Steve Reich (Modern Classical/Minimalism)

Who is Steve Reich?: Born in New York City in 1936, Steve Reich is one of the pioneers of the minimalism movement (which started in the 1960s [other pioneers being Terry Riley, Philip Glass, La Monte Young]).

For those of you who don’t know, minimalism is somehow both self-descriptive and hard to describe. Minimalist compositions are often repetitive (for lack of a better term), consist of arrangements written for a small amount of instruments (sometimes only for one in particular [see Steve Reich’s Melodica], and reach dizzying levels of complexity (which is explored/executed by changes in dynamics, subtle shifts in tone, and slight alterations made to arpeggiated chords).

Reich has been composing steadily since his start in the 1960s–his latest release being an arrangement written for winds, strings, piano, and electric bass entitled Pulse. 

His music has influenced the work of countless musicians/bands–including King Crimson and Brian Eno (to name a few who have achieved an equal amount of recognition in the world of progressive music). One of his techniques (used extensively by Robert Fripp of King Crimson) is the tape loop.

Interesting Fact: He won the Pulitzer Prize For Music  in 2009 for his composition entitled Double Sextet. 

Recommended Listening: Music for 18 Musicians


2 thoughts on “Steve Reich (Modern Classical/Minimalism)

  1. When I was an undergrad, we had a painting prof at St Cloud State who commuted twice a week to the Cities, 70 miles, who listened to Reich. He used to tell us that his car’s travel came into synch with Reich’s music at exactly 62 mph. Speed limit at the time as 55. Joe Aiken was his name. He used to play Reich during Art History exams. Not loud. Ambient. I think I did better on the multiple choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see that. Actually, I’m almost certain the first time I heard Reich’s music was in a car during a long trip. I feel like the way one is introduced to certain music strongly influences one’s everlasting perception of it. If I wasn’t on a monotonous journey when I first heard his stuff, perhaps I wouldn’t like him as much. Who knows.


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