Music for 18 Machines Reimagines Steve Reich For Synthesizers

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Music for 18 Machines is a reimagining of Steve Reich’s classic minimalist work Music for 18 Musicians – arranged for 18 synthesizers. 

Here’s what the creators have to say about it:

Music for 18 Machines is a reimagining of Steve Reich’s 1976 modernist classic Music for 18 Musicians. Reich’s work is a blueprint of the minimalist movement ¬ an exploration of pattern and process which morphs into a psychoacoustic experiment that posits the question ‘what happens when a group of musicians are asked to perform like machines?’

Music for 18 Machines reverses this process somewhat and seeks to coax an expressive and emotive performance from 18 electronic instruments triggered by a single sequencer.

The project was conceived by Simon Cullen (Synth Eastwood) and he is joined for the performance by Neil O’ Connor (Somadrone) as they revoice the piece for 18 synthesisers. They are also joined by visual artist Anthony Murphy (Shadowlab), who has created a new illustrative interpretation of the processes and patterns embedded in the work.

2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the debut performance of Music for 18 Musicians as well as Steve Reich’s 80th birthday. Come celebrate this landmark minimalist piece in this unorthodox format on the 15th of September 2016 at the Button Factory in Temple Bar.

Music for 18 Machines is being debuted in Dublin, Sept 15th, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Reich’s composition.

16 thoughts on “Music for 18 Machines Reimagines Steve Reich For Synthesizers

  1. yeah, pls publish it somewhere so the world can experience this interpretation. it’s definitely gonna be fresh and unique. reich really speaks to my soul.

  2. Completely pointless.

    The most beautiful thing about this piece is watching acoustic 18 musicians work hard to keep in sync, and without falling into a trance!

    If you really want to listen to Reich’s piece ‘electronically’, listen to Tangerine Dream who have performed this piece already, albeit under a different title.

    1. Hey mr Tom,
      Big mistake you make there. You might as well argue that every peace of music needs to be recorded only once and after that played back on every occasion. How boring that would be. Actually that is what Vangelis did in his Rotterdam concert in the Netherlands some 30 years back.
      Performing music live in an acoustic venue is always unique, even when sequenced and performed by 18 machines.

  3. Reich stepped away from synthezers. The reason mentioned in above commenter:
    I agree its completely pointless. It would have been MUCH more instesting to see actual musicians play on the synths and then perform the piece. This is boring.

  4. Makes me wonder of the above critics understand the meaning of the word: “Pointless.”

    If I follow their arguments, it would be more apt to say “The point of this project doesn’t appeal to my aesthetics.” And leave it there.

    Listening to the result, it is pretty dramatic and enjoyable.

    I think there are opportunities with sequencers to choose evocative sounds, and record/program notes with expressiveness in velocity/dynamics. And I think there are many pieces that would yield interesting results from this kind of treatment.

    Judging from the results that were teased in this vid, they got some nice sounds from this rig.

    Take my comments with a grain of salt, I even enjoy those pieces played by old dot-matrix printers and hard-drive relays.

  5. This is pretentious.

    As if “18 machines” implied 18 distinct pieces of hardware, all of which somewhat obsolete.

    If they would have rendered this in software nobody would give a shit.

  6. Why not have 18 musicians playing 18 machines so the result is (as Reich intended) somewhat unpredictable?

    And why not abandon the idea and do synth renditions of Terry Riley pieces, starting with the only one you have heard of, In C, because he is ten times the composer Reich is?

    1. Here you go. My take on Terry Riley’s seminal composition, “In C”, recorded in 2009. Performed and multitracked entirely on analog monophonic synthesizers, specifically a Sequential Circuits Pro-One and a Moog Rogue. I do not recall how many passes I did (and I’m not at home where I can check that just now), but it was a bunch.

      Admittedly, there are tuning issues in a few places. And I did lose the pulse a couple of times – especially toward the end. Were I to do it again now I’d certainly make some different choices, but I was still learning my process for this sort of thing at the time.

      Now that that’s out of the way, I liked the clips I heard in the video above and am another who hopes there will be a full recording available.

        1. Thanks man, much appreciated. There’s a bunch more stuff on my bandcamp (my username links to it) as well. Much of it free to download. And some content overlap between the two sites, of course.

  7. I would like to know will they be bringing it to London (or Essex 🙂 Southend cliffs would be good ;-))
    And I would like a recording of it as well.

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