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In the mid-1960s, Steve Reich radically renewed the musical landscape with a back-to-basics sound that came to be called Minimalism. These early works, characterized by a relentless pulse and static harmony, focused single-mindedly on the process of gradual rhythmic change. Throughout his career, Reich has continued to reinvigorate the music world, drawing from a wide array of classical, popular, sacred, and non-western idioms. His works reflect the steady evolution of an original musical mind.
Writings on Music documents the creative journey of this thoughtful, groundbreaking composer. These 64 short pieces include Reich's 1968 essay "Music as a Gradual Process," widely considered one of the most influential pieces of music theory in the second half of the 20th century. Subsequent essays, articles, and interviews treat Reich's early work with tape and phase shifting, showing its development into more recent work with speech melody and instrumental music. Other essays recount his exposure to non-western music--African drumming, Balinese gamelan, Hebrew cantillation--and the influence of these musics as structures and not as sounds. The writings include Reich's reactions to and appreciations of the works of his contemporaries (John Cage, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, Gyorgy Ligeti) and older influences (Kurt Weill, Schoenberg). Each major work of the composer's career is also explored through notes written for performances and recordings.
Paul Hillier, himself a respected figure in the early music and new music worlds, has revisited these texts, working with the author to clarify their central narrative: the aesthetic and intellectual development of an influential composer. For long-time listeners and young musicians recently introduced to his work, this book provides an opportunity to get to know Reich's music in greater depth and perspective.
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From Library Journal:
Steve Reich, an artist who has gained international renown over the course of a distinguished career, was recently called "America's greatest living composer" by the Village Voice. The Guardian in London has written, "There's just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the course of musical history, and Steve Reich is one of them." He has received Grammy awards for Different Trains (1989) and Music For 18 Musicians (1998). His most recent work is the digital video opera Three Tales (2002) done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot exploring technology in the 20th century through the Hindenburg, the Bikini A-bomb tests and Dolly, the cloned sheep.
Paul Hillier is a singer, conductor, and writer on music. Currently Director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, Hillier also directs the Theatre of Voices and is principal conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. He is co-founder of the Hilliard Ensemble and author of Arvo Part.
Like many acclaimed artists, composer Reich is a virtual unknown outside of devotees of avant-garde or experimental music (... la John Cage minimalism). This book is a collection of his writings about this specialized area of music, made by and for music academics and "serious" artists. Reading about sounds is always a dry experience, but these 64 short pieces (some only a paragraph) may be essentially indecipherable for those without an academic musical background, owing to the heavy use of music terminology despite Reich's generally conversational tone. The pieces, including Reich's best-known "Music as a Gradual Process," are primarily concerned with Reich's own compositions and reflect his changing preoccupations through time: tape loops and phasing in the Sixties, African drumming in the early Seventies, and so on. In fact, this book might have been better titled Thoughts on Music, as most of the writing comes across as extemporaneous rather than studied and includes a number of interviews, which one is hardpressed to describe as "writings." Recommended for academic libraries or specialized collections only. David Valencia, King Cty. Lib. Syst., Seattle
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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