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Steve Reich


Steve Reich (born October 3, 1936 is an American composer. Reich is popularly regarded as repetitive and minimalist, but in some works deviates from a purely minimalist style, which shows some connection to Minimalism and the work of Reich's artist friends such as Sol Lewitt and Richard Serra.

Reich's music explores such ideas in contemporary music as using tape loops to create phasing patterns.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve Reich

Glass and Reich

By the mid-sixties, Philip Glass and Steve Reich had arrived on the New York scene and embarked upon further explorations into the new tonality, Glass with his unique incorporation of Asiatic process art; Reich with his invention of "phase music", with which he liberally mixed the rhythmic models he had learned while studying with master drummers in Ghana.

Reich and Tape

Meanwhile, in the world of 'serious' music, Steve Reich had begun his tape recorder experiments in 1965. It's Gonna Rain featured the voice of Brother Walter, a Pentecostal preacher whom Reich recorded on the streets of San Francisco. Reich created two identical tape loops of the preacher's sermon about the end of the world. The loops are played simultaneously and allowed to gradually shift out of phase with one another creating, as Reich calls it, Ďa controlled chaos.' Brian Eno, among others, has cited Reich as an inspiration for his own work with tape loops.--Kevin Concannon


  1. Steve Reich - Remixed [1 CD, Amazon US]
    The beauty of Steve Reich's minimalist compositions can be found not in their repetition but in their evolution. Listening to the Kronos Quartet perform Different Trains, the listener quickly gets over the camp value of the conductor samples to discover an unfolding theme that harks back not only to bustling industrialism but also to the horror of the Nazi concentration-camp trains. Reich is a master of such subtle changes in sonics, and his impeccable timing turns simple phrases into musical tapestries. On Reich Remixed, some of dance music's more innovative artists pay homage to the composer in the way they know best: by sampling his works and remixing them into their own. Coldcut's take on Music for 18 Musicians adds a fast-paced techno flair to the classic composition, Howie B's Eight Lines respectfully keeps the integrity of the original piece, and Tranquility Bass peppers "Megamix" with voices and (eventually) beats. There are some misses here, and, most unfortunate, DJ Spooky's schizophrenic treatment of City Life lobotomizes a previously fine composition. No, you still can't dance to Reich, but you can see how others use him for source material. But after hearing these condensed and diced versions, you might find it's worth delving back into Reich's originals to hear what the fuss is all about. --Jason Verlinde

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