Reich: New York Counterpoint

B: 3rd October 1936 (Age:76) Growing up his time was split between his mum in New York and his dad in California..Steve Reich 2007: Polar Music Prize (with Sonny Rollings) 2009: Pulitzer Prize for Music (for Double Sextet) 2011: Honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory of Music D.. "our greatest living composer" (The New York Times) Pioneering composer of Minimal Music His innovative styles included using tape loops and simple.O. audible processes to explore musical concepts “.the most original musical thinker of our time” (The NewYorker) .

. Received Masters in Music from Mills College California in 1963 From 1976 to 1977 he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.Studies Whilst Growing up Reich took Piano lessons and began to study music at the age of 14 In 1957 Reich graduated Cornell University with Honours in Philosophy In 1973 and 1974 he studied Gamelan Music at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle Studied composition with Hall Overton for 2 years From 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music 1970: drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra.

played one after the other without pause. ‘New York’ refers to the hectic city life reflected in the movement and ‘Counterpoint’ refers to the repetitive free canons formed by the staggered entries of the parts . fast.New York Counterpoint: 1985 Commissioned by The Fromm Music Foundation for clarinettist Richard Stolzman Between 1965 and 2009 Reich composed over 40 works : •Film and programme music Continuation of the ideas •Music for Orchestra found in Vermont •Music for the Stage counterpoint (1982) •Vocal works •Works for percussion •Works for solo instruments (With tape) New York Counterpoint is an example of minimalism in three movements: fast. slow.

Minimalism Originated in the New York Downtown scene of the 1960s and was initially viewed as a form of experimental music called the New York Hypnotic School. Features: •Contrapuntal texture •Non-functional. rhythmic and harmonic patterns . slow moving harmony •Phasing •Little variety of instrumentation •Gradual changes in texture and dynamics •Use of canonic imitation •Diatonic harmony •Use of ostinati •Repetitions of melodic.

was written for flute and tape. was written for guitar and tape. Use of pre-recorded tape meant only one instrumentalist was needed The tape is typical of Reich’s work . titled Vermont Counterpoint (1982). Electric Counterpoint (1988). and the third.Context New York Counterpoint is an example of post –modernist minimalism and is part of a series of three Counterpoint pieces: the first. Purpose Commissioned by The Fromm Music Foundation for clarinettist Richard Stolzman.

Instrumentation New York Counterpoint was composed for a pre recorded tape of 10 clarinets and 1 live clarinet. Every note is written in the key of B major but heard as A major since the clarinets sound a tone lower than written. Typical of Reich’s work and of minimalism Form and Structure Reich structures his music through the careful control of texture: Could be considered ternary form with the B section defined by the presence of the pulsing 4-part chords Doesn't fit any notions of form Section A: bars 1-24 Section B: bars 25-66 Section A: bars 67-72 Typical of minimalism .

Phasing & Canonic Imitation Section B: pulsing semi quavers in the last 4 clarinets Polyrhythmic Syncopation .Rhythm and Metre The metre of the piece is ¾ which does not change in this movement.

transposed down a semitone Harmonic language is mainly triadic The melodic ostinati are centred on alterations of chords IV and V.Harmony and Tonality The movement is entirely diatonic however the lack of progression towards the tonic means that the harmony is non-functional. but their canonic entries cause the chords to overlap and change at different times in different parts: this can sometimes give a feel of dissonance. The key signature of 5 sharps combined with a keynote of E puts this piece in the Lydian Mode. .

(Changes the sound but not the music) Additive process of gradually completing the melody by replacing rest with notes Subtractive process of replacing some notes of the melody with rests The melodic material is triadic and based on the chords E and F# major.Melody Typical of minimalism This is the Ostinato we hear in bars 1 and 2 played by clarinet 7: it is repeated and adapted throughout the piece Canonic imitation and phasing. It is also limited to a range of one octave .

Texture Highly contrapuntal texture Parts constantly work in pairs: either playing the same or imitating each other From bar 25 until its part ends in bar 66 the live clarinet plays a freer. 7 and 8 and the two bass clarinets (9 and 10) start a pulsing chord underneath the imitative texture. A#. with 3 imitative pairs Bars 27-32 C#11 (= C#. There are six examples of this in the piece In bars 13-24 there is a 6-part texture. F#) Bars 33-8 E aug11 (= E. B. D#. D#. G#. C#) Bars 47-52 C#11 Bars 53-58 E aug11 Bars 59-65 G#11 . more improvisatory part that does not form part of the scheme of paired imitation In bar 27 cls. A#) Bars 39-46 G#11 (= G#. F#.

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