What an amazing first day of the 2nd International Conference on Minimalist Music. Maarten Bierens from Belgium demonstrated how Louis Andriessen’s subtly subversive use of quotations gave his music a dialectical significance quite foreign to American minimalism; Pwyll ap Sion detailed the amazing range of self-quotation in Michael Nyman’s output. But what blew me away were three papers on Phill Niblock by Keith Potter, Richard Glover, and Rich Housh, who had gotten access to Phill’s files and could exhibit the varied ways he shapes his slowly moving drones. Apparently, Phill’s music has taken on a new life since he started working directly in ProTools, which gives him greater control over the out-of-tuneness of his pitch clusters. As UMKC musicologist Andrew Granade remarked to me, we’ve each known maybe three people in academia before now who had even heard of Niblock, and suddenly the room was full of Niblock aficionados, shouting answers to each other’s questions and deconstructing his music as matter-of-factly as if it was Mahler and we all had the Kalmus scores. Suddenly, “drone minimalism” is a topic that can hold its own against repetitive minimalism, as though it had been all along. What a feeling, sitting there and watching the official history of music reel, switch trajectory, and transform itself around you!
Mikel Rouse joined us to present his music/film Funding, and so here is musicological documentation of the first night’s festivities. First, me and Mikel with UMKC doctoral student, Michael Gordon expert, and conference superman Jedd Schneider looking on:
(photo by Dragana Stojanovic-Novicic)
Four Musical Minimalists author Keith Potter, postminimalist composer Galen Brown, and Nancarrow scholar Dragana Stojanovic-Novicic:
Musicologist Maarten Bierens (on account of whom rumors are flying of the next conference possibly taking place in Belgium) and Welsh former conference director Pwyll ap Sion: