When Donald Trump Analyzed Composer Steve Reich (And Failed)

Monday, November 07, 2016 - 12:00 AM

Steve Reich, with a phase-shifting pulse gate, photographed in New York in 1969. Steve Reich, with a phase-shifting pulse gate, photographed in New York in 1969. (Nonesuch/NPR)

A lot has been said about the truthfulness of both presidential candidates this season. And it appears that at least one of the two candidates has waded into the history of contemporary classical music without the proper facts on hand.

Last week, musicologist (and Q2 Music contributor) Will Robin tweeted an excerpt of Donald Trump's book Think Like A Champion, in which the presidential candidate (or his ghost writer) played loose with the origin story behind composer Steve Reich's discovery and innovation of musical phasing.

Here's the tweet from Robin:

In the book it appears that Trump is comparing Reich's discovery of phasing while watching windshield wipers to his own methods of inspiration for his business plans. But wait a second. Let's fact-check Trump's recollection of the Reich story.

A recent article by the New York Times about Reich's 80th birthday described how Reich discovered phasing in 1965. While working in his studio, Reich accidentally started two identical tape decks in unison and heard them gradually fall out of sync inspiring him to apply the phenomenon to his compositions.

The post by Robin sparked a little social media ribbing by fans and performers of contemporary compositions.

Of course, this revelation will not likely sway any votes. And perhaps credit should be rewarded for effort. But while it is anyone's guess where Trump finds his inspiration — whether it be from multi-tasking or from out-of-sync windshield wipers — what seems clear is that the presidential candidates this political cycle are 0 for 1 in analyzing the work of contemporary composers.

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Comments [16]

Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Baron: Well written. I donate to QXR and hope that none of my money goes to WNYC. Some snotty person from the NY Times remarked that Trump voters were from an inferior gene pool.

Nov. 09 2016 07:09 AM
The_Baron from Long Island City, NY

The odiously smug blog by Mike Rinzel (or his ghost writer) regarding Donald Trump is about on the same level as the non-stop Dump Trump articles that one could find on any given day on sites such as Yahoo "News," which normally would be devoting more space to coverage of America's real First Family, the Kardashians.

Sadly, the elite snobbishness that has long been associated with classical music in America is apparently alive and well at WQXR. One would expect nothing less from a station whose best days are far behind it and whose very existence depends on the crumbs that fall from the tables of its
step-sister, the equally smug lWNYC.

Classical music fans like me who just want to listen to fine music without the attitude and the sophomoric political observations have a lot of choices now. They can go to K-Mozart (which has no commercials), YourClassical.org, Pandora and many other sources for their classical music fix. Employees of WQXR at all levels would do well to keep their resumés up to date and develop some other skills that do not require a smarm quotient.

Nov. 08 2016 10:19 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Floria: Yes, but Ninbus also posted his political thoughts. Your anger should be directed at QXR for their post. I could not just post nothing in reply. Just because he is from the UWS does not make him the all knowing poobah.
In the final analysis, it is all about politics from man's early journey.

Nov. 08 2016 02:02 PM
Floria from NYC

Concetta, stick to music nostalgia which are your own thoughts. Your political thoughts are controlled by political propaganda.

Nov. 08 2016 11:31 AM
VESPASIAN from Suffolk

I had a barf bag with me when I voted. Wonder how many barf bags will be
out there today.

Nov. 08 2016 07:11 AM
adam rowe from knoxville, tn

What on earth would have to be wrong with your car in order for the wipers to be out of sync...?

Nov. 07 2016 06:00 PM
Carol Luparella from Garfield, NJ

Elizabeth, that's a good one! Except you insulted poor Wagner!
Yes, Concetta, some choices we had this year - the two parties couldn't come up with anyone better?!?

Nov. 07 2016 04:38 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

Hi Carol, QXR started this. They had nothing else to write about.
I cannot wait for this squalid campaign to finally end. A nation of more than 300 million people. These were our choices.
The puppy I wanted was Rand Paul.
Best wishes

Nov. 07 2016 04:00 PM
Elizabeth J from NYC

Ha! I would never expect Trump to listen to let alone appreciate Classical music - except maybe Wagner.
and Steve Reich!? C'mon, that had to be the ghost writer.

Nov. 07 2016 03:20 PM
Carol Luparella from Garfield, NJ

Hi Concetta,
Have we started a kerfuffle? (or maybe WQXR started it!)

Democrats and Republicans both seem to have abandoned civility and common sense.
Hillary Clinton and the Democrats seem intent on forcing Catholics and other people of faith to change their beliefs in order to fit in with the secular culture.
Meanwhile, the Republican party is imploding before our eyes, as Donald Trump demonizes immigrants, refugees, women, war heroes, the press and anyone who doesn't agree with him, while the leading members of the party still can't admit that he is totally unqualified to hold our country's highest office.
The only exception to this madness is Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has retained his integrity by refusing to support Trump. Governor Kasich will be my write-in choice in this election.

Thanks for letting me vent - I'm just so disgusted by this whole thing!
Best wishes!

Nov. 07 2016 02:44 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

What Is liberality and sanity? Shooting down Russian planes which she said she would do. As thus we speak, the Russians have dispatched a nuclear sub off the coast of Alaska. Took money from the Saudis, Clinton Foundation, ETC ETC. Wants a compliant citizenry, has said we need to change religious views in America. this is on tape. Mind control. Hates Catholics. I guess hating Catholics is OK with the lefties. But what would QXR do without Catholics. Most of the great composers were CATHOLIC. I did not open the door to these comments. QXR did with their stupid posting. The station is supposed to be about beautiful music. we have enough leftie c---p with MSNBC and CNN.

Nov. 07 2016 12:02 PM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

@Nimbus: I am suffering from the choice of a swine, a power mad corrupt politician and a pothead.
How can you even think that Hillary as a choice is just fine. A vote for Hillary is like a vote for Bush/Cheney.

Hi Carol, why did QXR even bother with this? Because they are a bunch of lefties. Best wishes

Nov. 07 2016 11:52 AM
Carol Luparella from Garfield, NJ

Why did you waste space on your website for this? Who cares what Trump thinks about anything?

Nov. 07 2016 11:16 AM
Ninbus from UWS of Manhattan

To Concetta Nardone from Nassau:

You seem to be suffering from an advanced case of Hillary Derangement Syndrome.

My deepest sympathies.

May it pass quickly....like tomorrow.

Condolences in advance from the Upper West Side of Manhattan - a hotbed of sanity and liberality

Nov. 07 2016 11:05 AM
Maria from NJ

How is this even relevant? Who doesn't make mistakes?

Nov. 07 2016 10:05 AM
Concetta Nardone from Nassau

QXR had no right to wade in on Trump. How about commenting on Hillary's corruption, etc. which I will not go on about. We know Trump is a lout and a classless bore but Hillary is a power mad monster. You need to give equal time to Trump. Shame on you.

Nov. 07 2016 07:08 AM

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