Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Back in the days of my intense interest in drum corps (early nineties), I heard for the first time a piece of music performed by the Cadets of Bergen County. It was a fast-paced composition, driven by a steadily pulsating metronome-like function of the woodblock. Encircling the pentrating sound of wood, the various brass instruments (there are no woodwinds or strings in drum corps) seemed to flow in and out of each other with great rhythmic tension, even percussive in their own right.

Flash forward seventeen years. These days, I've been much impressed with the musical compositions of John Adams.

Not that his works are anything really new. But we all have those periods in our lives where we like to try something for the first time. For me, I typically prefer to try something for the first time after it's been around for a while. I've noticed that tendency in myself. Well, as it turns out my "first time" for listening to John Adams is actually my second. After becoming somewhat enamored by his Violin Concerto (1993), I decided to investigate other works by the composer. One those pieces is his hugely popular A Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Popular to all modern music fans except for me, apparently. Before actually stumbling across it on YouTube, I had no idea that this was the same piece I had heard the Cadets perform on the field in 1991.

I'm very much interested in promoting not only my favorite musicians in the popular genres, but more especially the various works of American classical composers. Some I like more than others, but all of the major ones seem to play an important role in the reflection and development of our Western and New World traditions. To this end, I will try to intersperse some video or audio segments among my other blog entries in order to introduce my readers to some significant American works in the classical music world. Let's start with John Adams' A Short Ride in a Fast Machine (original form for orchestra, which I prefer). Apparently, it was composed to reflect our modern driving experience. Enjoy the video, too!

Pretty cool music, huh?

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