John Adams. Philip Glass. Steve Reich. Terry Riley. La Monte Young.
Minimalist Music and Musicians
Minimalist music has its beginnings in the 1960s. It originated in New York City with something called the New York Hypnotic School. Music of the Minimalists has been called maddening and repetitive filled with drone like sounds. Minimalist music is stripped down to simple elements and has been said to take on a trance-like or hypnotic effect due to the repetition of musical patterns.
The term minimalism was taken from the visual arts. In the 1960s art was taking on a reductive approach, it was natural that music followed resulting in the same reductive style. Artists such as Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg reduced their canvases to solid stokes of color and sculpture was moving in the same direction such as the massive arcs and shapes created by Richard Serra.
The American composers most associated with Minimalism are Young, Riley, Reich, Glass, and later John Adams. Many of the pioneering minimalists (such as Glass, Riley, and Reich) are still writing today. The minimalist style has also spread into pop music, most notably into “techno” music, where there is a need for hypnotic dance music that lasts for hours at a time.
Minimalism owes much too Non-western music as well as Western classical music. The path-breakers Young and Riley also looked to Indian raga, Balinese, and West African drumming as influences. As you may guess, Minimal music and its composers are far too complex to summarize here, so included in this post are links to the composers and items in our collection.
Books on Minimalist Music
Unfortunately, everything by La Monte Young is unavailable for purchase but you can watch him on youtube.
This book is available through EBL. You will need to create an account to access the ebook. If you need help accessing the book call us at 428-8140.