Yesterday while thinking about the record’s opening track—which I am currently finishing up—I wound up listening to Music For 18 Musicians twice through. It’s an all-time favorite of mine, and more than any album that I own, this one might be the most formative in helping me to understand what it means to arrange songs (which is, arguably, a very different discipline than songwriting).
I love the way that the piece is segmented into discrete movements that develop over time. Each section starts small—with just a few instruments working together—before slowly adding layer upon later until the composition reaches critical mass, only to snap back into minimalism upon reaching the next movement. 18 Musicians’ greatest achievement, though, may be in the fact that it succeeds as a highly cerebral composition, while also having a strong emotional impact.
A note on the attached YouTube video: this was a performance of the piece which took place in Chicago’s Millennium Park during the summer of 2011. I was lucky to have seen it live. ‘Twas wonderful.