Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Minimalism in Music: Steve Reich

This week we are exploring Minimalism in both art and music. On Monday we looked at Frank Stella as an example of a Minimalist painter. How do characteristics of Minimalism find their way into music?

Steve Reich is an example of a composer who uses Minimalism in his music. His 1967 Piano Phase is a fascinating work that exemplifies Minimalist features. Composed for two pianos, the duo begins by repeating the same figure in unison multiple times. Eventually, one pianist pulls ahead, putting them out of sync with one another and causing dissonance. They repeat this new figure several times, rhythmically still the same but melodically different. This process of one pianist pulling ahead continues until both pianists are back playing together in unison at the end. The use of repetition and simple forms and procedures classifies this as Minimalism.

Listen to Reich’s Piano Phase and let me know if you enjoy Minimalism in music.