Shots Fired from Inside the Fortress

Ha! Alex Ross can take a holiday hiatus, but here at Postclassic, the all-important week between Christmas and New Year’s is when we get moving. I am pleased to announce that the official web site for the Society for Minimalist Music went online yesterday. Its first offerings include seven downloadable papers delivered at the first international minimalism conference in Wales that I blogged about, including several of the best papers I heard there:

Triadic Transformation and Harmonic Coherence in the Music of Gavin Bryars, by Scott Alexander Cook

An Examination of Minimalist Tendencies in Two Early Works by Terry Riley
Wednesday, by Ann Glazer Niren [the two works in question being his almost unknown String Trio and String Quartet from around 1960)

Steve Reich: stories of machines and minimalism, by John Pymm

Sudoku Music: Systems and Readymades, by Christopher Hobbs (with musical excerpts)

British Readymades and Systems Music, by Virginia Anderson (the last word on systems music versus minimalism terminology)

1976 and All That: Minimalism and Post-Minimalism, Analysis and Listening Strategies, by Keith Potter (the keynote address)

Parallel Symmetries? Exploring Relationships between Minimalist Music and Multimedia Forms, by Pwyll ap Siôn & Tristian Evans (who organized the festival; in addition, Pwyll is author of a fine new book on Michael Nyman)

You may feel free to make the usual reflexive comments about the alleged absurdity of translating such accessible music into academese, but it’s all part of a historical process, and this is true progress. As someone whose college professors tried to convince him that minimalism was a hoax, I find it rather thrilling.


  1. Dean Rosenthal says

    I was in contact with Chris Hobbs while he was on his way to that conference, and he made mention of his paper, now posted online. One thing I admire about the English systems of composing, which I’ve always felt at home with as an American, is the tenacity of the sound.
    I could never feel comfortable abiding by the slick manipulations of pitch class beholden to fever pitch pretenses like Elliott Carter – yikes – but I do accept the influence of the Brits anyway, because for me, the music we write is part of a tapestry of experiments and advantages and adventures. I may be different than you, but that doesn’t mean we don’t compose the same sonic spaces at the end of the day. It’s probably just that we speak our silences differently.
    In all cases, I do appreciate the update, Kyle.