Edexcel Minimalism, Reich.

Revision notes on Electric Counterpoint by Reich

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Hallmarks of minimalism Keywords
Music GCSE notes Cells - short musical ideas
Drones - long continuous note or a constantly repeated note
Ostinati - repeated musical idea Phasing - when two or more versions of a sound
20th Century Phasing
Metamorphosis - gradually changing from one musical idea to the next
or motif are played simultaneously but slightly
out of synchronisation coming back into
S. Reich Layering - adding new musical parts commonly at one time creates a synchronisation after a number of repititions
Note addition - a method of developing cells in
complex texture
3r movement (fast) from Note addition and subtraction
minimalism music by gradually adding notes to
the original cell
Electric Counterpoint (1987) Rhythmic displacement
Augmentation - extending the durations of a rhythmic pattern e.g. Two
Note subtraction - same as above but taking
notes away
quavers and two crotchets becomes two crotchets and 2 minims Loop - a section of a piece of music which is
Diminution - opposite of augmentation edited so that it can be repeated seamlessly by
There are nine parts some are pre -recorded Static harmony - piece appears to have one long chord which only electronic means
1) Guitar 1 changes gradually Modal - referring to modes - the precursors of
2) Live guitar a complex contrapuntal texture modern scales
3) Guitar 2 broken chords (where the notes of a chord are played singly Tonal ambiguity - when the key of a certain
rather than together) piece is uncertain
4) Guitar 3
slow harmonic changes Resultant melody - a new melody produced
5) Guitar 4
melodic transformation (where a melody gradually changes when a variety of parts each play their melodies
6) Bass guitars 1 and 2 shape)
7) Guitar 5 at the same time
rhythmic transformation (where a rhythm gradually changes
8) Guitar 6 shape)
9) Guitar 7 gradual changes in texture and dynamics
These allow the texture to build up
Rhythm The Bass guitars make it really obvious the piece is in E minor in bar 33
There are several time signature changes in the song as it Changes between E minor and C minor in the B section
moves between 2/4 and 3/4 time. The word-setting is mostly The pieces metre changes between 3/2 and 12/8
syllabic (one word to a syllable).
There are several examples of triplets (where three notes are
played in the time of two). Guitar 3 note addition
Opening The entry of Guitar 3 is an example of note addition.
When Guitar 3 first appears it only uses the last few
notes of the phrase but the others are gradually added
until it is playing the full melody.
· the time signature of 3/2 Entry of bass guitars
· the key signature of G major The next parts to enter are the two bass guitars. They each have a
one-bar quaver ostinato but with the accents falling on different
In the first part of the piece we find these things: beats of the bar. Again note addition is used to build up the full
· Guitar 1 is playing a repeated syncopated melody in its high register. pattern.
· This ostinato bar is played 73 times.
· The two guitars are joined by Guitars 2, 3 and 4 in turn.
· The guitars enter in canon. A canon is where a melody in one part is
repeated note for note in another part as the melody of the first part
continues to unfold.
· The entries start on different notes of the phrase so the accented
notes fall in different places. This is known as metrical displacement .
Minimalism Page 1


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