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Music for 18 Musicians (1978)

Steve Reich
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20th-century classical music

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Music for 18 Musicians is a work of musical minimalism composed by Steve Reich during 1974-1976. Its world premiere was on April 24, 1976 at The Town Hall in New York City. Following this, a recording of the piece was released by ECM New Series. A recording of the opening sections is on Steve Reich's official website. In his introduction to the score, Reich mentions that although the piece is named Music for 18 Musicians, it is not necessarily advisable to perform the piece with that few players due to the extensive doubling it requires. With only 18 musicians, the parts are divided as follows: ⁕violin ⁕cello ⁕female voice ⁕female voice ⁕female voice ⁕piano ⁕piano ⁕piano and maracas ⁕marimba and maracas ⁕marimba and xylophone ⁕marimba and xylophone ⁕marimba and xylophone ⁕metallophone and piano ⁕piano and marimba ⁕marimba, xylophone, and piano ⁕clarinet and bass clarinet ⁕clarinet and bass clarinet ⁕female voice and piano The piece is based around a cycle of eleven chords. A small piece of music is based around each chord, and the piece returns to the original cycle at the end. The sections are aptly named "Pulses", and Section I-XI. This was Reich's first attempt at writing for larger ensembles, and the extension of performers resulted in a growth of psycho-acoustic effects, which fascinated Reich, and he noted that he would like to "explore this idea further". A prominent factor in this work is the augmentation of the harmonies and melodies and the way that they develop this piece. Another important factor in the piece is the use of human breath, used in the clarinets and voices, which help structure and bring a pulse to the piece. The player plays the pulsing note for as long as he can hold it, while each chord is melodically deconstructed by the ensemble, along with augmentation of the notes held. The metallophone, is used to cue the ensemble to change patterns or sections.

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Tracks

32:00 Sections V - X - Pulse
26:55 Pulse - Sections I - IV
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