Is minimalism still relevant? Wendy Mae Chambers



Wendy Mae Chambers

Minimal music has long preceded western music in the form of chants, particularly in eastern religions. Indeed, these chants were literally a jumping off point for some of the first American minimalist composers. Hinduism is the oldest organized religion that still exists today. Buddha was born a Hindu. Om Mane Padre Om is perhaps the first piece of minimal music. Minimal music has an organic quality. It is patterned and repetitive, beat oriented and tonal. Its newness was its use of constant repetition. Obviously, minimal music will continue to go on as it has in the religious context. There remains much to be explored when one goes back to the origins of minimalism. I believe the music from the first western minimalist music movement will continue to please. I await the neo-minimalist future. The concept of minimalism is fascinating. How it became one with repetition is curious as I find works by Anton Webern and John Cage‘s 4’33" much closer to my understanding of the word minimal. There’s nothing like a well-placed rest in Webern or a performance of Cage’s 4’33". I might also suggest that Ravel‘s Bolero is a curious precursor to the minimalist movement.