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  • 7/24/2019 Steve Reich's 'Different Trains'

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    See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231954302

    Steve Reich's Different Trains

    ARTICLE FEBRUARY 1990

    DOI: 10.1017/S0040298200061076

    CITATION

    1

    READS

    416

    1 AUTHOR:

    Christopher Fox

    Brunel University London

    14PUBLICATIONS 14CITATIONS

    SEE PROFILE

    Available from: Christopher Fox

    Retrieved on: 22 February 2016

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Fox8?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_7https://www.researchgate.net/institution/Brunel_University_London?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_6https://www.researchgate.net/?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_1https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Fox8?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_7https://www.researchgate.net/institution/Brunel_University_London?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_6https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Fox8?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_5https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Fox8?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_4https://www.researchgate.net/?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_1https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231954302_Steve_Reich%27s_%27Different_Trains%27?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_3https://www.researchgate.net/publication/231954302_Steve_Reich%27s_%27Different_Trains%27?enrichId=rgreq-b38ca215-93a1-4402-8200-d05434c6a02b&enrichSource=Y292ZXJQYWdlOzIzMTk1NDMwMjtBUzoyMjQyNTAyMDkyODAwMDBAMTQzMDQ3NjgyNDA2NQ%3D%3D&el=1_x_2
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    Steve Reich's 'Different Trains'Author(s): Christopher FoxReviewed work(s):Source: Tempo, New Series, No. 172 (Mar., 1990), pp. 2-8Published by: Cambridge University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/945403.

    Accessed: 24/01/2012 08:31

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    Christopher

    ox

    Steve Reich's'DifferentTrains'

    Steve

    Reich's

    Different

    Trains is

    a

    27-minute

    work

    for

    string

    quartet

    and

    tape,

    written in

    I988

    to a

    commission

    from

    the

    Kronos

    Quartet.

    It

    has

    already

    enjoyed

    a

    wide

    circulation:

    the

    Kronos

    have toured it

    extensively

    (in

    Britain

    they premiered

    it in the

    Queen

    Elizabeth

    Hall,

    a

    performance

    that was

    recorded for

    a

    subsequent

    television

    broadcast)

    and

    recorded it

    for

    Nonesuch.'

    Reich's

    reputation

    has

    never

    been

    confined to

    'serious'

    new

    music circles

    and

    the

    combination of

    his

    (so-called)

    'crossover'

    credentials

    with

    those of

    the

    Kronos

    (and

    the

    pairing

    on

    record of

    Diferent

    Trainswith

    Reich's

    Electric

    Counterpoint,

    written

    for

    the

    equally

    cultish

    Pat

    Metheny)

    is

    the

    stuff of

    record

    company

    executives'

    wilder

    dreams. If

    one

    assumes that the meaning of any musical work

    owes

    as much

    to the

    means of

    its

    production

    and

    dissemination as

    to the

    sounds

    themselves,

    then

    Diferent

    Trains s a

    contemporary

    cultural

    phenomenon

    whose

    significance

    is

    quite

    differ-

    ent from

    that of

    most

    new

    music

    and almost

    certainly

    unique

    amongst

    new works

    for

    string

    quartet.

    The

    present

    article is an

    attempt

    to

    explicate

    that

    significance,

    not so

    much

    through

    a

    note-to-note

    analysis

    of

    the music as

    through

    an

    analysis

    of

    the ideas

    the

    music

    articulates.

    To any listener, whether Reich aficianado r

    not,

    the

    most

    immediately

    striking

    aspect

    of

    Dffereiit

    Trains s the

    contribution

    made

    by

    the

    tape part.

    To

    the sound of

    the live

    string quartet,

    the

    tape

    adds

    another

    three

    layers

    of

    string

    quartet

    sound,

    the

    sounds of

    trains

    (engines,

    whistles,

    etc),

    sirens and

    bells,

    and a

    sequence

    of short

    extracts of

    recorded

    speech.

    It is this

    last element

    that is the

    most

    remarkablefeature of

    the work.

    Reich

    has

    linked

    the voices of

    his former

    governess,

    Virginia,

    of a

    retired

    American

    railway steward, LawrenceDavis, and of three

    survivors

    of

    the

    Nazi

    holocaust,

    Rachel,

    Paul

    and

    Rachella,

    all

    reminiscing

    about their ex-

    periences

    during

    the

    Second

    World War.

    Inevitably

    these

    experiences

    were

    radically

    different. As

    Reich

    says:

    'Stcvc

    Reich,

    Dit

    ircnt

    TrainIslElectric

    Counterpoint,

    onesuch

    979176-2,

    1989.

    I

    travelled ack

    and orth

    between

    New York

    andLos

    Angeles

    from

    .I939

    to

    1942

    accompanied by

    my

    governess.

    While these

    trips

    were

    exciting

    and

    romantic t the

    time,

    I

    now look

    back

    and hink

    hat,

    if I

    hadbeen n

    Europe

    during

    his

    period,

    as

    aJew

    I

    wouldhavehad o rideverydifferentrains.

    Reich

    uses

    just

    46

    spoken

    phrases

    during

    the

    courseof the

    piece,

    grouped

    n

    three

    movements,

    as

    shown in

    Table

    I.

    As can

    be

    seen,

    through

    them

    Reich is

    attempting

    nothing

    less than

    a

    brief

    history

    of

    perhaps

    the

    most

    appallingly

    systematic

    onslaught,

    in

    this

    or

    any

    other

    century,

    by

    a

    government

    on the

    lives of

    millions

    of

    people. By

    focussing

    on

    the

    personal

    histories

    of a

    few

    individuals he

    is able to

    emphasize

    the

    inhumanity

    of the Nazis'

    invasion

    of so

    many

    people's

    lives; the

    juxtaposition

    of the two

    Americans

    with their

    European

    contemporaries

    establishes the

    contrast

    between

    normality

    and

    the

    Europeans' experiences.

    Thus when

    the

    Pullman

    porter,

    Lawrence

    Davis,

    says

    in

    the

    third

    movement,

    'But

    today,

    they're

    all

    gone',

    he is

    recalling

    the

    luxurious

    transcontinental

    trains on

    which

    he

    worked; however,

    for

    the

    listener,

    these

    words

    can also become

    an

    elegy

    for

    the

    millions of

    people

    who died

    between

    1933

    and

    I945.

    Such a project is, like any which seeks to

    make art out

    of othe