Steve Reich Born: 1936  Nationality: American

Steve Reich mixed together his classical training with his love of African drumming, jazz and pop music, and helped to invent a whole new form of music: minimalism.

His innovations have created the rich, diverse musical world we live in today.


In the 1960s Reich experimented with sampling and looping tapes, after noticing an exciting effect when two tape recordings of the same phrase ‘It’s gonna rain’ gradually ‘phased’ in and out of sync with each other. Reich then applied ‘phasing’ to musical instruments, such as two pianos, and with clapping hands.

Curious about many different types of music, in the 1970s Reich travelled to Seattle to study the Balinese gamelan and to Ghana, to study West African drumming – and his own piece, Drumming, was inspired by his time there.

Reich’s music has inspired people like Brian Eno and David Bowie and reflects the development of musical styles like hip hop and dance music. He has been called America’s greatest living composer.

Listen to some of his music here