Short Ride in a Fast Machine (4:13)

Cover of ADAMS: Shaker Loops / Wound Dresser / Short Ride in a Fast Machine

From ADAMS: Shaker Loops / Wound Dresser / Short Ride in a Fast Machine and 20 other releases

Short Ride in a Fast Machine is a joyfully exuberant piece, brilliantly scored for a large orchestra. The steady marking of a beat is typical of Adams’s music. Short Ride begins with a marking of quarter-notes (woodblock, soon joined by the four trumpets) and eighths (clarinets and synthesizers); the woodblock is fortissimo and the other instruments play forte. Adams sees the rest of the orchestra as running the gauntlet through that rhythmic tunnel. About the title: “You know how it is when someone asks you to ride in a terrific sports car, and then you wish you hadn’t?”

Short Ride in a Fast Machine features the usual minimalist earmarks: repetition, steady beat, and, perhaps most crucially, a harmonic language with an emphasis on consonance unlike anything in Western art music in the last five hundred years. Adams is not a simple—or simple-minded—artist. His concern has been to invent music at once familiar and subtle. For all of their minimalist features, works such as Harmonium, Harmonielhere, and El Dorado are full of surprises, always enchanting in the glow and gleam of their sonority, and bursting with the energy generated by their harmonic movement.

This is the only piece to be dropped from the program for the Last Night at the Proms on two occasions - once after the death of Princess Di and once after 9/11. It has since been on the program.


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  • bartende_r

    so fast I can feel the wind on my face. ecstatic piece!

    1 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Sooperglitcher

    Interesting, and captivating!

    29 Mar 2013 Reply
  • fastlane01

    like the sound

    25 Dec 2012 Reply
  • edubbwitthevdub

    I love that I can listen to this and Skrillex and appreciate both. Thanks mom and dad!

    27 Jan 2012 Reply
  • smok1smok1

    I heard once John Orfe from "Alarm Will Sound" band playing this piece on solo piano. I was amazing to put all Adams energy into solo piano. Has anyone seen ANY recording of solo piano arrangement for this? I would love to buy this!

    6 Jan 2012 Reply
  • luizaoares

    Increíble, como todo que hace John Adams. Maravilloso

    11 Sep 2011 Reply
  • bobgreen623


    7 Mar 2011 Reply
  • joonas1


    23 Jan 2011 Reply
  • valentin-solal

    Such an amazing piece of music!

    18 Jan 2011 Reply
  • bobgreen623

    most exhilarating!

    4 Jan 2011 Reply
  • mintonmedia

    0-60 in 5 seconds! OMG!

    11 Aug 2010 Reply
  • Gladiator763

    YES! YES!

    16 Jul 2010 Reply
  • fogmoth

    O.K I'm awake now.

    15 May 2010 Reply
  • violatube

    thats nice, the national youth orchestra of germany also played this amazing piece^^ with bravour!

    26 Jan 2010 Reply
  • crispy17

    Fast ride in a short track

    15 Jan 2010 Reply
  • coolguy9610

    wow... this is incredible! Definitely not your typical minimalist piece. my favorite one ever.

    8 Jan 2010 Reply
  • icaarus

    I am now ready to be launched into space!

    12 Dec 2009 Reply
  • nihilismexe

    In responce to what brandonabley said, it reminds me a lot of Nintendo's Smash Bros. in certain parts. In others I hear inspiration for Jonny Greenwood's score of There Will Be Blood. This is a brilliant song, and it is very exciting!

    23 Nov 2009 Reply
  • DaveSarge

    this piece is also the start of another one of his songs, but which one?

    29 Oct 2009 Reply
  • nicklbs

    Really good stuff. You can listen to it again and again.

    27 Oct 2009 Reply
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