|Cultural origins||Early 1960s |
Minimal music is a form of
The movement originally involved dozens of composers, although only five (Young, Riley, Reich, Glass, and later
It is unclear where the term minimal music originates. Steve Reich has suggested that it is attributable to Michael Nyman, an assertion that two scholars, Jonathan Bernard and Dan Warburton, have also made in writing.
The word "minimal" was perhaps first used in relation to music in 1968 by Michael Nyman, who "deduced a recipe for the successful 'minimal-music' happening from the entertainment presented by
The idea of minimalism is much larger than many people realize. It includes, by definition, any music that works with limited or minimal materials: pieces that use only a few notes, pieces that use only a few words of text, or pieces written for very limited instruments, such as antique cymbals, bicycle wheels, or whiskey glasses. It includes pieces that sustain one basic electronic rumble for a long time. It includes pieces made exclusively from recordings of rivers and streams. It includes pieces that move in endless circles. It includes pieces that set up an unmoving wall of saxophone sound. It includes pieces that take a very long time to move gradually from one kind of music to another kind. It includes pieces that permit all possible pitches, as long as they fall between C and D. It includes pieces that slow the tempo down to two or three notes per minute.
Already in 1965 the art historian Barbara Rose had named La Monte Young's Dream Music,
The most prominent minimalist composers are
The early compositions of Glass and Reich are somewhat austere, with little embellishment on the principal
The music of Reich and Glass drew early sponsorship from art galleries and museums, presented in conjunction with visual-art minimalists like