Two By Five
June 18, 2013 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Steve Reich's 3-movement (Fast, Slow, Fast) somewhat jazzy, somewhat rock-ish 2x5 was composed for 5 musicians and prerecorded tape, or two groups of five musicians. Here is Bang On A Can All-Stars (6 of them, no idea why) performing the piece. [20m] Here is a large group of BOACA-S performing it as a 10-piece ensemble. [21m] posted by hippybear (5 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I always thought the other piece on this record was a lot better, partially because of the performance. The other work is Double Sextet and played spectacularly by 8th blackbird. Nothing against BOACAS because the piece is a bear to just get through, but it feels a little lifeless.

(I also did a remix of that 3rd movement for the same contest that Vakula placed in. Its a bonkers remix and finding it was worth the time it took to enter)
posted by lownote at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's Double Sextet, album version and live version. Agree with lownote that this piece is amazing.
posted by cushie at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Saw them play this against another group last year. Amazing night.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 8:22 PM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Slight derail: Steve Reich also composed the soundtrack [MP3] for one of experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson's films: O DEM WATERMELONS (1965) [video], which was produced as an intermission piece for the San Francisco Mime Troupe's 1965 show The Minstrel Show -- Or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel. Reich wrote the music for the whole show, including the intermission film (the music accompaniment for which was originally performed live).

Edward Strickland's Minimalism: Origins (excerpted here) describes the combination:
In early 1965 Reich also used the ending of Stephan Foster's "Massa's in De Cold Cold Ground" and set a fragment of his "Oh Dem Watermelons" in five-part canon as part of the Mime Troupe's "minstrel show," presented as in illustration of the racial stereotypes implicit in both the original music and the original minstrel shows. Reich's "Oh Dem Watermelons" canon accompanied the projection, in the middle of the minstrel show, of a quick-cut film of the same name by Robert Nelson, featuring watermelons flying into Superman's arms, being smashed, being caressed by a naked woman, etc. It was the middle of the 1960s.
After Nelson's death in early 2012, he and his films were honored by memorial screenings at Chicago's Siskel Film Center, Anthology Film Archives in New York, and at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (where he had been one of the founding members of the film department in 1978).
posted by orthicon halo at 6:22 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have to say, I have never heard the album version of 2x5. But the first linked video of a live performance of 2x5 has a good edge to it and I found it quite exhilarating. But it's not uncommon for studio performances to be a bit flat. Witness basically all (with some exceptions) of the Grateful Dead's canon.
posted by hippybear at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2013

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