(Short comment after a friend’s blog mentioned Steve Reich’s music possibly Different Trains, Electric Counterpoint.)

I’m afraid that I have a pretty strong prejudice against modern music. Most of them sound like Hollywood movie soundtrack. I listened to the fragments on Amazon, and they sound pretty much like Philip Glass’ stuff–Wikipedia says Reich started this whole electronic repetitive thing. Seems to me it’s indication of lack of creativity: find a good motif isn’t that hard, stretching it to a 15-minute piece isn’t either with the help of computers.

(Now an excerpt from an email.)

I generally dislike 20th century music, as lots of it sounds like movie soundtrack: dramatic, episodic, repetitive. The 3rd trait is particularly vexing. It’s like modern composers love to just stick to something they like, after abandoning classical structures like fugue’s contrapunctual themes and sonata’s exposition-development-recapitulation. It might have originated from Ravel’s Bolero, which is a wonderful piece. Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony (“Leningrad”) has the 22-bar “invasion march” repeated 12 times. Barber’s Adagio for Strings (again, beautiful). “O Fortuna” (the first and most famous segment) in Orff’s Carmina Burana (Xiaolei mentioned the piece, but I really don’t like it, and am not surprised by its popularity in Nazi Germany). Most segments in Holst’s Planets. And don’t even think of those “minimalists” like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. I would get bored after hearing a Chopin Waltz 10 times, but I would be totally insane about mid way through the 2nd time you play me a Steve Reich piece.

(And more self-plagiarism: I blasted Phillip Glass at the end of a piece more than 10 years old.)

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