One rhythmic pattern, twelve beats long: that’s all American composer Steve Reich needed to compose a work of more or less an hour. His Drumming (1970-71) wasn’t just a paragon of minimalist concentration, it was also a key work of the minimal music that had blown a fresh wind through American contemporary music since the mid-1960s. Reich borrowed the basic ingredients for this work for nine percussionists and four singers from Ghana, where he was studying West African drumming techniques. Using his characteristic phase shifting technique, he has two or more instruments start simultaneously and then accelerates one of them slightly. This causes phrases to shift apart and thus gradually creates new rhythmic and harmonic entities. The result is a ritual, obsessive and mesmerising whole that has the power to bring listeners into a trance-like or ecstatic state and make them lose all sense of time.
In collaboration with Cera