John Adams Short Ride In A Fast Machine

Short Ride in a Fast Machine: Orchestration Deconstruction

I recently joined the board of the Academy of Scoring Arts, a Los Angeles-based organization which works to advance the creative and technical process of scoring visual media by bringing together composers, filmmakers, audio engineers, and musicians to share knowledge through the production of educational programs and community events.

At our last monthly LA Ravel orchestration study, I led a discussion on the modern classic Short Ride in a Fast Machine, by American composer John Adams.

From Wikipedia:

John Adams completed Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. He applies the description “fanfare for orchestra” to this work and to the earlier Tromba Lontana (1985). The former is also known as Fanfare for Great Woods because it was commissioned for the Great Woods Festival of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. As a commentary on the title Adams inquires, “You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn’t?” This work is an iconic example of Adams’s postminimal style, which is utilized in other works like Phrygian GatesShaker Loops, and Nixon in China. This style derives from minimalism as defined by the works of Steve ReichTerry Riley, and Philip Glass, although it proceeds to “make use of minimalist techniques in more dramatic settings.”

In the course of our interactive discussion, we looked at a deconstruction of a passage from the piece, which demonstrates unique ways in which Adams created the orchestration for this piece, which is typical of his earlier works.

Fans of this work may also enjoy checking out the following related resources:

John Adams discussing the genesis of this work:

A wonderful performance by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra:

A unique arrangement of the piece for marching band:

4 hours ago
Me and the @scoringarts crew with @JBealMusic ( #houseofcards #monk composer) after he shared some amazing projects he's been working on. Jeff is a true inspiration and has an instinctive feel for drama and film noir. https://t.co/L7mtOUaCZJ daviddas photo
3 days ago
Composers/studio cats: if configuring a new Mac, is there any reason to opt for the more expensive 10Gb ethernet as opposed to gigabit ethernet? I can't think of one, but want to be sure I'm not overlooking something.
5 days ago
Jazz and film noir fans, you won't want to miss this class featuring @JBealMusic ( #houseofcards, #monk, #blackfish, #queenofversailles) and @ScottHealyMusic at the Ellington Group @scoringarts this Saturday. Check it out: https://t.co/8Z93he6A1S
5 days ago
A little night sight-reading to keep the chops sharp. https://t.co/H3yn440tKt daviddas photo
1 week ago
Celebrating some amazing composers tonight with @The_SCL Emmy reception. https://t.co/dZRKr7QTZb daviddas photo