Steve Reich and Musicians – Drumming (1971)

Recorded January 1974 in Hamburg Germany. Original Deutsche Grammophon Studio Recording. From the  3 × Vinyl, LP  Box Set : Steve Reich ‎– Drumming / Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices And Organ / Six Pianos

Drumming is a piece by minimalist composer Steve Reich, dating from 1970–1971.[1] Reich began composition of the work after a short visit to Africa and observing music and musical ensembles there, especially under the Anlo Ewe master drummer Gideon Alorwoyie in Ghana. His visit was cut short after contracting malaria. K. Robert Schwarz describes the work as “minimalism’s first masterpiece. [source]

Part One – Starts 0:00

Steve Reich – tuned bongo drums and voice
Russ Hartenburger – tuned bongo drums
Bob Becker – tuned bongo drums
James Preiss – tuned bongo drums

Part Two – starts 24:30

James Preiss – marimbas
Tim Ferchen – marimbas
Russ Hartenburger – marimbas
Steve Reich – marimbas
Steve Chambers – marimbas
Cornelius Cardew – marimbas
Bob Becker – marimbas
Ben Harms – marimbas
Glen Valdez – marimbas
Joan La Barbara – vocals
Jay Clayton – vocals

Part Three – starts 51:00

Glen Valdez – glockenspiel
Bob Becker – glockenspiel
Russ Hartenburger – glockenspiel
James Priess – glockenspiel
Steve Reich – voice (whistling)
Leslie Scott – piccolo

Part Four – starts 1:05:30

Tim Ferchen – tuned bongo drums
Steve Reich – tuned bongo drums
Steve Chambers – tuned bongo drums
Russ Hartenberger – marimbas
Bob Becker – marimbas
Glen Valdez – marimbas
James Preiss – glockenspiel
Ben Harms – glockenspiel
Cornelius Cardew – glockenspiel
Leslie Scott – piccolo
Joan La Barbara – vocals
Jay Clayton – vocals

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Steve Reich – Come Out (1966)

Come Out is a 1966 piece by American composer Steve Reich. Reich was asked to write this piece to be performed at a benefit for the retrial of the Harlem Six, six black youths arrested for committing a murder during the Harlem Riot of 1964 for which only one of the six was responsible. Truman Nelson, a civil rights activist and the person who had asked Reich to compose the piece, gave him a collection of tapes with recorded voices to use as source material. Nelson, who chose Reich on the basis of his earlier work It’s Gonna Rain, agreed to give him creative freedom for the project.

Reich eventually used the voice of Daniel Hamm, one of the boys involved in the riots but not responsible for the murder; he was nineteen at the time of the recording. At the beginning of the piece, he says: “I had to, like, open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them” (alluding to how Hamm had punctured a bruise on his own body to convince police that he had been beaten). The police had not previously wanted to deal with Hamm’s injuries, since he did not appear seriously wounded.

Reich re-recorded the fragment “come out to show them” on two channels, which initially play in unison. They quickly slip out of sync to produce a phase shifting effect, characteristic of Reich’s early works. Gradually, the discrepancy widens and becomes a reverberation and, later, almost a canon. The two voices then split into four, looped continuously, then eight, until the actual words are unintelligible. The listener is left with only the rhythmic and tonal patterns of the spoken words. Reich says in the liner notes to his recording Early Works of using recorded speech as source material that “by not altering its pitch or timbre, one keeps the original emotional power that speech has while intensifying its melody and meaning through repetition and rhythm”. The piece is a prime example of process music.

In dance, this piece has been used in 1982 by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker as part of one of her seminal works entitled Fase, which has become a cornerstone of contemporary dance.



Steve Reich – Four Organs; Phase Patterns (1970)

Steve Reich has described his 1971 piece Four Organs as an attempt to reproduce the phasing effect of his mid-’60s tape pieces (such as Come Out and It’s Gonna Rain) with real musicians in a concert setting. Four organists (including on this 1974 recording, both Reich himself and his friend Philip Glass) play single notes repeatedly, aided by the superhuman efforts of a maracas player who’s providing an unaccented beat at a steady tempo. As beats are slowly added to and dropped from bars as the piece develops, chords that had formed and lasted for single beats in early measures become longer and longer, so that by the end of the piece, a single chord, formed by the four organists each playing a different note, is held for over 200 beats. As an added textural fillip, human nature requires that, despite their best efforts, the organists will not be hitting every note at exactly the same time, thus producing the interesting textures and overtones that start to become the focus of the piece after the first couple of minutes. Four Organs is minimalism at its purest. Phase Patterns is basically the same idea without the steadying influence of the maracas, meaning that the phasing effects occur quicker and are more pronounced. It’s arguably a slightly less interesting work, but it’s still one of Reich’s finest early pieces.

Chiara String Quartet at Le Poisson Rouge

Just before the Chiara String Quartet played Webern’s Five Movements for String Quartet on Wednesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, the group’s first violinist, Rebecca Fischer, pointed out that the work was 101 years old. There was a sense of wonder in her tone — an unspoken subtext that seemed to ask, “Can you believe that people still hear this antique as harsh modernism?” Ms. Fischer added that for her, the movements are five “tiny landscapes.”

Read the full review in The New York Times here.

Timothy Andres and his many, varied musical influences

Timothy Andres grew up listening to Brahms and Beethoven as he studied piano at the Juilliard School’s precollege program. When he enrolled at Yale in 2003, he discovered a new canon. “I gravitated to the, shall we say, stoner hippie types who were listening to really interesting music,” he says. Suddenly Pink Floyd and Brian Eno were on the menu, as were classical minimalists Steve Reich and John Adams.

What began as his senior project at Yale is now his debut album, “Shy and Mighty,” a work for two pianos, to be released May 18 by Nonesuch Records. The composer, 24 years old, says he thinks of his music as architecture. In a piece called “The Night Jaunt,” one piano sets up a spiralling series of chords, while the other piano weaves phrases in lengthening strings.

The composer says his pop inspirations include Scottish electronic act Boards of Canada and Radiohead (“amazing range and sense of space”). The challenge now is to avoid getting lost in the sprawl of his influences: “How can you possibly synthesize all that into something that makes sense? That’s something that I struggle with in my writing every day.”

The composer’s top iTunes plays*

Radiohead 1,157 plays
Beethoven 1,134
Brahms 1,102
Brian Eno 964
John Adams 901
J.S. Bach 868
The Beatles 787
The Beta Band 718
Benjamin Britten 676
Arcade Fire 641

*Source: His Last.fm profile

[via wsj.com]

Listen to his album on Spotify here.

‘Pop Music’ vs. ‘Classical Music’, Part One

Written by Ronnie Rocket, Classical 2.0 (www.classical20.com)

The recent debate on the influence of classical music on indie rock and vice versa, originally initiated with this post in the excellent Flavorwire (cultural news from the übercool, digital cityguide Flavorpill) and later commented in The Guardian here, seems to have touched an interesting nerve among music buffs. It is always interesting, when artists crossover or show new, surprising sides of their talent. Sometimes, they create a whole new genre, like Rufus Wainwright in recent times with ‘popera’.

For more than 30 years I have followed the developments and firsthanded experienced some defining moments, that are examples of meetings or outright clashes between genres. Karlheinz Stockhausen live with punkrockers in the audience, Balanescu Quartet playing Kraftwerk and releasing records on the esoteric electro-label Mute Records, Elvis Costello performing live in a concert hall with the Brodsky Quartet, Glenn Branca with 100 electric guitars in an auditorium in Rome, and many more.

Inspired by the current discussions, I have put together a list of 20 important events, where the popular music genres of the day, be it jazz, pop or rock meets the established world of classical music. They have since, in their own right, changed the future of music, no less.

1. Miles Davis playing Manuel De Falla on “Sketches of Spain” (1960)

The jazz trumpeter studied at Julliard School of Music (his father let him drop out to pursue a career in jazz). Davis was frustrated about the focus on white, European composers. Later in his career, working with arranger Gil Evans, he went back to the European tradition and quoted references on the landmark ‘Sketches of Spain’ album. Read a review of the album here. He was a big fan of Karlheinz Stockhausen, an important inspiration for his late electric period.

2. The Beatles putting Stockhausen on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper…” (1967)

Everybody knows that the most famous songwriting couple in the world, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, had their differences. They even could not agree on who discovered the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen first. You can see the archived correspondance about the inclusion of Stockhausen’s face on the Beatles’ album cover here and here and  a christmas card John Lennon sent to Stockhausen here and here. Stockhausen himself hated pop music.

3. Walter/Wendy Carlos releases “Switched-On Bach” (1968)

Wendy Carlos not only introduced (and collaborated with Robert Moog) the Moog synthesizer, but did it with music written by the Godfather of classical music, Johan Sebastian Bach. Later, she worked closely with movie director Stanley Kubrick, creating futuristic sounds for the innovative cinematic experiences that would later be regarded as some of the most important movies ever made. However, several of the recordings were rejected by Kubrick. Carlos later released some of these out-takes on two CD’s (1, 2). The introduction of the synthesizer, the adaption of classical music and the soundtrack work for Kubrick were very early experiments connecting popular culture with the classical music world.

4. Stanley Kubrick introducing György Ligeti on the “2001: A Space Odyssey” soundtrack (1968)

The film introduced the avantgarde composer György Ligeti to a wide public. Ligeti’s Requiem (the Kyrie section) and Atmosphères act as recurring leitmotifs in the film’s storyline. Other music used is Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna and an electronically altered form of his Aventures, the last of which was so used without Ligeti’s permission.

5. Ornette Coleman writing “Skies of America” for orchestra (1972)

Skies of America is a third-stream composition, meaning that it encompasses parts of traditional classical music and parts of contemporary jazz. This work was meant to be a collaboration of a full orchestra, in this case the London Symphony Orchestra (conducted by David Measham) with Coleman’s quartet, but conflicts with the musicians’ union in Britain forced the quartet players from the recording. Skies of America is Coleman’s epic “harmolodic manifesto.” Read a review of the reissue here.

6. Electric Light Orchestra’s first single (1972)

“10538 Overture”, released in 1972, was the first single by Electric Light Orchestra. 15 overdubbed, cheap Chinese cellos played by the legendary Roy Woods creates a new sound, that became part glam rock, part symphonic rock.




7. Brian Eno & Obscure Records (1975)

Ex-Roxy Music glamrocker was instrumental in introducing classical music to the rock world. The 10-album series issued on the Obscure Records label introduced an unsuspecting audience to Gavin Bryars, John Adams, Michael Nyman and more. Not since the Beatles album have a single act had such an influence on exposing classical composers to a ‘rock’ audience.

8. Manfred Eicher from ECM Records releasing Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians” (1976/1978)

The Bavarian record producer Manfred Eicher had already established one of the most innovative records companies ECM Records, releasing records with Keith Jarrett and Art Ensemble of Chicago among many others. Early on, he began expanding into and focusing on so-called classical music and released several records with Steve Reich reaching a new, more mainstream audience. These releases eventually became the platform for the ECM New Series, a sub-label and a ‘market leader’ in contemporary music today.

9. The soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980)

György Ligeti (again) and Krzysztof Penderecki‘s music introduced to a massive audience in a soundtrack to a popular horror movie earning almost 100 million dollars was a major breakthrough for contemporary classical music into pop culture and the hard-to-find soundtrack is still a favourite in the indie crowd today.


10. Glenn Branca writing symphonies for electric guitars, like “Symphony No. 1”, and releasing them on underground cassette tape labels! (1981)

Music from the pioneering no-wave artist, Mr. Glenn Branca – here making a modern classical masterpiece with four guitar parts, including axe-man Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth:

Here is a clip from the Rome performance of “Hallucination City: A Symphony for 100 electric guitars”:

Part Two of this article will be posted here next week – stay tuned for 10 more groundbreaking moments in the grey area of popular and classical music!


On a personal note, I would like to add that I am promoting a chamber music concert in Copenhagen next week, where the programme goes from baroque, impressionism and modern to contemporary 20th century and completely new music including a version of Kraftwerk’s “Die Roboter” arranged for treated piano and amplified cello thrown in for good measure. The music is performed by Eriko Makimura & Co. More information about this special event here
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Classical elitism

It took me years to find [Radio 3] the [pop radio] station remotely penetrable. For a long while I had no patience, my laziness supported by the thought that just because classical music – and world music, and jazz, and folk, all played on the station – existed didn’t mean I had a duty to listen to it. But music is music: if you love music you will find something to love about almost any music. It just takes time. In the last fortnight I’ve attended, and loved, two classical performances: Satyagraha, a Philip Glass opera about Gandhi; and one by the London Symphony Orchestra, which featured Glass’s fellow American minimalist composer John Adams conducting his own work and that of Benjamin Britten.

It’s through the music of Glass, Adams and Steve Reich, in particular, that many rock fans have found a way into the fear-inducing labyrinth of classical music, through their use of forms and themes, both musical and topical, that seem to form a bridge between the genres. Jazz is often the halfway point at which even adventurous classical and rock listeners stop, and go no further, with their musical explorations. The former look to jazz for its rigour; the latter for its apparent anarchy.

What you get with minimalism, however, is the chance to listen to little motifs, over and over as you would with a pop chorus or riff, changing and swelling with time. As with any relationship you have in life, it repays the investment of listening well. You can do that with pop music, too, but only if you regard quality as something that is detectable, and appreciable, across the board.

Read the full letter in The Guardian here and a comment here.

Nico Muhly in Concertgebouw tonight

Britten Sinfonia
Pekka Kuusisto, viool/leiding
Mark Padmore, tenor
Jacqueline Shave, viool

* Purcell – Fantasia a 7 in c, Z 738 (arr. N. Muhly)
* Purcell/Muhly – Let the Night Perish (Job’s Curse), Z 191
* Purcell – Fantasia Upon One Note, a 5 in F, Z 745 (arr. N. Muhly)
* Tippett – A Lament (uit ‘Divertimento on Sellinger’s Round’)
* Britten – Les illuminations, op. 18
* Reich – Duet
* Muhly – Impossible Things
* J. Adams – Shaker Loops (Version for String Orchestra)

Voorafgaand aan het concert in de Grote Zaal zullen Pekka Kuusisto en Nico Muhly worden geïnterviewd.
Aanvang: 19.35 uur, Spiegelzaal. Reserveren is niet nodig.