Steve Reich – Piano Phase (played on two Groovesizers)
Steve Reich’s Piano Phase as played on two Groovesizers.

Why? Because I was introduced to the piece in music class in a high school in Germany as an exchange student in 1991 and had heard nothing like it before. Over the years as I’ve been making with computers, the piece has kept bugging me for the fact that it’s not as easy to reproduce with digital music machines as you would assume. Sequencers and synths seem to want to be either perfectly in sync, or not at all with none of the middle ground required to perform Piano Phase. Since I started working on this project, it’s been a personal goal to find a way to enable phasing in general, and specifically a performance of Piano Phase, on the Groovesizers. I think I can finally move on!

For the techincally inclined, the Groovesizers are running Alpha firmware, v102. The (naked) Groovesizer on the right is slaved to the one on the left via MIDI sync. The slaved Groovesizer expects 6 MIDI clock pulses before moving to the next 16th note (assuming 24ppq). By pressing shift-R and F6, the slave is nudged ahead of the master by adding an extra pulse (it can also be nudged in the opposite direction by subtracting a pulse with shift-R and F5). After 6 nudges, the patterns align again with the slave now a 16th note ahead of the master.

Download as a .wav file