Sunday, August 31, 2008

Listening to John Adams

I’ve finally started catching up with some of John Adams’ music – and I’ve also got the new book out from the library that I wrote about recently.
The interview at the beginning of the book gives a fairly laid-back view of Adams, tells how he was enamoured of John Cage’s music for a time, but left that behind, how he’s been classed with the minimalists, but isn’t really one of them. Seems to me, from what I’ve been listening to, that he has minimalist leanings, in the sense that he takes a very small amount of material and uses it constantly, but the difference is that he adds variety to this: things don’t stay the same for hour after hour until you want to scream. And the piece in which the recording of a preacher features, even the preacher’s words are swapped around and edited so that there’s a different sense to them each time they appear. Unlike those pieces where some words are just looped over and over, while the musicians play randomly, Adams’ looping is done with some finesse, with the hand of an artist, rather than that of someone who thinks that looping for the sake of looping is artful.

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