American Minimal Music: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass

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Introduction

The general idea of composing with radically limited material was probably in the air at that time, and can't be attributed to any one person. In the popular understanding, however, "minimalism" means process music, and Reich and Glass get the credit for that. Young and Riley were really doing other things. Minimalism emerged initially as a visual art term, and referes to pared-down materials, not process.

Lamont Young and Terry riley emerged from this New York minimalist scene, so they get the credit for being there first. Steve Reich was the only one who dealt with the "process" of slowly changing events, by delaying and by electronic means Come Out, It's Gonna Rain, Clapping Music, Four Organs , but he has already moved away from that. Kyle Gann succinctly summarized the historical precedence: "La Monte Young wrote the seminal works from which the aesthetics of minimalism began to grow in the late s.

Four Musical Minimalists : Keith Potter :

Terry Riley has always graciously given Young credit for his precedence in the ideas that led to Riley's In C of Steve Reich was one of the performers in the premiere of In C and made his own first minimalist work, It's Gonna Rain, in And Philip Glass, in turn, played with Reich's earliest ensemble, taking a minimalist turn in his own music in with Strung Out.

Skilmarilion , ArtMusic liked this post. I've perhaps rather erroneously seen Satie described as 'minimalist' due to the nature of repetition and gradual change of small cells in some of his music, but I guess this is probably only a comparison point with the movement in music developed in the 50s and 60s by the composers mentioned above.

I actually think I'll vote 'not one composer, but several' because it takes more than one minimalist to screw in a lightbulb! If it wasn't for the other composers around Young's time, the domino effect of ideas that led to the creations of the first minimalist works by Riley, Reich and Glass would probably be very different. Each of the composers took a lot of inspiration from non-western music, so elements of those would undoubtedly have made their way into their compositions anyway.

Originally Posted by tortkis.

Philip Glass - Glassworks (complete)

Originally Posted by ArtMusic. Page 1 of 2 1 2 Last Jump to page:. Replies: 10 Last Post: Mar, La Monte Young??? Century, free jazz and certain forms of rock psychedelic rock. It largely ignores the conventions of composition, as they were in the western ie essentially European culture hitherto, especially the conventions of the avant-gardethe s and early s, especially those of the then dominant serial music.

Therefore, it is often understood as an antithesis to serialism. Often it is also characterized as postmodern music. Starting from Minimal Music, post-minimalism developed in the s. The guitarist Dylan Carlson transferred with Earth ideas of minimal music in the context of a rock band and thus founded the Drone Doom. The minimalist movement The minimalist movement appeared in the s with the works of La Monte Young and Terry Riley, considered precursors. Steve Reich and Philip Glass will expand their ideas and propose compositional processes that will prove to be very successful.

However, minimalism concerns only part of the works of these composers, and we consider that minimalism as generally defined ends in the mids. From this date, the composers integrate in fact richer musical elements, more melody and harmony, even counterpoint. The addition of these elements, without deciding with their previous work, brings a clear evolution. Sometimes we talk about post-minimalism, especially for John Adams.

Post-minimalism and postmodernism The musical postmodernism is an attitude of rejection against isolation and hermetic post-serialism, postmodern composers claiming miscegenation and the mixture forms a collage technique, borrowing, and the citation. By its return to melodic and tonal forms, the use of a repetitive language, the recourse to collage and quotation, in all these characteristics minimalism is the most radical current of postmodernism in its break with post-serialism.

Post-minimalism also concerns the minimalist composers of the first hour. After Drumming , Reich adds instrumentation of his pieces, and developed its rhythmic and harmonic methods to more complexity. The so post-minimalism minimalism stands out by being less radical and experimental. Both, heavily influenced by the political and spiritual repression in their country under Communist rule, began composing in the s in a style neoclassical before turning to serialism causing their censorship of the authorities. Musical description The set of works classified as minimalist music is far from having a unity of style or having quite identical musical characteristics.

Although a classification is always reductive, it is generally accepted that the aesthetics of minimalist music is based on three characteristics:.

This, however, includes works with very different profiles, and the use of different musical techniques. Similarly, the works of so-called minimalist composers can not all be considered minimalist, especially the latest works by Steve Reich and Philip Glass, or the early often non-musical pieces of La Monte Young. Between theory and intuition The pioneers of minimalism Monte Young and Terry Riley experiment with a variety of compositional techniques.

steve reich - terry riley - philip glass

The Monte Young produces in particular a wide variety of works: pieces inspired by serialism and Webern, conceptual pieces close to John Cage, improvisation groups inspired by Indian music and jazz, pieces based on his formal research on the natural ranges. Terry Riley is much more empirical, he experiments with tapes, and uses improvisation a lot.

Rhythm A major concern among the minimalists is the pace. Most compositions have regular pulsation, and are constructed by entanglement of basic rhythmic units. These rhythmic considerations are particularly marked in Steve Reich and are realized through the technique of phase shift. The rhythm is the first element systematically analyzed by the minimalist, before future re-integration of harmony and melody.

Extra Sub Rosa

Even In C, which is generally regarded as the work of the return to the tonality, is not strictly tonal, but an atonal composition without indication of armor, even though the composition is largely diatonic. The gradual abandonment of magnetic tapes in favor of acoustic instruments favors the development of harmony. In Steve Reich, from Piano Phase, a tonal or modal profile is established at the beginning of the work, but remains ambiguous. The resulting process diatonicism phasing is not chosen a priori, but rather is required by experience.

Registry and dynamics In Young and Riley, bass plays a drone role, inspired by Indian music. At Steve Reich, there is no bass, and heights in general belong to the middle register Piano Phase does not have rating below Mi 4, Phase Patterns below C 4. The lack of low product ambiguities Reich seeks to maintain, while not knowing precisely define. Similarly, minimalists do not use extensive gameplay at all, which is very present in other contemporary music styles. The shades generally vary very little, if at all. The sound level is often very high, for example in some pieces of La Monte Young, and Glass, where we perceive the influence of rock.


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Execution Affordable listening, repetitive music seems falsely easy to perform. Similarly, Glass reports that several conductors came unprepared rehearsals realized too late the difficulty of his scores Dance Dance, which by nature has always been closely linked to the musical creations of its time, does not escape the influence of minimalist music, especially around the notion and use of repetition.

Through him, Cunningham also met Morton Feldman who composed for him music for his innovative choreography as Melodie untitled for Merce Cunningham in He currently contributes regularly to The Independent. The American composers la Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass are widely regarded as pioneers of the aesthetic and the techniques of minimalism in musical composition during the s and early s. This book offers the most detailed account so far of their early works, putting extensive discussion of the music into a biographical perspective.

The true musical minimalism of these years is placed in the wider context of their music as a whole, and considered within the cultural conditions of the period which saw not only the rise of minimalism in the fine arts but also crucial changes in the theory and practice of musical composition in the Western cultivated tradition. Read more Read less. Review ' No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. November 17, - Published on Amazon. Verified Purchase.

Four Musical Minimalists : La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass

March 22, - Published on Amazon. Potter's book will be best appreciated by those with a much better understanding of music theory than I. However, I learned something about the personal and musical history of so-called "minimalism. Is there a torch passed, so to speak, from Young to Riley to Reich to Glass?

Glass is the only one to adamantly deny it, but Potter documents the basis for seeing it just that way including Reich's influence on Glass.