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Steve Reich covering/talking Radiohead

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It is perhaps worth noting that my first question was a fairly routine inquiry about Radiohead, on whose music Reich's latest piece, Radio Rewrite, is based. The piece, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, wasn't initially intended to have anything to do with Radiohead, he says: he was trying to write "a giant counterpoint piece" in which 15 musicians played against a recording of 15 other musicians, but that "was like an elephant, it was going absolutely nowhere". Then he met Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood at a festival in Krakow in 2011, where the guitarist had assembled a new version of Reich's Electric Counterpoint: "He'd done his own backing tracks, which means he'd put a lot of time and effort in and it was kind of like: 'Oh, this guy's serious about this thing.'" Impressed both by Greenwood's ability to read music and his soundtrack for There Will Be Blood ("I didn't know this guy was a rocker, I thought he was just a composer who likes Messiaen"), he found himself looking up Radiohead's music on the internet. "And these two songs just said: 'I'm your ticket.' I let the people at the Sinfonietta know, this is going to be the source of where I'm getting my juices flowing, I want to do this, I don't exactly know how I'm going to deal with these songs, but I'm ready to go, I want to get going."

The two songs in question – which Reich quickly points out his finished pieces don't much resemble – are Jigsaw Falling Into Place, "just a beautiful song", that snared Reich's ear thanks to its "elaborate harmonic movement, it's got an interesting move from B minor to A sharp" and Everything In Its Right Place. Reich describes the latter, winningly, as "three-chord rock", which does make you feel for Radiohead, nearly killing themselves to come up with something strange and unprecedented on Kid A, fuelled by Thom Yorke's belief that rock music had run its course. Then again, if you spent your 20s studying serialism under Berio, maybe it does sound like Louie Louie. "Well, it's three-chord rock but it's not, it's very unusual," says Reich. "It was originally in F minor, and it never comes down to the one chord, the F minor chord is never stated. So there's never a tonic, there's never a cadence in the normal sense, whereas in most pop tunes it will appear, even if it's only in passing. The other thing that really struck me about it is the word 'everything', sung to one-five-one, the tonic, the dominant and the tonic. The tonic and the dominant are the end of every Beethoven symphony, the end of everything in classical music, that's the way it goes. In the tune, those notes actually sound kind of distant because of the harmonies, they don't sound like the tonic and dominant. And the word: 'everything.' I'm sure Thom did it intuitively, I'm sure he wasn't thinking about it. I've seen him playing the piano and he's completely lost in it, the way he should be, but it's perfect, it is> everything."


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Guest ageofbloom

Reich originally wrote Electric Counterpoint for guitarist Pat Metheny, interesting in light of the fact Metheny was a member of Joni Mitchell's live band during her experimental jazz influenced period, which is pretty much the only past model for what Radiohead has been doing in recent years in bringing together genres.

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  • 8 months later...

bump because Christmas came early for me today:



Legendary modern classical composer Steve Reich will be the centerpiece of the 2014 Big Ears Festival, which will be presented in downtown Knoxville March 28-30. Reich will be joined by a number of musicians, including Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, to perform original Reich pieces. Greenwood is expected to perform Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint,” marking the first time the guitarist has play the piece in the United States. In addition, John Cale, best known as a founding member of the seminal rock band The Velvet Underground, guitarist Marc Ribot and cutting edge artists Julia Holter, Susanna and Son Lux, will also take part. Other artists are expected to be released 11 a.m. today on the Big Ears website,www.bigearsfestival.com, and even more will be made public in the upcoming weeks.



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yea ive heard of tele and cale, but never actually listened to em. 


and yea, convience factor is always a plus.  i remember when the easy dub all stars, who were touring their reggae version of ok computer came to my lil town in new hampshire.  i just couldnt say no


now if only jonny greenwood played the music hall here or something,

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