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Hallmarks of minimalism Keywords
Music GCSE notes Cells - short musical ideas
Drones - long continuous note or a constantly repeated note
Ostinati - repeated musical idea Phasing - when two or more versions of a sound
20th Century Phasing
Metamorphosis - gradually changing from one musical idea to the next
or motif are played simultaneously but slightly
out of synchronisation coming back into
S. Reich Layering - adding new musical parts commonly at one time creates a synchronisation after a number of repititions
Note addition - a method of developing cells in
3r movement (fast) from Note addition and subtraction
minimalism music by gradually adding notes to
the original cell
Electric Counterpoint (1987) Rhythmic displacement
Augmentation - extending the durations of a rhythmic pattern e.g. Two
Note subtraction - same as above but taking
quavers and two crotchets becomes two crotchets and 2 minims Loop - a section of a piece of music which is
Diminution - opposite of augmentation edited so that it can be repeated seamlessly by
There are nine parts some are pre -recorded Static harmony - piece appears to have one long chord which only electronic means
1) Guitar 1 changes gradually Modal - referring to modes - the precursors of
2) Live guitar a complex contrapuntal texture modern scales
3) Guitar 2 broken chords (where the notes of a chord are played singly Tonal ambiguity - when the key of a certain
rather than together) piece is uncertain
4) Guitar 3
slow harmonic changes Resultant melody - a new melody produced
5) Guitar 4
melodic transformation (where a melody gradually changes when a variety of parts each play their melodies
6) Bass guitars 1 and 2 shape)
7) Guitar 5 at the same time
rhythmic transformation (where a rhythm gradually changes
8) Guitar 6 shape)
9) Guitar 7 gradual changes in texture and dynamics
These allow the texture to build up
Rhythm The Bass guitars make it really obvious the piece is in E minor in bar 33
There are several time signature changes in the song as it Changes between E minor and C minor in the B section
moves between 2/4 and 3/4 time. The word-setting is mostly The pieces metre changes between 3/2 and 12/8
syllabic (one word to a syllable).
There are several examples of triplets (where three notes are
played in the time of two). Guitar 3 note addition
Opening The entry of Guitar 3 is an example of note addition.
When Guitar 3 first appears it only uses the last few
notes of the phrase but the others are gradually added
until it is playing the full melody.
· the time signature of 3/2 Entry of bass guitars
· the key signature of G major The next parts to enter are the two bass guitars. They each have a
one-bar quaver ostinato but with the accents falling on different
In the first part of the piece we find these things: beats of the bar. Again note addition is used to build up the full
· Guitar 1 is playing a repeated syncopated melody in its high register. pattern.
· This ostinato bar is played 73 times.
· The two guitars are joined by Guitars 2, 3 and 4 in turn.
· The guitars enter in canon. A canon is where a melody in one part is
repeated note for note in another part as the melody of the first part
continues to unfold.
· The entries start on different notes of the phrase so the accented
notes fall in different places. This is known as metrical displacement .
Minimalism Page 1