Fri, April 1, 2011: Historic live recording of Steve Reich in 1970
A live performance of four earlier works by Reich, including Four Organs, My Name Is, Piano Phase and Phase Patterns.
The concert by Steve Reich & Musicians took place November 7, 1970 at the opening of the University Museum, on the University of California, Berkeley campus.
This performance marked an important moment in Bay Area new music history with the triumphant return to the East Bay by Reich who studied at Mills with Berio and performed in 1964 in the world premiere of Terry Riley's "in C" at the San Francisco Tape Music Center.
The resonant acoustics of the concrete interior museum were especially appropriate for Four Organs, with its long additive sustained chords over a maraca pulse.
The capacity crowd occupied every conceivable area of the interior space, including walkway ramps suspended over gallery spaces.
Sorry, no direct download available of the different music pieces as the original is a radio broadcast with a commentary and I edited out the commentary and extracted the music pieces; and the license holder didn't give me permission to alter it (ND = No Derivative Works).
So, this remains a private and personal edit. I keep this information so you can listen or download the radio broadcast yourself from the link below.
Maybe at a later time the licensing situation changes . . . I will make it available of course.
RadiOM: Steve Reich at UC Berkeley University Museum (November 7, 1970)
License: Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND 1.0)
The rattle of the maracas giving the framework for a slowly walking procession;
since the organs to have a hard attack, strong sound, and hard slope and no dynamic, only one loudness - the monotonous nature is given and so the piece doesn't not really provide much dynamic as such.
The main development are the short notes becoming longer and overlap while the piece unfolds. It is a meditation on a few notes and their cohesive harmony.
Performers: Steve Reich, Art Murphy, Steve Chambers, Warner Jepson (all playing organs), Jon Gibson (maracas)
A participatory piece with the audience; in advance recorded voices are looped and so transcending the ordinary statement "my name is" into an abstract sound patchwork, discovering the rhythmic and melodic aspect of the human voice; and in 1970 using solely tape loops, no synthesizer or sampler.
A reflection also about identity - who am I, the name, or the personality expressed in my voice?
It is said, it is one of the most difficult pieces to perform - multiple pianos playing a loop of notes or sequence and then moving slowly out of sync, creating a phase pattern - e.g. double the speed of rhythm and create complex rhythmic patterns, a core structure of most of Steve Reich's work:
The development of simple structure into a complex interwoven structure - for me personal also a theme on How Creation Unfolds or How The One Becomes Many as Plotinus studied and explained once.
Hence also my view on Steve Reich being a mystic musician, not just he hears the Cosmic Sound and translates into playeable music (more appearant in his later works, like Music for 18 Musicians), but also retraces the steps how the cosmos got manifested, from the simplicity with the development into complexity, and how little it takes: multiplication and moving out of sync.
Performers: Steve Reich, Art Murphy, Jon Gibson
My favorite piece of this live performance; it's truly a shamanic trance inducing music. It reminds me of hindu priests reciting and chanting of
sanskrit scriptures: hard, regular and precise rhythm. Jon Gibson spoke in an radio interview of playing percussion on organs, indeed, and with over 17 minutes duration a listening trip.
One has to remember it's all played manual, without aid of a sequencer or synthesizer.
Performers: Steve Reich, Art Murphy, Steve Chambers and Jon Gibson (all on organs)
The early works of Steve Reich, which those four pieces represent, show the origin where Reich comes from; his later works became more personal, e.g. jewish identity and holocaust, as well more complex arrangements in sense of music instruments as well increasingly complex rhythmic patterns.