Sunday, December 17, 2006

Music for Airports

By the time this is posted I should be back in Wisconsin for the holidaytime season. Thusly most of the posts for the next month would be more rumination than action, but maybe I'll get more research done when I can just drive to the library rather than taking the T. Not sure if they'll have the same selection.

I seem to gravitate to listening to Reich (God, I've been talking about him a lot lately) whenever I'm flying. And no, I don't own Music for Airports. And as I type this I'm actually listening to The Bad Plus's Blunt Object – Live in Tokyo. Nonetheless, I usually listen to Reich in airports, most often Music for 18 Musicians but this time it was Drumming. Perhaps by listening to minimalist music I become hyperaware of my surrounding and everything is interesting! Or captivating at least.

This led me down a train of thought: I thought of when I was first introduced to Steve Reich's music, by a friend of mine who is somewhere between session musician and local hero in Minneapolis's jazz scene. Or maybe he's dead, for all I know. It was late in high school, just as I was starting to approach the guitar as a classical instrument. He was attending Lawrence University, as I would the next year, and played for me the first four minutes of Piano Phase. Needless to say it was a bit of a shift from the steady diet of nĂ¼-metal I was ingesting at the time. (Don't misread this as a disownment, I will defend some of those albums to the death) The MP3 he had was incomplete, and for a couple years afterwards I thought the piece was only four minutes long.

Now my parents had taken me to the requisite children's symphony concerts, although I only have a vague recollection of them. However, that sliver of Piano Phase ended up being the touchstone that my knowledge of concert music would be built around. I'm not saying this is wrong, in fact it might be kind of cool, but the one point I kept coming back to as I ate my overpriced airport lunch was that this approach would be totally impossible and absurd if I had chosen any other instrument, Granted, this isn't the normal flight path for the guitar either but I think it's the only instrument where it's even possible. Maybe not, as with a lot of things, I'm starting to look into it.

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