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Patterns and Chaos: from Steve Reich to Phasing Rain
Paul Schleuse
Associate Professor of Musicology
Binghamton University
Sept 7, 6-7 p.m. at Broome County Arts Council’s Artisan Gallery | 95 Court St. Binghamton

Phasing Rain is a world premiere sound and light installation by OnionLab and Xavi Bove that places its audience in the heart of a building rainstorm, using 26 channels of audio to create an immersive multimedia experience. The piece’s soundtrack was inspired in part by the early works of American minimalist composer Steve Reich, including his tape-loop piece It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Drumming (1970-71). It’s Gonna Rain uses a recording of an African-American street preacher, Brother Walter, whose description of Noah’s flood blurs into an apocalyptic scream as his repeating phrases fall out of sync across multiple sound channels. Reich later applied this principle of “phasing” to live performance, culminating in Drumming, a work in which percussion rhythms (related to Ewe music Reich studied in Ghana) slide out of phase, creating multiplying patterns. Phasing Rain draws on the distinctive sounds of Drumming to evoke a thunderstorm, and on the inspiration of It’s Gonna Rain to juxtapose ideas about nature, technology, and the uncertain future of humanity’s relationship with both. Binghamton University musicologist Paul Schleuse discusses both.