Nov 27, 2016

Sundaze 1648


Today's artist is an American composer (born October 3, 1936) who, along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass, pioneered minimal music in the mid to late 1960s. His style of composition influenced many composers and groups. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns. These compositions, marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, have significantly influenced contemporary music, especially in the US...... N'Joy

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A highly influential avant-garde composer and one of the key founders of the minimalist school of music, Reich has embraced a wide variety of musical styles and interests, forging from them a unique synthesis.

Reich took piano lessons as a youngster, but his first big musical revelations came at 14, when he encountered the music of Bach and Stravinsky. He also had his first exposure to bebop, and immediately started learning drums and playing in a jazz band with friends. He played on weekends while studying at Cornell, which he entered at age 16 and where he received a degree in philosophy, specializing in the work of Wittgenstein. In 1957, he entered Juilliard, studying with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti (and meeting fellow student Philip Glass). Here Reich first heard 12-tone music; he got a further dose of it during graduate studies at Mills College in Oakland, working with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud, and eventually earning his master's degree.

At about that time Reich met Terry Riley, who was in the process of writing In C (1964). Reich played in its premiere, and In C's tonal approach and use of repeating patterns had a big influence on Reich's own music. In turn, Reich suggested the use of the eighth note pulse, which is now standard in performance of the piece. Reich had been experimenting with tapes, creating loops of speech and layering them, allowing the layers to move in and out of sync with one another. His early works It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) led to similar experiments with live performers, the first of which was Piano Phase for two pianos (1967). Back in New York, Reich and Glass formed an ensemble to perform their music (1968-1971). Several of those players later formed Steve Reich and Musicians, which has toured the world many times over.

In 1970, Reich studied for several weeks at the University of Ghana. His encounter with Ghanaian music and dance inspired his ambitious work Drumming (1970). Encounters with Indonesian gamelan music in 1973-1974 at Seattle and Berkeley were equally significant, and broadened Reich's rhythmic and timbral palette. His most significant composition of the time was Music for 18 Musicians (1974-1976), a large and colorful work which brought Reich worldwide recognition.

In the mid-'70s, Reich started taking Torah classes with his future wife, video artist Beryl Korot. He also studied traditional Jewish cantillation and incorporated it into his psalm settings, Tehillim (1981). Several chamber and orchestral works followed in the 1980s. For Different Trains (1988, a Grammy winner), Reich used a digital sampler to record speaking voices and derived the rhythmic and melodic ideas of the piece from those voices. Reich knew that Different Trains was going to lead to some kind of new documentary form incorporating both video and music. Collaborating with his wife for the first time, the two completed their theater work The Cave in 1993. They continued to explore the combination of music and video with Three Tales (1998-2002).

Music for 18 Musicians [Nonesuch 1998] By the end of the 21st century's first decade, the lasting significance of Reich's music was being recognized worldwide. After 1998's new recording of Music for 18 Musicians won a Grammy, Reich received honorary doctorates and awards from Juilliard, Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy and other schools; the 2007 Polar Music Prize; the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music (for Double Sextet); and, in 2012, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Music. On March 5, 2013 the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Brad Lubman, at the Royal Festival Hall in London gave the world premiere of Radio Rewrite for ensemble with 11 players, inspired by the music of Radiohead. The programme also included Double Sextet for ensemble with 12 players, Clapping Music, for two people and four hands featuring Reich himself alongside percussionist Colin Currie.

In 2013 Reich received the US$400,000 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in contemporary music for bringing a new conception of music, based on the use of realist elements from the realm of daily life and others drawn from the traditional music of Africa and Asia. In September 2014, Reich was awarded the "Leone d'Oro" (Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in Music) from the Venice Biennale. In March 2016, Reich was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Music in London at the ripe old age of 79 years.

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One of the most complex and fascinating works in his catalog, "Eight Lines" -- scored for two pianos, two string quartets, flute, piccolo, and clarinets -- weaves a dense fabric of music where melodies emerge, interlock, and sing. Its 5/4 time signature resists mental subdivision, making the composition appear seamless from beginning to end. Based on Jewish sounds of cantillation, this piece builds melodies one note at a time, making the listener hear a melody emerge that they have actually been listening to for some time; a remarkable work. 1981's Tehillim has earned its place in Steve Reich's canon. It's arguably his most mature and fully realized work, taking the various strands which had intrigued him before (including African percussion, the human voice, and the power of subtly changing patterns) and developing them in new and interesting ways. The title is Hebrew for "Psalms," and the chants the female vocals develop throughout are indeed liturgical texts. As such, they have a rhythm of their own which plays off of the steady pulse of the finger cymbals in interesting ways, placing accents in unexpected places. .

Steve Reich 05 Eight Lines - Tehillim    (flac  234mb)

01 Eight Lines (Octet) 17:36
02 Part I 11:45
03 Part II 6:01
03 Part III 6:18
05 Part IV 6:23


This hour-long work, commissioned by West German Radio and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, marks a transitional period for Reich. Based in the rhythmic pulse of Music for 18 Musicians, he adds a text by William Carlos Williams (sung by a full chorus), uses the more traditional sounds of a full orchestra (strings and brass are suddenly prominent), and snatches of melody dot the musical canvas here and there. The use of vocals here looks forward to such projects as Different Trains and The Cave. If Reich is trying to encapsulate the grandeur of the American west without falling back on typical "Western" tropes, he does so successfully.

Steve Reich 06 The Desert Music  (flac  238mb)

01 First Movement - Fast 7:54
02 Second Movement - Moderate 6:59
03 Third Movement Part One - Slow 6:59
04 Third Movement Part Two - Moderate 5:53
05 Third Movement Part Three - Slow 5:54
06 Fourth Movement - Moderate 3:35
07 Fifth Movement - Fast 10:47


Although Reich's music during the '80s, as he gained in popularity, was increasingly written for larger, lusher ensembles (with, oftentimes, the concomitant loss of "edge"), he occasionally and happily reverted to more contained compositions such as those included here. "Sextet" is pared down to four percussionists and two keyboardists (the latter including synthesizers) and evokes early pieces of Reich's Drumming while incorporating his ongoing use of longer melodic lines. In five sections, it tends toward a buoyant and jazzy bubbliness, percolating with all manner of busy interaction and wonderfully intermeshed rhythms. One of the new techniques employed is having the vibraphonists bow their instruments, generating long, ghostly tones reminiscent of musical saws but cleaner and more precise. Since this cannot be done quickly, Reich writes patterns that interweave between performers, achieving a kind of hocketing effect where, by playing only every third or fourth note in a rhythmic line, the ensemble can produce what the listener perceives as a fast tempo even as each individual is playing slowly. The closing section is pure effervescent bliss.

Steve Reich 07 New York Counterpoint - Sextet - The Four Sections  (flac  272mb)

New York Counterpoint
01 Part I 5:03
02 Part II 2:43
03 Part III 3:40
04 Part I 10:29
05 Part II 4:12
06 Part III 2:27
07 Part IV 3:14
08 Part V 5:59
The Four Sections
09 Part I 11:25
10 Part II 2:29
11 Part III 5:54
12 Part IV 6:13


This late-'80s work finds the minimalist composer mixing acoustic and taped material to great effect. The disc's centerpiece is "Different Trains," a work that frames Reich's impressions of his boyhood train trips between his mother in Los Angeles and his father in New York; Reich also intersperses references to the much more harrowing train rides Jews were forced to take to Nazi concentration camps. Using the fine playing of the Kronos Quartet as a base, Reich layers the work with the taped train musings of his governess, a retired Pullman porter, and various Holocaust survivors -- vintage train sounds from the '30s and '40s add to the riveting arrangement. And for some nice contrast, Reich recruits guitarist Pat Metheny to create a similarly momentous piece in "Electric Counterpoint" (Metheny plays live over a multi-tracked tape of ten guitars and two electric basses). Two fine works by Reich in his prime. Meanwhile, Reich -- for the first time in his mature career as a composer -- experiments with modulation between keys and other elements of tonality that he had previously ignored. Indeed, when the final movement, after three movements' worth of Reich's characteristic tonal ambiguity, finally "affirms the key of D major as the basic tonal center," as Reich's lucid liner notes helpfully explain, the effect, combined with the increasing power and passion of the female voices, is astonishing

Steve Reich 08 Different Trains - Electric Counterpoint - Three Movements  (flac  282mb)

Different Trains
01 America - Before The War 8:58
02 Europe - During The War 7:30
03 After The War 10:30
Electric Counterpoint
04 Fast 6:50
05 Slow 3:21
06 Fast 4:39
Three Movements
07 Movement I 6:43
08 Movement II 3:41
09 Movement III 4:18

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Anonymous said...

Rho, thanks a million for your Reich posts. I'm really looking forward to the final 2 disks whenever you get around to them. You+your blog continue to be the best!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for these - completing the set! Almost... The links for disc 5 (both flac and ogg) go to downloads for disk 8. Hope you can correct. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Oh, not to worry — upon opening the flac zip linked for disc 5 but labelled "Stv_Rch_Eght" its contents is actually "Steve Reich 05 Eight Lines - Tehillim"

Thanks again :)

abramson said...

Any chance of re upping these Steve Reich, I was really impressed by the BBC doc on minimalism.

Whiskybob said...

Just found your blog, really appreciate the great effort that goes into putting this stuff up

T.S. said...

Hello again, Rho:

I ask to reupload these albums again when you are available (I guess after March next year).

I really like Steve Reich!


T. S. said...

Hello, Rho:

My twin from the past asked for it but it was too early. I think now it is a good time to ask for a reup.

By the way, have you seen the picture of the backhole? It is scary, isn't it?

My second request is this (

Have a good rest of your week!


T. S. said...

Thank you for reupping the albums requested.