Extreme spareness and simplicity
"Minimalism" in music is a 20th-century style known for its simplicity, repetition, and gradual change. This style emphasizes the fundamental elements of music and focuses on subtle variations and interactions to create a profound auditory experience.
The origins of minimalist music can be traced back to the 1960s, pioneered by composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. They drew inspiration from cross-cultural elements like African drumming, Balinese gamelan music, and Indian classical music. These composers aimed to blend these elements with modern compositional techniques to create music that was both simple and captivating.
Key features of minimalist music include:
- Repetition and Looping: This is one of the most prominent features of minimalist music. Short segments or patterns are repeated continuously, creating a distinct rhythm and emotional atmosphere.
- Gradual Change: Despite the repetition, details and elements within the music gradually shift. These changes might be subtle but create a strong auditory effect, allowing listeners to perceive the passage of time.
- Simple Harmony and Rhythm: Minimalist music often employs straightforward harmonic structures and rhythmic patterns. This simplicity helps listeners focus on the subtle changes in the music.
- Layering of Sounds: Sounds in minimalist music often build up gradually, layer by layer, creating a rich texture of sound.
- Spiritual Elevation: Due to the simplicity and repetition, listeners can enter a meditative state, fostering introspection and spiritual elevation.
Representative works of minimalist music include Steve Reich's "Drumming" and Philip Glass's "Music in Twelve Parts". This style has influenced modern classical music, film scores, electronic music, and more, expanding the understanding and appreciation of music to new horizons.