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Music as a Gradual Lostness: A Performer's Guide to the Phase Music of Steve Reich


Steve Reich's phase pieces Drumming and Piano Phase continue to test performers. Challenges include developing a successful phase, determining audible and visual checkpoints, and defining the role of the steady player. In this dissertation, detailed rehearsal and performance techniques of Steve Reich and Musicians are described using information obtained through the author's interview with Russell Hartenberger, an original member of the ensemble Steve Reich and Musicians. While the methods of Steve Reich and Musicians and the author overlap in many respects, one significant difference separates the two: the "Cognitive Pulse Alignment" (CPA), or mental alignment of the beat within the measure, of the performers. Unlike the "Displaced Pulse Method" (DPM) of Steve Reich and Musicians, where the performers perceive beat one in different locations than each other within the phase pieces, this paper introduces the "Unified Pulse Method" (UPM), an approach that unifies beat one among the players. A combination of UPM and other techniques results in a comprehensive guide to rehearsing and performing the phase pieces of Steve Reich, and an overall enhancement of the performer's conception of musical time.

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