Minimalist music composers etc.

Minimalist music research

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What is Minimalist Music?
Minimalist Music was born in the late 1960's and can be associated with a
group of American composers classified as "minimalists". However, the
origins of Minimalist music can be traced to the `total serialism' music of
Webern whose music was based on the mathematical control of the
musical elements.
Minimalist music consists of cells which are `looped' at shifting time
intervals. This creates a hypnotic quality to the music as the cells shift in
and out of `phase' with each other. One way of thinking about Minimalist
Music is as the musical comparison of `Splitting the Atom' or analysing a
DNA chain. Minimalist music could almost be described a `molecular music'.
Biological and Musical Analogies:
Cells ­Repeated Musical Phrases
Molecules ­ Very short musical phrases
Atoms ­ Single Notes
Altered DNA ­ A phrase which has been changed by fragmentation,
augmentation, diminution etc.
Philip Glass
Born in Baltimore, 1937.
At the age of 23 Glass moved Paris and spent two years of intensive
study under Nadia Boulanger. In Paris, he was hired by a filmmaker to
transcribe the Indian music of Ravi Shankar into notation readable to
French musicians. In the process, he discovered the techniques of Indian
music. After researching music in North Africa, India and the Himalayas,
he returned to New York and began to apply eastern techniques to his
own work. By 1990, Glass was regarded as an established star of
Minimalist music. Glass's work ranges from works for percussion
ensemble, string quartet, orchestral works, operas and soundtracks. The
diversity of Glass's music is influenced by associations with Ravi Shankar,
Brian Eno and David Bowie.
Key listening:
Einstein On The Beach (CBS Master Works) ­ 1976
Glassworks (CBS) ­ 1982
Koyannisqatsi ­ Film Soundtrack (Antilles) ­ 1981
Satyagraha (Sanskrit for `life force) ­ An opera based on Ghandi's
experiences in South Africa. Also draws on the life of Martin Luther King
and Leo Tolstoy. (CBS Masterworks) ­ 1985
Powaqqatsi ­ Film Soundtrack (Elektra / Nonesuch) ­ 1987
Passages ­ with Ravi Shankar (Private Music) ­ 1990
'Low Symphony' ­ with David Bowie and Brian Eno (Point Music) ­ 1997
'Heroes' Symphony ­ influenced by Bowie & Eno (Point Music) ­ 1997
Dracula ­ film music to accompany the original Bela Lugosi film of 1931,
played by the Kronos Quartet ­ (Nonesuch) ­ 1999
Steve Reich
Born in New York, 1936.
Steve Reich has been recognised internationally as one of the world's
foremost living composers. From his early taped speech works It's Gonna
Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to The Cave (1993), Reich's music has
embraced not only aspects of Western classical music, but the
structures, harmonies, and rhythms of nonWestern and American

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During the summer of 1970, with the help of a grant from the Institute
for International Education, Reich studied drumming at the Institute for
African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. In 1973 and 1974 he
studied Balinese Semar Pegulingan and Gamelan Gambang at the American
Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California. From 1976
to 1977 he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the
Hebrew Scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.…read more

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Nyman assembled what he would describe as 'the loudest unamplified street band' he could
imagine: rebecs, sackbuts, shawms alongside banjo, bass drum and saxophone. Nyman
kept the Campiello Band together after the play's run had finished, adding his own energetic
pianoplaying to the ensemble. However, a band needs repertoire, and Nyman set about
providing it. The Band's lineup expanded, amplification was added and the name changed to
the Michael Nyman Band.…read more


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