Drums, Marimbas, Glockenspiel, Piccalo, Singing, Whistling -- Drumming
September 1, 2019 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Steve's Reich's seminal 1971 work Drumming [1h21m] begins with animal hide, moves on to wood, then metals, and finally a joyous union of all of the above in a resounding finale. It's a piece which received acclaim when it premiered, and which has only grown in stature across the decades. It's a source of amazement and joy. It's worth anyone's time.
posted by hippybear (16 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
If listening to this piques anyone's curiosity about other Steve Reich pieces, listen to Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards, also available on the YouTube.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:42 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Truly, it's Music For 18 Musicians that is the gold mine when it come to Steve Reich pieces...
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on September 1, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'd not heard this particular version of it before: many thanks for the link, hippybear! I must admit with Drumming I enjoy the fourth and last part of it a good deal more than the other three.
posted by misteraitch at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thumbs up!
posted by From Bklyn at 2:13 PM on September 1, 2019

The Steve Reich Ensemble played my college in 1974 (or 1975 - memory is a bit fuzzy). The concert was poorly promoted and the attendance was sparse. They announced at the beginning that they might cut the program short, but luckily for us they did the whole thing, including a complete performance of "Drumming".

One thing you may not get from the recordings is just how incredibly fucking loud the piece is when performed live. As the piece progresses through higher and higher registers, your ears become sort of numb and you start to hear phantom sounds that aren't coming from the actual instruments on stage. In the final segment where all the instruments join in I recall hearing a sort of roaring overhead in the rafters of the hall. It was an out-of-body experience.
posted by Surely This at 3:15 PM on September 1, 2019 [11 favorites]

Man, I love Steve Reich. However, if you were to have to choose one piece to embody the work of Steve Reich, I'd say choose the one you like best and don't worry about someone else's opinion.
posted by evilDoug at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have so many favorite Steve Reich compositions I am not sure even what you are talking about when you say that.
posted by hippybear at 6:32 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can’t wait to give this a listen!

When I was first discovering Steve Reich, I was YouTubing some of his work over the holidays. (Come to think of it, it may have been a MeFi thread about classical music riots that lead me to Reich’s Four Organs.) Anyway, I put Four Organs on in the background while I worked on my laptop, and was enjoying it, until my aunt yelled at me to turn it off.

And that’s when I learned Steve Reich isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 7:37 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

sad story: a friend of mine turned me into Reich and minimalism, and then we got tickets to hear a Reich concert for the Proms at Royal Albert Hall, only I was so tired from walking around London for one of the first times that ... I fell asleep during Drumming. I had lovely dreams, but still feel pangs when I think of it.

But now I can listen over and over - and if I fall asleep, I can rewind back :)
posted by jb at 8:34 PM on September 1, 2019

or maybe it wasn't "drumming": does he have another percussion only piece that is about 45 minutes long?
posted by jb at 8:37 PM on September 1, 2019

Well, Drumming is 1h20m... so I'm not sure what you slept through. Reich has done a lot of compositions. Maybe you should listen to them all to find out what you slept through.
posted by hippybear at 10:46 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

jb: the version of Drumming I was previously familiar with runs to about 55 minutes, so it might just have been a shorter performance of the piece.
posted by misteraitch at 1:15 AM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah, cool! I think "Drumming" is what introduced me to that other minimalist masterpiece, Terry Riley's "In C". Never knew, but according to Wikipedia it's true, that "In C"'s first performance involved Reich, too. Thanks.
posted by dmh at 2:06 AM on September 2, 2019

Here's the original score for In C, if you're interested.
posted by hippybear at 8:00 AM on September 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

I first listened to Drumming in the listening room in the music department at college, on CD and via big old headphones. It was genuinely one of those rare experiences when I sat down, started listening and suddenly it was later and the sun had gone down. Music for 18 Musicians might be better overall, but nothing will replicate that first time. It's a lonely passion (Ms Stencil cannot stand it, and I respect that) but I love it.
posted by YoungStencil at 9:33 AM on September 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Many years ago, on the old CBC Radio programme Two New Hours, I heard a broadcast of a live recording of Drumming by Nexus Percussion Ensemble. It was a pretty rousing rendition.
posted by ovvl at 12:58 PM on September 2, 2019

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