Minimal Music, Maximal Impact

Minimal Music, Maximal Impact

Minimalism hit me in my teens like a bolt of fate. About 1972 (I was 16), Steve Achternacht on radio station WRR-FM in Dallas played Terry Riley’s In C on the air. His janglingly repetitive octave C’s started up (which we learned years later had been Steve Reich’s suggestion to hold the piece together), and I didn’t know how to react. This was crazy. All that pulsating repetition gave me a headache, every time I listened. But I kept listening anyway.

Written By

Kyle Gann

A Minimalist Bibliography

The bibliography on minimalism is, appropriately, minimal.

Tom Johnson, The Voice of New Music (Eindhoven: Apollohuis, 1991; currently out of print)

Keith Potter, Four Musical Minimalists (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Edward Strickland, Minimalism: Origins (Bloomington and Indianapolis: University of Indiana Press, 1993)

K. Robert Schwarz, Minimalists (London: Phaidon Press, 1996)

As for postminimalism and totalism, there are no books about them at all, but you can read about them in:
Kyle Gann, American Music in the Twentieth Century (New York: Schirmer Books, 1997)

I’ve been wanting to write a book about postminimalism, but editors tell me, “We can’t publish that, because no one knows anything about postminimalism, it’s not important music, it isn’t going to last.” That’s what they told me ten years ago about minimalism, too. The repetitiveness with which editors tell me these things has a certain, well, minimalist quality to it.

From Minimal Music, Maximal Impact