Conversations on Drumming

Conversations with Josh Quillen

I hope, in the same spirit of the performance of the piece, a listener/watcher really engages with every one of these conversations in their entirety.  Out of respect for the legacy of the piece, I, too had a process, and it was all in the aim of helping the guests tell me, and thus, US, something they’ve never told anyone else about this music and perhaps their own life.  I hope these conversations help you understand not just the music, but the people in the orbit of Steve Reich’s Drumming a little better. Stay healthy and enjoy all of these (in a row.)  I know I did.

—Josh Quillen

Sō Percussion #1 – Episode 1

Current members of Sō Percussion, Jason Treuting, Adam Sliwinski, and Josh Quillen, and former member Doug Perkins discuss their many performances of Drumming and their experiences working with Steve Reich.

Jim Culley and Doug Perkins Interview

Jim Culley and Doug Perkins – Episode 2

Jim Culley and Doug Perkins describe the way Drumming found its way into the repertoire of Percussion Group Cincinnati and from there to Sō Percussion.

NEXUS – Episode 3

NEXUS members Bill Cahn, Russell Hartenberger, and Garry Kvistad discuss what it was like to learn Drumming while it was being composed, and the many performances they have played with both Steve Reich & Musicians and NEXUS.

Four/Ten Media Interview

Four/Ten Media – Episode 4

Videographers Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg describe their ideas and concepts in creating the Four/Ten Media video production of Drumming.

Sandbox Percussion Interview

Sandbox Percussion – Episode 5

Sandbox Percussion members Jonny Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney discuss their experience with Drumming as third generation performers of the piece.

Kathy Armstrong Interview

Kathy Armstrong – Episode 6

Kathy Armstrong is a Ghanaian music specialist and music educator who has worked extensively with Ewe master drummer, Kwasi Dunyo. Kathy talks about the connections between Ghanaian dance drumming and Steve Reich’s Drumming.

Judy Sherman Interview

Judy Sherman – Episode 7

Judy Sherman is one of the original singers in Drumming and a multiple Grammy Award-winning record producer. She produced the 1987 Nonesuch recording of Drumming by Steve Reich and Musicians.

Jay Clayton Interview

Jay Clayton – Episode 8

Jay Clayton is an internationally recognized jazz singer who was one of the original singers in Drumming, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices, and Organ, and Music for 18 Musicians. Jay talks about creation of the vocal resultant patterns in Drumming and the vocal techniques used in performing the piece.

Steve Reich Interview 1 of 2

Steve Reich #1 – Episode 9

First of two interviews with composer, Steve Reich in which he describes the compositional process and the early rehearsals of his ensemble.

Colin Currie Interview

Colin Currie – Episode 10

Colin Currie is an internationally known percussion soloist and the director of the Colin Currie Group in the UK which specializes in the performance of the music of Steve Reich. Colin talks about his group’s approach to their performances of Drumming.

Gavin Bryars Interview

Gavin Bryars – Episode 11

Gavin Bryars is an award-winning English composer who played Drumming with Steve Reich and Musicians on the first tours in Europe of the complete piece. Gavin relates many stories about being on the road with the early Reich ensemble members.

Third Coast Interview

Third Coast Percussion – Episode 12

Third Coast Percussion members, Sean Connors, Rob Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore describe their experiences with Drumming and their Grammy Award-winning recording of Steve Reich’s music.

Aiyun Huang Interview

Aiyun Huang – Episode 13

Aiyun Huang is a Taiwanese-born percussionist who teaches at the University of Toronto. She talks about her experiences as a performer of Drumming and as a producer of the Drumming video with Nexus and Sō Percussion.

TorQ Percussion Interview

TorQ Percussion – Episode 14

TorQ Percussion members, Rich Burrows, Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake, and Dan Morphy discuss their performances of Drumming with Nexus and the methods they use in teaching the piece to their students.

Ray Dillard Interview

Ray Dillard – Episode 15

Ray Dillard is widely known as a percussionist and recording engineer. He describes his experience in preparing for and producing the Drumming video with Nexus and Sō Percussion. He also gives professional insight into creating percussion recordings and other related topics.

Kwasi Dunyo and Kathy Armstrong

Kwasi Dunyo and Kathy Armstrong – Episode 16

Kwasi Dunyo is an Ewe master drummer who teaches West African drumming and dance at the University of Toronto. Kwasi is the teacher of Kathy Armstrong, and they both talk about the meaning of music in Ghana and the significance of sharing Ghanaian music with Western players.

David Lang Conversation

David Lang – Episode 17

Distinguished composer David Lang discusses his philosophy, compositional trajectory, and the influence of Steve Reich on his music. He provides insight into Reich’s music and what makes it intriguing.

Laura Chambers Conversation

Laura Chambers – Episode 18

Laura Chambers is a flute/piccolo player who has performed Drumming many times with Nexus and TorQ. She talks about the role of the piccolo in Drumming, the sound quality that is required for the piece, and the anxiety of giving the final cut-off.

Steven Schick Conversation

Steven Schick – Episode 19

Legendary percussionist Steve Schick articulately explains how Drumming changed the way he approached the solo percussion repertoire and the way he thinks about music in general.

Michael Gordon Conversation

Michael Gordon – Episode 20

Composer Michael Gordon talks about the cross-influences with his colleagues in Bang On A Can. He describes his compositional trajectory and how Drumming caused him to think about music as a spiritual event.

Mark Mellits Conversation

Marc Mellits – Episode 21

Marc Mellits discusses how, as a young boy, he took piano lessons so he could learn how to notate the music he was creating. He then describes how the skill he developed as a music engraver led to a meeting with Steve Reich and his notation of the scores to Drummingand Music for 18 Musicians.

Daisy Press and Beth Meyers Conversation

Daisy Press and Beth Meyers – Episode 22

Daisy Press and Beth Meyers, singers in the Drumming video with Nexus and Sō Percussion, describe what it is like to be inside a performance of the piece. Daisy has a surprise for Josh and Beth during their conversation.

Joan La Barbara Conversation

Joan La Barbara – Episode 23

Joan La Barbara, one of the original singers in Drumming, explains the process of selecting resultant patterns for the piece. She describes how microphones are an extension of the vocal instrument, and also talks about how Steve Reich encouraged her to pursue her own compositional career.

Zoltan Racz Conversation

Zoltán Rácz – Episode 24

Zoltán Rácz describes how in the 1980s, his percussion group, Amadinda, traveled around Europe in a van following Nexus and Steve Reich & Musicians on their tours. Zoltán explains how he formed a personal relationship with Steve Reich and introduced his music to Hungary.

Ricardo Gallardo Conversation

Ricardo Gallardo – Episode 25

Ricardo Gallardo, artistic director of Tambuco, philosophizes on the generosity of music, the third ear, knitting needles, fascination with sound, and the 100% organic quality of the music of Steve Reich.

John Kilgore Conversation

John Kilgore – Episode 26

John Kilgore, recording engineer for many Steve Reich records, discusses Frank Zappa, The Cave, marimba harmonics, hamburger helper, and the technical and interpersonal issues in the recording booth with Steve Reich and Judy Sherman.

Nelson Dorado Conversation

Nelson Dorado – Episode 27

Nelson Dorado, sound engineer with Sō Percussion, describes the issues that arise while mixing a live performance of Drumming. He talks about the importance of creating trust between the sound engineer and the performers.

Amino Belyamani Conversation

Amino Belyamani – Episode 28

Amino Belyamani, founding member of Dawn of Midi, talks about growing up in Morocco and hearing Gnawa music and Berber music. He explains how the roles of the frequency spectrum are reversed in Ewe music and describes his infatuation with rhythms and time feel.

Micaela Haslam

Micaela Haslam – Episode 29

Micaela Haslam is the artistic director of Synergy Vocals, a group that is closely associated with Steve Reich’s music. She discusses singers and rhythm, operating the sound board for performances of Reich’s music, a magical performance of Drumming in Buenos Aires, the human quality of Reich’s music and its many connections to the music of Bach.

Steve Reich Conversation #2

Steve Reich #2 – Episode 30

Steve Reich Conversation #2. Steve talks about major musical influences in his life: William Austin, Hall Overton, Vincent Persichetti, and Luciano Berio. Josh and Steve discuss the value of performing and studying music from other cultures, “grandpa’s music,” and Steve’s latest compositional ideas.

Kerry O'Brien Conversation

Kerry O’Brien – Episode 31

Kerry O’Brien is a percussionist/musicologist who has played Drumming and written extensively about Steve Reich’s music. She discusses his music from the dual perspective of a performer and a researcher.

Barbara Hannigan Conversation

Barbara Hannigan – Episode 32

Renowned singer/conductor Barbara Hannigan talks about pitch as resonance, the omni-directional aspects of rhythm, vibrato, equilibrium, and the confidence she derived from performing Drumming with Nexus and Kroumata when she was only twenty years old.

Julia Wolfe Conversation

Julia Wolfe – Episode 33

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Julia Wolfe, discusses the break from tyranny in composition, the joyfulness of Steve Reich’s compositions, and finding yourself as a young composer.

Russell Hartenberger Conversation

Russell Hartenberger – Episode 34

Russell Hartenberger discusses the early rehearsals of Drumming and how Steve Reich’s music, along with African drumming, Indian music, and gamelan, sparked his interest in the study of rhythm.

Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Treuting Conversation

Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Treuting – Episode 35

Noted scholar, Sumanth Gopinath, has an in-depth conversation with Jason Treuting and Josh Quillen about cultural appropriation in music and the differences between mimicry, theft, and caricature.

Yumi Tamashiro Conversation

Yumi Tamashiro – Episode 36

Yumi Tamashiro was the manager for Sō Percussion when the DRUMMINGat50 project began. She describes the issues involved in getting the production off the ground.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker Conversation

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker – Episode 37

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker discusses her process in choreographing the music of Steve Reich. She describes the connection to the inner center and the embodied abstraction of dance.

Nico Muhly Conversation

Nico Muhly – Episode 38

Composer Nico Muhly talks about many aspects of Steve Reich’s, including repetition as a fundamental mechanism, harmony as environment, the evolution of performance practice, and the importance of head nods.

Timo Andres Conversation

Timo Andres – Episode 39

Pianist/Composer Timo Andres discusses rhythmic expression, groove, tenuto, speech melodies in Reich’s music, and how a work of art forms in a composer’s mind.

Tim Ferchen Conversation

Tim Ferchen – Episode 40

Tim Ferchen talks about receiving a telegram from Steve Reich while in Finland, the sense of family in the early Reich ensemble, the importance of the grinder parts in Drumming, and how some people get it and others don’t.

Maria Finkelmeier Conversation

Maria Finkelmeier – Episode 41

Maria Finkelmeier, percussionist and artistic director of mf Dynamics, discusses gender issues in music, trust among performers, and the laser focus needed to play Drumming.

Martin Scherzinger Conversation

Martin Scherzinger – Episode 42

Martin Scherzinger discusses Ugandan amadinda music, mbira dza vadzimu, clave, and Steve Reich’s use of African music.

Gary Schall Conversation

Gary Schall – Episode 43

Gary Schall, long-time member of Steve Reich & Musicians, describes sound and touch in the performance of Reich’s music, human interaction, musical maturity, and the glory of maraca playing.

David Degge Conversation

David Degge – Episode 44

David Degge discusses experimental energy, the community of the Reich ensemble and other percussion groups, and the cultural history of the hammer dulcimer.

Vanessa Tomlinson and Joyce To Conversation

Joyce To and Vanessa Tomlinson – Episode 45

Australian percussionists, Vanessa Tomlinson and Joyce To, discuss gender equality in percussion, the importance of land acknowledgement, and learning people skills through the performance of Steve Reich’s music.

RECAP Percussion Conversation

RECAP Percussion – Episode 46

Recap Percussion, one of the youngest percussion groups to play Drumming, discusses selective hearing, developing stamina, and the importance of breaking barriers in the percussion world.

Sō Percussion Conversation 2

Sō Percussion #2 – Episode 47

Sō Percussion provides perspective on topics from all the conversations on this website. They discuss acknowledgement, influence, appropriation, white privilege, time feel, and the importance of Drumming to each of them and to future generations.

Olivier Tarpaga Conversation

Olivier Tarpaga – Episode 48

Olivier Tarpaga, musician and dancer from Burkina Faso, discusses Afro Beat, politics of art, griots, cultural appropriation, cooking, and the connection between choreography and composition.

Footnotes Conversation

Footnotes – Episode 49

Russell Hartenberger and Josh Quillen, in a Footnotes conversation, review many of the topics discussed in the previous Conversations.

Shelby Blezinger-McCay Conversation

Shelby Blezinger-McCay – Episode 50

Shelby Blezinger-McCay, percussionist in Troika, talks about gender issues in percussion, how to deal with criticism, the environment of Drumming, and the ambiguity of concentration.

Matthias Kassel Conversation

Matthias Kassel – Episode 51

Matthias Kassel, curator of the Steve Reich collection at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, discusses the responsibility of drafting music history, problems of digital storage, and the importance of Steve Reich’s compositional notebooks.

Keith Potter Conversation

Keith Potter – Episode 52

Keith Potter, musicologist and author of Four Musical Minimalists, discusses the image problem of new music, development of the chord sequence in Music for 18 Musicians, and Steve Reich as a compositional tinkerer.

Web Design Conversation

Website Development – Episode 53

Alexandros Kessaris, Ray Dillard, Russell Hartenberger, and Josh Quillen discuss the agile, communal process they followed in creating the DRUMMINGat50 website.