from Thursday, December15th of the year2011.
So apparently the war in Iraq is officially over as of today. I don’t have much to say about that except that we should maybe all take a second (ten minutes, really) and listening to the heartbreaking third section of Steve Reich’s Different Trains.
Different Trains: III. After the War
A few things about this. 2:05 in, there are some really delicious chords that I’ve been stealing for years. The minute this album came out (the Kronos version) I was right there sitting on the floor with a pencil and manuscript paper trying to figure out the voicings. The other thing is that around seven and a half minutes in, Reich really turns it out. In a miniature Mahlerian structure, almost, he introduces an almost folk-like melody with “there was one girl who had a beautiful voice,” followed by an anguished, central-european chromaticism on “and they loved to listen to the singing, the Germans,” which suddenly transforms into a sort of sun-dappled flautando environment for the final lines. It’s super super gorgeous.
Note that although I’m using the iconic, original Kronos recording here, there are now five or six others, including the wonderful Smith Quartet, the London Steve Reich Ensemble… more and more people, and younger people, too; this is a piece that has been so outrageously important to me, and I’m sure to a large number of young composers, and it’s great to see it falling into the fingers of our contemporaries.
The text, which Reich compiled from interviews:
Then the war was over
Are you sure
The war is over
Going to America
To Los Angeles
To New York
From New York to Los Angeles
One of the fastest trains
But today they’re all gone
There was one girl who had a beautiful voice
And they loved to listen to the singing,
And when she stopped singing they said, “More more,”
and they applauded