Minimalism

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  • Topic: Steve Reich, Minimalist music, La Monte Young
  • Pages : 11 (3914 words )
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  • Published : April 18, 2013
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‘Phrygian Gates’ 1977
First published piece: quite late in life at 30.
Key features
* Adopts constant quaver pulse.
* Use of technology: tape recorders/mixers. Experiments with looped phrases * No ‘Basic Unit’- a more instinctual use of evolving modes * Emulation of electronic music through exploitation of various ‘bandwidths’ on piano-ie: introducing material in a restricted register. * Performance model: The Toccata

* No use of melody or harmony
* Evolution of modes: changing the acoustic identity of a few sounding pitches by the addition of new tones. This is a key feature of Adam’s technique. * Introduction of conventional dramatic/teleological elements- crescendo/sudden mode change/dynamic contrasts

Definition of the term
* Arts
* Music
* Essential features of minimalism
* Rhythm
* Melody
* Structure
J.Adams, Violin Concerto, Leila Josefowicz, BBC Symphony Orchestra, John Adams (LATE JUNCTION), CD BBCLJ30012 J.Adams, Violin Concerto, Robert McDuffie, Hauston Symphony, Christoph Eschenbach (TELARC DIGITAL), CD-80494 J.Adams, Violin Concerto, Chloe Hanslip, Royal Philarmonic Orchestra, Leomard Slatkin (NAXOS), CD-8.559302 S.Reich, Piano Phase, Nurit Tilles, Edmund Niemann (ELEKTRA NONESUCH), CD 79169-2 S.Reich, Piano Phase, Steffen Schleiermacher, Josef Christof, Ensemble Avantgarde, (WERGO), CD 5973 P.Glass, Music in Similar Motion, Philip Glass, Steve Chambers, Art Murphy, Jon Gibson, Dickie Landry, Robert Prado, Kurt Munkacsi (ELEKTRA NONESUCH), CD 7559-79326-2 P.Glass, BED from “Einstein On the Beach”, Paul Esswood, Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra & Chorus (SONY MASTERWORKS), CD – SK 64133 DDD What is meant by the term ‘Minimalism’? Discuss some essential features of Minimalism with reference to three works covered in the course, making reference to rhythmic, melodic and structural aspects of the works chosen. Minimalism is an artistic movement that started after the second world in America. It was first develop in the late 1960s in the visual arts. Sculptors such as: Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin and painters like: Robert Ryman, Frank Stella, Robert Mangold are the first that began with this new experimental movement that was starting to engender in America. Minimalism was an abstract new idea that was based on the reduction of complexity down to the minims of material. Really organised and functional forms were the base (lines were the basic geometric form used), with simplicity and austerity when it came to ornaments, but still with precision. The first places where this paintings and sculptures where shown, were in alternative small art galleries in San Francisco and shortly after in New York City in small lofts and apartments. Soon that term was started to be used by music critics for the new music compositional techniques that were emerging in America, where composers Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass and La Monte Young, where trying to find a new musical style that would blend both; Schoenberg’s School principally base on the twelve-note road system and atonality (which they studied in university), and the popular music that people where listening in the night clubs (Jazz, Be-bop, Chicago Blues etc.).

Rhythm
Similarly to the visual arts the music also rejected the drama and complexity and wanted to be emotionless. In most compositions there is a hypnotic element that is created by the constant rhythmic repetition, which first appears in 1963 in Terry Riley’s tape piece: ‘Mescalin Mix and The Gift’. Basic repeated patterns were also lengthened by adding additional notes, phrases or measures.

Steve Reich uses this technique similarly in ‘Drumming’ but with the difference that the duration of the bar is the same but it begins with silences and he adds notes each time it returns. In this piece the repetition of 6 rhythmic cells in began by each instrument on a different beat but with a common...
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