Sunday, 1 November 2009

Steve Reich in London

Last night I was at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall of music by the American composer Steve Reich. He's described by some as the most influential living composer. His music - at least the music of his that I know - replaces conventional melody with what I would call 'micro-melody', that's to say short melodic fragments that are part of a larger harmonic and rhythmic structure. His most famous work - Music for 18 Musicians - presents a kaleidescope of sound with its ever changing chords and patterns. Some call it boring (I had to go alone to this concert as no-one else from my household was keen)but I find it fascinating. When you see the musicians performing on stage you realise that although the music may sound automated, there is actually a large degree to which the musicians control the performance - for example by how long the clarinets can play a particular phrase before needing to breath. When they breath the pattern changes.

I could go on, but listen to a clip and I hope you'll see what I mean.

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