In the 1970s, composer Steve Reich spent a month playing with and listening to musicians in drum corps. This was part of his research for composing for orchestra. He was then commissioned to write a piece for the corps.
Drum corps have become very popular, with many people training as members of several groups. There are currently over a thousand members nationwide, with many living in metropolitan areas.
During this time in his life, Reich developed an interest in marching music and the way bands use rhythm and melody to convey their message. He went on to compose three pieces for drums, all using the same basic structure: A short melody, followed by a longer one, followed by another short one.
This article will talk about how Reich used these pieces to create new compositions and explore new techniques.
What is minimalist music?
Minimalist music was a style that lasted for about a decade in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a way for composers to influence the direction of music during this period.
Minimalist music is made up of very simple, repetitive sounds. These sounds can be drums, synthesizers, or melodic lines.
These lines can be gentle or strong, slow or fast. Minimalist music can be light and fun to listen to. It can make you feel relaxed and entertained at the same time!
This style was very influential on future composers, because they could learn some of the elements that went into making a song minimalist.
How did Steve Reich develop his style?
While working as a music industry consultant in the 1980s, Steve Reich met with musicians to look at new techniques and ideas. This continued into the 2000s as he maintained a healthy network of collaborators.
Reich’s networking has continued through his life, aiding musicians in his studio and on concert tours. On tour, he’ll often bring musicians to his studio to listen to jams and create concepts for future projects.
On recording projects, Reich tends to use two types of instruments: one sequential, the other non-sequential. The sequential ones are usually synthesizers or drum machines, whereas on some songs he uses neither of those.
The non-sequential ones are usually guitar or vocal-only instruments.
Who were some of his influences?
Drummer Colin Vear spent a month playing with Reich in the late 1970s, and they continue to meet up once a year to share their experiences.
Other drummers who influenced Reich include Kenny Thomas, Tom Gates, Dave Galarreta, and Bill Adler.
Adler was an influential drummer who taught others how to play. Gates was an influential percussionist who designed sound effects for songs and composed for them too.
Adler is considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. He has been called the father of modern drumming style.
What is polyrhythm?
Polyrhythm is the practice of using more than one rhythm or rhythm pattern at the same time.
In music, there are many rhythms: quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, and so on. Each of these has a specific place in the composition and performance of music.
While most compositions use a single rhythm pattern, for example six times per minute, twice per minute, and once per minute, some contain two or more distinct rhythms together.
For example, a composition may have an upbeat and end-of-the-piece rhythm, with no other major or minor beats in between.
What are the challenges of playing polyrhythm?
While many people are familiar with the two-and-a-half versus four-and-a-half rhythms that most popular music uses, there are many other combinations and rhythms in music.
Many of these do not have names, but are referred to as rhythms, such as Autohypnosis (or pulses) or Syncopation (or rhythms with back and forth motion).
These syncopation rhythms are found in classical music, jazz, and popular music alike. While some of these melodies may be familiar, others may be newly introduced to the polyrhythm game.
What did he learn from drummers?
Drummers changed their approaches to playing, and also changed how they listened to music while doing anything.
Drummers of the 1970s and early 1980s were more focused on performance than today. They spent a lot of time analyzing their performances, working on ways to be more expressive and creative.
This was especially true for drummers who became famous early in their careers. When they got really successful, people paid more attention to them than before.
As they got more famous, the expectations grew even higher. They had to perform at a higher level or get fired!
Some drummers even went so far as to change the way they played in order to fit new expectations. This was a tough thing for some of them to do, since it meant taking off some of the freedom to express themselves creatively.
What does this tell us about creativity?
While most people think of composer Steve Reich as a drummer guy, his music also includes piano, synthesizer, and vocal works.
The fact that he spent time listening to drummers is interesting, too.
During his career as a composer, he often drew from the sounds of instruments. He was particularly fond of drums, because he could create so many different sounds with them.
He believed that this variety of creativity was one of the main sources of inspiration for music.
His partner in composition, Adrian Belew, also played various kinds of music. And both of them believed that this kind of creativity on the part of artists was important for art to live and thrive on its own.
Their belief is worth paying attention to: if you want to create innovative music, you should spend time thinking on how to be creative on your own.
How can we use this knowledge to be more creative?
One of the most important things you can do to become more creative is to learn new forms of expression. Even if you don’t feel like doing any art or music, the fact that you are exploring new forms of expression is important for your self-compassion and internal strength.
For example, in the 1970s, composer Steve Reich spent a month playing with and listening to drummers in New York City. He was curious about how they made their mark on the music and what made them think up different rhythms and melodies.
This curiosity led him to write his first piece of music, called Music After Drama. This piece was designed to be played after a dramatic scene in a drama film.