thebiggest inspirationfor my music. Although the
termMinimal Music is considered by virtuallyall composers as inadequate, it is
probablyhere to stay. Philip
Glass, for example,talks aboutmusicwith repetitivestructuresinstead ofMinimalMusic.
Below you'll findan overview ofthemost
important pieces ofMinimal Music,
composers whoyou really want to check out.
MINIMAL MUSIC - THE BEGINNING
midsixties,a number of composersmade a radicalbreak with the-at
thattime - verycomplexavantgarde.Just asthe Spanish architectGaudi, they returned to theold
meaningof the word original: back
to theorigins,back to the roots, back to the source.
grandfatherofthis movement is thecomposerLaMounteYoung. In 1960 hewrote the primal pieceof MinimalMusic :Composition 1960 no 7. It is apiececonsisting oftwonotesthat soundtogetherforalong
time. You will hearnothing butthe diphthongthat is heldfor a long time.Thereappears to have beena performancewhich lasted24 hours.
maincomposers whofollowed LaMounteYoung toanew
musicalbase,were Terry Riley,Steve
are thefounders ofamovement
thatquicklybecame known asMinimal
term that, likeImpressionism,wastaken
fromthe visual arts.Painters such asFrank StellaandRobert
musicalmovementfrom the sixtieshavein
common that theyare written withaminimum
of resources.Each musical element,such
the samefor the duration ofthe whole piece,orchangesonly verygradually.In
addition, themaincompositional techniqueis thecontinuousrepetition.
use ofrepetitionwasnot new.In traditionalWestern musicrepetitionis widely usedfor a long timeas part of amusical development,preferably as adramatic
developmentto a big climax.TheMinimal Musicbreaks with this.Thesecomposers aren't out tobuild aclimax.Italsois not aboutbuildingmusical tensionand relaxation.There arenocontrasts ofloud andsoft, there are
nocontrasts infast and slow,and there arenocontrasts inbombasticorlyrical.After thecontinuous changeintheavant-gardemusicfrom the fifties,these composersstriveforaperfectstasiswithintheirmusic.
feature ofthe earlyMinimal
music.BothRiley,ReichandGlasswere moststronglyaffected by influences asIndianragamusic,BalineseGamelanandWest
Africandrummusic.In addition,thesimplicity andtherhythmsofjazzand
pop music had great influence onthese composers.
MINIMAL MUSIC – TERRY RILEY
C from 1964by the AmericancomposerTerry Riley.The
C-was a statement.In a
was composed,it was veryrevolutionaryto name apieceInC.It was revolutionaryto writeacompositionwhichagainhad a
piececan be carried outwith any number ofmusicians andinany
combination ofinstruments.The musicians havea lot of freedom.Eachmusiciancan decidefor himselfwhen he beginsthefirstmotifand
how oftenhe repeatsit.Thenhepausesorhe
goes straightto thesecondmotif thatheplaysagainas
longas he wants.Because
themusiciansall takedifferentdecisions on thenumber of repetitionsofeachmotif,theyall
goat different speedsthroughthepiece, resulting in a rollingwave ofmotives.The performance cantake half anhour to up tothree hours.
With In CTerryRileyproducedhis greatestachievement.It is
especially thecomposersSteve ReichandPhilip Glass, both of themAmericans,who foundalarge
audienceover theyears for theirMinimal Music.
MINIMAL MUSIC - STEVE REICH
Reichwas born in1936in
New York.After studying attheJuilliard School,he
also experimentedwith recordedmusicontape
recorders.He was particularly interestedinmaking
he couldplaymusicalloops.One day hemadetwo
recorders.Because onerecorderplayed afractionfaster
than the other, thetwofragmentsweredriftingapart, resulting inshifting patterns.Reichwas fascinated by thisprocess,and
incorperated it, together with influences ofAfricanrhythmsin hiscompositions.
example of thisisPiano
Phasefrom 1968.The whole piececonsists ofa single,repeatingbar.Thecompositionis performed by twopianists.The firstpianistkeeps
the paceright.Thesecondpianistspeeds up atiny bit,as if
he wereone of thetape recorders.It
acceleratescontinuing untilhisrhythmagaincoincides with thefirstpianist.If all
same rhythm,onlytheyareshiftedonenotefromanother.The second pianist acceleratesagainuntilhehas
movedtwo notescompared tothefirstpianist.Thisprocesscontinues untilbothpianistsareat
the same pace again,playing exactlythe same notes.
In1974Reichbegan whatwould becomehismost
characteristicwork,Music for 18 Musicians.Inthis
piece of musicmany new ideaspopped up,even thoughit refers toearlier work.This wasReich'sfirstattempt at writingforlarger ensembles.
MINIMAL MUSIC - PHILIP GLASS
Glasswas born in1937, a
simultaneously withSteve Reich he developedamusicallanguage based ona minimum of resources.Theearly
worksofGlassconsist of therepetitionofshort
motifs, to whichgraduallynotes were addedorremoved.A good
example ishis compositionTwo Pagesfrom1968.
firstmusic wasmonophonic.Graduallyhe addedmore voicesto it,he
composedMusic in 12
Parts,a four-hourpiece, composed of12parts, written
for12instruments.This compositioncan be considered asthesum
of all thecompositional techniquesthat Glasshadusedin
the yearsbefore.A journalistcalled the pieceThe
Artof Repetition, referring
toBach'sfamousThe Art ofFugue.
BothMusic for 18 MusiciansandMusicin12Parts, can be actuallyno longerconsidered asMinimal
Music.It is truethat the musicallanguage is basedon the repetition ofshort motifs, but
otherwisethere is nothingminimalinthis
the piecesis enormous.Musicin12Partslastsalmost fourhours.Also,many other elements,whichwere not used inthe first years oftheMinimal Musicasharmony,
counterpointand change oftone colors, are back again.
MINIMAL MUSIC - INFLUENCE
influence ofMinimal Musicis enormous.The language ofespeciallySteve ReichandPhilip Glasshas become part ofamusicculture thatis very wide.Elements ofMinimal
Music are everywhere.Film
musiccomposerslikeDanny Elfman, gratefully
use techniques ofMinimal
music, the influenceofminimal musicis enormous.Tubular
Bells byMikeOldfieldwould not have beentherewithout the influence ofcomposers likeTerry Riley,PhilpGlassandSteve
Reich.The opening ofthis famousmusicfrom1973sounds
Music. Pink Floydwould certainly soundeddifferent withouttheMinimal Music.Germansynthesizerartists likeKlausSchulzeorTangerine Dreamtook theirmusical languageofMinimal Music.Philip
Glass pops up at dancefestivalsinHouseandTrance.
there aremany composersworldwidewho useelements ofMinimal
Music.It goes toofar to name all ofthem.I will mentiona few. Marc Mellits is a very active composer in America.He writesmusicinarepetitivestyle,but
which alsohasthepowerofrock music.This is ashortexcerpt from hiscompositionMachine IV.
England, theinfluence is huge.The
coined the termMinimal Musicfor the first time) has
Italy,thepianistandcomposerLudovico Einaudi makes furore.ThecompositionCanto Ostinato bySimeon tenHoltis
the leading compositionofMinimal
Musicin the Netherlands. MinimalMusichas
MINIMAL MUSIC - OTHER COMPOSERS
These composers (and albums) are among my favourites.
Giovanni Sollima : Canti Rocciosi
John Metcalf : The Inner Line
Sebastian Plano : Arrhythmical Part of Hearts
Peter Broderick : Float 2013
Ari Benjamin Meyers : Symphony X
Mike Oldfield : Hergest Ridge
Nicolas Lens : Terra Terra
Marc Mellits : Paranoid Cheese
Ludovico Einaudi : Time Lapse
Jeff Hamburg : Schuylkill
Wim Mertens : Partes extra partes
Clint Mansell : The Fountain
William Susman : Scatter my Ashes
Matteo Sommacal : The Chain Rules
Arianis : Somgs from Mirage
Neil Campbell : Through the Looking Glass
Francesco di Fiore : Visioni
Peter Gregson : Lights in the Sky
Wojciech Kilar : Requiem Father Kolbe
William Susman : Scatter my Ashes
Max Richter : Recomposed by Max Richter
Dominic Frasca : Deviations