When Good Music Goes Bad

Snob CrowdPatterns and structures

By. Derek Ecker


 Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the magnificent Max Fisher Building for the 8 Days In June Music Festival. I was only able to make it to the fourth day of the festival, which was the Patterns, and Structure series that was homage to the minimalist movement.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised as to what the show had in store for me. By no means am I classical music aficionado, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between Bach and Beethoven but I am a fan of the symphony. Today’s popular music everything is so structured and based on formula which consists of the chorus, backbeat and the bridge which brings it all together. Listen to a song halfway through even the first time and more often than not you can sing the rest. So I look at the symphony as something like an unpredictable journey, sewn together with melodies and tempos, which are ever changing throughout any given orchestrated score.

Patterns and Structures was nothing of which I was familiar with in regards to the Classical music I’ve been exposed to growing up. Even though the title of the event concisely put into context the essence of the entire show I was still surprised as to what was in store. Pattern and Structures was just that a repeated 10 second splice of music played over and over again for about twenty minutes, even the potent beverages I guzzled down could not phase out the predictability as to what was coming next. Which totally makes sense since after all this show was presented as homage to the minimalist movement, which was known for being just that minimal.

So all though I may sound like I totally disliked the show which in some respects was true, I wasn’t hanging at the edge of my seat constantly wanting more. I did however enjoy Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which had such a ghostly quality to it. Tom Allen the host of The 8 Days Of June Music Festival told the story of how as a child growing up Steve Reich was constantly traveling across the United States visiting both of his parents who were divorced. Now on his train rides, which took place during the Second World War, he couldn’t help but think about the Jewish prisoners of the concentration camps who were also often transported by train in most cases to the destination of their demise.  So from his thoughts about the prisoner’s travels and his along the rail line, he composed this score, which included actual recordings of Holocaust survivors and trains howling whistles, and the rumble of the trains as the traveled along the rails.

In my opinion that score made the entire two and a half hour minimalist show worth it. The only thing that upsets me is that I was able to record the whole show except that Different Trains score because some public resources lady working at the Max Fisher building made me turn off my recorder.


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