February 15, 2016
by Maggie Molloy
Minimalist composer Steve Reich is best known for his experiments into “phase music”—that is, music which features two (or more) musicians playing identical lines of music, synchronously at first, but gradually shifting out of unison with one another. As the cycle slowly unfolds, new melodies are created by the ever-changing aural interactions of the two identical lines of music.
But just like his phase music, Reich never repeated the same thing exactly twice—in fact, over the past five decades he has built an extraordinary compositional career by maximizing very minimal melodic content. That’s because his compositions are music ofprocess, and his melodies are created through use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, perpetual cycles, and, of course, unwavering originality.
With his explorations into rhythm and articulation, Reich redefined the melodic possibilities of percussion instruments in particular—which is why Third Coast Percussion decided to pay tribute to the minimalist mastermind in their latest album, titled “Steve Reich.”