Open main menu

Electric Counterpoint

Electric Counterpoint is a minimalist composition written by American composer Steve Reich. The piece consists of three movements, "Fast," "Slow", and "Fast". Reich has offered two versions of the piece: one for electric guitar and tape (the tape part featuring two electric bass guitars and up to ten electric guitars),[1] and the other for an ensemble of guitars.

It was first recorded by guitarist Pat Metheny in 1987 and released together with Reich's Different Trains, performed by the Kronos Quartet, on Nonesuch's 979 176-2. Metheny recorded the piece by use of extensive overdubbing in the recording studio. Guitarists wishing to perform the piece may use Metheny's pre-recorded ensemble part or opt to record their own, adding the 13th guitar part in live performance. In 2007, the guitar ensemble Forestare made the first recording of the lesser known second version, on ATMA Classique.

As with other pieces by Reich, Electric Counterpoint has influenced many modern artists, such as the Orb, which sampled the third movement of the Pat Metheny recording as one of the hooks of "Little Fluffy Clouds," and RJD2, who sampled the piece's opening for his song "The Proxy" from his first release, Deadringer. In 2008 Joby Burgess' Powerplant arranged the work for Xylosynth, taking influence from Metheny and the Orb. More recently Röyksopp named a song after the third movement. The duo made two versions of it: "True to Original Edit" and "Milde Salve."[2] Since 2012, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performed the piece at several festivals[3][4] and at concerts featuring the London Contemporary Orchestra; he recorded the piece for a Nonesuch album of Reich works titled Radio Rewrite released that same year (the album's title piece was inspired by two Radiohead songs).[5]

Movement 3 of the piece has been included in the Edexcel GCSE Anthology of Music, in the second area of study, music in the 20th Century. It was included in the video game Civilization V as one of the "great works of music" and was performed by during the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps 2015 production "Kinetic Noise".[6]



  1. ^ "Electric Counterpoint, for… - Details - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  2. ^ "Track Of The Month April 'Electric Counterpoint: III. Fast' - Röyksopp". April 1, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  3. ^ "Jonny Greenwood // Electric Counterpoint". Open'ner Festival. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "Hear Jonny Greenwood Perform At Big Ears Festival '14". Stereogum. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  5. ^ "Steve Reich's "Radio Rewrite" Featuring Alarm Will Sound, Jonny Greenwood, Vicky Chow Out Now". Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  6. ^ Drum Corps International (March 23, 2016). "2015 Bluecoats - Kinetic Noise". Retrieved November 8, 2018 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "Steve Reich - Kronos Quartet / Pat Metheny - Different Trains / Electric Counterpoint". Discogs. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  8. ^[dead link]
  9. ^ "Track Of The Month April 'Electric Counterpoint: III. Fast' - Röyksopp". April 1, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Nonesuch Records Radio Rewrite". Nonesuch Records Official Website. Retrieved November 8, 2018.