5-minute version!


meanwhile in Russia …

February 1, 2016 at 10:30 am

If you ever want to lose your faith in humanity, just read the comment section of any YouTube video. However, once in a while, there is a comment of pure genius. The top comment of this video is perfect:

Pretty sure this {video} was a practical joke, in which the orchestra grabbed a drunk man off the streets, gave him a bouquet of flowers, and said, “Stand here and make vague waving gestures at the orchestra.”

Mikhail Glinka‘s opera Ruslan and Ludmila was never a hit, but the overture became an instant favorite among audiences. Even when played at a moderate tempo, it sounds like the strings have had about three cups of coffee too many. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found a video where the strings have had too much coffee after overdosing on speed.