IJSSH 2017 Vol.7(8): 523-527 ISSN: 2010-3646
doi: 10.18178/ijssh.2017.V8.878

Being Faithful to Life: Performing and Listening in Minimalist Music from the 1960s and 1970s

Ang-Cheng Kris Ho
Abstract—Minimalism in music, as a new trend of musical style and performance, has been developed in the 1960s. It is a musical form often contrasted to expressionism and serialism. Based on American-born composers, La Monte Young (b. 1935) and Terry Riley (b. 1935), which are regarded as pioneers of this trend, minimalist music has expanded the techniques of musical performance, extending the performance venue from the conventional concert hall to the museum. This research will explore in some detail the interpretation of minimalist music written in the 1960s and 1970s by Steve Reich and Philip Glass. It also examines the relationship between the performer and the listener based on two concepts: concentration and relaxation. Minimalist music is different from the absolute music of the Baroque period and program music of Romantic period. For the performer, concentration and relaxation rests on the perspective and manner of execution of the music and in how to convey it to the listener. For the listener, concentration and relation means a new avenue to appreciate the fascination and timbre of minimalist music. This research will examine a new way of performance practice for the performer and provide an innovative sense of attention for the listener in relationship to the setting as for example when the performance venue has been transformed from concert hall to the museum and the reaction of the listener has become part of the performance in the live performance. Selected works exemplifying these two concepts include Violin Phase and Clapping Music by Steve Reich and Philip Glass’s Strung Out.

Index Terms—Minimalist music, violin, concentration, relaxation.

A.-C. K. Ho is with the Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, China (e-mail: krisho@ uic.edu.hk).

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Cite: Ang-Cheng Kris Ho, "Being Faithful to Life: Performing and Listening in Minimalist Music from the 1960s and 1970s," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 7, no. 8, pp. 523-527, 2017.

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