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Music Essays
electronic music pioneers part 1 electronic music pioneers part 2
steve reich - minimalist a short history of the american composer

Different Trains
different trains - part one introduction and the use of music technology
different trains - part two thematic development
different trains - part three thematic development and continuity
different trains - part four dynamics and conclusions
different trains - table 1 tables 1.a. to 1.c
different trains - table 2 tables 2.a. to 2.g

 


 


different trains

part three - thematic development (continued)

 

 


 

Third Movement - After The War

The thematic development of the third movement consists of more sustained instrumental passages. This material would seem to originate from a common "pool" of pitch intervals. If we consider the instrumental passage which opens the third movement (music example nine) with the music which precedes "Going to America" (music example eleven) we discover a similar intervallic relationship:-

Different Trains ex 9

Different Trains ex 11

Most of these intervals have their roots in the melody of the diction. For instance, the melodic leaps of perfect fourths and fifths from the double bass (that permeate the elements "and the war was over" and "are you sure?") stem from the falling perfect fourth of "over" from "The war is over":-

Different Trains ex 10

This section contains the longest sampled elements, with an average duration of about fifty seconds (observe table 1c.). This allows for more elaborate development, especially in the harmony. Notice that from "Going to America" to the end of the work there is harmonic development in the bass. Here, Reich draws on the compositional experience gained from such works as "The Desert Music", revolving around several pulsing chromatic chords. There appears to be only one other instance of harmonic development in "Different Trains", that of "in 1939", in the first movement (moving from C minor to F minor).

 

Continuity and the role of the strings

There is an obvious and important reason why "Different Trains" should not be, naturally, continuous. The many diverse samples (there are forty-three in all: movement one containing ten, the second movement has twenty-three, and the last movement incorporates a further ten new samples) each introduce their original rhythmic and melodic flavour and frequently alter the tempo of the section. I have already noted that Reich modifies the theme of some of the fragments. I believe that this is because occasionally the intonation of the words are too difficult to play. At other times Reich disposes of certain notes to aid the rhythmic flow of the passage. However, Reich always uses the string sections to underpin the contour of the sample, usually with the violin or viola, occasionally with cello (for example, in the third movement, on the words "but today, they're all gone"). The main compositional device to provide unity and coherence is the instrumental accompaniment of example one, pervading both the first movement and (in a mostly slower tempo) second movement:-

Different Trains ex 1

This forms both a harmonic and rhythmic pedal point against which most of the diction unfolds.



 

 

different trains p.1 - p.2 - p.3 - p.4

 

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