Thursday, December 31, 2009

SOTD 12.31.09

It's the last day of the 2000s. Tomorrow, a new decade begins. Who knows what that decade will hold? If Hollywood and the conspiracy theorists of the world had its say, this coming decade will only be two years long, for the apocalypse is nigh. Well, if that's case, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go out with an appropriate soundtrack. So, for today's SOTD, I offer you a piece by minimalist composer Steve Reich. Working with phasing and tapes during the 1960s to create phenomenal musique concréte compositions like "Come Out," Reich has continually produced innovative music. This particular work, Different Trains, movement ii, utilizes a string quartet interpolated with audio clips of interviews done with European Holocaust victims and American train porters. What Reich hoped to accomplish was to shed light on the role of trains in history depending upon the time period, and in so doing, he evaluated the recordings for melodic aspects found in the interviewees' speech. With its subject matter lending the music an inherent gravity, the song also features a haunting atmosphere created by frantic screeching strings, howling sirens, and eerily manipulated audio clips. If the apocalypse comes in 2012, this is probably what it's going to sound like...

Steve Reich: Different Trains, Europe During the War (mvt ii)


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