Watch: Steve Reich on Composing 'It's Gonna Rain'

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Composer Steve Reich talks about creating his iconic 1965 tape piece It's Gonna Rain in a new video from his publisher Boosey & Hawkes. That year, Reich recorded Pentecostal preacher Brother Walter preaching on Noah and the Flood in San Francisco, then aligned two Wollensak tape recorders that gradually fell out of sync, eventually creating contrapuntal lines from the recording. Reich's first major phasing work, it would become a landmark piece.

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Composer Steve Reich talks about creating his iconic 1965 tape piece It's Gonna Rain in a new video by Jesse Yang from his publisher Boosey & Hawkes. That year, Reich recorded Pentecostal preacher Brother Walter preaching on Noah and the Flood in San Francisco’s Union Square, then aligned two Wollensak tape recorders that gradually fell out of sync, eventually creating contrapuntal lines from the recording. Reich's first major phasing work, it would become a landmark piece. You can hear it on the 1987 Nonesuch collection Early Works here.

“In 1965, I was, and a lot of people were, working with tape loops—plastic loops of tape that went around and around repeatedly,” Reich says of the process. “Instead of using electronic sources for music, I was interested in human speech, because it’s human, and because it’s melodic, occasionally, and if you loop it, if you repeat it, that becomes clearer, and the meaning doesn’t really disappear, actually it gets intensified.”

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Steve Reich: On composing 'It's Gonna Rain'
  • Thursday, August 17, 2023
    Watch: Steve Reich on Composing 'It's Gonna Rain'
    Boosey & Hawkes

    Composer Steve Reich talks about creating his iconic 1965 tape piece It's Gonna Rain in a new video by Jesse Yang from his publisher Boosey & Hawkes. That year, Reich recorded Pentecostal preacher Brother Walter preaching on Noah and the Flood in San Francisco’s Union Square, then aligned two Wollensak tape recorders that gradually fell out of sync, eventually creating contrapuntal lines from the recording. Reich's first major phasing work, it would become a landmark piece. You can hear it on the 1987 Nonesuch collection Early Works here.

    “In 1965, I was, and a lot of people were, working with tape loops—plastic loops of tape that went around and around repeatedly,” Reich says of the process. “Instead of using electronic sources for music, I was interested in human speech, because it’s human, and because it’s melodic, occasionally, and if you loop it, if you repeat it, that becomes clearer, and the meaning doesn’t really disappear, actually it gets intensified.”

    Journal Articles:Artist NewsVideo

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