John Adams — Short Ride in a Fast Machine

About the piece

The name of this piece prepares you perfectly for what you are about to hear. The orchestra are about to take you on a short ride in a fast machine. There are bright brassy fanfares, piercing high sparks, machine-like rhythms, very high notes, very low notes like a space rocket going higher and faster and all this is held together by a wood block pulse. So, hold on tight, the rhythm is like an engine pushing you along, never stopping!

About the composer

John Adams is an American composer and conductor who lives in California and who began composing at the age of ten. He has written operas and orchestral music, often about recent history and social issues.

Short Ride in a Fast Machine was composed for the opening of an American music festival called Great Woods in 1986. It’s written for a large orchestra and is described as a fanfare. A fanfare is normally a loud flourish played on brass instruments that introduces someone or something.

John Adams is known for writing minimalist music. Minimalism is a style of composition that uses repeated patterns of notes and a steady beat.

John Adams on the Ten Pieces website

More resources for John Adams from the Ten Pieces pages on the BBC website.

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