New York Counterpoint
Steve Reich's 'New York Counterpoint' is a piece for clarinet where the soloist plays against a pre-recorded tape of him or her self. The soloist pre-records ten clarinet and bass clarinet parts and then plays a final 11th part live against the tape.
Reich uses interlocking repeated melodic patterns played by multiples of the same instrument - a technique that can be found in his earliest works and which is developed across many of his later pieces.
Braunarts show the shifts in melodic patterns using animated circular motifs for each clarinet part that pulsate to the melody and grow and recede with the dynamic changes. The live clarinet part is visually distinguished from the recorded clarinet parts using a green glow effect and with placement in the centre of the screen showing most easily the constantly shifting relationships between the parts. In the 4D Music concerts, the associated animated circle is manipulated in real time in response to the performer, Timothy Lines.
The design of showing the relationship of each of the clarinet parts enables the audience to clearly see when the live solo clarinet joins with one grouping of clarinets or another, playing either in rhythmic unison or melodic unison. This complex relationship between the eleven clarinet parts in 'New York Counterpoint' is otherwise indistinguishable to the uninformed ear and is one of the most effective uses of 4D Music animation design and software for illuminating the composition of music.
Harmonic changes in 'New York Counterpoint' trigger colour changes in the background imagery, a constantly moving soft and cyclical pattern, less defined than the visual interpretation of the melodic patterns.
"Two movements from Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint for clarinet and tape had spherical starbursts pulsating on screen, their sequences dictated by the music itself."
...the presentation was carefully paced so as not to tax a young mind's concentration - Stravinsky's Three Pieces for String Quartet were dotted throughout the programme, rather than being played all together, as were the three movements of Steve Reich's sunny, dancing 'New York' Counterpoint'."
In the final piece, Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint, the 12 clarinets (11 on digital playback, one live) are each represented by pulsing abstract images. Although the visualisations are intended to reflect the structure of the music, the aim is to deliver the didactic aspect of the show with a light touch.
22.2Mb (5 minutes 5 seconds) Video extract from Steve Reich's 'New York Counterpoint'
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R & D documentary video recording
The video shown on this page was made from documentary recordings of four performances of the 4D Music concert in January 2008 using two video cameras. The main footage is from a schools performance with extracts from the other school performance and two family concerts to produce a more rounded visual presentation. The sound was recorded on two camera mics.