Electric Counterpoint Essay

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Electric counterpoint is a minimalism piece composed in 1987 by American composer Steve Reich for jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. It is the third of three movements in Reich’s counterpoint series. As with the other two movements, it is played as one live instrument with a pre-recorded multi track, in the case of this piece, it is one live electric guitar, 7 pre-recorded electric guitars and 2 pre-recorded bass guitars. The piece is written in the form of AB Coda, part A being from bars 1-73, part B from bars 74-113 and the Coda being bars 114-140. Each of the pre-recorded electric guitars enter playing at mezzo-forte and remain so, fading out occasionally. The bass guitars begin forte, grow to fortissimo and fade out. The live guitar is the most varied in dynamics. Both sections are split into 4 parts. Section A is played in 3/2 time and is tonally ambiguous until bar 33 where the bass plays an E. section A is played in E minor, however it could also be described as Aeolian on E as there are no D#’s. Section A begins monophonic with guitar 1 playing an ostinato, building up to a four part canon and syncopation. The live guitar starts playing the first 3 notes of its ostinato, which is built upon to the complete ostinato in bar 6 by note addition. In bar 7, guitar 2 enters. In bar 10 guitar 3, which builds up to its full ostinato in bar 15 by note addition and in bar 16 guitar 4 enters playing ostinato 1 but displaced by 2 ½ crotchets. The live guitar plays a resultant melody which changes to percussive strummed chords in bar 36. Part 2 of section A begins at bar 24 where the bass guitars are introduced. They play a 2 bar ostinato which is played in full in bar 33. These two guitars are panned to the left and right of the stage, balancing the sound. Part 3 starts in bar 36 with the introduction of chords in the live guitar and part 4 begins when all instruments

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