Drumming: Part III (1971) / Steve Reich as performed by So Percussion from Steve Reich: Drumming [Cantaloupe, 2005]
I was really just getting my own music together for the first time, and it was very exciting. It was a given that I wasn’t going to get a call from anyone at Carnegie Hall or any other institution asking me to come and perform, so fortunately I began to know some painters and sculptors who later became known as “minimal” artists…To make a long story short, painters and sculptors helped me get gigs. Sol LeWitt bought a score of Four Organs and some other scores. I used that money to buy the Glockenspiels for Drumming.
Why Patterns? (1978) / Morton Feldman as performed by California EAR Unit from Feldman: Rothko Chapel; Why Patterns? [New Albion, 1991]
I didn’t have to be ashamed to make a “lady,” so to speak, out of the glockenspiel. [Why Patterns?] is the only piece I know of that treats the glockenspiel as a very serious instrument. It was a big psychological decision – it wasn’t a choice of a novelty.
Little Brother has been all about new features lately. In this feature, I’ll be contemplating a theme – a person, place, thing, etc. – and posting daily for six days, each day examining the theme through music from different angles. This is similar in nature to what happens in my “Mixes,” although here I feel that each piece will benefit from being presented individually (but still a part of the whole).
This week’s theme: music featuring the glockenspiel.
Bell Solo from The Magic Flute (1791) / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as performed by Charles Daab from Bell Solo from “The Magic Flute” [Edison, c. 1915]
Written in the year of Mozart’s death, The Magic Flute is one of the earliest works that features the glockenspiel (or here: the “magic bells,” as played by Papageno). Also worth noting, this recording is reproduced here from an entire Edison wax cylinder.
Goodbye Girls / Broadcast from Tender Buttons [Warp, 2005]
I found out on Thursday that Trish Keenan of Broadcast was being hospitalized for pneumonia. I put on Tender Buttons that night but couldn’t listen to it and turned it off soon after. It just didn’t feel right. When I opened up my computer the next morning it said she’d died.
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) / The Arcade Fire from Funeral [Merge, 2004]
My little brother goes to school for music, just like I did. My mother plays guitar, piano, and sings with a hodgepodge 5-person church choir. My dad, despite having a completely foreign relationship with pitch, has always approached music as something to pursue and learn from. We’re no Partridge Family but Christmas isn’t Christmas without someone getting new music. This year my brother gave me The Arcade Fire’s Funeral on vinyl.
He had been away for some 3 months since he’d left for school. With him at home we made a few nights together, usually sometime between Midnight and 3AM. This night was dedicated to the listening of Funeral. I carefully slit a seam down the plastic wrap, placed the record on my turntable, and gently set the needle. Music slowly filled our space. My mind, lit with a fuzz and a flickering of bells, left the room.
Funeral was my first semester of college. I lived in Beck Hall, #240. A double. My roommate was among the percentage of students who don’t make it past the first year. Our room was cold, dark, and had next to nothing on the cinderblock walls. I had a grey comforter. His was a blue almost black. Cait and Lauren lived above us and they were high school friends. For me, Kutztown was far enough away that nobody from my high school knew what it was. I’d met Cait through the marching band. I played one of the 5 bass drums in the drumline and she was in the colorguard. Their room was much different than my own. It was warm, in the kind of way that home feels warm. They had lamps and colorful blankets. The scents were always on the pleasant side of the scale. Cait had had a high school friend named Toad, her senior prom date. He didn’t go to Kutztown and they weren’t dating, but she entrusted him for musical wisdom and advising, as if he was some kind of niche soothsayer. When we gathered to listen to music it felt sacred, and secret. What did we know? And when would everyone else find out? Like Watergate before boiling point, this is what people said college was all about. Funeral was Toad’s pearl. Cait played it over and over again in that room upstairs. It all could’ve been over after “Tunnels” for me.
Yesterday was my last story. I am exhausted. Thank you for reading.
I will be returning in the New Year and posting again in my usual weekly fashion.
In the meantime, I’ve created a new page at the top of the screen for my “Year In Music.” Hopefully this will facilitate navigating through the artists and musicians I’ve chosen.
And finally, I wanted to acknowledge everyone who helped make this possible. Special thanks to all of the visual artists: Brad Wreyford, Liz Noble, Adrienne Lynch, Katrina Andry, Cody Arnall, Pareesa Pourian, Yoojeung Park, David Carpenter, Xavier Jimenez, Kit French, Leo Madriz, Lindsey Maestri, Sarah Schimeneck, Matt Dove, Tyler Mackie, Kim Howard, Hannah March Campbell, 003D, and Isoko Onodera. Additional thanks to Allison Regan, Bill Kelley, Brian Steinmann, Kate Marchetto, Kyle Page, and my parents.