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A Tribute To György Ligeti In His Native Transylvania

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A Tribute To György Ligeti In His Native Transylvania

A Tribute To György Ligeti In His Native Transylvania

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 93

Partch Bibliography

This is a short list of titles only concerning some important books by and
about Harry Partch:

Partch, Harry. Genesis of a Music. 2nd edn. New York: DaCapo Press, 1974.

Partch, Harry. Bitter Music. Edited by Thomas Geary. Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1991, see also: ‘Bitter Music’: Collected Journals, Essays, Introductions,
and Librettos, Music in American Life (2000).

Gilmore, Bob. Harry Partch: A Biography. Hartford, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

Granade, S. Andrew. Harry Partch, Hobo Composer. Eastman Studies in Music.
Rochester, NY: Uuniversity of Rochester Press, 2014.

Stahnke, Manfred. ‘Gedanken zu Harry Partch’. In: Neuland: Ansätze zur Musik der
Gegenwart. Jahrbuch Band 2, edited by Herbert Henck, 243–51. Bergisch
Gladbach, 1981/1982. Also in Stahnke, Mein Blick auf Ligeti/Partch &
Compagnons, 42–38. Norderstedt: BoD, 2017.

Stahnke, Manfred. ‘Harry Partch – ein kleines Tutorium zu seiner Harmonik’.
Hamburg, March 1996. Also in Stahnke, Mein Blick auf Ligeti/Partch &
Compagnons, 39–46. Norderstedt: BoD, 2017.

Stahnke, Manfred. ‘Partchenogenese. Harry Partch – wie ein Komponist sich selbst
erfand.’ Radiophones Hörstück für den Westdeutschen Rundfunk Köln, 21.
Juni 2001. In Stahnke, Mein Blick auf Ligeti/Partch & Compagnons, 300–311.
Norderstedt: BoD, 2017.

94 Stahnke: György Ligeti and Harry Partch


Beal, Amy C. New Music, New Allies: American Experimental Music in West Germany
from the Zero Hour to Reunification. Berkeley: University of California Press,

Chowning, John M. ‘The Synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of
Frequency Modulation’, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 21, no. 7
(1973): 526–34.

Gelfand, Stanley A., ed. Hearing: An Introduction to Psychological and Physiological
Acoustics. 2nd edn. New York: Marcel Dekker, 1990.

Helmholtz, Hermann von. On the Sensations of Tone as the Physiological Basis for the
Theory of Music, translated by Alexander J. Ellis. 2nd edn. London: Longmans,
Green, 1885.

Ligeti, György, and Manfred Stahnke. ‘Gy örgy Ligeti und Manfred Stahnke:
Gesprach am 29. Mai 1993’. In Manfred Stahnke, Musik – nicht ohne Worte.
Beiträge zu aktuellen Fragen aus Komposition, Musiktheorie und
Musikwissenschaft. Schriftenreihe der Hochschule für Musik und Theater
Hamburg ‘Musik und’, edited by Hanns-Werner Heister und Wolfgang
Hochstein. Hamburg: Bockel-Verlag, 2000.

Ligeti, György. György Ligeti: Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Monika Lichtenfeld. 2 vols.
Mainz: Schott, 2007.

Partch, Harry. Genesis of a Music. 2nd edn. New York: Da Capo Press, 1974.

Stahnke, Manfred. ‘Den Ton finden’. Schriften zur Musik. Hamburg: privately
published, 1996–.

Zarlino, Gioseffo. Le istitutioni harmoniche. Venice: n.p., 1558/1573.

Meeting Ligeti


I have had several direct, in-person meetings with György Ligeti, whom I
first met at the Darmstadt Festival in the 1970s, as well as at a masterclass in
Aix-enProvence in 1978. During our acquaintance, I have appreciated h is
free spirit which defies compositional restrictions, the emphasis on the
intuitive character of his music (unlike the serial eclecticism of the
Darmstadt school), the sometimes surprising references to other areas and,
last but not least, his enthusiasm and wit. So very different from
Stockhausen’s emphatic and – often – boring analyses, Ligeti was a local
“guru” with the figure and long hair of a musical Siegfried…

In Darmstadt, I had several personal meetings with Ligeti, as he was
interested in Romania and in Cluj. The talks at the Faustkeller in Frankfurt,
or those at his hotel, where I even showed him a few scores, revealed his
encyclopaedic spirit and his vast interest in culture. Also in Darmstadt, I
was present for the interview he gave my colleague, Nicolae Brânduş, in
Romanian, later published in Revista Muzica (Muzica Journal). His dialogue
with Ştefan Niculescu, whose work he especially praised, was to appear,
years later, also in the Muzica Journal. When we met in Aix-en-Provence for
two weeks, I had the opportunity to hear many of his concertos and to listen
to his analyses, which often took as their subject aesthetic openness or the
unveiling of literary sources.

96 Țăranu: Meeting Ligeti

He spoke the main international languages – that is, English, French,
and German – fluently, as well as Swedish, the language of his adoptive
country for about ten years, together with Italian, Hungarian, and
Romanian. I remember a little pun on the title of one of his works: I asked
him whether his piece Lontano (“far away”) would be followed by one
entitled “Vicino” (“close”). He answered: not “Vicino”, but “Prossimo”
(“next”). I also remember, for example, how he highlighted the unique
sound of the Romanian language, due to the presence of diphthongs,
mentioning, for example, the word steaua (“the star”).1

In Michel Tabachnik’s Darmstadt conducting class, I also had the
opportunity to conduct the first part of Ligeti’s cello concerto with Siegfried
Palm, a well-known contemporary musician, as a soloist. Besides that, the
presence of Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis in Darmstadt, both of Romanian
origin, brought a distinguishing note to the experience that was far from the
spirit of Stockhausen’s school. I presume it is needless here to point out my

The “indirect” encounters with the composer were numerous, either
while listening to and analysing the majority of his works, many of them
during the composition contest at the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy in
Cluj, or as an interpreter of his music with the Ars Nova ensemble or with
the Chamber Orchestra of the Philharmonic in Cluj, with whom I conducted
the rehearsals for Ramifications for the 1971 Biennial in Zagreb.

Some of these activities have found an echo in the two letters
received from Ligeti. In the first letter, dated Vienna, February 1971, he
writes (originally in Romanian): “Thank you for your letter and thank you
for presenting the Continuum piece. Please tell this to the clavichord player.”
This section of the letter referred to several concerts given by the Ars Nova

1 This was a reference to me and to a literary and artistic journal founded in 1949 in Cluj-
Napoca, published as Almanahulliterar until 1954, and Steaua ever since.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 97

ensemble in Romania and abroad, wherein the pianist Ninuca Oşanu,
converted to clavichord player, played Continuum.

While preparing for the concert of the Chamber Orchestra of the Cluj
Philharmonic, Ligeti was concerned about how the score of Ramifications
(published by Schott), would be received. In the same letter from 1971, he

I am happy when you play one of my pieces. Tell Mr.
Cristescu [who was to conduct the piece] legjobb
iidvăzleteket [in Hungarian, in original: best wishes]. There is
no Darmstadt (in) 1971, only (in) 72, with a one-year break.
Shall we see each other in ’71? Or, maybe, in ’72, in
Darmstadt? Do you have any new compositions?

The most distinguished and friendly best wishes,

Ligeti György

The second letter, dated Becs, Junius 27 (June 27), also refers to
Ramifications, which had been successfully played by the Cluj Philharmonic
and conducted by Mircea Cristescu at the Zagreb Biennial in 1971. As the
conductor was very busy at the time, he asked me to rehearse for the entire
concert, which was made up only of difficult first performances, my piece
Racorduri among them. Ligeti wrote (this time in Hungarian):

Please excuse my late response to your kind letter (I had a lot
of work to do, that is why I could not attend Zagreb, either).
Meanwhile, the concert in Zagreb took place, I have no news
of it, still I hope for the best. I would have gladly listened to

98 Țăranu: Meeting Ligeti

your piece Racorduri, but maybe there will be another
opportunity. Thank you for having played my composition!
I hope we will meet again; until then, I wish you all the best,

Ligeti György

An equally important echo was the thank-you note sent to the
composer Dora Cojocaru, who wrote her doctoral thesis on Ligeti's works
under my coordination – Ligeti more than praised the thesis. Below I
include the letter (originally written in Romanian) in its entirety:

Letterhead: György Ligeti
Movenstraße 3
D-22301 Hamburg

Dear Mrs. Cojocaru,

I enjoyed very much your thesis on my compositions. There
is no other text so concentrated on my composition principles.
I am deeply touched by your knowledge of my musical
thinking – of you noticing the most significant characteristics.
I am very happy to read what you wrote.

Very few musicologists have such understanding. In case
you find yourself in Hamburg one day (or in the Northern
parts of the continent), I would be glad to meet you. Or, in
any other occasion, in any other place in Europe (I read that
you are sometimes in Cologne).

Please, accept all my admiration – with all my heart,

György Ligeti

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 99

Finally, the last letter referred to him becoming an Honorary
Member of the Romanian Academy. Together with my colleague and friend,
Ştefan Niculescu, we made the proposal and it was accepted by the
Academy in 1997. Here is the letter, addressed to Mihnea Gheorghiu:

Letterhead: György Ligeti
c/o Louise Duchesneau
Beim Schlump 27,Haus 3
D-20144 Hamburg

To Mr. Mihnea Gheorghiu

President, the Romanian Academy Bucharest [there is a small
error here as Mihnea Gheorghiu was President of the Art

Dear Mr. Gheorghiu,

Your letter was not only a pleasure to me, but also an honour.

It means to me something which is much more valuable, that
is, that kind people care for solidarity with each other and it
lasts within their hearts even after 57 years of terror and
oppression. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

György Ligeti

These are but a few samples of my longstanding relationship with
the great composer. His activity as a researcher of Romanian folklore or the
“Romanian dimension” of certain pieces such as Concertul Românesc pentru

100 Țăranu: Meeting Ligeti

orchestră (the Romanian Concerto for orchestra), or the piano piece Columna
infinită (the Infinite Column), the homage to Brâncuşi, as well as many
others, could, of course, be the subject of future lectures. Alongside Olivier
Messiaen’s masterclasses and the meetings with Iannis Xenakis, meeting
Ligeti, as both the man and the artist, had a strong impact on my creative

Part II

A Portrait with Reich and Riley

Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s)
African Affiliations


Ligeti’s African Affinities
In the autumn of 1982, Ligeti tells us, he encountered the music of the
Banda-Linda from the Central African Republic. He was ecstatic:

My interest in [African music] . . . stems from the proximity I
feel exists between it and my own way of thinking with
regards to composition: that is, the creation of structures
which are both remarkably simple and highly complex. The
formal simplicity of sub-Saharan African music with its
unchanging repetition of periods of equal length, like the
uniform pearls of a necklace, is in sharp contrast to the inner
structure of these periods which, because of simultaneous
superpositioning of different rhythmic patterns, possesses an
extraordinary degree of complexity. Gradually, through
repeated listening, I became aware of this music’s
paradoxical nature: the patterns performed by the individual
musicians are quite different from those which result from
their combination. In fact, the ensemble’s superpattern is in
itself not played and exists only as an illusory outline. I also

106 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

began to sense a strong inner tension between the
relentlessness of the constant, never-changing pulse coupled
with the absolute symmetry of the formal architecture on the
one hand, and the asymmetrical internal divisions of the
patterns on the other. What we can witness in this music is a
wonderful combination of order and disorder which in turn
merges together producing a sense of order on a higher

What an endorsement of African music, and not only programmatically but
with reference to specific technical procedures. Employing a set of dualities,
Ligeti characterizes African music as essentially paradoxical in nature; there
is order and disorder, internal asymmetries are offset by an unchanging
pulse, and polyrhythmic textures created by markedly different patterns are
held in place by uniform periods.2 Let us emphasize the fact that although
the Banda-Linda music originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Simha
Arom was new to Ligeti in 1982, it seemed to manifest compositional
procedures that were not new to him – procedures centering on polyphony
and polyrhythm that he had been trying out in his own earlier compositions.
The African encounter therefore served as a kind of affirmation, a spiritual
affirmation, perhaps, or even an ethical one. In a fundamental sense, then,
the story of Ligeti’s African affinities is less a story about Banda-Linda
musicians than about Ligeti himself.

Equally decisive for Ligeti’s African turn was his 1986 encounter
with Austrian anthropologist, psychoanalyst and ethnomusicologist,

1 György Ligeti, Foreword to Simha Arom, African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical
Structure and Methodology, trans. Martin Thom, Barbara Tuckett, and Raymond Boyd
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), xvii.
2 These features may be heard in the recording that catalyzed Ligeti’s conversion to African
music, Banda Polyphony: Central African Republic (Holland: Philips, 1976), recorded by
ethnomusicologist Simha Arom and brought to Ligeti’s attention by his then-student, Puerto
Rican composer Roberto Sierra.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 107

Gerhard Kubik, a veteran field researcher whose work has taken him to
sixteen African countries mostly in the Central, Eastern, and Southern
regions. Ligeti devoured the ethnographic writings of Kubik (and others by
Hugo Zemp, Simha Arom, and Artur Simon), sometimes writing down
details of his encounter in, for example, his sketchbooks for the piano études.
Martin Scherzinger reports that in an early sketch for the 1993 étude
Entrelacs, the composer apparently toyed with the idea of titling it
“Zimbabwe” or “Mbira,” thus acknowledging a proximity between his own
technical concerns in that étude and those of lamellophone players from
Southern Africa.3 And in a postcard sent to Kubik on the occasion of his
sixtieth birthday, Ligeti praises Kubik for his technical discoveries, noting in
particular the concept of inherent patterns.4

I will turn to a few of Ligeti’s presumed African affinities shortly,
but before I do so, I need to remind us of the obvious fact that the
composer’s musico-intellectual curiosities were many: Vitry, Machaut,
Ciconia, Nancarrow, Reich, Balinese music, Carribean music, Brazillian
music; Hungarian and Romanian folk music; and, of course, the complex
associations with serial and post-serial composers, to name only a few. So,
although his African interests may be publicized not only as a biographical
fact but, more polemically, as an indication of an artistic debt owed to Africa,
they are best seen against the background of a much wider pool of interests.
Ligeti emerges as a cosmopolitan thinker, a designation that acknowledges

3 Martin Scherzinger, “Remarks on a Sketch of György Ligeti: A Case of African Pianism,”
Mitteilungen der Sacher Stiftung 20 (2007): 32.

4 Quoted in Scherzinger, “György Ligeti and the Aka Pygmies Project,” Contemporary Music
Review 25 (2006): 248. First formulated in 1962, Kubik’s idea of inherent rhythms refers to
rhythms that are not articulated by a single member of an ensemble but emerge from the
confluence of ensemble rhythms. See Gerhard Kubik, “The Phenomenon of Inherent
Rhythms in East and Central African Instrumental Music,” African Music 3 (1962): 33–42. An
updated discussion under the rubric inherent pattern or i.p. may be found in Kubik, Theory of
African Music, Volume 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 107–30.

108 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

the thoroughness of his various geo-temporal and geo-cultural affinities
without implying any kind of rootlessness.5

On Some Musical Details of Ligeti’s African Encounter

What sorts of traces of Africa does one find in Ligeti’s scores? This turns out
to be a complex question because, although a musical element may be
designated ‘African’ on account of its origin, its identity is not immutable;
indeed, by the time it reaches listeners, an element may have acquired other

In a concise article investigating traces of Africa in Ligeti’s works,
American composer and scholar Stephen Taylor assembles what he calls
“African citations” in compositions spanning the period 1980 to 2003. 6 The
specific works examined are the Piano Études (1984–), Piano Concerto
(1985–1988), Violin Concerto (1990–1992) and the Nonsense Madrigals
(1988–1993). Although, as we will see, Taylor identifies a number of African
citations, he also admits that many of them cannot be heard, or rather,
cannot be heard by the casual listener. This is partly because the
appropriations often take place at an oblique and abstract level, not at the
concrete level of unmediated material borrowings. To put the point in terms
of the tripartition bequeathed to semiology by Jean Molino and Jean-Jacques
Nattiez,7 we might say that Africa exists for Ligeti principally in the poietic
realm, not (or not necessarily) at the esthesic level, and only equivocally at
the neutral level, the level of trace. Since Central African music is cultivated
in oral traditions, and since Ligeti encountered it as a sonic text, the creation

5 On Ligeti’s cosmopolitanism, see Amy Bauer, “The Cosmopolitan Absurdity of Ligeti’s Late
Works,” Contemporary Music Review 31: 2–3 (2012): 163–76.
6 Stephen A. Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm,” The World of Music 45/2 (2003): 83–94.
7 Nattiez, “Varèse’s Density 21.5: A Study in Semiological Analysis,” trans. Anna Barry, Music
Analysis 1 (1982): 243–340.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 109

of a neutral level for analysis requires the further intervention of a
transcriber to transform an oral text into a written one. From his own
account, Ligeti’s primary engagement with the Banda-Linda material was
through intensive listening.

Among the affinities reported by Taylor, the following may be cited
(see Example 1, a-g, which reproduces Taylor’s examples). Example 1a is an
excerpt from the étude “Autumn in Warsaw.” Preceded first by a passage
featuring Ligeti’s famous lament motif in two voices in parallel tritones (bb.
55–61), and then by a polyphonic build-up (bb. 62ff.), this moment displays
what Taylor calls a “complex hemiola” in a 4:5:7 polyrhythm. This is one of
those “polytempo” hemiolas that, according to Taylor, has a dual ancestry
in Romantic music by Chopin and Schumann, on the one hand, and African
ensemble music such as the Banda-Linda orchestra we’ve been talking
about, on the other.

Example 1a. “Polytempo” hemiolas in “Automne à Varsovie,” bb. 73–74

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm” , The World of Music.

Example 1b displays 3:4 hemiola patterns from the source, so to speak, the
source being Africa – identified not by Ligeti but by ethnomusicologist
Arom. Significant here is the fact that these patterns are normally

110 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

accompanied by hand clapping (see vertical lines), or expressed through
dancing, both of which provide clues to metrical structure.

Example 1b. African 3:4 rhythms

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.

Example 1c features so-called ‘Bongo patterns’ extracted from bb. 31–48 of
the third movement of Ligeti’s Piano Concerto. The main African
connection here seems to be the instrumentation, not the reproduction of
characteristically African rhythmic patterns. In contrast, Example 1d is a
widely used bell pattern found in West and Central Africa, perhaps most
frequently heard in Southern Ewe music. Known as the standard pattern, it
features an inter-onset pattern of [2212221]. Taylor favors a 5+7
segmentation, a patterning he finds in some of Ligeti’s works, although the
reverse, 7+5, is also found. Since African musicians do not normally count
rhythms, it is unlikely that any of them will conceptualize the standard

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 111

pattern as a 5+7 or 7+5 additive structure, so we must understand the
numerical designations as coming from a different cultural conception.8

Example 1c. Bongo patterns in bb. 31–48 of Piano Concerto, III

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.
Example 1d. Bell pattern from Ewe dance Atsia. 5+7 pattern implied

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.

8 For a fuller discussion of competing conceptions of the standard pattern, see my “Structural
Analysis or Cultural Analysis? Competing Perspectives on the ‘Standard Pattern’ of West
African Rhythm,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59 (2006): 1–46.

112 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

Examples 1e and 1f are two instances of 7+5 patterning in Ligeti, the first
extracted from the alto parts of bb. 22–25 of Ligeti’s Nonsense Madrigals,
while second is a figure played by oboe and trombone in bb. 59–60 of the
third movement of the Piano Concerto.

Example 1e. Nonsense Madrigals, I, bb. 22–25 (alto parts only)

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.

Example 1f. 7+5 rhythmic patterns in Piano Concerto, III, bb. 59–60 (oboe and

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.

Finally, Example 1g shows the reversed pattern, 5+7, in bb. 44–48 of the
fourth movement of the Violin Concerto. The Stravinsky-style alternation of
5/16 and 7/16 meters enhances the audibility of this particular example, but
the connection to Africa is undermined by the fact that African dance music
is not normally constructed on the basis of alternating meters. Rather, and
indeed as noted by Ligeti when he referred to a “periodic uniformity” and a
“constant, never-changing pulse,” fixed meters serve as foundations for the

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 113
Example 1g. 5+7 pattern in Violin Concerto, IV, bb. 44–48

© Taylor, “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm”, The World of Music.

How persuasive are these instances of an African sediment in Ligeti?
The answer is, “Not very persuasive,” and this for two main reasons. First is
the question of audibility. While the 4:5:7 “polytempo hemiola” in Figure 1a
may be heard by astute listeners listening for them, polytempo as such is
rare in African ensemble music; it is not normally found in those canonical
ensemble repertories that have formed the basis of discussion and
theorization among scholars. It is true, however, that in certain
performances, a lead instrument may be featured in speech mode while the
rest of the ensemble performs in dance mode. Still, the speech mode
normally approximates the free proportions of spoken language; rarely if
ever is it intentionally constructed with proportions like 4:5:7. There are also
instances of African performance in which several ensembles perform in
close proximity, but the resultant polytempo could hardly be understood as
an effect of the compositional intention. In short, while polyrhythm – the
simultaneous unfolding of more than one rhythmic pattern – is a central
feature of West and Central African music, there’s normally a single shared
tempo (and beat), not multiple tempos (or beats).

Second is the highly selective nature of Taylor’s examples and the
absence of pattern repetition. Ligeti’s ostensible 7+5 and 5+7 patterns are

114 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

cherry-picked from complex patterns; ideally, the analyst would display all
competing patterns in a given passage and then show how the “African”
patterns command the listener’s attention. Furthermore, the patterns
ferreted out by Taylor are not repeated enough times to invite or enable
entrainment by the listener. Just as one swallow does not an alcoholic make,
so one occurrence of a rhythmic configuration does not establish a pattern
or for that matter, the sort of consequential African affinity being explored
here. No doubt, listeners with different levels of experience and ability will
hear differently depending on their intentions for a particular audition, but
there is a huge gap between the ostinato-driven textures found in West and
Central African music (as seen in the numerous transcriptions made by
Jones, Locke, Arom, and Fernando 9 ) and the fleeting appearances of
hemiolas or 5+7 and 7+5 patterns in Ligeti’s timbrally diversified and
rhythmically fluid textures.

Reich’s African Affinities

In order to set Ligeti’s African affinities into relief, it might be helpful to
recall some of Steve Reich’s work. Writing in 1973, Reich said “I studied
Balinese and African music because I love them, and also because I believe
that non-Western music is presently the single most important source of
new ideas for Western composers and musicians.”10 Reich’s encounters with
African music are widely acknowledged by the composer himself and by
scholars, and his appropriations of African materials are overt, direct, and

9 See A. M. Jones, Studies in African Music, 2 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1959);
David Locke, Dum Gahu: An Introduction to African Rhythm (Tempe, AZ: White Cliffs Media,
1998); Arom, African Polyphony and Polyrhythm; and Nathalie Fernando, Polyphonies du Nord-
Cameroun, Société d’Etudes Linguistiques et Anthropologiques de France (Paris:
Peeters/SELAF, 2011).
10 Steve Reich, Writings on Music, 1965–2000, edited with an introduction by Paul Hillier (New
York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 69.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 115

immediately audible. Let me venture a proposition about the difference
between the two composers: Whereas the African sediment in Ligeti’s music
is oblique and elusive, heavily mediated and abstract, that in Steve Reich is
easily recognized although it then undergoes processes that are often alien
to African compositional thinking. So, when Reich, acknowledging non-
Western influences on his work, declared in 1988 that, “I didn’t want to
sound Balinese or African, I wanted to think Balinese or African,” he
achieved the exact opposite: The rhythmic patterns he acquired from
African music are recognizable as African – they sound African – but it is not
clear that his compositional procedures (phasing, for example) reflect
African thinking.

A few passages will help us think through the nature of Reich’s
appropriations. First is the well-known Clapping Music, which is based on a
rotation of the standard pattern. (The pattern is [2212221], and Reich uses
rotation 4 [2212212] but with a fission of the first onset [11212212]). The
African contexts typically present the timeline as a stable entity, with
contrasting and complementary patterns played by other instruments. In
Reich, however, the second performer “moves abruptly, after a number of
repeats, from unison to one beat ahead, and so on, until he is back in unison
with the first performer.”11 So while the generative musical idea is readily
recognized as African, it is subjected to un-African manipulation. In Reich’s
words, his input sounds African but his narrative mode shows that he is not
necessarily thinking African.

The first movement of Electric Counterpoint for Guitar and Tape or
Guitar Ensemble (1987) contains a sizeable passage borrowed from music of
the Central African Republic. The parallels and divergences can be readily
seen by comparing Reich’s composition (see the two passages excerpted in
Examples 2a and 2b) with Arom’s transcription of a performance by an 18-

11 Reich, Writings on Music, 68.

116 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

piece Banda-Linda horn ensemble (Example 2c) – the same music,
incidentally, that Ligeti was drawn to in 1982.

Example 2a. Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, bb. 118–124
© 1987 Boosey & Hawkes, renewed 2009
Example 2b. Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, bb. 216–222

© 1987 Boosey & Hawkes, renewed 2009

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 117

Example 2c. Excerpt from Arom’s transcription of Central African horn orchestra

118 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

First, Reich has preserved the pattern of entries and the mode of the Banda-
Linda performance. As Example 2a shows, the excerpt is led by two guitars
(bars 110–125); a third enters at 126, a fourth at 142, a fifth at 158, a sixth at
184, a seventh at 190, and so on until the entire ensemble has been activated.
Example 2c shows only the fully-activated horn ensemble, but an actual
performance would normally begin with the topmost horn articulating G,
then horn 2 with the E adjacent, horn 3 with the D below, horn 4 with the C
next to it, and horn 5 with an A, thus completing the pentatonic collection.
The process continues into the next octave, and further down into a lower
register until we are two and a half octaves from where we started. Second
is a minor divergence: each of the Banda-Linda horns is in principle capable
of playing only one note at a time (although there is occasional bending of a
note to expand the pitch space), whereas Reich’s guitars have the capability
to play triads and dyads (see, for example, Guitars 9 and 10 at bars 214 ff. in
Example 2b). Third is a difference in the way motives are generated by the
Banda-Linda musicians. Employing a hocket technique, each horn
contributes a short note to a pointillistic texture from which emerges an
overall motive, whereas each of Reich’s guitars is given an actual motive,
not a note from the motive. In other words, whereas the African musicians
produce a motif communally, Reich’s musicians are each given their own
motives (at least until Guitars 9 and 10 enter with material designed to
thicken the overall texture). The affinities between the African source and
Reich’s composition are readily heard; indeed, for anyone previously
familiar with the Banda-Linda music, this passage from Electric Counterpoint
sounds like a virtual quotation of the horn music. So when the composer
says that the first movement “uses a theme derived from Central African
horn music that I became aware of through the ethnomusicologist Simha
Arom,” he rather understates the magnitude of his debt.12

12 Reich, Writings on Music, p. 147. A recent recording featuring the guitarist Daniel Lippel
and made in collaboration with Martin Scherzinger “strives to emphasize the connections

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 119

We can gain further insight into Reich’s valuation of African
materials by examining a brief transcription that he made of the Ewe dance,
Agbadza, following his 1970 visit to Ghana, where he studied drumming
with Ewe lead drummer and now Afa priest and university professor,
Gideon Alorwoyie (Example 2d).

Example 2d. Reich’s transcription of Ewe dance, Agbadza

Following the method used by A. M. Jones in the 1950s to transcribe Ewe

and Lala music, Reich claimed that “African drumming has multiple

downbeats, often one for each member of the ensemble.”13 Recent studies of

Southern Ewe music by David Locke and James Burns do not, however,

support this claim.14 Reich further used bar lines to register accents and to

with the Central African tradition that inspired its composition.” See Scherzinger, “Electric
Counterpoint,” Digital Booklet and CD Album Liner Notes for Steve Reich: Electric
Counterpoint (Soloist: Dan Lippel) (New York: New Focus Records, 2016).
13 Reich, Writings on Music, 70.
14 See David Locke, “An Approach to Musical Rhythm in Agbadza,” in Thought and Play in
Musical Rhythm, ed. Richard Wolf, Stephen Blum and Christopher Hasty (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2019), 100–145; James Burns, “Rhythmic Archetypes in Instrumental Music
from Africa and the Diaspora,” Music Theory Online 16:4 (2010). Available at (accessed 27
April 2020).

120 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

mark the beginnings of groups. This equation of bar line with both metrical
and phenomenal accents is another error frequently made when transcribers
ignore the shared beats expressed in dance steps and often in the pattern of
handclaps. It is an instructive error, however, because, in conveying a view
of meter as plural, it aligns the method used in this transcription with some
of Reich’s own compositional procedures as heard, for example, in
Drumming. Ligeti, too, succumbed to a similar error in attributing
differential velocities to the individual polyphonic strands within an
ensemble. This difference between African ensemble music, on one hand,
and the individual fantasies of Ligeti and Reich, on the other, is
fundamental, and further underlies the differences in compositional
subjectivity between individual orientation and group orientation.

Back to Ligeti

Whereas Stephen Taylor admits, as we have previously remarked, that
many of Ligeti’s African citations are not audible, Martin Scherzinger does
not dwell on the question of audibility. According to him, “It would not be
an exaggeration to say that, in style and method, Ligeti’s creative output
after 1985 grew primarily out of a methodical study of African musical
structures.” 15 He later identified “precise formal connections between
Ligeti’s études, on the one hand, and the music of the Aka, in particular, and
African music, in general, on the other.” 16 In this way, Scherzinger
reinforces the point made earlier that it is in the poietic rather than the
esthesic realm that Ligeti’s encounter with African music is most evident.
Scherzinger is especially keen to establish a “European debt” (represented
here by Ligeti) to Africa (represented here by the Aka), and he supports his
claims in part by referring to a 2003 CD recording, African Rhythms,

15 Scherzinger, “Remarks on a Sketch of György Ligeti,” 36.
16 Scherzinger, “György Ligeti and the Aka Pygmies Project,” 227.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 121

featuring the music of Ligeti, Reich, and the Aka performed by French
pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and an Aka choir from the Central African

African Rhythms is a juxtaposition of three sound worlds that are
either African or marked by Africa in some deep way. The decision to
enforce what can only be described as a forced cohabitation of Ligeti, Reich,
and the Aka on a single recording was meant to be provocative, and it has
indeed elicited a range of critical responses, several of which Scherzinger
rehearses. How comfortable are the transitions between the three separate
worlds captured on the CD? Have all three entities been comparably
represented? What are the ethics, aesthetics, and politics of such an
assembly? Scherzinger dances around these questions in an instructive
manner, but what interests me here is his discovery of “specific source
materials” for Ligeti’s études. The composer himself acknowledges African
inspiration: “The polyphonic performance of many musicians at the
xylophone – in Uganda, in the Central African Republic, in Malawi and in
other areas – as well as the solo performances on lamellophones (mbira,
likembe, or sanza) in Zimbabwe, in Cameroon, and in many other areas
stimulated me to seek out similar technical possibilities on the piano

Without reproducing the entirety of Scherzinger’s thorough and
nuanced demonstration here, we can at least draw attention to his inventory
of source materials: Fém (Metal), 1989, “recalls the polyrhythmic processes
and percussive sonorities of southern African xylophone music”; Entrelacs
(Interlacing), 1993, “recalls the patterning of tusona ideographs from the
north-western region of Angola and eastern Zambia”; Désordre (Disorder),

17 African Rhythms, Compact Disc (Germany: Teldec Classics, 2003). Performed in 2001 –2002
by Aka Pygmies and Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

18 Quoted in Scherzinger, “György Ligeti and the Aka Pygmies Project,” 232.

122 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

1985, “draws on the ennanga (harp) music of Uganda”; and Der
Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), 1994, “draws on amadinda and
akadinda (xylophone) music of Uganda as well as mbira music of
Zimbabwe.”19 Other études are influenced by the horn music of the Banda-
Linda and music by the Gbaya, Chokwe, and Shona.

A list of “source materials” like this will immediately suggest a
significant debt to Africa, especially if the specifically African sources are
not contextualized comprehensively, that is, placed in a larger pool of all
known sources, not just the African ones. And if we apply something
analogous to the one-drop rule that once determined racial classification in
the US, if in other words we insist that a drop of Africa inside a work
automatically classifies it as African, then Scherzinger’s main demonstration
would be unexceptionable. But the one-drop rule has severe limitations, not
least the fact that, when transposed into the artistic realm, it obscures the
effects of compositional labor. For what cannot be stressed enough is the
extent to which Ligeti labored mightily over the production processes and
transformed his African inputs so radically that they were virtually
unrecognizable in the resulting traces.20

From my own experience, I might add that while I can and do hear
nuggets of African ideas in Reich, Ligeti’s music has never sounded African
to me. Of course, one ought to qualify any claims about something
“sounding African” given the continent’s size and the diversity of its
musical idioms, not to mention the subjectivity that underlies that claim.
Conversely, however, it would be perverse to deny that perceptual limits

19 Scherzinger, “György Ligeti and the Aka Pygmies Project,” 236.
20 I should here acknowledge remarks made by composer Manfred Stahnke during the
international conference in Cluj-Napoca in May 2018, Ligeti: A Portrait with Reich and Riley. A
former student of Ligeti’s (1974–1979), Stahnke affirmed the essence of this working method:
chiseling nuggets of musical material until they assumed radically different shapes. Steve
Reich likewise remarked in 2000 that Central African polyphony had been “well digested” by
Ligeti (Reich, Writings on Music, p. 213).

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 123

exist for many listeners when it comes to associating musics. I get that
Africa (or the idea of Africa) is a significant presence in the production of
Ligeti’s music, but the results to do not lead me as a listener to align his
music with traditional African music. Scherzinger himself, after detailing
the African sources in Fém and Entrelacs, does not settle the issue of esthesic
accessibility or (merely) poietical pertinence.

The issue of African affinities, then, turns on a simple distinction
between acts of in-putting (what the chef puts into a dish) and the reception
of outputs (what the dish smells and tastes like to diners). Scherzinger’s
labors have not, I don’t think, resulted in a case for hearing Ligeti’s études as
African; nor have the various African ingredients in Reich, ingredients that
are very quickly put under erasure as a result of the composer’s individual
technical procedures, made a case for attending to the works as essays in
African composition. So, once again, when Reich declared that he “didn’t
want to sound … African, [only to] think African,” he left us with a
philosophical puzzle. Do thoughts not have a sonic dimension? How, then,
can one ultimately separate “think[ing] … African” from “sound[ing] …

A Perspective from the Composition of African Art Music

Discussion in the broader musicological literature of Ligeti and Reich’s
African affinities has so far paid little attention to African composers of art
music, that is, indigenous, born-in-the-tradition composers who are
engaged in the production of original, written works destined for
performance in concert halls in the tradition of their European counterparts.
This is perhaps not surprising given that the tradition of art music in Africa
is not widely known in the West. “When the Zulus produce their Tolstoy,
we will read him,” Saul Bellow once quipped. And some might echo that
sentiment and say that “When Africans produce their Bartók or Ligeti, we

124 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

will listen to him.” Setting aside the presumptuous thought that it is in the
interest of Africans to aim to replicate Bartók’s or Ligeti’s achievement, we
should nevertheless acknowledge the existence in Africa of a tradition of on-
paper composition of sonatas, choral works, operas, chamber music and
especially piano music, a tradition that dates back to the nineteenth century
and is manifest in the work of composers like Fela Sowande, Akin Euba,
Joshua Uzoigwe, Ayo Oluranti, and Gyimah Labi, to name but a handful.
Like Bartók, these composers have incorporated varieties of “folk” material
in their original compositions within musical languages marked by diverse
local, national, and international influences.21

By way of conclusion, I would like to remark briefly on the African
affinities of African composers. The redundancy in that formulation is
deliberate, for it is tempting to assume that the works of composers of
particular geo-cultural origins bear traces of those origins. The assumption
undergirding that belief is fragile, however. To say that we naturally expect
to see, hear, and smell Hungary in Bartók, France in Debussy, or Germany
in Lachenmann is to ignore the fact that such essentialized attributions are
not always built on solid foundations. It is necessary, then, to disrupt the
tempting assumption that the distance – be it musical, psychological, or
identitarian – that legitimizes inquiries such as “Ligeti and Africa” or “Reich
and Africa” is not also to be found in studies of “Uzoigwe and Africa” or
“Onovwerosuoke and Africa.” What, then, can we learn from those who
speak (specific idioms of) African music as a native musical language even
as they manipulate its elements (and others as well) in the course of creating

21 On African art music, see Bode Omojola, Nigerian Art Music, with an Introductory Study of
Ghanaian Art Music (Ibadan: Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique, University of Ibadan,
1995); Scherzinger, “Art Music in a Cross-Cultural Context: The Case of Africa,” in The
Cambridge History of Twentieth -Century Music, ed. Nicholas Cook and Anthony Pople
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 584–613; and my “The Challenge of African
Art Music,” Circuit, musiques, contemporaines 21 (2011): 55–72.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 125

original works? Here are two brief examples from the work of two Nigerian

First, in minimalist vein are two brief excerpts from a piano piece entitled
“Ukom” by Joshua Uzoigwe (1945–2005) (Examples 3a and 3b). 22
Immediately audible is an iambic rhythm that endows the ostinato with a
forward drive. Fragments of pentatonic melody accumulate, incorporating
elements of the so-called standard pattern (a variant of which we heard in
Reich’s Clapping Music). Enhancing the work’s forward drive are several off-
beat rhythms. Indeed, if on hearing this opening, we were tempted to stand
up and dance, we would be forgiven because, for anyone culturally attuned
to this rhythmic environment, “Ukom” literally elicits dancing.

Example 3a. Opening bars of Uzoigwe’s “Ukom” from Talking Drums (1990)

22 Joshua Uzoigwe, “Ukom,” in Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora, ed. William
Chapman Nyaho (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

126 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations
Example 3b. Uzoigwe’s “Ukom” from Talking Drums (1990), bb. 14–22

As far as I know this piece was composed in complete innocence of
Reich’s music, but the surface affinities are readily heard. Uzoigwe stays
close to indigenous resources by maintaining the characteristic pentatonic
sound (although he incorporates an occasional pitch that lies outside the an-
hemitonic scale, G-E-D-C-A) and leaving intact the cyclical periodicity that
facilitates (imaginative) dance. Overall, Uzoigwe maintains a compositional
subjectivity that, while individual in a certain immediate sense, nevertheless
responds at a deep level to a communal imperative.

Second is a little piano étude by Fred Onovweruosuoke (b. 1960)
(Example 4).23 It is modelled on a popular dance of Southern Ewe origin,
Agbadza, a dance normally accompanied by an ensemble of bells, rattles,

23 Fred Onovwerosuoke, “Agbadza,” in Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms (St Louis:
African Music Publishers, 2007), 1:32–33.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 127

support drums, lead drum, and voices. (We quoted Reich’s transcription of
the Agbadza matrix in Example 2d).

Example 4. Fred Onovwerosuoke’s Étude for piano, “Agbadza” (2017)

128 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations

The texture is polyrhythmic but the main rhythmic narration is entrusted to
the lead drummer, here the L.H of the piano. If we think of the composer’s
task as one of translating an indigenous dance-music into a solo pianistic
medium, we can appreciate the distribution of roles on the piano. The
unchanging bell pattern is given to the treble voice, the R.H. of the piano;
support drums in their intermittent articulation are assigned to ‘alto’ and
‘tenor’ voices and distributed between R.H. and L.H; and the lead drummer
is located at the bottom of the texture, entirely in the domain of the L.H.

Culturally aware listeners will immediately recognize the bell
pattern, but they will also understand that the concert hall where audiences
sit quietly and contemplate the music being performed by others enjoins
them to behave differently from the way they would at an open-air
community performance. Dance is thus confined to an imaginative realm
while the non-literal rhythmic patterns of support drums and the
pentatonically inflected patterns of the lead drum announce the distance
from folk music. We’re in effect in a third space, a space in which familiar
(African) patterns are being defamiliarized.24

The burden of translation for this African composer (and for many
others) inflects the labor of composition. It discourages the kind of
elaboration that we see, for example, in Ligeti’s études. A more complete
understanding of this difference would require the construction of a larger
context, but I might observe that, rather than probing the constituent
rhythms of the dance Agbadza, Onovweruosuoke aims to illumine them,
hold them up to the light, and set them into relief without intervening in or
risk troubling their essences. This ensures that the African sediment is never
obscure, never far away. Unlike Reich, in whose music the African

24 For a broader discussion of appropriations of African music, see my The African Imagination
in Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 305 –34.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 129

borrowings are equally overt even while the ordering processes are
tampered with, Onovweruosuoke maintains the integrity of underlying
cycles and the bell patterns along with the rhythmic narrative of the lead
drummer. Whereas Reich’s way, if applied literally in this circumstance,
would likely discourage communal participation by culture bearers because
it foregrounds the composer’s subjectivity, Onovweruosuoke’s way, by
contrast, leaves spaces for culture bearers without denying the basic
alienation represented by this effort to render a community dance as a solo
piano piece. How one ultimately assesses these diverse expressions of belief
through composition is a matter of individual proclivity.


It was wonderfully fortunate that Ligeti, from the 1980s on, sought various
forms of encounter with African music alongside other world musics. His
intense probing of materials ensured that the outcomes were maximally
differentiated from their original forms. These outcomes could then be
packaged as authentic aspects of the composer’s idiolect. It was equally
fortunate that Reich, from an even earlier period (1960’s and 70’s), fell under
African music’s spell and later incorporated elements of it into his
compositions. I have suggested here that a fuller understanding of these
(and other) affinities would be enhanced by broadening the conversation to
include other historical actors, notably African composers of African art
music. The promise of these various encounters is an intensified dialogism
encompassing our overlapping worlds of music. Perhaps Africa, which has
stimulated rethinking in various historical and artistic realms, will here too
lead the way.

130 Agawu: Rethinking Ligeti’s (and Reich’s) African Affiliations


Agawu, Kofi. “Structural Analysis or Cultural Analysis? Competing Perspectives
on the ‘Standard Pattern’ of West African R hythm.” Journal of the American
Musicological Society 59 (2006): 1–46.

Agawu, Kofi. “The Challenge of African Art Music.” Circuit, musiques,
contemporaines 21 (2011): 55–72.

Agawu, Kofi. The African Imagination in Music. New York: Oxford University Press,

Arom, Simha. African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology,
translated by Martin Thom, Barbara Tuckett, and Raymond Boyd.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Bauer, Amy. “The Cosmopolitan Absurdity of Ligeti’s Late Works.” Contemporary
Music Review 31: 2–3 (2012): 163–76.

Burns, James. “Rhythmic Archetypes in Instrumental Music from Africa and the
Diaspora.” Music Theory Online 16:4 (2010). Available at
l (accessed 27 April 2020).

Fernando, Nathalie. Polyphonies du Nord-Cameroun. Société d’Etudes Linguistiques
et Anthropologiques de France. Paris: Peeters/SELAF, 2011.

Jones, A. M. Studies in African Music. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1959.

Kubik, Gerhard. “The Phenomenon of Inherent Rhythms in East and Central
African Instrumental Music.” African Music 3 (1962): 33–42.

Kubik, Gerhard. Theory of African Music, Volume 2. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 2010.

Locke, David. “An Approach to Musical Rhythm in Agbadza.” In Thought and Play
in Musical Rhythm, edited by Richard Wolf, Stephen Blum and Christopher
Hasty, 100 –145. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Locke, David. Dum Gahu: An Introduction to African Rhythm. Tempe, AZ: White
Cliffs Media, 1998.

Nattiez, Jean-Jacques. “Varèse’s Density 21.5: A Study in Semiological Analysis.”
Translated by Anna Barry. Music Analysis 1 (1982): 243–340.

Omojola, Bode. Nigerian Art Music, with an Introductory Study of Ghanaian Art Music.
Ibadan: Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique, University of Ibadan,

Onovwerosuoke, Fred. “Agbadza.” In Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms, 1:32–
33. St Louis: African Music Publishers, 2007.

A Tribute to György Ligeti in His Native Transylvania 131

Reich, Steve. Writings on Music, 1965–2000, edited with an introduction by Paul
Hillier. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Scherzinger, Martin. “Art Music in a Cross-Cultural Context: The Case of Africa.” In
The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music, edited by Nicholas Cook
and Anthony Pople, 584–613. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,

Scherzinger, Martin. “Electric Counterpoint.” Digital Booklet and CD Album Liner
Notes for Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint (Soloist: Dan Lippel). New York:
New Focus Records, 2016.

Scherzinger, Martin. “György Ligeti and the Aka Pygmies Project.” Contemporary
Music Review 25 (2006): 227–62.

Scherzinger, Martin. “Remarks on a Sketch of György Ligeti: A Case of African
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Taylor, Stephen A. “Ligeti, Africa and Polyrhythm.” The World of Music 45/2 (2003):

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by William Chapman Nyaho. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Melody, Repetition, and Periodicity:
A Study of Parallels between György Ligeti,

Steve Reich, and Terry Riley


This paper focuses on parallelism between compositional techniques and
ideas of György Ligeti and Steve Reich, with additional reference to Terry
Riley. I will be covering the period in Ligeti’s career between 1973 and 1976,
while also referring to older pieces of the two American composers. My aim
will be to reflect on common concerns of all three of these composers in
order to identify trends and techniques of this period.

1 Ligeti’s Encounter with the Music of Reich and Riley
In Ligeti’s essays we find many references to these two composers following
his trip to California in 1972, especially in his article titled “Tendenzen der
Neuen Musik in den USA: Steve Reich – Terry Riley – Harry Partch” (1972).
For example, we know that during that trip he heard for the first time two
key recordings in the Library of Stanford University: one of Steve Reich’s
Violin Phase and It’s Gonna Rain, and another of Terry Riley’s In C. In his
article “Rencontre avec Steve Reich”, he wrote that he met Steve Reich in
Berlin in 1973 and heard Drumming in a live concert (Ligeti 2014, 398).

134 Michel: Melody, Repetition, and Periodicity

However, according to a personal communication by Louise Duchesneau,
this concert would have taken place on 15 July 1972: that is, about one year
before Ligeti completed Clocks and Clouds.

Table 1 lays out a compositional timeline for these and other pieces
by Ligeti, Reich, and Riley.

Table 1. Compositional timeline for Ligeti, Reich, and Riley 1961–1981

György Ligeti Steve Reich Terry Riley
Poème symphonique pour Mescalin Mix (1961)
100 métronomes (1962) It’s Gonna Rain (1965)
Violin Phase (1967) Music for the Gift (1963)
Lontano (1967) Piano Phase (1967) with Chet Baker
In C (1964)

Poppy Nogood and the
Phantom Band (1967)

A Rainbow in Curved Air

Clocks and Clouds (1973) Phase Patterns (1970)
Drumming (1971)
Three Pieces for Two Pianos
(1976) Music for Eighteen
Musicians (1976)
Tehillim (1981)

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