A Sturdy Musical Bridge to the Twenty-first Century

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
A Sturdy Musical Bridge to the Twenty-first Century

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This chapter focuses on twentieth-century music composer Steve Reich and his works. He established the rhythmic profile of the subtactile pulse found in various musical forms such as West African drumming, Indonesian gamelan, medieval organum and hocket, and used it in his Four Organs, which was his first work to receive large audience. He also went to Ghana and to Berkeley, California, to gain hands-on experience and body involvement with the styles of music which fascinated him. He also reengaged with the texts in Tehillim in 1981, in The Desert Music in 1983, and in Different Trains in 1988. In Different Trains he based the melodic content of the piece on the contour and rhythm of ordinary human speech where the speech consisted of fragments of oral history looped into Reichian ostinatos, which then resolved into musical phrases conforming to the normal tunings, scales, and rhythms of Western music.

Keywords: Steve Reich; subtactile pulse; Four Organs; The Desert Music; Different Trains; Tehillim

Chapter.  2570 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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