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Title: Multiples of the same : a semiotic study of Steve Reich's Counterpoint series
Author: Bakker, Twila Dawn
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 0812
Awarding Body: Prifysgol Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2015
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Steve Reich’s only long-term set of compositions – the so-called Counterpoint series, which currently includes Vermont Counterpoint (1982), New York Counterpoint (1985), Electric Counterpoint (1987), and Cello Counterpoint (2003) – traces an arc through the final two decades of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. This timeframe was one of great technological development, which is reflected in these works’ performance forces (soloist and multi-track tape) and in their sketch traces (ranging from pencil and paper sketches to computer files). The Counterpoints are multiples of the same conception of a musical work in much the same way as they are to be performed on multiples of the same instrument (or instrumental family). As the composer himself put it: ‘The overall texture is made up entirely of multiples of the same timbre, which texture highlights the overall contrapuntal web with its many resulting patterns which the listener can hear’.1 Using the semiotic tripartional model adapted for music by Jean-Jacques Nattiez as a methodological basis, the main aim of this thesis is to trace aspects of the Counterpoints through their neutral, esthesic, and poietic levels in order to offer insights into this often overlooked area of Reich’s oeuvre. Independently each level of analysis offers a unique angle from which to view the Counterpoints. The neutral brings together a diverse range of pre-existing analytical views on (and approaches to) the Counterpoints, providing new analytical interpretations on specific sections of each work. The esthesic level scrutinises Reich’s own thoughts and ideas relating to the Counterpoints through the medium of interviews, biographical and programme notes, and social media, while also exploring public response and reaction to them. Split into two sections (analogue and digital), the poietic level deals with the extant sketch material produced by Reich in the course of composing these works. These three angles of analysis are then pulled together in a final chapter that explores Cello Counterpoint’s second movement and Reich’s use of rhythmic construction in combination with canon as a possible defining feature of the Counterpoints. This synthesis draws on all aspects of the tripartition and offers a possible paths through an integrated analysis. 1 Steve Reich, “Texture–Space–Survival,” Perspectives of New Music 26, no. 2 (1988), 273.
Supervisor: Collins, Christopher ; ap Sion, Pwyll Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available