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Steve Reich

geboren am 3. Oktober 1936 in New York, erhielt im frühen Kindesalter Klavierunterricht und als 14jähriger Anfangsunterricht im Trommeln bei Roland Kohloff, dem späteren 1.Paukisten des New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Er studierte 1953-57 Philosophie an der Cornell University, besonders die Werke Ludwig Wittgensteins. Dort belegte er auch Musikkurse William Austins. In New York nahm er 1957-58 privat Kompositionsunterricht bei Hall Overton. Er studierte 1958-61 an der Juilliard School of Music in New York bei William Bergsma und Vincent Persichetti und 1962-63 am Mills College in Oakland bei Darius Milhaud und Luciano Berio Komposition.

Wesentliche Erfahrungen machte er am San Francisco Tape Center (1963-65). Hier führte er das für seine frühen Arbeiten mit Bandschleifen beispielhafte Werk "It`s Gonna Rain" (1965) auf und arbeitete mit dem Filmemacher Robert Nelson zusammen. In New York gründete er 1966 ein Tape Studio und bildete mit Arthur Murphy und Jon Gibson sein eigenes Ensemble. Mit ihm brachte er in den darauffolgenden Jahren die für seinen Personalstil wegweisenden Kompositionen wie "Come Out" (1966) und "Piano Phase" (1967) zur Aufführung.

-Music as a Gradual Process-

"I am interested in perceptible processes. I want to be able to hear the process happening through the sounding music... The distinctive thing about musical processes is that they determine all the note-to-note details and the over all form simultaneously. One can't improvise in a musical process - the concepts are mutually exclusive. Performing and listening to a gradual musical process resembles:

  • pulling back a swing, releasing it, and observing it gradually come to rest (demonstrated literally in his Pendulum Music)
  • turning over an hour glass and watching the sand slowly run through to the bottom
  • or placing your feet in the sand by the ocean's edge and watching, feeling, and listening to the waves gradually bury them."

Drumming Part I (1971)

for small tuned drums, begins with a single sound in a 12-beat cycle; there are rests on all other beats. Gradually, one at a time, other sounds replace the rests, until the basic rhythmic pattern of Drumming is constructed. This is the only rhythmic pattern of the entire piece (all four parts which last between 55 and 75 minutes). When this pattern has been established by two drummers in unison, one of them gradually increases his tempo, while the other does not, so that in a few seconds he is one beat ahead of his partner; that is, they are one beat out of phase. They now maintain this new relationship, so that the combination of their parts produces new patterns, which in turn become the basis for the third and fourth players' parts. This process of shifting phases, holding to the newly-formed relationship and making use of the resulting patterns, is then repeated with two and then three drummers, each one beat away from the other.

Drumming (1971)

  • lasts anywhere from 55 to 75 minutes depending on the number of repeats taken
  • Part I is for four pairs of tuned bongos, stand mounted and played with sticks
  • Part II is for three marimbas played by nine players together with two womens voices
  • Part III is for three glockenspiel played by four players with whistling and piccolo
  • Part IV is for all these instruments and voices combined
  • applies the process of gradually substituting beats for rests (or rests for beats) with in a constantly repeating rhythmic cycle
  • utilizes phase shifting of one unifying rhythm

Music for Pieces of Wood (1973)

  • intended to employ the simplest percussion instruments possible
  • claves are the preferred type of wooden instrument
  • as with Drumming the piece is based on a process in which some rhythm pattern is building up in the course of substituting beats for rests
  • consists of three sections including a short theme-motive: 6/4, 4/4, 3/4

Clapping Music (1972)

  • employs only two pairs of human hands
  • written in the same vein as Music for Pieces of Wood
  • one performer remains fixed on a rhythm while the second player moves from unison to one beat ahead, and so on, until they are in unison once again
  • marks the end of Reich's gradual phase shifting process Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973)
  • scored for four marimbas, glockenspiel, metallophone, 2 female voices and organ
  • voices are used mainly to double the electric organ to create a new timbre
  • deals with two simultaneous interrelated rhythmic processes:first, constructing, beat by beat, a duplicate of a pre-existing pattern with the second one or more beats out of phase with the first second, process of augmentation or lengthening of another simultaneous, but different, repeating pattern

Piano Phase (1967)

The first live "phase" composition, this work is scored for two identical pianos or marimbas. Listening to the colour and effect of every moment, the performers gradually shift phase as each new pattern in the two-voice relationship becomes clear and is absorbed by themselves and the audience.

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  von HYPERWERK 2002