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Sound CommitmentsAvant-Garde Music and the Sixties$
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Robert Adlington

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336641.001.0001

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The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich's Come Out

The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich's Come Out

Chapter:
(p.121) 6 The Problem of the Political in Steve Reich's Come Out
Source:
Sound Commitments
Author(s):

Sumanth Gopinath

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336641.003.0007

This chapter gives a detailed account of the historical circumstances of the creation of Steve Reich's well‐known tape piece Come Out (1966), which takes as its sole source material a declaration by a black youth (Daniel Hamm, a member of the Harlem Six) wrongly accused of murder. The civil rights struggle features as the primary backdrop to this discussion, but the chapter also draws on broader contexts relevant to the 1960s, including contemporary discourses on paranoia and on the violence wrought upon and against language. Attention is given to the problematic aspects of Reich's creation, which arise in no small part from the avant‐garde compositional processes to which Hamm's voice is subjected, but the chapter closes by suggesting that the piece nonetheless contains a powerful contemporary relevance.

Keywords:   Steve Reich, civil rights, Daniel Hamm, Harlem Six, 1960s, tape, avant‐garde

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