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Shaker Loops

(John Coolidge Adams)

This piece written by John Coolidge Adams was initially entitled “Wavemaker” and written for a string septet in 1978, where the composer had wanted to emulate the ripple effect of water.  It wasn’t successful, but still in 1978 the idea of using string instruments to repeat oscillating loops was kept alive, and pieces of the original composition were taken and the composition was renamed Shaker Loops due to the shaking of the strings between notes and the composer has said that it also brought to mind his memories of living near a Shaker community when he was young.  It was premiered in Hellman Hall, San Francisco by the New Music Ensemble of the San Francisco Conservatory.  It was revised for string orchestra in 1983 and that version was premiered at Tully Hall, New York.  The movements are:

(i)                  Shaking and Trembling

(ii)                Hymning Slews

(iii)               Loops and Verses

(iv)              A Final Shaking

The first movement of this piece can be heard in the 1987 movie Barfly and the third and the fourth movements are used in the video game Civilization IV.

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra recordings
Shaker Loops – Hymning Slews
Philips 475 7551 (CD: Steve Reich: Variations/ John Adams: Shaker Loops)
Conductor – Edo de Waart