Steve Reich is being phased onto the Game Boy

Steve Reich composes music for humans, and good music at that. You could, however, be forgiven for thinking that there is something mechanical to his work. Phasing, the technique most commonly associated with Reich, involves the same sequence being played at gradually—and slightly—divergent speeds. You can best imagine it as two tape machines that have fallen out of sync and, by the end of a composition, have found each other once again.  In that vein, here is Reich’s Piano Phase as performed on two Game Boy Micros by chiptunes artist Pselodux: the underlying pursuit is human.  This is, on the…


Electronic composer Keith Fullerton Whitman on the joys of piles of hardware

Keith Fullerton Whitman has spent decades exploring electronic utterances. He first began playing with them on his Commodore Vic20 when he was ten, but eventually moved on to study music at Berklee. By the early aughts, when software tools for creating electronic music were getting cheaper and easier to use, Whitman was nevertheless digging deeper into the intricacies of making music with modular synthesizers. Unlike softsynth programs that can run on any computer, a modular synthesizer is a free-standing piece of hardware whose only inputs and outputs are electric voltage; the equivalent of making music using C-3PO’s entrails. As he explained…