An Interview with Composer Steve Reich

WILL YOU DESCRIBE SOME of your early work with tape recorders and the idea of “phasing” as a form of musical composition?

The process of phasing was discovered in 1965 by accident. I had recorded a tape in Union Square in San Francisco, of a black preacher, preaching about the Flood. I was very impressed with the song quality of his speech, it was something that hovered between music and speech. By making tape loops out of his voice (which was something I was working with a great deal then, and which many other people were also doing), the pitch became everything, and what he was saying gradually, gradually, became unimportant.

He was the source of the phrase and the piece “It’s Gonna Rain”?

Yes, I had two tape recorders with two loops of him saying “it’s gonna rain.” Both loops were exactly the same length, and I ran them on two machines at the same speed. I thought I was going to make a

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