Minimalism

Minimalism makes the most of minimal musical resources. The work is stripped down to fundamental features. Like in expressionism, the movement developed in both art and music.

It is useful to understand some of the hallmarks of the style and understand the vocabulary used when describing minimalism. The following are features of minimalism in general, some of which are used in the set work and others are present in other minimalist works:

  • Drones - a long, continuous note or a constantly repeated note (can be any pitch but if often low).
  • Ostinato Loops - repeated musical ideas. 
  • Phasing - two almost identical parts which go out of sync with each other and gradually, after a number of repetitions, come back into sync again.
  • Metamorphosis - gradually changing from one musical idea to another, often by changing one note at a time.
  • Layering - adding new musical parts, commonly one at a time. The parts will often interact with each other forming a complex texture.
  • Key - In minimalism this is the only part of the story - the texture is equally as important as the key in defining the structure of a piece.
  • Note Addition - starting off with a very simple, sparse ostinato containing many rests, and gradually adding notes over a number of repetitions.
  • Note Subtraction - starting off with a more complex ostinato and gradually taking notes away, leaving rests in their place. 
  • Augmentation - extending the duration of a rhythmic pattern. For example, two crochets become two minims.
  • Diminution - the opposite of augmentation. For example, two minims become two crochets.