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Steve Reich: Come Out (1966)

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Come Out is a 1966 piece by American composer Steve Reich. It’s something I studied — and completely tripped on — twenty years ago in 20th Century Music class. From Wikipedia:

Reich re-recorded the fragment “come out to show them” on two channels, which initially play in unison. They quickly slip out of sync to produce a phase shifting effect, characteristic of Reich’s early works. Gradually, the discrepancy widens and becomes a reverberation and, later, almost a canon. The two voices then split into four, looped continuously, then eight, until the actual words are unintelligible. The listener is left with only the rhythmic and tonal patterns of the spoken words. Reich says in the liner notes to his recording Early Works of using recorded speech as source material that “by not altering its pitch or timbre, one keeps the original emotional power that speech has while intensifying its melody and meaning through repetition and rhythm”. The piece is a prime example of process music.

Listen to it through headphones for maximum effect.

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