Steve Reich “Come Out”

Tape Phasing 1966

The voice in this recording is that of Danniel Hamm explaining how he had to “open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.” Composer Steve Reich made this recording of, then 19-year-old, Hamm explaining how he had to convince the police to take him to the hospital during the 1964 Harlem riots. The police were only attending to the wounded that were visibly bleeding so Hamm opened his bruises to be taken to the hospital.

In 1966 Reich composed “Come Out” for a benefit presentation to aid in legal fees for the re-trial of six boys arrested for murder, during the riots.

“The phrase ‘come out to show them’ was recorded on both channels first in unison, then with channel 2 slowly beginning to move ahead. As the phrase begins to shift, a gradually increasing reverberation is heard which slowly passes into sort of canon or round. Eventually the two voices divide into four and then into eight.” Steve Reich

Samples of this recording have shown up in several hip hop songs (DJ Food and DJ Spooky) and there has been quite a few remixes. The phasing effect and length (over 12 minutes) of this recording makes it a dynamic and versatile sample. By the end of the the composition, the recording is unrecognizable from the beginning.

Camper Van Beethoven did this brilliant cover of Come Out in 2004!