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Tom Woodling: Steve Reich

Tom Woodling
Time and Interactivity
Artists Presentation: Steve Reich


Born in New York and raised there and in California, Mr. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Mr. Reich received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud. In 1966 Steve Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Mr. Reich's 1988 piece, Different Trains, marked a new compositional method, rooted in It's Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. The New York Times hailed Different Trains as "a work of such astonishing originality that breakthrough seems the only possible description....possesses an absolutely harrowing emotional impact." In 1990, Mr. Reich received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch label.

Why I am attracted to Steve Reich:

Besides his physical beauty, I am truly appreciative of his work. For a musician in my generation, it is pretty incredible to be living at the same time as Steve Reich. I can see the affect that his work has had on music, especially when it comes to Jazz, Electronica, Techno and Turntableism. Where John Cage left off with challenging the definition of music, Steve Reich picked up and challenged it in his own style. The first piece that I ever saw/heard by Reich was the Piano Phase piece. The phenomenon of how two machines can remain out of rhythm and go in and out of sync, was mind blowing to me. His work has heightened my awareness of unnatural rhythms and polyrhythms and that has helped me to become a better musician.


The piece that really put Reich on the map was It's Gonna Rain (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x90h1r_steve-reich-its-gonna-rain-part-1_music)

This piece was the start of an exploration of the effects of looping short recordings and playing with the affect of off-setting two loops to create rhythmic variation.

Another piece that is somewhat similar to It's Gonna Rain, was Clapping Music

Another prime example of Reich's use of Polyrhythms. This time, taking a more musical approach.

Both pieces show strongly what Reich's focus on Polyrhythmic structure and the rhythmic nature of machines. They also both challenge what the general public considers music and explores the avante-garde.

Other Artist:

An artist that goes by the name XXXchange has obviously been inspired by Steve Reich. His work incorporates the method of looping voice to create rhythms. Also similar to Steve Reich is his use of video to accompany the looping of music. While Reich didn't actually create the videos that went along with his music, collaborating with video artists is something that both XXXchange and Steve Reich do well.


Steve Reich's work has made me more aware musician and artists. His attention to rhythm and awareness of the music in everyday situations is something that I try to utilize. For example, when doing my How To video project, I paid special attention to the sounds that were captured while filming and I tried to augment the video so that some more auditory interest would be created.


This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like 'Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of "neighbors" will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune "Social" is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.