You may not have heard the term Minimalism but you have certainly heard the music. This is a recent evolution in music and it is featured in countless film scores. Today we are going to discuss aspects of minimalism and what separates it from different musical styles.
There have been a number of cycles throughout music history. Over time, musical forms become more complex and eventually reach a point where they collapse upon themselves. By the end of Johann Sebastian Bach’s lifetime, Baroque music had become so complex that it literally broke down and ushered in the Classical era of music with its well structured forms. This is not the only time this has occurred in history and sure enough this similar pattern is found throughout musical eras.
The Romantic period following the Classical period shared many forms. However, the structures were expanded as was the orchestra and the length of works. Harmonies and modulation of keys in the music of Wagner, Richard Strauss and others led to the breakdown of tonality with composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern abandoning tonality completely and ushering in the 12 tone system of composition which is not based upon major and minor scales at all!
Eventually in the 20th century we had another breakdown in music which ushered in minimalism. This form of music took incredibly complex music and broke it down into simple patterns and textures that interweave in new and complex ways. In the video provided with this article I play an excerpt from Orphee Suite for Piano by Phillip Glass to give you an idea of what minimalist music can sound like.
Many works in this period evolve very slowly with very small changes throughout and some will have overlapping textures with different length looping phrases on different instruments. It’s a fascinating style of music and it’s well worth exploring other works of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams and others. Thanks again for watching I’m Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729