Steve Reich

‘Steve Reich’
(unattributed photograph)

It was when I was fooling around with tape loops of the preacher’s voice, and still under the influence of In C. I was trying to make a certain relationship: I wanted to get “rain” on top of “it’s,” so that the net effect would be “rain, rain, rain, rain” coming out of one contrapuntal voice, while the other voice would be going “it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna.” In the process of this, I put headphones on and noticed that the two tape recorders were almost exactly in sync. The effect of this aurally was that I heard the sound jockeying back and forth in my head between my left and right ear, as one machine or the other drifted ahead. Instead of immediately correcting that, I let it go … took my hands off of it for a bit. What happened was that one of the machines was going slightly faster, and the sounds went over to the left side of my head, crawled down my leg, went across the floor, and then started to reverberate, because the left channel was moving ahead of the right channel. I let it go further, and it finally got to precisely the relationship I wanted to get to. But what I realized was that instead of making a particular canonic relationship, which was a momentary part of an overall composition, I had discovered a process which was a series of rhythmically flexible canons at the unison … beginning and ending in rhythmic unison. This immediately struck me.”

From a 1995 interview with Reich in ‘Talking Music’ by William Duckworth, full interview here


‘Steve Reich’ The South Bank Show


Sunday 10th December 2006

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