Tape Collage and Five-Part Canons: Early Steve Reich Soundtracks

Monday, October 03, 2016

Steve Reich, with a phase-shifting pulse gate, photographed in New York in 1969. Steve Reich, with a phase-shifting pulse gate, photographed in New York in 1969. (Nonesuch/NPR)

On October 3, Q2 Music celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a 24-hour marathon – one 12-hour marathon streamed twice – of his trailblazing music from 1965 to 1990 in chronological order, with a good sampling of later works, many of them introduced by Steve himself.

Steve Reich did write music before It's Gonna Rain. Here are two soundtracks he made for the experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson. If you're looking for hints of his later work, note the tape collage in Plastic Haircut and the minstrel song in Oh dem Watermelons that gets deconstructed and turned into a five part canon!

For Livelihood, Reich recorded hours of conversations with taxi drivers and distilled them down to three minutes. Melodica was written right after Come Out and is the only piece in his official list of works that is not available commercially.

Plastic Haircut (1963)

 

 

Oh Dem Watermelons (1964)

 

 

Livelihood (1964)

 

 

Melodica (1966)

 

On October 3, Q2 Music celebrates Steve Reich's 80th birthday with a 24-hour marathon – specifically one 12-hour marathon repeated once – of his trailblazing music from 1965 to 1990 in chronological order, with a good sampling of later works, many of them introduced by Steve himself. Follow Q2 Music on Twitter and like us on Facebook for live updates. Phil Kline hosts weekdays from 11am to 1 pm on Q2 Music. 

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Q2 Music is WQXR’s multiplatform home for musical discovery and dynamic new classical music from trailblazing composers, ensembles and leading New York new-music venues. Q2 Music's 24/7 stream lives online at q2music.org and is accessible via the free WQXR app.

 

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