Composition as a Narrative Struggle: Deconstructing Steve Reich’s Proverb
- Teams ar-lein
- Dydd Mercher 10 Tachwedd 2021, 14:00–15:00
- Pwyll Ap Sion: email@example.com
'This paper will trace Steve Reich’s creative process in his 1995 composition for five voices, two vibraphones and two electric organs, Proverb. (The fifteen-minute piece has received over 800,000 views on Spotify and can be heard here.)
The basis for Reich’s composition was a short phrase from philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: ‘How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!’ Yet even after settling on Wittgenstein’s text, the process hardly became easier for Reich, who then looked to medieval composer Pérotin’s ‘Viderunt Omnes’ for musical inspiration to see what – in Reich’s words – ‘I could steal and what I wouldn’t steal.’ Having looked at Reich’s sketchbooks at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel a few years ago, it occurred to me that ‘making a small musical thought fill a whole work’ (to paraphrase Reich) was often the challenge that faced him at the start of every new composition, as this paper will seek to demonstrate by attempting to reconstruct the way in which Reich put ‘Proverb’ together.'
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