Beat-Class Modulation in Steve Reich’s Music

Author: Roeder, John
Publication details: Music Theory Spectrum 25/2: 275 – 304


A beat-class model of rhythm, employed by Cohn and others to analyze textural form in Steve Reich’s early phase-shifting compositions, is here enlarged to embrace the concepts of beat-class “tonic” and “mode,” defined formally by analogy to pitch-class tonality. Using these concepts, analyses of Reich’s more recent music—Six Pianos, New York Counterpoint, and The Four Sections—demonstrate how form-creating process of pitch and rhythm result from the specific manner in which repeated patterns are built up, varied, and combined polyphonically