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Illusion / anti-illusion: the music of Steve Reich in context, 1965-1968

Cole, Ross Graham (2010) Illusion / anti-illusion: the music of Steve Reich in context, 1965-1968. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This dissertation situates the work of Steve Reich during the mid-to-late 1960s in its intricate socio-cultural context. Exploring biographical, hermeneutic, aesthetic, and political implications, it attempts to shed light on the composer’s early years. The historical narrative concentrates on the period between the first instantiation of the phase-shifting technique in 'It’s Gonna Rain, or, Meet Brother Walter in Union Square after Listening to Terry Riley' (1965) and the theoretical treatise ‘Music as a Gradual Process’ (1968). It reaches back, however, to the cultural nexus of San Francisco and ahead to the mercurial gallery scene in New York. In addition, modal compositions from 1966 and 1967 are subject to detailed analyses which question the boundary between ‘impersonal’ process and composerly intervention. Chapter 1 deals with Reich’s relationship to Process art and Minimalism(s), paying particular attention to where he presented his work and with whom he was associated. Chapter 2 traces his involvement with the San Francisco Tape Music Center, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and the filmmaker Robert Nelson; problematic issues surrounding race and representation are also considered. Chapter 3 critiques two transitional works: 'Melodica' and 'Reed Phase', the latter representing a striking omission from the accepted Reich canon. Chapter 4 is concerned with the relationship between musical teleology and consumer desire in post-war ‘affluent society’, building on the work of Robert Fink. The conclusion proposes that broader social contradictions of the 1960s can be detected in Reich’s music.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Steve Reich, Minimalism, 1960s, San Francisco, New York, Process Art, Mime Troupe, Robert Nelson, Tape Music Center, Terry Riley, Teleology, Phase-shifting, Reception.
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Depositing User: Mr Ross Graham Cole
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2012 10:12
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1571

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