Section B for Area of study two: 3rd movement from Electric Counterpoint

Breakdown of the topics they might ask you on '3rd movement from Electric counterpoint' By Steve Reich. Hope this helps :)

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  • Created on: 10-05-12 10:36
Preview of Section B for Area of study two: 3rd movement from Electric Counterpoint

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3rd Movement (fast) from Electric Counterpoint
Steve Reich
Instrumentation:
The piece is made up of seven pre-recorded guitars, two bass guitars and a live
guitar which is performed along with the recorded parts.
Structure:
Electric counterpoint is made up of two sections, section A and B, and each
section has four mini sections in them. Each subsection is defined by changes in
the key and texture. The piece ends with a coda.
Texture:
Electric counterpoint is built up from layers. The texture gradually builds up in
section A, with the guitar parts entering in the following order; Guitar one, The
live Guitar, Guitar two, Guitar three, Guitar four, Bass guitar one and two,
Guitar five, Guitar six and Guitar seven. The piece begins with a monophonic
texture before changing to a polyphonic texture.
Melody:
Guitar one plays a one bar hexachord motif. Guitar two plays the same melody
but displaced by one note, creating cross rhythms. Guitar three fragments the
motif, further displacing it creating more cross rhythms. Guitar four displaces
the motif, starting in the middle of the bar. Overall the four guitars play a
four-part guitar canon. When the bass guitars enter they gradually introduce a
two bar bass ostinato. Guitars five, six and seven all introduce chord sequences
and as the chords are played at different times in the bars, new and interesting
rhythmic counterpoints are introduced. The live guitar often play a resultant
melody derived from the first four guitars, except in the third section of
section A where the live guitar plays chords, interweaving with guitars 5-7. In
section B the bass ostinato changes and becomes more syncopated.
Tonality:
At the beginning of the piece there is tonal ambiguity. The key is either G
major or E minor, however it is modal because there is no D#. The key of E
minor is established when the bass ostinato comes in. In section B the key
changes to C minor rather suddenly, signalling it is the start of a new section.
After the first modulation the music alternates frequently between the
Aeolian mode of E and the Aeolian mode of C. The last chord in the piece is an

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E chord which further adds to the tonal ambiguity. There are no cadences
throughout the whole piece, which further adds to the tonal ambiguity.
Harmony:
Reich deliberately avoids any traditional harmonic tendencies and even though
there are conflicts in the harmony you don't notice them because the piece is
so fast. The complex counterpoints avoid normal chord progressions making
the piece harmonically ambiguous.…read more

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