Li’l Minimalist

(written in March 2010)

One sunny late winter evening, I pick up Queen Peace after work. Nattily attired and chipper, she skips just ahead and then whirls around to ask, “Do you want to see my favourite dance?”

Of course, I answer. Her skip turns into a side to side stride, her arms swinging wide, as she sings an amalgam of various nursery rhymes, laughing herself off balance and half-crashing into some bushes. Then, she stands up straight and walks by my side. Quietly thoughtful for a moment, she looks up and says, “Daddy, I’m actually very interested in Steve Reich.”

This is a three year-old, who, every few days when I see her, seems to have advanced to a complete new level of understanding and expression of her world. And level of memory – it was a while ago I told her I had tickets to the Cool Drummings concert in Toronto, featuring the composer and his music.

“Can I go to the concert with you?”

It will be past your bedtime honey, and it might be a little loud for you. But we can listen to a Steve Reich concert when we get home if you like.

Later, I put on the Reich at the Roxy album.

“It’s skipping.”

“It sounds like soldiers.” Break in music from pulsing rhythm to pillars of sounds and shift of tempo; return to steady rhythm. We count together, dividing the bar by three, then four. This loses most adults. The bass drum and bass end of the piano pound out accents. “More soldiers,” she says. “Marching. March! March!” I begin to worry she’ll confuse this Reich with a more infamous one when her schooling begins.

I leave the room briefly. A fast movement begins. “Daddy, daddy, she calls out, “It’s playing very fast now! I call him Steve Rush!”

Voices. “Oh, I like opera.” Steve Reich doesn’t. “Does he like goblins and faeries in his opera?”

The music stops on a dime. “It’s over, I think.” [Applause.] “The concert ended. Daddy, it was good. I like Steve Reich.”

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2 thoughts on “Li’l Minimalist

  1. David Machen Woodward

    At long last I have conflated Reich with Grieg. I find myself wondering if anyone has approached and interpreted The Peer Gynt suite via John Oswald, too. Something to fabricate in my head as I putter about the studio, I suppose. Very much enjoying your writing, Bruce.
    David Woodward

    Reply
  2. elmahboob Post author

    Indeed! I can imagine finding out Glenn Gould was distantly related to Reich (as well as Grieg). It was a pleasure to meet you, David, and I look forward to further conversations at some point. Thank you for reading. Bruce

    Reply

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