All Reich

All Reich

You’ll definitely feel more than all right after seeing Cluster Ensemble performing ALL REICH. Steve Reich ALL NIGHT long. We did it in a dance club. And it worked!

„The term to best describe my music is ‘music’ and for myself it’s ‘composer’….“


Steve Reich


Steve Reich was born in New York in 1936 where he also got his classical musical education. His interest focused on baroque and classicist music, but he had an inclination for jazz and twelve-tone technique as well, the latter causing his curiosity especially about the rhythmical features. He lived on and off in New York and in California, collaborating with the Tape Music Centre in San Francisco in 1963. Here he met Terry Riley, participating as keyboard player in the premiere of Riley’s legendary piece In C and also introducing the rhythmical pulse, so typical of the composition. In New York he also collaborated briefly with his peer Philip Glass, not only in the field of music but also business – together they had a moving company called Chelsea Light Moving.

Reich later became a respected composer with significant influence on the so called minimal music in the US of the 70’s. He was awarded the Grammy of his holocaust-related piece Different Trains for string quartet and tape from 1988. Reich, then 29 years old, discovered in 1965 a technique which had a decisive importance for his work. In a San Francisco square, a black priest speaking passionately about the Flood and the end of the world caught Reich’s attention. He recorded the speech and picked up a phrase, setting it to play in loop on two tape players in the studio. Due to slight technical inequalities between the two devices the playback was not in sync. He later manipulated the difference by pushing with his thumb against one of the tapes to make it play slower but in the same tuning. The outcome is recorded as the piece It’s Gonna Rain, which is the first one to use the phase-shifting technique. It can be regarded as a prototype of Reich’s early compositional system. Later he deliberately worked upon this principle, trying to get the most out of it. He discovered that he could use phase shifting not only in electroacoustic but also in composed music. One of the first such pieces is Piano Phase for two pianos – a piece in which a twelve-tone model is played simultaneously by two pianists, with one of them soon changing the tempo and getting behind by one twelfth of the model. Reich describes the circumstances of the composing of the piece and its first performances as feeling very “strange, because he was neither playing the notes nor improvising, but practicing some special kind of meditation…”

The second main feature of Reich’s music is processuality. Reich believes that musical processes should be identifiable be the listener. These two principles form the base for his three pieces Four Organs, Music for Pieces of Wood and Six Pianos. The first, Four Organs, was written in 1970 for 5 instruments – 4 electric organs and maracas. The idea of the piece is quite simple, extending the duration of a cluster’s resounding in different registers of the instruments. Whereas this cluster can be heard for 11 eighth note beats in the beginning, it becomes multiplied almost 24 times at the end – for 265 eighth note beats. Reich uses here the principle of linear processuality and vertical music time.

The imagined time line of the work is turned into vertical position and time as we know it ceases to exist. The whole piece can be perceived as a single extended moment. In the composition Music for Pieces of Wood (1973) Reich also applies this processual principle, adding a worked out phase- shifting compositional technique. It is written for 5 players on wood blocks. A rhythm model, so typical for Reich, is applied here in its basic form and during the piece’s progression others are added, simply being phase-shifted.

When the players reach a complete unison sound of the model, they move to the next model. This piece is a simplified representative of Reich’s compositional work, which makes it easier to understand it. In 1973 Reich had the idea to write a piece for all pianos in a music instruments store, and that’s how Six Pianos was born. Here we are completely aware of the so called resulting models, which are formed by mixing overtones and differential tones. The sound of these models is intensified by their elaboration for additional instruments, which multiply it. Besides being so pioneering, there is one more fact to thank Six Pianos for – it lead in 2009 to the formation of Cluster Ensemble, whose members gave it its Slovak premiere in a music shop…



Juraj Beráts 2015


It’s the same feeling as when you fall in love for the first time

It’s the same feeling as when you fall in love for the first time. You don’t expect it and suddenly an amazing piece of music hits you. You can’t resist it, you put everything you wanted to do off and you wish it would never end. It happened to me on Wednesday in August. I pass Mada Music which is located at the same address as our Nu Spirit bar few times every day. Instead of standard rock guitar roaring I was “attacked” by Steve Reich. The international Cluster Ensemble was practicing Six Pianos. 15 minutes later, while talking to one of the piano players Dalibor Kocián, known as Stroon in the electronic scene, we agreed on a concert in our club. It’s going to be the first event when “classical” music will be performed in our v enue. I’m really glad that Dalibor will be involved because he’s the most competent to represent the intersection between the two worlds of concert halls and electronic clubs. We are always happy to bring something new to the club scene.

15th September 2010 | Rado Tomek aka DJ Kinet | Nu Spirit Club

Reich conquered the club, New York has arisen

…The Nu Spirit Club in Bratislava got suddenly empty. It was just before 10pm in the club, where electronic music is usually played, when music minimalism of Steve Reich resounded the space. International group Cluster Ensemble began their performance with the composition Four Organs. (…) When playing Music for Pieces of Wood, the listeners were moving to the beat of the claves. And while dynamic Six Pianos was being played, the bartender was jumping mischievously as if her favorite DJ was spinning the decks. Reich’s music in the club atmosphere sounded more naturally than in a large concert hall. Just above the stage which was occupied by six digital pianos, just above Cluster Ensemble which also features musicians from Italy and South, a film of perpetually moving images, movement cut-outs from a train and highway was screened. They were just like the music.

14th September 2011 | Juraj Fellegi |


Steve Reich, Octet (1979)
Steve Reich, Six Pianos (1973)
Steve Reich, Music for Pieces of Wood (1973)
Steve Reich, Four Organs (1970)
Steve Reich, Phase Patterns (1970)
Steve Reich, Piano Phase (1967)
Šarūnas Nakas, Merz Machine (1997)
Marek Piaček, Ragtime (2012)
Peter Machajdík, Six Nepijanos (2012)


Ivan Šiller, artistic director, claves, piano, electric organ
Fero Király, claves, piano, electric organ
Zuzana Biščáková, claves, piano, electric organ
Dalibor Kocián, claves, piano, electric organ
Lenka Novosedlíková, piano, electric organ
Eun Joo Noh, claves, piano, electric organ


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    Bratislava  /  SK