“Your Name Here” As Minimalist

I will be spending next week in warm, sunny Long Beach, California, at the Fourth International Conference on Minimalist Music, sponsored by the Bob Cole Conservatory at Cal State Long Beach. It’s the great biennial social event of my life, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’m delivering my paper “‘Eventfulness Is Really Boring’: Robert Ashley as Minimalist” on Saturday morning, October 5, at the 11:30 session, and there’s another Ashley paper as well, by Charissa Noble. In addition, on Oct. 3 pianist Bryan Pezzone is giving a piano recital of composers associated with the Cold Blue label, and something of mine is included. I have no idea what, because they’ve never contacted me. It’ll be a nice surprise, and an honor, which I hardly deserve, because even if I do perversely consider myself a minimalist, I could hardly argue with those who insist that I’m not. (To be more exact, I swerve between postminimalism and totalism, depending on the medium.)

I’ve decided every book I write will provide my material for the subsequent minimalism conference. So look forward to the 2015 event, at which I will undoubtedly present “Charles Ives as Minimalist.” I can make the case!

UPDATE: The complete schedule of papers for the conference is up here, with the individual titles and presenters at the bottom of the page.


  1. Kyle says

    Only peripherally related: I just stayed at the conference hotel, the Current about two months ago. Fantastic. Have fun!

  2. says

    Fascinating. Are the proceedings of previous conferences available anywhere? I can’t wait to hear the “Ives as minimalist” argument.

    KG replies: I believe you can find a few previous papers here:


    As for Ives, all I’ve got is really already embedded in my keynote to the Ives song conference here:


    in the passage beginning with:

    But there is one archetype that strikes me as more central than the others, embodied as it is in more songs: the quiet texture of ostinatos suggesting eternity or an unchanging state, punctuated at the end, or near the end, with a climactic dissonance or set of dissonances, but returning at the end to the opening texture, somewhat circularly. We hear this most eloquently in “The Housatonic at Stockbridge,” where the dissonant white-note thirds over a C#-major drone create an image of a river flowing steadily, forever, immutable, until the text becomes more subjective at the end with the words “I also of much resting have a fear,” and the music speeds up to a climactic chord on B-flat, A, and D triads all at once – only to give away to some ppp chords suggestive of the beginning again….

    • says

      Thank you so much, Kyle. One can’t help but learn from you. And you can tell your students I said that.

      KG replies: I wouldn’t dare offer them such a challenge. They’d take you up on it.

  3. says

    You could consider “Boulez – Structures 2 as Minimalism”, after all an entire work made from one 12 note series is minimalist! I am sure it has already been done though.

    Good luck with the conference and enjoy the Californian climate. And congratulations on your upcoming performance.

    KG replies: Hey, in 2009 we had a paper submitted called “Milton Babbitt as Minimalist,” and enthusiastically accepted it, but it was withdrawn.

  4. says

    But will they let you? Jonathan Bernard claimed that Daniel Lentz wasn’t a minimalist because he was too early and Ives is far earlier than Daniel, unless he’s been taking awfully good care of himself.

  5. Charissa Noble says

    Thanks for the shout-out– I am so excited and honored to be presenting with you, and I can’t wait to hear your paper!

  6. Juhani Nuorvala says

    What happens to all the papers presented at the MinSoc conferences? Only a couple from six years ago are available online, and that’s it. Are they waiting for publication in musicology and music theory journals, or is a collection of them going to be published later, in print or online?

    KG replies: You should come to the meetings of the Society for Minimalist Music and join in as we all ask the same questions. We’ll still be asking them in Helsinki, I have a feeling.

    • says

      There have been a lot of questions about the Society, which, frankly, could be run much more efficiently, or at least communicate with its members and the public in a more proactive way. For example, the call for papers for this conference only appeared on the list for the American Musicological Society list and not to Minimalism Society members, and not publicly, until Kyle posted it here. The Facebook link to the conference programme was broken on 19 September. I asked again on 27 September and there is still no reply, only ‘likes’ from various Society members. I only know about what’s on the Cold Blue concert — aside from Kyle’s piece, which he’s announced here — by asking the pianist last week. They have just put the programme up seven hours ago. If I wanted to see what was on offer before booking a trip to Long Beach, this is far too late. Although I was a founding member, I have let my membership lapse for these reasons. And the conferences are really great, whether you attend as a member or an ‘outsider’.

      However, Juhani, you asked about the conference papers. I’m one of the people whose papers from the first meeting is posted online. The ‘final’ version of that paper, on British systems minimalism, will appear in the Ashgate Research Companion to Minimalist and Postminimalist Music on 31 October. Many of the other chapters in that book have been adapted or evolved from conference papers in the first two conferences, and ‘teasers’ of other chapters were presented at the third conference at Leuven. As co-editor, Kyle, you can tell more about which chapters come from conferences. Anyway, there will be an inspection copy at Long Beach, so those who attend can see it.