I am reading the following article

Schwarz, K. Robert. "Steve Reich: Music as a Gradual Process: Part I." Perspectives of New Music (1980): 373-392.

Here is a paywalled link. On page 385, there is a passage about Steve Reich's It's Gonna Rain . I don't understand the first sentence of that passage:

It's Gonna Rain is two parts, the first taking the title phrase from a unison synchronization of two channels through a complete shift of phase, and then back to the original unison again.

What is a "unison synchronization of two channels"?


Unison usually means that two instruments are playing the same notes together. In this case, we have two tracks playing back the same recording - of the phrase "It's gonna rain".

Synchronisation means that things are aligned in time.

And the two channels are just the Left and Right channels in a stereo mix

Listening to the piece on headphones might make things clearer - I think the section being written about starts around 2:30 and ends about 7:30. You can hear the Left and Right stereo channels go out of phase, and then come back into synchronisation again:

Having said that, the particular phrasing "unison synchronization of two channels" is odd. Talking about unison and synchronisation is a bit tautological as the concept of unison includes the concept of being in sync; and arguably it's not so much that the channels themselves that are in sync so much as the snippets of audio that are being repeated.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.