Sunday, March 27, 2016

Minimalist music

I listened to Arvo Part's composition of Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) on new year's day. It countered beautifully the nonsensical Bollywood music played out in celebration for the day. This is the second time this blog features Salve Regina; the first time was for a composition by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Pergolesi lived between 1710-1736, while Arvo Part is an important member of contemporary classical music.

I went on to his symphony no. 4. And the first piece (movement) of this minimalist work will introduce to you the simplicity of modern orchestral music - minimalism is an important
modern day concept, also employed by another eminent composer, Philip Glass.

Factmag tells us that
In music in particular, minimalism was the single most important idea of the last century, the one that made possible virtually all that we now listen to and hold dear, from punk and techno to ambient and grime. 
However, it can be alleged that the the modern industrial world broke down people's ability to appreciate nature and life, and instead introduced them to monotone -- or simple music without many variations. This is not to suggest that classical minimalist music is not rich in flavour.

If you are still seeking for the definition, Wikipedia tells us simply that
Minimal music is a form of art music that employs limited or minimal musical materials.
Its simplicity makes it useful to be used in films as background music. Which is a boon, as you are essentially introducing the audience to classical strains. The minimalist mood makes for this possibility -- the Salve Regina video will narrate this scenario. The visuals used in the video are from a Bela Tarr film; you should find that the music suits the visuals.

Here is a Philip Glass composition used in the film The Hours. It may sound repetitive, with small changes that account for a small changes in mood. It is easy to see how minimalism and mood can work well as film music.

And with that I end this session of minimalism.

“You can kill people with sound. And if you can kill, then maybe there is also the sound that is opposite of killing. And the distance between these two points is very big. And you are free--you can choose. In art everything is possible, but everything is not necessary.” 
― Arvo Pärt

Image by Ashley Banks, Cristina Bugescu

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