The Minimalists 101

Tonight I had to miss a dinner party because I worked late, needed to pack, and had an extreme urge to make collage. While collage-ing, I watched a documentary on Phillip Glass. How arty!

Hmmm, well, anyhow, as for Glass, I still love his music, but this doc shows that he’s kind of a pretentious, more-enlightened-than-thou fellow. Reminds me why Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Steve Reich (the composers from that crazy 70’s Soh0 musical avant garde who actually did drugs) are that much more rad. Those are guys you want to go and hang out with while you listen to their glorious repetition and eastern inspired compositions. LaMonte Young, the so-called grandfather of the scene (and big psychelics fan), well, here’s what Warholite Billy Name had to say about him: “If you were going across the prairie in a Conestoga wagon, La Monte was the father and he always had a wife and everything was like his scene. Everybody was there playing with him, but he was the hierarchical chief.”

Or how about Reich on the appropreation of his work: “In my generation we tore the wall down and now we are back to the normal situation, for example if Brian Eno or David Bowie come to me, and if popular musicians remix my music like The Orb or DJ Spooky it is a good thing. This is a natural normal regular historical way.” Yes, Mr. Reich, you Pulitzer Prize-winning musician, you are correct!

And Riley, well just look at him:


Anyhow to learn more about Minimalist Music go to Alex Ross’s awesome Rest is Noise page (or better, read the book) or go here for a very academic explanation. But for now, here’s a smattering of Minimalism 101 pieces

  • Go here to hear Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians live on streaming audio.
  • Just an image here but sound quality is good for YouTube of Riley’s Music for the Gift

  • La Monte Young’s Well Tuned Piano can be downloaded here

  • And to give Glass his due, he’s still a genius even if he’s kind of an egotistic square–just listen to that Einstein on the Beach here! Numbers chanted again and again never sounded so beautiful.

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