Reich @ 70 - Musical Languages: Phasing
“I’m not reading, and I’m not improvising. The control is over tempo, and it’s like a new kind of etude. This was an unusual and truly musical process.” —Steve Reich
Photo: Score of Piano Phase
MUSICAL LANGUAGES: PHASING NEXT: Speech as Source Material

Reich in His Own Words

About the discovery and development of phasing techniques. (4:22)
 

Background

It was an accident with a pair of tape loops that led Reich to the discovery of phasing—a process during which one part incrementally increases in tempo, gradually separating the two lines and then bringing them back together again. It was a technique that became synonymous with the composer’s name both through tape pieces like It’s Gonna Rain and then in later works that incorporated live performers, like Piano Phase. Although he abandoned the use of actual tape loops, variations on this technique continue to inform his musical language to this day.

Listen:

It’s Gonna Rain
Part I


Piano Phase