Electric Counterpoint

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Electric Counterpoint is a minimalist composition written by American composer Steve Reich. The piece consists of three movements, "Fast," "Slow", and "Fast". The composer has offered two versions of the piece: one for electric guitar and tape (the tape part featuring two electric bass guitars and 7 electric guitars), and the other for an ensemble of guitar.

It was first recorded by guitarist Pat Metheny in 1987 and released together with Reich's Different Trains, performed by the Kronos Quartet, on Nonesuch's 979 176-2. Metheny recorded the piece by use of extensive overdubbing in the recording studio. Guitarists wishing to perform the piece may use Metheny's pre-recorded ensemble part or opt to record their own, adding the 13th guitar part in live performance. In 2007, the guitar ensemble Forestare made the first recording of the lesser known second version, on ATMA Classique.

As with other pieces by Reich, this piece has influenced many modern musical artists, such as the Orb, which sampled the third movement of the Pat Metheny recording as one of the hooks of "Little Fluffy Clouds," and RJD2, who sampled the piece's opening for his song "The Proxy" from his first release, Deadringer. In 2008 Joby Burgess' Powerplant arranged the work for xylosynth, taking influence from Metheny and the Orb. More recently Röyksopp named a song after the third movement. The duo made two versions of it: "True to Original Edit" and "Milde Salve."[1] Since 2012, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performed the piece at several festivals[2][3] and at concerts featuring the London Contemporary Orchestra; he recorded the piece for a Nonesuch album of Reich works titled Radio Rewrite released that same year (the album's title piece was inspired by two Radiohead songs).[4]

Movement 3 of the piece has been included in the Edexcel GCSE Anthology of Music, in the second area of study, music in the 20th Century.

Electric Counterpoint III Fast was featured in the video game Civilization V as one of the "great works of music".

Movement III is also featured in the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps 2015 production "Kinetic Noise."[5]


  • Electric Counterpoint, Pat Metheny soloist, Discogs, 1989. CD. Included on Steve Reich: Works 1965-1995.
  • Electric Counterpoint, David Tanenbaum, New Albion Records, 1994. CD
  • Electric Counterpoint, Tatjana Kukoč, Edition al segno, 1994. CD
  • Electric Counterpoint, Forestare Ensemble, ATMA, 2007. CD
  • Electric Counterpoint, Powerplant - Joby Burgess soloist, [1], 2008. CD
  • Electric Counterpoint, Röyksopp, two versions, 2010.
  • Electric Counterpoint Version for Percussions, Kuniko Kato percussion soloists,Linn Records [2], 2011. CD/SACD 5.1/Download
  • Electric Counterpoint on Moog Guitar, Tom Fleming, Ditto Music, 2013 (download) [3].
  • Electric Counterpoint, Jonny Greeenwood soloist, on the album Radio Rewrite, Nonesuch, 2014. CD/download.


  1. Röyksopp's track of the month - April 2010
  2. "Jonny Greenwood // Electric Counterpoint". Open'ner Festival. Retrieved 10 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Hear Jonny Greenwood Perform At Big Ears Festival '14". Stereogum. Retrieved 10 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Steve Reich's "Radio Rewrite" Featuring Alarm Will Sound, Jonny Greenwood, Vicky Chow Out Now". Retrieved October 29, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 2015 Bluecoats - Kinetic Noise