New York Counterpoint

Hopefully useful notes on the minimalist piece "New York Counterpoint"

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  • Created on: 14-05-13 16:58
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Steve Reich New York Counterpoint
Minimalism developed in 1960s experimented socially, same with music
Minimalism ­ made up of constantly repeating patterns ­ loops
Patterns are normally short and simple
Cross rhythms ­can sound quite complicated when put together
Harmonies and rhythms take a while to change ­ change into something different
­ one note or one beat at a time
Key techniques ­
Additive/subtractive melody (add a note at a time/take a note away),
Metamorphosis (notes and pattern change over time),
Phase shifting (performers play the same pattern and one of the players
add a note or rest which takes it out of sync but eventually they get back in
Layering (layering patterns of different lengths on top of each other),
Augmentation or diminution (doubling or halving note values),
Polyrhythm's (many rhythms played at the same time)
Key influences
Indonesian music Gamelan (sp)
African music ­ west ­ drumming
Terry Riley
Michael Nyman
Woodwind ­clarinets
Bb clarinet and bass clarinet
Prerecords ten of the written parts and then performs the final part live
Ten clarinets mostly focus in three groups ­Clarinets1,2,3 they use the
same melodic material within a range of an octave (C# to C#), Clarinets
4,5,6 exactly the same in a lower register, Clarinets 7,8,9,10 they
generally play repeated notes, Clarinets 9 and 10 are the bass clarinets
Live clarinet part has the most active and interesting part, with a range of
over two octaves
Variety is created due to the different sounds the clarinets use different
register, three contrasting registers.
Counterpoint plays a key role
Staggered repetition of melodic material ­ whole piece surrounds this
Is not an example of phasing ­ both start the same, a few repeats down
the line a part is changed slightly and they go out of sync
Movement gradually builds in instruments ­ starts with one clarinet and
builds in numerically order.
Bar 3 ­ two part counterpoint begins

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Bar 9 ­ onwards ­ anything to six to full eleven parts play
All of the instruments play two bar units ­ musical ideas ­ repeated in a
canon style
Bar 3 ­ imitation ­ initial two part counterpoint at a distance of one quaver
Bar 13 ­ the music divides into three undoubled homorhythmic paring ­
one rhythm, each part is singular ­ three part canon texture, each
instrument enters one quaver apart
Bar 25 ­ live clarinet comes in with solo material
This…read more


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