Choose one of the following works. Read the introductory blurb, watch the entirety of the performance, and write a 500 word response, making use of the tools and terminology learned over the past few weeks. What do you hear? What did the composer do? How do you feel?
John Cage: Bacchanale https://youtu.be/ErlMfrBvJAE
Commissioned by African American dancer and choreographer Syvilla Fort, Cage set out to write a work with an “African inflection”. While he initially wanted to write for percussion ensemble, the limited space in the dance studio forced him to think within the bounds of a single grand piano. Cage’s solution was to place objects–screws, bolts, bits of rubber and plastic, and more–between the strings of the piano, creating a sound world that was far from the Classical realm. Cage called this the “prepared piano”.
Steve Reich: Drumming https://youtu.be/uDhwFTw4VnI
America composer Steve Reich found his interest in African music sparked by a book Studies in African Music. He subsequently collected recordings of African music, studied with an Ewe drummer in New York, and eventually spent 5 weeks in Ghana, taking lessons at the source. In this work Drumming, Reich combines the complexity and layering of African rhythms with his own compositional technique of “phasing”, in which two musicians start the piece in sync but slowly pull apart in time. In order to do this, one of the musicians plays slightly faster–or is it that the other plays slightly slower? The difference in speed is imperceptible, except that the musicians eventually sync up a beat apart. The process repeats.