The word “minimalist” brings to mind a style of music that is characterized by its minimal, almost nonexistent texture. It’s a style of music that has become popular in recent years as more people have become aware of the need for a simpler way of making a musical statement. So what are characteristics of minimalist music? Let’s take a look at a few examples…
Sound is the foremost characteristic that an individual will notice right away when listening to minimalist music. It is not too quiet or too loud. It’s just right. As a result, you get a sense of space, as if the listener is floating in a dark cavern of sound.
Color is another characteristic. Colorless minimalist music sounds good to almost anyone. You don’t have to be a genius to appreciate it. After all, we are all color sensitive. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to an instrumental piece with a strong melody.
Composing is also easy in this style of music. In fact, composing is a breeze. All you need is a clear mind. You don’t need a great deal of tools. For example, you don’t need a MIDI keyboard or even a computer with a mouse. You don’t even need a lot of musical experience.
Another thing about minimalist music is that it tends to be very repetitive. Unlike other styles, it doesn’t have a tendency to be super musical or have a huge vocabulary of sound. Minimalism is about being simple. In fact, you’ll sometimes find that certain instruments are used that aren’t part of traditional music. That’s part of the simplicity that makes it so endearing.
One way to think about minimalist art in general is to picture a circle. Each point on the circle represents a different feature of the feature in focus. Each point would also have its own significance and importance. Think of a circle with each point representing a physical attribute of a person. Each point would also have a different implication for that particular attribute.
A perfect example of this would be the piano. The piano has only one clef, which represents notes of a single key. Each note has a different meaning depending on where it falls on the clef. That’s just one way of thinking of it. Another way is to view it from the point of view of each note’s octave. Octaves are units of pure sound, while notes are combinations of higher and lower tones.
The last characteristic that we’ll discuss in this article is that minimalist music places a heavy emphasis on silence. For as long as there is no distracting outside sound, the listener is free to listen to any type of music they choose. So what are characteristics of minimalist music? They’re not much, but they’re qualities that can make all the difference.
For instance, if you compare an orchestral piece with a minimalist piece, you’ll quickly find that the former has more depth. This depth comes from the instruments used, as well as the way that the pieces are put together. In a nutshell, orchestras are large in structure, while minimalist compositions are often much more flexible and open-ended. They rely less on the exact timing and much more on the inherent quality of the sound.
Another characteristic that we will be looking at is the lack of any form of vocals. While some people use voice to create a melody or to create emotion, the bulk of minimalist music is silent. While some might argue that this is the case, I tend to disagree. Granted, the lack of vocal qualities isn’t always intentional. Sometimes a lack of a presence of vocals is the only way that a piece can achieve clarity and the desired effect.
We have just defined some characteristics of minimalist music. Now let’s discuss some examples. The piece “Norman Greene” by Richard Feffer contains very few instruments and yet it still produces a very strong sound. I would compare this piece to works by John Cage or even the early works of Albert Einstein. Both of these artists produced sounds that are much smaller in stature but which have a tremendous impact.
So what are characteristics of minimalist music? These characteristics make it different from traditional forms of music and the music of established composers. It creates a strong emotional reaction without having to resort to complex structures. Finally, it relies on the purity of the sound to achieve clarity rather than forcing a loud melody into the listener. All these characteristics and more make this a style of sound that is distinctly unique and interesting.
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