Music is an art and every art is about innovation. It is the innovation that keeps any art alive and makes it more popular. We have various forms of music, some of them very old while some have originated in the last few centuries. Minimalism is basically a musical genre that is known to originate around 1960 in the United States. It is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable additions to the music in the last century. Some people also regard this as an important musical movement of the 20th century.
The driving force behind the rise of minimalism was the complexity that existed in the traditional music. Minimalism or simply Minimal music can be regarded as a technique, style or aesthetic that involves a relentless and strong pulse. It is followed by a continuous repetition of the short melodic fragments and harmonies that change but not very frequently.
Origin of the Term: Minimal Music
While we know the people associated with the origin of Minimal Music, it is not clear as who among those people actually coined this term. Philip Glass mentioned that it was Philip Glass who coined this term. However, Jonathan Bernard and Dan Warburton claim that Michael Nyman devised this term. Steve Reich also supports this claim from the two scholars.
Initially, the concept of Minimalism was vague but now there are several definitions and explanations available to explain this style of music. In the simplest form, minimalism refers to any musical composition that is created using limited resources including musical instruments, musical notes etc.
The People behind Minimalism-Music Style
The initial credit for developing this style of music goes to four American composers including Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and La Monte Young. Minimalist Music Style basically started as an experimental music around 1960 in the New York Downtown. It was referred as New York Hypnotic School. The initial phase of this music style lacked a proper direction and it just went on without any well-defined goals. The main elements that represented Minimalist music included gradual transformations between steady pulses and constant harmonies. There is a special class of minimalist music that involves various process techniques with strict rules. It is referred as process music.
Although there are only four composers credited for giving birth to this style of music, there were actually several composers associated with this movement. The name of John Adams also appears on the list as he joined the movement a bit later. Minimalism was not just popular among the American composers but there are several European composers including Michael Nyman, Karel Goeyvaerts, Louis Andriessen, Henryk Górecki, Steve Martland, Gavin Bryars, Arvo Pärt and John Tavener that depicted this style in their compositions.
The very first composition that depicted Minimalism was a solo piano theme by Dennis Johnson. It was 6 hours long composition developed in the year 1959. La Monte Young used this piece of composition as the inspiration for magnum opus, The Well-Tuned Piano.