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Writings on Music, 1965-2000

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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 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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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 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.

30 review for Writings on Music, 1965-2000

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    For me, not a total fascinating read, but still, Steve Reich is a great composer. It's the little things that I find interesting, such as he knew and played with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead in the early 60s and him and Philip Glass worked together as movers. Besides that, the book is very much detailed information about the writing of his music compositions. It's interesting to read if one likes his music, but I found it kind of dry. Mostly due that most of these pieces are program or album n For me, not a total fascinating read, but still, Steve Reich is a great composer. It's the little things that I find interesting, such as he knew and played with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead in the early 60s and him and Philip Glass worked together as movers. Besides that, the book is very much detailed information about the writing of his music compositions. It's interesting to read if one likes his music, but I found it kind of dry. Mostly due that most of these pieces are program or album notes. Reich is a good writer, but not a great one with personality. It's basically the facts and how he wrote his work. Which I think any normal person would want to read - but I guess I was looking for something with a little bit of character. Erik Satie he ain't!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    Steve Reich is one of my favorite composers, many of whose works I've had the good fortune to play (including his "Music for 18 Musicians", which I'm performing in San Diego this week). As this collection details, Reich had an interesting career trajectory as a composer, which began with experimental-leaning works in the early '60s; moved through phase pieces, which included in a year of study in Ghana and his hour-long work "Drumming" (1971); and culminated in some interesting collaborative doc Steve Reich is one of my favorite composers, many of whose works I've had the good fortune to play (including his "Music for 18 Musicians", which I'm performing in San Diego this week). As this collection details, Reich had an interesting career trajectory as a composer, which began with experimental-leaning works in the early '60s; moved through phase pieces, which included in a year of study in Ghana and his hour-long work "Drumming" (1971); and culminated in some interesting collaborative documentary work with his wife, the video artist Beryl Korot, throughout the '90s and early 2000s. Reich is typically classified as a minimalist composer based on his abundant use of short, repetitive patterns, but his late works move beyond such a simple label. What I didn't realize before reading this book was the profound effect that Judaism had on his music once he embraced it in his late 30s – he takes it very, very seriously – and how he was pretty dismissive of intellectually abstract composers like Cage, Berio, Schönberg, etc., whom he believed were continuing a dying tradition of European elitism that strictly separated art music from its popular and communal roots.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This anthology collects together Reich's writings from 1965-2000, including both essays and program notes. There are also several interviews. The book covers a lot of ground, everything from technical discussions of Reich's compositional methods to his thoughts on other composers. He's a good writer and a very interesting musician. I am a great admirer of Reich's music, and I think this book is a great companion to his work. I gained a much deeper understanding of his music, his methods, and his This anthology collects together Reich's writings from 1965-2000, including both essays and program notes. There are also several interviews. The book covers a lot of ground, everything from technical discussions of Reich's compositional methods to his thoughts on other composers. He's a good writer and a very interesting musician. I am a great admirer of Reich's music, and I think this book is a great companion to his work. I gained a much deeper understanding of his music, his methods, and his processes. I also gained valuable insight into Reich's thoughts about music in general.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Koven Smith

    Given that this is one of my all-time favorite composers, I was hoping that this book would give some insight into Reich's compositional process, or at least some thrilling technical details on performance process or something. However, this book is really, really padded (it includes liner notes from his ECM "New Series" records as chapters in the book), and the pieces that do make it into the book seem poorly chosen. Hopefully there will someday be a more definitive work on Reich, who is certai Given that this is one of my all-time favorite composers, I was hoping that this book would give some insight into Reich's compositional process, or at least some thrilling technical details on performance process or something. However, this book is really, really padded (it includes liner notes from his ECM "New Series" records as chapters in the book), and the pieces that do make it into the book seem poorly chosen. Hopefully there will someday be a more definitive work on Reich, who is certainly one of the greatest/most influential composers of the last 50 years.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabe

    Mr. Reich is one of America's greatest living composers and this is one of the best collections ever about contemporary classical music. A chronological collection of his words about music, reading this allows you to see the mind of one of the greatest living American composers develop over 25 years of essays and musical scores. Mr. Reich is one of America's greatest living composers and this is one of the best collections ever about contemporary classical music. A chronological collection of his words about music, reading this allows you to see the mind of one of the greatest living American composers develop over 25 years of essays and musical scores.

  6. 4 out of 5

    mensch

    In this book, Reich guides the reader through his oeuvre, starting with "It's Gonna Rain" and culminating in "Three Tales". His ideas about a modern orchestra are refreshing and the commentaries on fellow composers give a keen insight into his practice as a composer. In this book, Reich guides the reader through his oeuvre, starting with "It's Gonna Rain" and culminating in "Three Tales". His ideas about a modern orchestra are refreshing and the commentaries on fellow composers give a keen insight into his practice as a composer.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lainie Fefferman

    it's a must read for the reich fans out there, but somehow it leaves something wanting. it serves as an excellent reference. it's a must read for the reich fans out there, but somehow it leaves something wanting. it serves as an excellent reference.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ojo Taylor

    I chip away at this one, an essay at a time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Eustis

    If you love this guy's music as much as I do, then his writing is a great way to pull back the veil and get a glimpse of the Wizard. If you love this guy's music as much as I do, then his writing is a great way to pull back the veil and get a glimpse of the Wizard.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ola

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindenberg Munroe

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Villarreal

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sondre Yggeseth

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Smigielski

  17. 4 out of 5

    Casey Anderson

  18. 4 out of 5

    William Baggett

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lyndsie A

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ted

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim Lochner

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Grossman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter Johansson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Herb

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marvin Balzer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jack Lawrence

  29. 4 out of 5

    Austin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wade

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