Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich · February 5, 2011, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
January 1, 2013 7:53 PM   Subscribe

(clap clap clap)

clap clap clap, clap, clap clap clap...clap clap, clap, clap clap...
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:02 PM on January 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks for reminding me how much I love Steve Reich's music. :)
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:09 PM on January 1, 2013

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou thank you!
posted by maudlin at 8:10 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I bought the record as soon as it came out, in 1978, and looking back at Reich's total compositional output so far, I'd say it's my top favorite. Had discovered Reich a few years previously, with a Deutsche Grammophon recording of Drumming that I happened upon in the Birmingham (Alabama) Public Library. That stuff just absolutely knocked me out at the time, and it coincided with my earliest discoveries of African polyrhythm, which of course had inspired Reich's piece enormously. But Drumming, and some of Reich's other early pieces have, in years since, struck me as, well, pretty stiff. Ultimately they struck me as rhythmic exercises whose value lay more in pointing the listener in some interesting rhythmic directions than in truly accomplished rhythmic masterpieces of their own, with a heartbeat at the center, rather than an academic exercise.

But with Music for 18 Musicians I believe Reich hit his stride, and turned his method of rhythmic phasing and repetition into something truly musical and truly his own.

Thanks for posting this live performance of it, y2karl.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:21 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

In 2011 there was a free concert in Chicago for Reich's 75th birthday. They didn't do 'Clapping Music' or Different Trains but hit pretty much every other of my favorites of his work: Music for 18 Musicians, Mallet Quartet, and some other stuff, and in between setups on stage they played recordings of some of Reich's tape work: 'Come Out,' 'It's Gonna Rain,' and some others I can't remember. There was a fantastic intro before they did Music for 18 Musicians from whomever was presenting the concert (I can't recall) which spoke about the experience of listening to Reich, letting your ear drift through the layers of instrumentation, hearing the variations and repetitions, allowing the specific physical locations of the different instruments to be a part of what you were hearing. It was one of the best damn concerts I've ever been to.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:04 PM on January 1, 2013

Oh, wow. I'm so completely overly fond of this piece of music... A complete live performance, you say? I will be watching that starting... now.
posted by hippybear at 9:28 PM on January 1, 2013

Oh hey actually looking at the description on the video this is the same couple of groups that performed at the concert I was at.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:33 PM on January 1, 2013

I love this piece as much as any music I know, thanks for posting this performance! My students have been bugging me to program it, this might be the prompt I needed....
posted by LooseFilter at 9:47 PM on January 1, 2013

posted by stbalbach at 10:19 PM on January 1, 2013

That was sublime and wonderful. Even with having studied this piece as much as I have, it was great to see a nicely staged live performance. There is so much going on in that piece which can easily be lost if you're working in audio-only.

Again, thanks for posting. You helped set my New Year off in a good direction.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 PM on January 1, 2013

Great piece. His best, probably. If you love the piece, take the time to seek out the original ECM recording (with the grey cover.) It's still the best, most natural-sounding, tightest recording. The Ensemble Modern recording is fantastic but perhaps a bit too "Edgy". Reich's later recording on Nonesuch sounds like shit and they don't even play the piece that well. I was ucky enough to find a sealed original pressing of the ECM vinyl release and it's a cherished item in my vinyl collection.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:38 PM on January 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had the pleasure of hearing Music For 18 Musicians here in Portland Oregon.
Performed by the Third Angle Ensemble. It was absolute bliss.
I bought a copy of Come Out back in 1968 not knowing what it was...and instantly became
a die hard fan. I would listen to it on 16 rpm to make it last longer.
It drove my parents nuts.
posted by quazichimp at 11:50 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thought I'd listen to a few minutes of this as it was a favorite of mine when I first heard it in the 70s. Of course I ended up listening to and watching the entire piece. Beautiful.
posted by gallois at 11:51 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I never realized the singers did the crescendo/decrescendo by moving their mics back and forth like that.
posted by fnerg at 1:28 AM on January 2, 2013

Reminds me of when I drove my roommate nuts by continuously playing and replaying Terry Riley's In C over four decades ago...
posted by jim in austin at 3:38 AM on January 2, 2013

Agree with Flapjax and Ree. I was pleased when ECM had this record come out to show them ccome out to show themome out to show them cocome out to show themme out to show them comcome out to show theme out to show them comecome out to show them out to show them come ocome out to show themut to show them come oucome ut to show themut to show them come outcome out to show them to show them come out tcome out to show themo show them come out tocome out to show them show them come out to scome out to show themhow them come out to shcome out to show themow them come out to shocome out to show themw them come out to showcome out to show them them come out to show tcome out to show themhem come out to show thcome out to show themem come out to show thecome out to show themm come out to show them what Reich could really do.
posted by Herodios at 7:01 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I did the same thing as gallois . . . saw this post last night, clicked, and sat for an hour, rapt. I have a version on my iPod (not sure which one, because ignant) and I love Reich in general, but it's true; seeing this piece performed adds much to my understanding and enjoyment of it.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:02 AM on January 2, 2013

I was there, man
posted by mike_bling at 9:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Although I agree this is probably Reich's best piece, I will direct your attention to this, Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards. I consider this to be Reich's most underrated piece.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2013

Come out.
posted by xowie at 10:20 AM on January 2, 2013

Thanks for posting this!

If we're ranking, I actually think Music for 18 is Reich's second best piece, behind Different Trains. If only for the revolutionary vocal sampling.

Though perhaps no piece of Reich's music is quite so simply profound as Piano Phase.

My other favorite Reich pieces are Electric Counterpoint, New York Counterpoint, and Proverb, a highly underrated piece of music with a text from Wittgenstein (How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!), who had a great influence over Reich and his music (and on whom Reich wrote a thesis before moving to California to study with Berio).
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:15 AM on January 2, 2013

Did anyone notice there are 19 musicians?

This is a favorite of mine. One of the few pieces of music that I bought just the MP3's for. When I play it on my cheapo MP3 player, there's a noticeable break between the sections, so it's nice to hear it without breaks.

This is such a hypnotic piece that it's hard for me to imagine performing it, especially since there isn't a conductor and the players have to pay attention to where the changes are, which might be different each performance.

Also- those are some big-ass clarinets. And, previously.
posted by MtDewd at 11:58 AM on January 2, 2013

See also Jegog Suar Agung
posted by y2karl at 4:48 PM on January 2, 2013

Yeah, a profound classic! Once a year I listen to my ancient well-worn grey ECM vinyl edition when I feel like the casual/serious listening experience. I close my eyes and hum along. And yeah, those big-ass clarinets really try to steal the show...

Also, one thing that I would love to hear again is the live concert recording of 'Drumming' by Nexus that was broadcast by CBC Radio-Canada on the now sadly missed experimental music show 'Two New Hours' back in the distant past. That performance was more vivid than the official studio recording.
posted by ovvl at 4:50 PM on January 2, 2013

While I do like the EMI album release, and have a fondness for the forward motion of the Ensemble Modern recording, I've become overwhelmingly fond of the newer Reich Ensemble recording from 1998, as it has a bit more space to breathe than the EMI recording, and feels like it has a bit more of a groove than the Ensemble Modern version.

I don't own a copy of the Grand Valley State New Music recording, but I really should get a copy.

Quite frankly, I'm pretty happy that Marc Mellits decided to write his doctoral thesis on 18 back in the mid-1990s, which is how a performance score was finally created and set this piece into the wild for modern groups to perform. Until that happened, it was pretty much a SRE-only piece.

I wish we'd see more of the modern "minimalist" school compositions with performance scores and associated instrumental parts out there. I think there's a big hunger for this music form, and it remains frustrated because it's simply impossible to get the material to use for performance.
posted by hippybear at 6:44 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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