Music for 18 Musicians - A website tribute

Music for 18 Machines - by Simon Cullen

Music for 18 Musicians played on 18 keyboards LIVE.  

Music for 18 Machines – A reimagining of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. The piece is performed by a sequencer on 18 Synthesisers


“Reich’s work is a blueprint of the minimalist movement – an exploration of pattern and process which morphs into a psychoacoustic experiment that posits the question ‘what happens when a group of musicians are asked to perform like machines?  Music for 18 Machines reverses this process somewhat and seeks to coax an expressive and emotive performance from 18 electronic instruments triggered by a single sequencer.”


Simon kindly offered the following explanation of how the piece works technically: "The sequencer I use is Ableton. I've transcribed the score as midi notes in here and this is where I trigger the synths from. I initially used the original 1976 recording of the piece to as a guide to map a midi version but I have a edited this, according to the guidelines of the score performance of course, at certain parts for various reasons. Some of the synths only take note on/note off messages, i.e no control messages for things like volume, filters, LFO and envelope adjustments. This is because most are 30+ years old, or have been retro fitted with midi with limited control capability.   There is a lot of fading up and down of parts throughout so to enable control of the synths from behind the set-up (in other words to avoid having to be out in front of the synths all the time)  I route all the machines through a sound card to the DAW.  This enable me to assign some of these controls to midi interfaces."


Eogham Kidney has done a great mini documentary of the build up to the first performance which was at The Button Factory in Dublin 15.09.16 - see below.  The performance featured Simon Cullen (Synth Eastwood) Neil O’Connor (Somadrome) and visual artist Anthony Murphy (Shadowlab).    The second performance is on March 18th 2017 at St Patricks Cathedral in Dublin.  


Music For 18 Machines Full Film from Eoghan Kidney on Vimeo.