Article on Steve Reich and sounded language (!!!) by Richard Serra

quote ...'Sometimes as the music evolves patterns change so swiftly that its logic evades me. I am unaware of its consistency, particularly in the latter work, where I only experience an emotional effect, and I completely give myself over to the rush of sound. Yet I am aware that there is an exact weight to the lightness of the sound. Although there are varying durations, the power of Steve’s music has a lot to do with its speed. I find my ear and mind being flooded with ideas and emotions, which follow in quick succession. Tempo counts. Tempo — timing — may be a value in and of itself, and it’s of particular importance to me whether the pace is quick or slow, contracted or extended. It’s the same subjective time that conveys meaning to perception as you walk through an installation I recently completed in Bilbao titled The Matter of Time. It is based on the idea of multiplicity or layered temporalities. Duration — not clock time, not literal time — is the main organizing principle that drives the work. The time of the experience can be fast or slow, which depends entirely on bodily movement. The listening to Steve’s music is subjective time, psychological time, durational time, and comparable to the viewing time in my work.
Some of the music places me in a constant state of unease with its continuous, relentless, insistent modulations. It forces me to follow its trajectories. It gains its power through the building of similarities, connecting them one after the other so that the process of adding produces a kind of layered rhythm: forward, forward, backward, forward. As the pieces develop, the sound includes and connects all that you’ve previously heard in its elastic stretch. It is as if the sound begins to roll forward, pitch backward, and then forward again, shift and repeat. I understand that the form is a round, but it’s not what I hear. This is not the Alouette I learned as a child.

            When I recall Come Out or It’s Gonna Rain, I don’t recall the structure or concise logic of the pieces. What I retain is a feeling of alienation and discomfort. It might seem strange but the discomfort arises from a rethinking of form. That is what I cherish in art, whether it’s Schoenberg, Feldman, Newman, or Pollock.
Let me try to explain what I mean by a rethinking of form in relation to Steve’s early pieces, where he uses prerecorded language. He starts out with a seemingly simple premise: a found voice, a sentence uttered. But as he subjugates this found language to his structure of overlays, as it is repeated again and again, the detail of the detail begins to resonate. I find that I am drawn into the infinitesimal, the infinitely subtle moving variations. It’s then I realize I am lost in the infinite vastness of the whole. As the voices spin out they become something other than language. The words are transformed by rhythm into emotion. Words sing as sounds, and as they reach the end of the path they trace through their phased diversions and combinations the result is music, not language. Language is being pushed to the breaking point, where the meaning of the word has been obliterated so as to allow its potential for music to emerge. It’s as if the original word or phrase has been stretched along an abstract, infinitely variable line dissolving its original meaning in a process, which allows for a new meaning to emerge. Smithson, who is a friend of mine, loves Steve’s work. I can hear him say, “Oh yeah, I get it. The disintegration of language into the vortex of entropy.”

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