Sunday, April 25, 2010


steve reich
in my opinion, this name wields much power.  he has somewhat single-handidly transformed music last century.  music for 18 musicians was greatly influenced by balinese gamelan music.

a gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included.

Like African drumming, this is ensemble music, fully composed (although unwritten), yielding a rich blended sound of motion within stasis, constant activity within an unchanging ordered structure. Textures emerge and evolve as each instrument plays a regular subdivision of a broad, regular pulse, producing a haunting, timeless effect. 

In his piece, Reich didn't try to imitate the actual sound of the gamelan (and indeed scorned rock musicians using sitars for superficial exotic texture); rather, he sought to emulate its overall feel and attitude (very successful in my opinion)

Lasting over an hour, 18 Musicians maintains a basic 12-note meter of marimbas, xylophones, vibraphones and pianos from which longer phrases of voices, strings and clarinets surface and then recede. To humanize the process, the voice and clarinet phrases last the length of a musician's breath.  


Like I was talking about in my rave of Regina.  It's so...RAW.   HUMAN.  Making the voice and clarinet (the two instruments that used breath) actually be able to show their breaths just makes the aspect of music so raw. 

Combining that with MUSIC is so wonderful.

 I love how Reich is totally channeling native Balinese people in this. 

Everyone coming together to create something or "onething".  You can just imagine people all sitting around, and just creating.....

not worrying about if they didn't sing the run fast enough, or if the rapper used enough swear words, or if Kesha looked hot enough in her latest video (sorry, had to, HATE HER).  This kind of music proves that music exists to express a story.   Across time, and space.....Steve Reich encompasses the spirit of the Balinese People in "music for 18 musicians".  


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comment!

    I just went to a gamelan performance a few weeks ago, it was brilliant. Enjoyed reading your post...