Pop Culture
May 18, 2023, 06:28AM

You Don’t Understand Me Yet

A 2020 Brooklyn Rail interview with artist Jo Baer vs. a 1972 ArtForum interview with composer Steve Reich.

Steve reich photo credit jeffrey herman.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Jo Baer: It’s crucial to understand how things behave and what is important and what is less important. I hope you understand this.

Steve Reich: The main issue is what’s happening musically; is this beautiful, is this sending chills up and down my spine, or isn’t it?

Baer: There are difficult things in the world, but that's not one of them.

Reich: Exactly. If you follow your personal taste, you get your taste back.

Baer: (Laughs) You don't understand me yet. 


Reich: Well, there are different kinds of control.

Baer: A lot of them are going to museums now.

Reich: Not really. No collage, no improvisation, and a certain formal, ritual quality to it.

Baer: Nobody can get around that. It takes a lot of time and patience.

Reich: Even in 1969, when I was deeply into this, I felt a need to set up that kind of paradoxical situation.


Baer: And it can do anything you want. You can play with it, but in the end, space is space, it's something that keeps things apart and brings them together perhaps.

Reich: I became submerged.

Baer: Everyone should.

Reich: Yes, they are by-products of what the marimbas are playing. The girls would start singing something they heard, and if everybody liked it, we would write it down; or I would notate certain patterns beforehand, and they would either like them or not.

Baer: Suddenly it seems like there's a good idea floating around.

Raymond Cummings has contributed to Splice Today for 13 years.


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