NEW VIDEO: Steve Reich’s Violin Phase

by Maggie Stapleton

Violin Phase is the final installment in our Steve Reich Counterpoint/Phase video trio, joining New York Counterpoint and Cello Counterpoint, available on our video page. All three pieces, plus Reich’s Nagoya Marimbas, were presented on a concert at On the Boards on February 2, 2016 organized by James Holt and Erin Jorgensen.

This version of Violin Phase is performed by Luke Fitzpatrick (violin solo) using a custom live electronics looping system developed by Marcin Pączkowski. The traditional performance of this piece involves either four violin players, or one player who prepares a pre-recorded tape loop in the studio. In this version, the tape loop is substituted with the live electronics system, which uses no pre-recorded material. The sound of the violin is captured and “looped” in real time, during the performance of the piece. The looping process involves a precise time-stretching algorithm used to align not only whole loops, but also each beat within each loop. Multiple measures are subject to looping, increasing the diversity of the repeating sound. In order to ensure rhythmic precision, live electronics performer is supervising the semi-automated beat-detection mechanism, making adjustments on-the-fly if necessary. He is also responsible for triggering recording and playback in the appropriate sections of the piece.

Pretty awesome, don’t you think?