But in order to develop an analogous visual law to the auditive layer, it is necessary to know rather than merely to guess. Just like the composer while composing not only gives free rein to his sensations, but also, with his work at that time, reflects on the oeuvre of his colleagues, consciously agrees with or contradicts them, is inspired by earlier artists and references them. Alongside research about graphical notation, music historical and scientific investigations were incorporated into the paper. Statements by Steve Reich (*1936) himself as well as his colleague, John Cage (1912–1992), Luciano Berio, Stockhausen and predecessor Edgar Varèse (1883–1965) play an important role for the understanding of the direction that Music for 18 Musicians is headed for.
«A certain material can suggest you which kind of process it is meant to be subjected to (content causes form) and certain processes can suggest you which kind of material is meant to be subjected to them (form causes content). If the shoe fits, I will wear it.»
«The specific to musical to musical processes is that they regulate both the detailed relationship between note and note as well as the overall shape.»
«The crystal is characterised both by a certain outer shape and a specific inner structure. The inner structure is based on a crystalline unit which represents the smallest group of atoms that features the alignment and composition of the substance. The extent of this unit in space makes up the whole crystal. But despite the relatively limited variety of inner structures, the outer appearances of crystals are unlimited. Crystalline form is itself a resultant rather than a primary attribute. Crystalline form is the consequence of an interaction of attractive and repellent forces and the regular integration of the atom.»
– Nathaniel Arbiter
By the expression «music as a gradual process», Steve Reich does not mean the process of composing, but rather the musical pieces that themselves represent processes. He too draws comparisons to process in human everyday life in order to explain the graduality: the trickle of sand in an hourglass, a swing set in motion that slowly comes to a standstill, waves that gradually bury feet in the sand at the beach. He discovers, experiments with processes and composes musical material with clear tonal centres that he subjects to them. However, when the process is set, it runs on its own. Steve Reich accepts the outcome. He is interested in bringing the process of composing and the resulting music to congruence. But in order that this process is fully perceptible to the listener, it has to be, according to Reich, extremely gradual and totally controlled. The tonal details should be liberated from all intentions and only have to meet their own acoustic rules.
«While executing and listening to gradual acoustic processes one is able take part in a very special, liberating and impersonal ritual. The devotion to the musical process allows a direction of attention away from the He, She, You and I and towards the It.»
– Steve Reich