Andriessen's early works are inspired in part by serialism and tape music. He eventually turned toward minimalism though He refused to write for the standard ensemble and instead opted for instruments such as electric guitar and congas. Worker's Union is for basically any instrumentation, but preferably loud ones. It has no real melody but calls for different ranges indicated by the height of the notehead on the staff. The piece calls for strict rhythm and changes meter a lot, often going into mixed meters. The ensemble is split into high and low parts in some places where they will exchange different rhythm patters to create a more interesting compound, as well as hitting notes in different ranges.
ComparisonEditAndriessen drew from minimalism for the Worker's Union. Here is Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Reich was known for his phasing techniques, and this is an example of that. The instruments repeat the same phrase over and over playing crescendo then quickly decrescendo while the voices sing, overlapping one another at different times. Reich uses repeating melodic cells that overlap one another. This is a common technique in his music and is heard in pieces such as Electric Counterpoint. Andriessen borrows this technique in Worker's Union, using more rhythmically based cycles than melodic.
I performed this with the UT Contemporary Music Ensemble. It was very exhausting, a 20 minute marathon of counting.
Jos Wouters, et al. "Andriessen." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed May 2, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/47613pg4 .
Worker's Union: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrQkIxccJnE
Music for 18 Musicians: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLckHHc25ww