Steve Reich : Music for 18 musicians (question)

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Which one should I purchase? The original recording (late 70s) or the new one (late 90s)???


Panagiotis Pileidis (Panagiotis Pileidis), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 10:58 (fifteen years ago) link

The original one on ECM. More flowing in terms of performance.

Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 11:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Second that, the ECM one is a better performance and the production is a little more open.

Don't let that stop you from buying the Box Set though!

mzui (mzui), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 11:51 (fifteen years ago) link

ECM thirded

Zack Richardson (teenagequiet), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 13:17 (fifteen years ago) link

The ECM edition on vinyl is also nice because you get a break in between by flipping the record. The fade-in on side B comes at a very gratifying moment as well.

Jena (JenaP), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 13:22 (fifteen years ago) link

I have only heard the Nonesuch version and it is wonderful. I also did see this live once, and if you ever get the chance, that's the way to hear it.

mcd (mcd), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 13:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I plumped for the original ECM version, if for no other reason than it's apparently (slightly) faster.

The samples I heard of the Nonesuch sounded much more gauzy & deliberately lush, as if for easy accessibility which put me off a little.

fandango (fandango), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 13:42 (fifteen years ago) link

the Nonesuch one is lusher, looser, jazzier, almost like it's trying to swing in places. after years of listening to the razor-sharp metrics of the original the new one sounds outright sloppy. I sold my copy back.

the original ECM is untouchable.

has anyone heard the ensemble modern version? I'm very curious about that one...

milton parker (Jon L), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 18:35 (fifteen years ago) link

actually the amazon reviews on that page seem to sum it up. how odd, consensus.

milton parker (Jon L), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 18:45 (fifteen years ago) link

ECM version twelfthed.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 15 June 2005 19:16 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...

"Download the track, Music For 18 Musicians, and email us your remix. Steve Reich will pick his favourite of the entries, and it will be released at the end of September on Atlantic Records."

koogy wonderland (koogs), Tuesday, 4 July 2006 12:40 (fourteen years ago) link

Mark (MarkR), Tuesday, 4 July 2006 12:54 (fourteen years ago) link

Both - ECM first...try and find an LP of it, however...then a CD of the re-recording - two very different animals. Also "Music for voices, mallet instruments and organ" is very rockin' too.

So Ho La (So Ho La), Tuesday, 4 July 2006 23:36 (fourteen years ago) link

Great idea. I bet some ILM-ers might have a go at this...

willem -- (willem), Wednesday, 5 July 2006 06:39 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

I also did see this live once, and if you ever get the chance, that's the way to hear it

I saw this performed live last week and was absolutely blown away. There were some amazing moments, like when three xylophone players were at one stage playing together on the same instrument; just watching their hands move back and forth was thrilling. I was also taken with the amount of movement on stage, with people popping over to play a different instrument - is this what usually happens?

Great show.

Daniel Giraffe, Sunday, 2 November 2008 13:28 (eleven years ago) link


Niles Caulder, Sunday, 2 November 2008 13:36 (eleven years ago) link

yeah - i saw this performed a couple of years ago for the barbican seventieth thing. aside from being revelatory in figuring out which instruments were responsible for which noises - like clarinets doing those kind of chugging transitions - it was inspirational seeing people forced to treat musicianship with such a workmanlike approach. people were playing the marimbas in shifts.

schlump, Sunday, 2 November 2008 15:38 (eleven years ago) link

The only version I've heard is the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble version that's available on eMusic and I'm in love with it. Anyone have any opinions on how it compares to the other three versions? I take it the original ECM version is a must-hear.

staggerlee, Sunday, 2 November 2008 16:25 (eleven years ago) link

yes, schlump, I was staggered to find that it was bass clarinets doing the j-j-j-j-j... bass bits.

Daniel Giraffe, Sunday, 2 November 2008 20:25 (eleven years ago) link

ha, good, i'm glad it wasn't just me - i've just listened to the new music ensemble version, never clearly having realised that there were different versions, and hearing it anew reminds me how alien it once was. i don't think i'd ever heard anything so technically mechanical and yet organically musical. some bits of it are all the better seeing it live - i have no musical vocabulary, but actually watching the singers make those high, fluctuating, like duo-tone noises - it doesn't, couldn't, seem so angelic on the record.

to digress: i only started enjoying different trains after the season of everything being performed with reich happened, and constantly lament not going. i'm going to try to see a performance in december, and am curious to know how a string quartet perform it.

schlump, Sunday, 2 November 2008 20:50 (eleven years ago) link

It was an eye-opener for me to watch the vocalists actually move towards the microphones and back again slowly, instead of just singing louder and quieter.

Daniel Giraffe, Sunday, 2 November 2008 20:59 (eleven years ago) link

eleven months pass...

Anybody going to the Royal Festival Performance at the end of this month?

Sextet, Clapping Music, Electric Counterpoint and MF18M. Really can't wait, like hopping about can't wait.

MaresNest, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:20 (ten years ago) link

oooh that sounds so good. I saw "Drumming" performed a few years back and it was incredible.

tylerw, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 16:37 (ten years ago) link

I'm going to this!

Gravel Puzzleworth, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 16:39 (ten years ago) link

Me too!

The people of Ork are marching upon us (Matt #2), Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:31 (ten years ago) link

i would really like to hear this live, unfortunately it's not happening in my burg

amateurist, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 17:32 (ten years ago) link

FWIW here is the concerts list for the remainder of 2009.

Oct 31 Clapping Music
Notambu Ensemble
Dusseldorf, Germany

Nov 3 Vermont/Tokyo Counterpoint
American Modern Ensemble
Galapgos Art Space in 'Dumbo'
Brooklyn, USA

Nov 7 Different Trains
Kronos Quartet
Kimmel Cente
Philadelpihia, PA, USA

Nov 9 Different Trains
Kronos Quartet
Juniata College
Huntingdon, PA, USA

Nov 9 Eight Lines
Eduard Flipse Zaal
Roterdam, Holland

Nov 13 City Life
Choreographed by Liss Fain as Resolved
Yerba Buena Center
San Francisco, CA, USA

Nov 16 Double Sextet
Sonic Generator
Georgia Tech Alumni Hou
Atlanta, GA, USA

Nov 19 Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra/ Kirk Trevor
Tilson Music Hall, IS
Indianapolis, IN, USA

Nov 22 Duet
Vashon-Maury Chamber Orchestra/ Karin Choo
Vashon Methodist Churc
Vashon, WA, USA

Dec 4 Drumming
Percusemble Berlin
Potsdam, Germany

Dec 6 Mallet Quartet (World Premiere)
Amadinda Quartet
Budapest, Hungary

MaresNest, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 20:11 (ten years ago) link

three years pass...

read a well-known blogger talking about how Mf18M sounds the way it does because of the tape loops and i cried a little.

festival culture (Jordan), Tuesday, 13 August 2013 21:56 (six years ago) link

it's in an interview not a piece, but still

So Reich composed this piece called “Music For 18 Musicians” and it starts off with two identical tape decks and they are playing the same note on some kind of mallet instrument. Same identical tape deck, speed, note, everything, by the nature of two things can’t always be the same, 10 seconds into the song, the notes start to separate and it creates this really cool aural stimulus, I’ve never heard anything like this


festival culture (Jordan), Tuesday, 13 August 2013 21:57 (six years ago) link

huh, that's not right, is it? He's surely just conflating his Reich pieces?

SKYLER FFS SKYLER SKYLER SKYLER (Merdeyeux), Tuesday, 13 August 2013 22:00 (six years ago) link

yeah, MfM18 is definitely all live, no tape loop phasing.

festival culture (Jordan), Tuesday, 13 August 2013 22:02 (six years ago) link

I saw this last month at Roskilde, was amazing to see live. Revelatory. Only minus was that Metallica decided they had to do a loud soundcheck on another stage, ten hours before they went on. Bastards.

Frederik B, Tuesday, 13 August 2013 22:29 (six years ago) link

yet another reason why Metallica should be dropped from a great height

a duiving caTCH, a stuolllen bayeeeess (jamescobo), Wednesday, 14 August 2013 23:47 (six years ago) link

Those two sentences from that blog are just so wrong. It reads like he's never actually heard Reich and is writing that after someone's told him about some Reich pieces and he can't quite remember it all properly.

Bloody Snail, Thursday, 15 August 2013 07:30 (six years ago) link

This thread should've been titled, "Question for 18 Musicians."

May I Call You Jiggleee? (Leee), Friday, 16 August 2013 03:56 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...

this is hilarious to watch people play

j., Tuesday, 3 September 2013 18:10 (six years ago) link

World's slowest punchline.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 3 September 2013 18:20 (six years ago) link

two years pass...

Colin Currie group absolutely killed it tonight at the Royal Festival Hall, fourth time around for me and I'd never seen it rendered with as much fire before.

I was wondering if it was perhaps because the other three times Reich himself had been either performing or overseeing, this time he was absent.

MaresNest, Tuesday, 24 May 2016 22:30 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

i love this record so much

j., Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:12 (three years ago) link

It's the best

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:30 (three years ago) link

But also which one do you mean

ECM foreva imo

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:30 (three years ago) link

ECM. Played it at my wedding while the guests were arriving.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:37 (three years ago) link

With In C, I encourage everyone to try a variety renditions (my collection is at 18), but for Music for 18, there's only the ECM.

it's just locker room treason (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:45 (three years ago) link


ecm is good too, but it cannot displace what lies deep within my heart

j., Wednesday, 28 June 2017 04:52 (three years ago) link


it's just locker room treason (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 28 June 2017 05:15 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

ECM forever!

However, was in a shop in Providence last weekend & spotted a copy of this in the "New Arrivals" bin:

Bought it out of duty--guess it's not technically out for a few more days--& it's great although the sound significantly drops out toward the end of side one. Not sure if the original master was fucked or what. Are there any other commercially available versions out there w/ Reich as part of the ensemble aside from the ECM, Nonesuch, & this one?

Wally P. Doyle, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:03 (nine months ago) link

six months pass...

j., Thursday, 4 June 2020 01:47 (two months ago) link

I’m so lame my copy is the Grand Valley State University New Music something-or-other version

El Tomboto, Thursday, 4 June 2020 03:46 (two months ago) link

supporting talented young people, that's good

j., Thursday, 4 June 2020 03:48 (two months ago) link

Will def check this out. I listened to Drumming today, so good.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 4 June 2020 04:05 (two months ago) link

more than one review i've seen has called it 'reverent', and its 'arrangement' choices certainly aren't very adventuresome—it would have been something to hear him try something more with the moog than just mimic a bass clarinet—but it does have this odd quality that comes from the composition, like on other newer versions but more highlighted, where it seems like you just can't get away from it, if you play it in rhythm and with something like the full complement of personnel, so it doesn't sound like a different version, just like you're suddenly hearing bits of the same thing that you never heard that way before. you know it's different to hear it with guitars or a moog or whatever, but at the same time the way the composition activates your memory is so obliterating that you can't really remember what the difference amounts to.

reportedly he added some 'room air' to the parts as he recorded them, it seems like it would be more interesting to hear what a version WITHOUT 'air' sounded like. as is it seems like all versions are rather dependent on that air for some of their more attractive qualities.

j., Thursday, 4 June 2020 04:16 (two months ago) link

This is a really interesting and effective arrangement and it sounds great. Won't replace the live acoustic recordings ofc but does something new.

xps ha

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 4 June 2020 04:26 (two months ago) link

I guess I wasn't expecting a radical reimagining. It's a notated work; idrg what 'reverent' means in that context. I do feel like something is changed pretty significantly by using a drum machine and overdubbing the parts one at a time - there's a level of mechanical precision beyond what you get from live musicians playing together in real time.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 4 June 2020 04:34 (two months ago) link

it's notated but i guess i think of it as kind of existing within spitting distance of vernacular semi-notated or improvised music for which 'cover versions' of records (not compositions alone exactly) have led us to expect more of re-visitations. so it's hard for it to escape perceptions of reverence.

i hadn't noticed a machine, you mean just that he is tracking/gridding the parts (presumably because it would have been impossible to keep them straight recording one at a time?)?

i don't care that much for the ecm version so maybe this is true of it too, but it seems like one thing he did here unsmooths differences between the sections somewhat.

j., Thursday, 4 June 2020 04:46 (two months ago) link

It does sound gridded, yeah, which is probably the key difference I was hearing. There is a credit for a Roland CR-68 drum machine on the Bandcamp page so I figured at least one of the parts was programmed on that but I couldn't identify which it would be.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 4 June 2020 05:13 (two months ago) link

There’s only a few sounds that a CR-68 can make

El Tomboto, Thursday, 4 June 2020 05:20 (two months ago) link

Can you pick it out in the recording?

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 4 June 2020 05:25 (two months ago) link

I admire the devotional aspect but the identical arrangement with simpler timbres makes me feel like I'm listening to a low bitrate MP3 of the ECM recording

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 4 June 2020 06:13 (two months ago) link

I think the CR-68 is used to emulate the maracas/shakers

J. Sam, Thursday, 4 June 2020 12:38 (two months ago) link

starting in section VI

J. Sam, Thursday, 4 June 2020 12:38 (two months ago) link

Ah ha, that makes sense.

Feel a million filaments (Sund4r), Thursday, 4 June 2020 12:55 (two months ago) link

I'm enjoying the textures on this version. It would be interesting to hear or make a fully electronic/programmed version though (not saying it would be good, part of the magic is the super tight but still human playing that keeps the loops from getting stale).

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 4 June 2020 14:57 (two months ago) link

i would love to hear a keith fullerton whitman version

or tbh one with some fuckin amen breaks

j., Thursday, 4 June 2020 19:13 (two months ago) link

This is making me want to dig out my copy of Reich Remixed, which might be a mistake, it's been so long.

Maresn3st, Thursday, 4 June 2020 19:28 (two months ago) link

Oh dear, yeah...

Maresn3st, Thursday, 4 June 2020 19:28 (two months ago) link

thinking of getting four or five versions up and shuffling them track by track for some super chaotic energy

j., Friday, 5 June 2020 01:55 (two months ago) link

There was a version done on 18 synths in a cathedral in Dublin a few years ago. Was absolutely great.

in twelve parts (lamonti), Friday, 5 June 2020 16:46 (two months ago) link

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