George Adams (University of Chicago)
Julius Eastman and Expressions of Objectivity in American Minimalism
In this paper, I enter musical minimalism into the debate within music and sound studies regarding the racialization of sound, object-oriented ontologies, and analytical methodologies. American minimalism in the 1960s developed a technomorphic aesthetics through a purported objectivity with regard to compositional process, performance, and the listening subject. Steve Reich, for example, cast his experimentation with repetition and psychoacoustics as “impersonal” musical composition. In It’s Gonna Rain (1965), however, Reich subjected the voices of black men to the phasing process he had happened upon while working with tape machines. Brother Walter retroactively became the performer of an experimental music wherein his voice was reduced to unintelligible yet musical sound.
Reich arranged technologically derived musical processes for live musicians in his later instrumental music; in doing so, he invisibilized the technological and vocal origins of his compositional techniques and helped establish the parameters for a technomorphic aesthetics of (post)minimalism. It was within this aesthetic paradigm that Julius Eastman titled his compositions with repurposed hate speech, enacting an uneasy encounter between musical minimalism’s technological objectivity and his expression of a black, queer subjectivity. This encounter prompts my analysis of minimal music’s expressions of objectivity as operative only within what Marie Thompson (2017) calls a “white aurality.” These expressions exemplify the 20th-century trope of self-abnegation endemic to Eurological conceptions of the composing and listening subjects, and implicate perceptions of agency, voice, and the performing subject in the hermeneutics of musical minimalism.
Victor Aschheim (Dartmouth College)
The Difficulty of David Lang’s the whisper opera
What if an opera were so intimate, fragile, and evaporative that a recording could not capture it? So asked the Los Angeles-born, postminimalist composer David Lang (b. 1957) in 2013 in response to a commission from the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). Lang conceived the whisper opera as an answer to this question. He prohibits amplification and recording of the opera, disallows projections or printing of the libretto, and forbids productions for audiences “too large to be one row away.” The text consists of catalogs of results from internet searches Lang issued: “when I am alone I always…,” “they said I was crazy but I…,” “when I think of you I think of…,” and “it’s not my fault that I am so….” Lang frames the action of the opera as a “struggle,” which the audience witnesses.
Drawing on the 2015 and 2018 productions, my reading of the score and libretto (restricted from circulation), and my interviews with Lang and ICE, I argue that the “struggle” staged in the whisper opera does music historical work that is at once recuperative and reparative. The singers’ and instrumentalists’ risk and vulnerability – technical, emotional, physical – under the drastic conditions of live performance in the whisper opera , I propose, remake notions of musical difficulty in the wake of serialism and in the shadow of the scale and multimedia spectacle of minimalist opera. With syntax of repetition and permutation of motives, and economy of instrumentation and voices, Lang draws difficulty out of radical musical and interpersonal transparency.
Tom Baker (Cornish College of the Arts)
A Curriculum of Repetition: Developing Analytical Models
As a parameter for study in musical analysis, repetition is a comparatively neglected topic, often analyzed as a subordinate element to pitch, harmony, or form. In a course for undergraduate music majors at Cornish College of the Arts entitled “Repetition as a Musical Structure”, we are attempting a deep dive into this topic, creating analytical models that might inspire theorists, musicologists, and generative artists to re-examine repetition as a central element of musical analysis. These emergent tools and models, representative student work, and possible new analytical pathways will be presented and discussed.
The course explores repetition as a specific structural parameter in musical works, most specifically through the study of Music for 18 Musicians, by Steve Reich, which acts a touchstone for our study. Students explore five theoretical approaches as lenses for analysis: 1) Perceptual Mechanisms (Margulis), 2) Difference Theory (Delueze and Rahn), 3) Re-presented Gesture (Fernandez on Pina Bausch), 4) Recombinant Teleology (Fink), and 5) the Zygonic Theory of Repetition (Ockelford). We begin with readings and discussions around Margulis’ On Repeat, developing analytical models and tools around semantic satiation, recontextualization, and other topics from her work. Students develop analytical models inspired by these topics, and turn their analytical gaze toward Music for 18 Musicians as an object of analysis. This process is repeated for each of the theoretical lenses, always returning with a new and innovative model to our touchstone piece.
Twila Bakker (Independent Scholar)
Save-As or Save-Over? Steve Reich’s Compositional Process Begins to Become Digital
The 1980s were a transitional period for Steve Reich. They found him moving from his rigorous minimalist style to the relaxed postminimalist style of the 1990s. Amidst this re-imagining of his overall style Reich took his compositional process digital in 1986 with the addition of a Macintosh Plus and software by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU). The Four Sections (1987) and Electric Counterpoint (1987) were the first works Reich wrote with his new Macintosh Plus and MOTU’s Professional Composer as part of his compositional toolkit, and it follows that an audible stylistic change might be expected with this digital shift.
This paper explores Reich’s early digital adjustments through a comparison of The Four Sections and Electric Counterpoint’s extant sketch materials, housed in the Steve Reich Collection at the Paul Sacher Stiftung (Basel, Switzerland). Although the digital shift in Reich’s compositional process provides researchers with additional information on his working process via the file’s metadata of creation and modification, it is also incomplete as not all of the disks or files involved in the composition of either work has survived in a useable form to the present day. From the evidence provided in these digital sketches, particularly in terms of Reich’s apparent attitude towards the computer based on the data of what documents he created and how he saved his work, it is possible to partially reconstruct his compositional process at the time. This leads us to begin answering, what—if any—change electrifying this process had on his work.
Maarten Beirens (University of Amsterdam)
Teleology thwarted: towards a typology of minimalist repetition
The strong identification of repetition as a core characteristic of minimal music has led many commentators to speculate on the identification of musical minimalism as essentially static, ateleological (Mertens, 1981) and ultimately as the musical emanation of a ‘culture of repetition’ (Fink, 2005). Such positions inevitably have to deal with the challenge of reconciling the stasis attributed to such abundant repetition with the presence of gradual and systematic (often process-driven) change over time – an obviously teleological aspect within an apparently ateleogical framework. While such discussion is extremely relevant in understanding minimalism’s particular dealing with static and dynamic aspects – think of Fink’s concept of ‘recombinant teleology’ – repetition itself within minimal music is often simply taken for granted.
In order to further question the (a)teleological nature of minimalist music, this paper will present a critical examination of repetition within minimalist and postminimalist repertoire. Based on analytical discussion, I will propose a typology of repetitive elements in minimal music. Not only does this examine the complex entwining of repetition and (aspects of) change in minimalism, it also demonstrates that repetition in minimal music is all but a homogeneous concept. Taking examples not only from the ‘core’ American minimalist repertoire, but also from European exponents, including the revisiting of ostinato bass lines and cumulative stacking of repeated layers as found in works by Michael Nyman, or the ‘evolving-repetitive’ technique of Karel Goeyvaerts, this paper will examine the array of repetitive elements as a more nuanced basis from which to address the hermeneutical implications of those types of repetition.
Diogo Carvalho (University of Florida)
‘Open the Bruise Up’: Identity and Memory in Steve Reich’s Music
When Steve Reich appropriated the speech of a teenage boy—linked to the Harlem Six who had been harshly beaten by the police—to compose the phase tape piece Come Out (1966), he not only established a new compositional technique, but also granted those events a permanence in time. The analysis of Reich’s early pieces generally focuses on compositional processes and addresses minimalist music’s connections to modernism, the visual arts, and African music (cf. Reich, Brown, McClary, Mertens, Schwarz, Scherzinger). It is time, however, for the narrative content, which is directly linked to the civil rights movement and racial identity, to be examined.
In this paper I argue that Come Out alludes to the 1960s events in two levels: the subjugated boy and the cultural memory of African-American struggles. I propose that Reich gives those moments a sense of permanence in time. In crafting the piece, Reich made a slightly shorter copy of the original recording and played both back simultaneously; hence the recordings get progressively out of phase, giving place to speechless sounds. Using Paul Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of history, I suggest that Reich’s controlled elimination of the text’s semantics reveals the musical subject, the suppression of the African-American man’s identity (voice). Come Out deconstructs Daniel Hamm’s identity, but carries a deeper message that reconstructs a distant past every time the work is performed (cf. Assmann and Czaplicka). In essence, Reich makes the struggles of the past a living presence through his music.
Celia Casey (King’s College London)
Modes of Compositional Engagement in Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 (2010)
Steve Reich (b. 1936) has responded to a number of historically significant events and issues by using documentary speech recordings as the basis for the creation of music. This approach is sometimes portrayed as neutral and impersonal, downplaying the authorial role of the composer. However, an analysis of sketch materials concludes that Reich frequently adopts a directorial approach in his most recent speech work, WTC 9/11 (2010), a musical response to the terrorist attacks in the United States of America in 2001.
The investigation adopts Andrew Brown and Steve Dillon's framework of five modes of compositional engagement (attending, evaluating, directing, exploring and embodying) in order to understand Reich’s creative process for this work. Based on their observations of Reich’s use of the computer when composing, Brown and Dillon found that Reich regularly operates in the directing mode of composition. In this mode, a composer may manipulate not only materials but the representation of materials, for example the manipulation of sound materials using a computer, in order to articulate a musical statement. Brown and Dillon’s conclusion is supported in this investigation which shows ways that Reich balances priorities to reflect not only the speech of others but also to reflect his own style and to extend his established musical techniques.
Jacopo Conti (University of Turin)
King Crimson: Minimalism and Popular Music
King Crimson is one of the most peculiar bands in progressive rock because of its unusual approach to the concept itself of band (according to founder Robert Fripp, it is more ‘a way of doing things’) and, therefore, because of its ever-changing aesthetic results. If we consider the reformed band after the 1974-80 hiatus, the differences with the previous versions of the band were many. One of them was the massive use of ‘minimal’ techniques (such as phasing) in the two guitar parts (Fripp-Belew). In fact, Fripp and Belew met at a gig where Steve Reich’s music was played.
But on a deeper level, minimalism is one of the elements that bind King Crimson’s music from the mid-1970s with that of the 1980s – and with that of the 1990s and 2000s (along with modes of limited transposition). Aim of this paper is considering King Crimson’s ‘minimalistic’ techniques through the decades (with a focus on the 1980s) using audio excerpts and video renditions of those techniques.
In parallel, the presence of minimalism in Anglo-American popular music between the late 1970s and early 1980s will be considered, not simply as a cultural context, but because members of King Crimson were often involved (Bowie, Eno, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads…). The paper aims also to focus on how minimalism became a structural substitution of harmony in representative pieces by King Crimson such as ‘Frame by Frame,’ ‘Elephant Talk,’ and many more, becoming one of its aesthetic characteristics, if not the main one.
Kathryn Caton (University of Kentucky)
Telling Stories: Repetition, Elaboration, and Memory-Making in Invisible Cities
Christopher Cerrone’s unconventional opera, Invisible Cities, appeared in fractured, mobile forms within the fabric of Los Angeles Union Station on October 19, 2013. Inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel of the same name, the opera features a collection of fanciful stories told by Marco Polo to an aging Kublai Kahn. Each vignette explores the essence, mood, or aura of a city, recognizing that sometimes the word “city” really means “a place where ideas live,” or “the source of a feeling.” The opera was realized in its atypical staging as an immersive event, a “meditation on urban life, memory, and human connection,” that transformed each audience member into “the protagonist of the experience.”
In this paper I will investigate how repetition and elaboration of musical themes in Invisible Cities parallels with the formation of memories—either false or real—thus potentially confusing reality and imagination. Building on neurophysiological studies regarding memory and the brain, this paper will show significant correlations between the processes of memory-making and the presence of repetition and thematic elaboration in an opera that fluidly moves between fact, fiction, memory, and imagination. Drawing from official audio and visual recordings, the unpublished score, personal accounts and reviews of the opera, and Calvino’s novel, I will assess ambiguous, multivalent meanings integral to the opera and its musical structure, creating ever-shifting experiences about journey and time, unique for each patron.
Tysen Dauer (Stanford University)
Minimalist Enlightenment: Racialized Alpha Activity in Pauline Oliveros’s Meditation Project
At the end of the long Sixties, composer Pauline Oliveros’s belief that sound creation and listening could heal human consciousness grew out of a countercultural cognitive neuroscience of alpha activity (8-12 Hz neural oscillations) that promised imminent inner peace. In this paper I examine how the alpha activity literature Oliveros relied on shaped her aesthetic choices. I connect Oliveros’s aesthetic and music-experimental practices to a countercultural diagnosis: white Western social ills were a product of technocracy. Next, I track alpha activity as a prescription for those ills, so believed because of its tenuous and Orientalist associations with meditative states. Finally, I analyze the roles of alpha activity in Oliveros’s 1973 Meditation Project using Oliveros’s writings and participants’ extant diaries.
Specifically, I investigate alpha activity’s roles as inspiration for compositions, as participant’s biofeedback, and as Oliveros’s metric for the project’s success. I argue that even as Oliveros sought to renegotiate cultural binaries of East and West, the use and supporting literature of alpha activity in the Meditation Project actually renewed the racial essentialisms creating the division. Previous scholarship on the Meditation Project uncovered practices more traditionally
associated with the American counterculture. Recently, Kerry O’Brien has convincingly connected Oliveros’s interest in biofeedback with New Communalism: a late countercultural embrace of science and technology for an anti-technocracy agenda. I argue that Oliveros’s interest in alpha activity and the resulting musical practices were no less significantly bound up in American Cold War Orientalism and white-racialized identity anxieties.
Rita Domingues (Federal University of Mato Grosso, UFMT, Brazil)
Bandeira. Bertolucci. Issa. Cortázar: Intertextuality and Impurity in Mendes’ Post-Minimalism
Gilberto Mendes (1922-2016) has spent most of his lifetime in the 20th century, from which, plus his love for cinema, literature and theatre, beyond music, has emerged the intellectual framework upon which his work was built, especially in his third compositional phase (1982 - 2015). That is the phase this work is focused on since is when his Post-Minimalism unfolds, both for Aesthetics of Impurity and for intertextuality. The main theoretical framework for this study was based on Scarpetta's Aesthetics of Impurity (1985), illuminating this blending in the Post-Minimalism of Gilberto Mendes. Having been developed during PhD studies which were undertaken in the Contemporary Culture Studies program of the Federal University of Mato Grosso, this research expands the epistemological field for the use of Intertextuality and Parody in the post-minimalist production of Mendes’ third compositional phase.
To unveil these features will be presented an intertextual analysis of three post-minimalist works by Mendes: "Três Contos de Cortázar" (1985), "O Último Tango em Vila Parisi" (1987) and "Abertura Issa" (1995). The methodology employed combines techniques of musical analysis as those of Straus (1990, 2000) with studies of interdisciplinary nature such as those of Scarpetta (1985), Ap Siôn (2007) and Everett (2004), besides being based on Post-Minimalism theorists such as Gann (1997, 2013). The results corroborated the hypothesis raised, that is, the features of Post-Minimalism were effectively observed in those works, as well as the relationship between them and other arts permeated by intertextuality and the Aesthetics of Impurity during the compositional procedure.
Ryan Ebright (Bowling Green State University)
Assembling ‘Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble’, 1975-86
In May 2015, Carnegie Hall celebrated fifty years of Meredith Monk’s work in New York with a retrospective of her music. Unlike similar fêtes of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, however, Monk’s concert consisted entirely of vocal music. This difference underscores the fact that throughout Monk’s wide-ranging career as a composer, director, performer, choreographer, and videographer, voice has remained at the core of her musical identity. Monk’s decision to compose primarily for the voice—a uniquely flesh-bound instrument—highlights the centrality of the body in her compositions. But before Monk began self-identifying predominantly as a composer in the 1980s, theatricality and movement linked her eclectic oeuvre together more so than did music.
This paper outlines the early history of Monk’s ensemble, which in its first iterations included multidisciplinary performers such as Julius Eastman, Andrea Goodman, Paul Langland, and Nurit Tilles. Drawing on Monk’s archives, press clippings, previously unexamined rehearsal audio tapes, and new interviews with ensemble members, I examine her music’s relationship to her larger theatrical works and the ensemble’s function within Monk’s own House Foundation for the Arts. Centering my musical study on her most successful piece—the vocal sextet Dolmen Music—I argue that the ensemble facilitated Monk’s shift toward music composition by allowing her to continue her practice of improvisational co-authorship, whereby Monk largely composed on bodies rather than on paper. I build on recent scholarship by Patrick Nickleson and Ryan Dohoney to theorize Monk’s labor-intensive creative process, one predicated on aurality, orality, and immediate collaboration.
Robert Fink (UCLA)
A Record of Minimalism: John Adams and Robert Hurwitz at Nonesuch
On January 15, 1986, Nonesuch Records released Harmonielehre, its debut recording of a work by John Adams, who had recently been signed by label president Robert Hurwitz to an exclusive recording contract that continues to this day. (As Nonesuch declares proudly on its website, “[since then] all of his works, both symphonic and theatrical, have appeared first on that label.”) Hurwitz’s commitment to Adams and his large-ensemble music has never waned, and Adams has thus been set apart from a previous minimalist and following post-minimalist generations of composers whose careers flourished, in significant part, during live concert tours and on independent labels (Obscure, Tomato).
The fact that Adams, unlike his peers, did not maintain a dedicated performance ensemble or perform himself, made Hurwitz the impresario a key figure. Hurwitz, a dedicated diarist and curator of contemporary music, kept full written records of business and artistic decisions made during the collaboration which are a goldmine of musicological and historiographic detail. Drawing on these unpublished reflections and personal interviews with Hurwitz himself, this presentation will survey key moments in the Adams-Hurwitz relationship at Nonesuch, focusing on the pivotal period between the 1999 release of the Earbox, a 10-CD retrospective that put Adams’s entire previous oeuvre onto Nonesuch, and the 2004 release of the 9-11 memorial On the Transmigration of Souls. This millennial half-decade includes one of the highest-risk recording projects Nonesuch attempted with Adams, his Nativity oratorio, El Niño, whose complex logistics and resulting aesthetic dilemmas will be explored with 20-20 hindsight.
David Garner (University of South Carolina)
AEIOU: A Listening and Analysis Model
Teaching a course in minimalist and post-minimalist in higher education has proven to be difficult, in my experience. There is a dearth of scholarly historical and analytical writing and limited access to scores, not to mention the sideways glances from colleagues. What we do have access to is a vast catalogue of recordings, which has led me to an approach to analysis rooted almost entirely in listening. It seems obvious, but this approach is radical in the normally score-centric context of music schools.
For every piece we study, the students are asked to write a short paper, organizing their writing around the five prompts in the IMPEA model. I is for Influence. What are the primary influences on this composer? In what historical context was the piece written? M is for Material. What is the instrumentation of the piece? What is the harmonic and rhythmic language used? P is for Process. How does the music unfold? E is for Experience. What is the experience of listening to the work like for you? What emotions or images did the piece evoke? A is for Argument. What political or philosophical message is this piece trying to convey? Why was this piece created?
As I will demonstrate, this model fosters deep engagement through new modes of learning, research methods, critical listening skills, advanced ear training, writing skills, imagination, and creativity. I will present analyses of 3-4 minimalist works, and conclude with sharing anonymous excerpts from my students’ IMPEA papers.
Richard Glover (University of Wolverhampton)
Lecture-Recital: Ensemble Interaction and Game Procedures in Gradual Process Music
The paper will explore how the author’s gradual process composition embeds game-playing mechanics within minimalist process environments to promote performer interaction. Players make continuous decisions, and the consequences of those decisions form part of the musical fabric and may lead to further choices later on. The contrasting use of iterative process as a vehicle for decision-making, and repetition for confirmation of consensus, is discussed within game-playing traditions, and comparisons to existing ensemble interaction methods are drawn.
The paper will consider recent pieces by the author such as Build-a-Chord Workshop and Blends, which utilise game-like decision-making frameworks. Ideas will be demonstrated through video documentation and a short live performance; these draw attention to how the lack of visual notation prompts players to use process and repetition as an interactive device, rather than as a purely aural phenomenon. This work will be situated within other contemporary minimalist performance practices based upon group decision-making by composer such as James Saunders and Stephen Chase, and further uses of game mechanics within ensemble performance are also explored for future avenues of research. The manner in which processes are communicated to an audience in these pieces are also examined, through the use of narrators and facilitators; examples within the minimalist repertoire from Tom Johnson and Alvin Lucier will be used to situate more recent approaches to supporting audience understanding.
Andrew Granade (University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory)
The Koyaanisqatsi Effect: The Memetic Impact of Philip Glass’s Score on Modern Documentary Filmmaking
When Koyaanisqatsi premiered on April 28, 1982, few could imagine the film’s ultimate effect: by 2000, it was preserved in the US Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, and it had spawned countless imitators from Samsara to Bodysong to Rasa Yatra. Despite the influence of Koyaanisqatsi’s slow-motion visuals, Philip Glass’s hypnotic score has perhaps had the most wide-reaching impact of any of the film’s aspects, particularly on the sound of modern documentary film. Glass’s trademark time-shifting arpeggios have become so imitated in and emblematic to the sound of modern documentary films that they have become a musical meme.
Richard Dawkins famously defined a meme as “a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation” because, like a biological gene, memes replicated themselves in a community through a process of imitation. Building off Steven Jan’s work on musical memetics and Pwyll ap Siôn’s work tracing the use of pre-existing minimalist music in new filmic contexts, this presentation will demonstrate how Glass’s style of additive procedures has taken on the qualities of a meme through its use in newly-composed music for socially-aware documentary. It will begin by defining the memetic qualities of Glass’s score for Koyaanisqatsi before tracing the meme’s development through the 1990s with Winged Migration, the 2000s with An Inconvenient Truth, and the 2010s with The Jinx. By uncovering the evolution of the Koyaanisqatsi meme, this presentation will demonstrate that by following the transmission (and mutation) of minimalist memes through films since the 1970s, we can identify the key elements that define the minimalist style in film music.
Adam Harper (City, University of London)
‘The Grid’ (by DaG Punk, not Philip Glass): Minimalism and Retrofuturist Film and Television Soundtracks
Has minimalism become ‘retro’? This paper will argue that for all its initial association with formalism, the minimalism of the 1960s-1970s—especially when realized on synthesizers—has recently become a musical topic operating in film and television, evoking particular historical meanings and along with them, particular affective and ideological connotations. Not only is the use of minimalist music of this era intended, to varying extents, to be read as archaic, but that very archaism, ironically enough, also represents a now-outdated vision of the future, or what is often called a ‘retrofuturistic’ aesthetic.
I will examine the use of minimalism in the soundtracks to Tron Legacy (by Daft Punk, featuring a track called ‘The Grid’), Beyond the Black Rainbow, Stranger Things, Good Time and Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, tracing the various ways in which minimalism gains and conveys meaning in each case, as well as these soundtracks’ relationship with 1960s-1980s minimalist soundtracks such as Koyaanisqatsi (by Philip Glass, also featuring a track called ‘The Grid’) and Risky Business (by Tangerine Dream and notoriously imitating Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, re-used in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), and the growth of equivalent musical genres such as synthwave and hypnagogic pop outside of film and television but drawing influence from them. I will conclude by asking where these retrofuturist connotations leave both the history and ongoing practice and potential of minimalist music.
Ryan Hepburn (Newcastle University)
‘Simply sitting’: Interpretations of Shmira in Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11
Towards the end of Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11, two episodes of Hebraic cantillation emerge. Both are Reich’s evocation of the vigils that were kept by women from Stern College over body parts following 9/11. While these episodes represent a stunning departure from the tone of the rest of the work, they also raise profound questions about larger issues around New York-based responses to the attacks, to trauma more broadly, to the Jewish perception of 9/11, and to Reich’s identity as an orthodox Jew.
This paper isolates these episodes and argues that Reich’s inclusion of Hebraic cantillation functions much more subtly than just as an acknowledgement of something offered by members of the Jewish community to victims of the attacks, and that Reich subsequently read about in a newspaper. The two episodes are interpreted in a variety of ways: as Reich’s expression of Jewish sorrow - one that positions 9/11 as an attack against the high-profile Jewish community in TriBeCa; as expressions of Jewish lamentation and solidarity; as creative realisations of Reich’s own post-traumatic “working-through”; and – when read against the recorded words spoken by David Lang at the very end of the piece – as explicit extensions of the social commentary embodied by Different Trains – namely, as warnings concerning Jewish safety and survival.
Christopher Hobbs (Coventry University)
Object or Process: An investigation of text-based musical composition
Minimalism in text-based music is a subject which has dealt with relatively sparsely. In 1960 La Monte Young began his series of text pieces called simply Composition 1960#. In 1966 I composed One Note 1966. This was originally fully notated, but in 1967, when I began studies with Cornelius Cardew at the Royal Academy of Music, I rewrote it as a text piece because it seemed open to more possibilities in performance in that form. In the same year Tom Johnson published Private Music, a series of piano pieces “to be read, played and heard by individuals, in private.”
Over the next two or three years a variety of composers and groups – among them Cardew, Christian Wolff, Gavin Bryars, Hugh Shrapnel, Karlheinz Stockhausen and the Scratch Orchestra – had recourse to this method of disseminating their musical thoughts. In 1972 the Experimental Music Catalogue published a Verbal Anthology of thirty-three pieces. Not all of these many works could be described as strictly minimal – some were instructions of lesser or greater determination, some were installations, some came closer to prose poetry. In 2017, commissioned by CoMA East Midlands for a work for group performance, I returned to text-based music for the first time in nearly forty years. This paper will investigate the methods employed by composers and music-makers in making verbal pieces and the variety of uses to which these have been put. The paper will conclude by showing part of the film of the first performance of my Units for CoMA.
James Kopf (Pennsylvania State University)
Desert Plants and Dronoclasm: On the Difficulty of Describing the Experience of Minimalist Music
How can one really communicate the experience of minimalist music? Especially when one is considering works of drone, such as the ‘topological’ music in La Monte Young’s Dream House, one is confronted by its sheer bareness. In the case of the Dream House, one might say that there are 5 tones being played simultaneously from a custom Rayna synthesizer. But that is a description of the process, not of the experience. Some minimalist music is described as calming, as in the case of much New Age music, some, painful, such as the early works of Young. These terms strike me as insufficiently vague, however, and, in themselves, these relatively simple reactions belie the depth of feeling that one experiences (or doesn’t!) when experiencing minimalist music.
No wonder, then, that writings on the subject often reach for odd metaphors and neologisms. Walter Zimmerman’s Desert Plants is one such example. The obfuscatory works on display in 2017’s Sustain//Decay: A Philosophical Investigation of Drone Music and Mysticism (from which “dronoclasm” originates) are another. This paper seeks to think through the difficulty in describing minimalist music. To do so, its structure is bipartite. The first section will analyze some of the past works in order to think more deeply on their attempts to grapple with the seeming insufficiency of quotidian language in writing about minimalism. The second will adopt a Derridean perspective to consider possible linguistic methodologies that may allow us to approach minimalism without eliding its apparently mysterious power.
Cecilia Livingston (King’s College London)
‘Site’-specific opera: Invisible Cities and postminimal opera in the age of YouTube
In Christopher Cerrone’s immersive, site-specific Invisible Cities – an ‘opera for headphones’
(sponsored by Sennheiser) – singers and dancers moved through the pedestrian traffic of LA’s Union Station, mingling with their audiences, who heard the ensemble mixed live in their wireless headphones. Finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, Invisible Cities has continuing life as an immersive video experience on its YouTube-embedded digital ‘site’, invisiblecitiesopera.com While the opera has received some limited academic attention (e.g. Eidsheim’s Sensing Sound, see Livingston 2016), it deserves more: Cerrone’s opera provides a convenient locus amoenus in which to consider the challenges and new approaches of contemporary opera in this century. I’ll argue that Invisible Cities draws on the rich history of American minimalism in music for theatre to create complex experiences of physical space (even when experienced as film) and elongated time that realize in performance the themes of the Italo Calvino story Cerrone adapted. I’ll parse three scenes, (including the opera’s closing sequence in which Cerrone’s ‘postminimal’ use of musical repetition is
so evocative of Satyagraha) and argue that the opera’s careful design for both live and video experiences has allowed it independent strength as both, in ways the filming of ‘traditional’ opera has struggled to find. Drawing on the work of Novak, Ashby, Pymm, Morris, Cooke, Auslander, Duncan, and Prock, I’ll suggest that, through Invisible Cities, ‘minimalist opera’ in the traditions of Glass and Adams has found an important inheritor in Cerrone, and that contemporary opera has found a landmark work which neatly counters the handwringing over opera in the digital age, and the endless narrative of opera’s imminent demise.
Stacey Low (MCM, University of Melbourne)
Minimalism and Indeterminacy: an examination of the van Veen recordings of Canto Ostinato
Canto Ostinato for keyboard instruments (1976-1979) is the most famous work of Dutch composer Simeon ten Holt (1923-2012). The work contains a number of internal tension points, most markedly through combining minimalist harmonic language and the principle of repetition with indeterminacy: performers decide on instrumentation, dynamics, articulation and the number of repeats of (most of) the work’s 106 sections. Canto is also the first of several works by ten Holt focussing on social interaction between the performers.
More importantly, ten Holt states that repetition in this work is used to “create a situation in which the musical object affirms its independence […] Time becomes the space in which the musical object floats.” This paper will examine the effect of the social interaction between Canto’s most prolific advocates, piano duo Sandra and Jeroen van Veen, on the repetition in their various recordings. The minimalist harmonic language, as well as the interplay between repetition and indeterminacy, will also be discussed briefly. This paper answers to the lack of scholarly literature on both the composition and the composer, providing a starting point for studying the performance practice of Canto.
Lorenzo Montefinese (Independent Scholar)
Black Minimalism: Reframing Minimalism in Popular and Electronic Dance Music, Between Hyperlocalization and Transnational Networks
Musical minimalism emerged during the 1960s and has been thereafter historiographically canonized as the avantgarde movement whose main characters are composers such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass (Mertens 1983). However, minimalism as a conceptual approach and a concrete way of music-making is rooted in non-Western cultures (McClary 2004). This paper aims at tracing a parallel history of minimalism, highlighting its developments within popular black music and especially electronic dance music genres stemming from afrodiasporic communities in western countries (Attimonelli 2008, Sullivan 2013). It is argued that electronic dance music, since its beginnings, has been a thorough, everchanging and sometimes radical exploration of the sonic possibilities of minimalism (Reynolds 2012), merging the aesthetic and formal premises of 60s minimalism with an emphasis on bodily, collective – and affective – fruition (Henriques 2011).
Black minimalism, as proved by genres like house, techno, jungle, dubstep or footwork, is characterized by a strong sociocultural situatedness and self-consciousness. Outlining the path and highlighting significant cases of black minimalism within electronic dance music, my aim is to show how we can conceive of it as a global, transnational (D’Errico 2015) musical practice, bounded to afrodiasporic heritage, and closely interwoven with technology, acoustic ecology, sonic fiction and afrofuturism (Eshun 1998). To address contemporary issues, I will subsequently frame today’s main tendencies in minimalism within electronic dance music, namely its interplay with ‘maximalism’ (Reynolds 2011) and its dialectic between hyperlocalization and global fluxes of cultural exchanges, as shown by the emergence of recent genres, artists and record labels.
Jelena Novak (CESEM, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa)
Coloratura through Minimalist Grid: Institutional Theory of Art and Un’Opera Italiana by Tom Johnson
The operatic opus of composer and musical writer Tom Johnson shows both his affection towards opera repertoire and his critical approach towards its conventions, including text about music. Aside from the worldwide fame of The Four Note Opera (1972) and Riemannoper (1988) one opera exists in Johnson’s operatic cuisine that was never performed: Un’Opera Italiana (1991-2006).
Composed for ten singers, chorus, harpsichordist, panel of experts (delivering the recitative) and orchestra this piece uses the Italian opera tradition to deconstruct the opera world on a typically repetitive minimalist grid. Analyzing a beautifully designed score that itself is kind of ready-made artwork, I will discuss how Un’Opera Italiana unfolds in three ‘regimes’ simultaneously: on the level of the operatic music, on the level of musicological research focused on Italian opera tradition and on the level of the reinvention of the opera world interrogating it by activating the institutional theory of art.
Jerry Pergolesi (University of Toronto)
My Favorite Year: Producing David Lang’s Elevated for the Stage
In 2005, New York composer David Lang released a CD/DVD compilation entitled Elevated. In what Lang explains as a reversal of roles where a composer acquiesces to fulfil the needs of a director, Lang submitted works to film and video artists, inviting them to create visual interpretations of his music. The resulting works: Wed, paired the short film Treat Bottle by William Wegman; How To Pray with film by Bill Morrison; and Men with the film Elevated by Matt Mullican, comprise a collection of works that transform Lang’s music to a multi-dimensional and multi-sensory experience. My immediate reaction upon listening and viewing Elevated was that this collection of music, film and video should be presented on stage before live audiences.
In October 2007, Contact premiered a staged version of Elevated at the Music Gallery in Toronto as part of the Soundplay festival of film and music, with an additional piece: Heroin with video by Doug Aitken. Elevated would go on to be presented at various venues in following years, culminating in a presentation by the Museum of Modern Art’s film department. Framed in anecdotal theory, this paper examines the ontology of the staged production in the context of minimalist and post-minimalist music with a specific focus the collection of pieces that compromise what is the staged version of Elevated. I will examine the dynamics of creating a production for stage through a curatorial lens with a view to remounting and re-visioning the production, and what it can mean in our current reality.
Mark Perry (Oklahoma State University)
The Parallel Histories of Minimalism and Detroit Techno
Commencing from similar musical principles, minimalism in art music and electronic dance music developed through parallel and independent innovations and practices. Sharing much in common, in both approaches, works often contain extreme repetition, reveal the audible process through gradual change, and frequently employ additive and subtractive processes in composition.
Explaining how Detroit techno developed, an early originator of the genre Derrick May stated that ‘‘the music is just like Detroit, a complete mistake… It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.’’ Arising from the 1970s music of Kraftwerk and the genre of electro of the early 1980s, creators of Detroit techno developed an identifiably distinct dance music genre—followed by a second wave of Detroit techno and the subgenre known as minimal techno.
In my examination, I trace the history of Detroit techno and its derivatives, analyzing representative tracks, applying analysis developed by EDM and popular music scholars, with the goal of providing insight to the subtle differences and similarities between EDM genres such as Detroit techno and minimal techno, highlighting the intersections of minimalism in art music with electronic dance music—recognizing that both occurred through parallel and independent musical development.
Keith Potter (Goldsmiths, University of London)
The Role of Repetition in Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato
This paper will examine the role of repetition in the Dutch composer, Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato (1976-79). Though conventionally termed minimalist, any unfolding of Canto Ostinato may be argued to operate along lines rather different from those to be found in the outputs of, say, Terry Riley, Steve Reich or Philip Glass; and the approaches to the listening experience that ten Holt’s music seems to encourage are, I suggest, of especial interest.
This paper will investigate just a few of the issues that listening to Canto Ostinato raises, with reference to a 20-minute segment of the work selected from a consecutive sequence among its multiple sections. Concerns to be touched on will include how repetition has been handled by the composer, and is being handled (in the recording under review) by the performers; and, especially, how the consequent unravelling of musical material – heightened (or otherwise) by the intensified scrutiny arising from such extended repetition – affects moment-to-moment, as well as overall, listening in “real time”.
The paper will follow an unusual format in combining commentary with a simultaneous rendition of a recording of the music being discussed. In this manner, it is hoped to address, in particular, how relevant listening issues might be directly experienced by the audience for my paper, as both text and music unfold in tandem.
John Pymm (University for the Creative Arts)
The truth shall set you free: what sort of rain did Brother Walter really prophesy?
Steve Reich’s recording of Brother Walter in Union Square, San Francisco in 1964 provided the composer with the sound sources for his first major composition, It’s Gonna Rain. The story of this encounter has acquired a mystical status through its (many) retellings by the composer, which have in Reich’s memory distilled the composition of the piece to a handful of bare essentials.
These are: the emphasising of otherness – both race and religion – in the invitation to Reich to come and hear Walter preaching; the description of the preaching itself, perceived by Reich as hovering between speaking and singing; his message, taken by the composer as an analogue for impending nuclear catastrophe, and the unexpected entrance of the star of the show, the anonymous pigeon who obligingly provides a percussive – if irregular – pulse for the subsequent phase piece based on sound recordings made of Walter – in Union Square.
Analysis of the source tape for It’s Gonna Rain in the Paul Sacher Stiftung permits Walter to be heard in his own words, many of them quotations (some half-remembered) from the King James translation of 1611. These – together with the words of others that Reich also recorded – offer a fresh perspective in which Walter’s first scriptural reference – ‘you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8.34) – becomes an imperative for understanding what the preacher is actually saying.
Tarso Ramos (University of Brasilia)
Lecture-Recital: Minimalist Aspects in Giberto Mendes’ Work and in My Own Music
"I make unorthodox combinations, absolutely free, with no ceremony, between music data from all times, cultures and levels. The old anthropophagism, remarkably brazilian!" (MENDES, 2008, p. 154). This declaration of the composer Gilberto Mendes (1992 - 2016) translate, in general, the way to do brazilian music. His music is a confluence of genders, where, between all this combinations also has the minimalism influence.
As an unavoidable representant of the New World, I also recognize in my way of thinking music the "old anthropophagism", and I assume influences of the minimalist composers, both European and North American, like: Michael Nyman, Arvo Part, Philip Glass and John Adams, but I go through the Brazilian way, on my own path. From the quote of Mendes referred above, I dialog the Anthropophagic Manifest published by Oswald de Andrade in 1928, and with the New Music Manifest signed by Mendes in 1962, developing this lecture-recital, in which I will present the piece Viva Villa! (1987), of Gilberto Mendes, and my own piece Variações Fotográficas (2012), on the piano.
Anders Reuter (University of Copenhagen)
Pop as Minimalism: How Loops Affect Mediation, Materiality and Expressivity in Contemporary Pop Music
Contemporary pop music changed fundamentally in the last couple of decades. Hip-hop and EDM (electronic dance music) are dominating the charts and their production techniques have changed pop composition into something new and almost purely digital. However, little research has been done into what the resent assimilation of the two electronic genres and pop has meant aesthetically. This paper will seek to do so by heuristically as well as critically investigating this new kind of pop music as minimalism.
First, it will differentiate between different kinds of loops aesthetics in contemporary pop music and how the congruence or juxtaposition of loop types create and challenge notions of tension and teleologies. Second, based on the different loop types, it will discuss how they create often contrasting, but enhanced, experiences of mediation. Third, it will investigate how this affects the interpretation of foreground/background and challenges musicological conceptions of spatiality in recorded music. Instead, there seems to be an emphasis on the experience of the sounds’ materiality. Last, the paper will discuss how mediation and materiality contrast and complement each other in a music that perhaps instead can be heard as an acousmatic play with subjectivity, narrativity and expressivity. Musical examples will be used throughout the paper.
Charis Richardson (Bangor University)
Scoring Suburbia; The uses and influences of Minimalist Techniques within Thomas Newman’s Score for American Beauty (1999)
The use of musical techniques associated with the minimalist style within film soundtracks seemed to peak particularly during the last decade of the twentieth century, leading into the first decade of the twenty-first. Of interest in this respect has not necessarily been its use by established minimalists (such as Philip Glass and Michael Nyman) but rather its adoption by film composers not normally associated with this style in the first place. A trend developed, which arguably reached its apex by the end of this century’s first decade.
To some, the film American Beauty (1999) provided the main catalyst for introducing minimalist elements to more mainstream film contexts. Directed by Sam Mendes, Thomas Newman’s soundtrack was suffused with floating, static harmonies, repetitive motives, melodies avoiding tonal resolution and sparse orchestration. The film’s popularity and iconic status was partly founded on the success of Newman’s haunting soundtrack.
But did American Beauty really pave the way for minimalist techniques to become the norm in mainstream cinema, or was it the genre that readily lent itself to this musical style? American Beauty was not the first film to embrace the idea of the perfect suburban lifestyle in middle America not being all it was cracked up to be, nor was it the last. It is a topic that has fascinated film producers and lends itself well to film narratives. How does the minimalist style support this, and what influence has this then had on other films with a similar theme?
The paper will attempt to address this question by looking at the match between this particular genre and the minimalist style, partly drawing on the work of Evans (2015) and Eaton (2008). Finally, my paper will also explore the reasons as to why the minimalist trend dipped after around 2010. Have these techniques now become cliché when used in film and has this been the cause of their decline? Answering these questions will aid further understanding of the minimalist trend in film music during the past three decades.
John Richardson (University of Turku) and Anna-Elena Pääkkölä (University of Turku)
Looping, extended vocal techniques, and post(pop)minimalism in recent film soundtracks
In our presentation we will discuss recent film soundtracks that employ techniques familiar from minimalist and postminimalist music, but which also draw on stylistic elements from indie music and avant-garde tendencies in popular music. Our main focus will be the films Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve, music by Jóhann Jóhannsson, 2016) and Swiss Army Man (dir. Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, music by Andy Hull & Robert McDowell, 2016). We will pay particular attention to the use of looping and sampling technology in the two films and of experimental and extended vocal techniques, bringing to mind the work of Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk, Lauri Anderson, Robert Ashley and others.
The influence of minimalism is apparent when it comes to configurations of time, where sequential or linear time is replaced by cyclical and non-linear formations that imply both corporeality and technology. It is this combination of the organic and non-organic and the elision of human agency in the compositional process which brings about an uncanny impression of presence in absence, and communicates the films’ dominant themes, of extreme subjective/interior experience, non-linguistic encounters with the unknown/alien, temporal elision, and corporeal involvement. Theoretically we draw on a wide range of perspectives, including ecological theory, writing on multimodality and the senses, and phenomenology.
Jedd Schneider (University of Missouri – Kansas City)
Minimalist Process as Metaphysical Praxis in the Music of Magma
Since its inception in 1969, the French progressive rock band Magma has been the musical manifestation of the single-minded artistic vision of its drummer and founder, Christian Vander. Although admittedly influenced by the stylings of John Coltrane, generally, and drummer Elvin Jones, specifically, Vander’s compositions for Magma borrow from disparate musical genres using a constructed language and rock instrumentation to realize a quasi-programmatic mythology of humanity’s spiritual and ecological future where refugees flee Earth to settle on the imagined planet Kobaïa. But belying any superficial narrative or customary prog rock tropes is Magma’s insistence on creating complex, extended ecstatic experiences within their long-form compositions.
To express the abandonment of goal, direction, and time amidst these sustained, ritualistic, trance-like periods in their pre-1976 and post-2004 oeuvre, Vander and company frequently deploy minimalist processes: self-similar rhythmic and melodic material; limited pitch and harmonic content; groove and/or interlocking pulses; patterns and phasing; and vertical time structures. Minimalist processes, then, are the means by which Magma seeks to elevate its music to transcend the temporal and evoke the eternal. Relevant to this conference’s theme of “Minimalism Extended,” Magma’s imposition of minimalist processes in a progressive rock context presages later post-minimalist forms drawn from popular music, especially the “Totalist” idiom of the late-1980s and early-1990s.
Stephanie Schroedter (Heidelberg University)
Choreographing Minimal Music
In my presentation I would like to discuss choreographic interpretations of minimal music. At the centre of my analysis are choreographies by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to music by Steve Reich, with which she developed essential characteristics of her choreographic process. In these choreographies she transfers principles of Reich’s compositions to dance, while preserving the inherent tension between the two art forms. In my paper I will investigate this process and its significance.
In her Solo Violin Phase (1981) to the composition of the same title by Steve Reich (1967) she draws with her strides, twists, jumps and leg swings a large circle in a sandy ground composed of highly detailed patterns. The movement motifs are unmistakably characterised by repetitions, which lead to new motifs through minimal changes. Likewise, accumulations of the motivic material are shown; moreover, motifs are exchanged (substitutions) and accelerated (accelerations).
Nonetheless, Reich’s music and De Keersmaeker's choreography and their respective phases are not congruent with each other, just as the four violins of the composition subtly alternate between unison playing and phase shiftings. De Keersmaeker transfers even this compositional principle to her choreography, so that music and dance ultimately compete with each other more than they converge/cooperate. De Keersmaeker’s artistic approach is indicative of the fundamental tension between these two art forms that results from their unique materiality and mediality. A true convergence of music and dance is not possible; such an impression is a synthesis of our brain, as will be demonstrated by further examples of analysis and their music-theoretical contextualization.
Simon Strange (Bath Spa University)
How the minimalist elements of the avant-garde were subsumed into the development of post-punk and new wave bands, of the late 1970s
The post-punk and new wave popular music scene exploded across Germany, US and UK from the mid 1970s, as a reaction to the pompous overtones of rock music and the limitations of punk. Talking Heads, David Byrne (2013), describes how the avant-garde’s minimalist and conceptual elements infected bands within these genres, while John Cage directly influenced popular musicians across this scene and echoed what New York composer Christian Wolff saw as evidence of Cage’s ‘growing belief in a philosophy of non-involvement and purging the idiosyncrasies of one’s own personality’ (Nyman, 1999, p.60). Leading on from Cage, this research includes original interviews with Brian Eno, Gavin Bryars, Stephen Mallinder and Roy Ascott about the influence of the avant-garde with art schools, and how their minimalist elements affected the musical development of musicians within post punk and the new wave.
Roxy Music instilled the influences of the avant-garde and experimental music alongside the pop sensibilities of Smokey Robinson and Richard Hamilton’s pop art teachings. This mixed in with interests in Marcel Duchamp, The Velvet Underground, Cage and Gene Kelly, outlined their shared ‘interest in the intersection between style and experimentation’ (Bracewell cited in Albiez and Pattie, 2016, p.18). The band are key in defining how the minimalist avant-garde could intersect with popular music to help develop its ‘colour,’ and lead on to the development of minimalist elements within the music of post punk and new wave bands, by the end of the 1970s.
Leah Weinberg (University of Denver)
Sampling Minimalism in the Scores of Ex Machina and Annihilation
Since encountering the science fiction (SF) writer-director Alex Garland on the set of Dredd (2012), English composers Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow have collaborated with him on both his A.I. thriller Ex Machina (2014) and alien encounter drama Annihilation (2018). While promoting Annihilation, the composers regularly pointed out the impact of experimental film scores on their attraction to the medium. Salisbury cited minimalism as a key influence, telling Pop Matters, “I didn’t know who Steve Reich was when I was growing up, but then I saw Risky Business and listened to Tangerine Dream and thought, ‘this is great’ and then read that that was related to Steve Reich and then you’re off.”
As the case studies in Unheard Minimalisms (Eaton, 2008) suggest, minimalism has become a style topic associated with themes typical of SF, including technology, the alien, cultural alterity, and dystopia. In this presentation, I focus on an unusual deployment of this style topic in Ex Machina and Annihilation, one that is indicative of a broader scoring trend toward sampling in the digital era. Namely, both soundtracks are anchored in samples of pre-existing works by CUTS (“Bunsen Burner”) and Moderat (“The Mark (Interlude)”), works whose static harmonies, short, repeating melodic motifs, and timbral development facilitated their integration into otherwise original ambient scores. Supporting textual analysis with critical reception and composer commentary, I explore how Salisbury and Barrow exploited these samples to amplify the core concerns of Ex Machina and Annihilation: gendering technology and the impulse toward self-destruction, respectively.
Richard Witts (Edge Hill University) & Pwyll ap Siôn (Bangor University)
Singing from the same hymn sheet? A reconsideration of John Cale and Terry Riley’s Church of Anthrax
A rock-minimalist misalliance or masterpiece? John Cale and Terry Riley’s Church of Anthrax has largely divided opinion since its release on Columbia Records in early 1971.
Writing in the New Statesman, Michael Nyman described it as ‘[a] misalliance … it’s sad to think that the pop world at large may be introduced to Riley’s music through this near-disaster.’ However, more recent reflections, including Roger Trenwith’s review (posted in September 2014) have presented the album in more positive terms. Trenwith refers to the ‘short but influential album’ as ‘seminal’, adding that ‘the feeling that something new was being forged here is evident from the off, and the influence of the various facets of what was then groundbreaking (sic) minimalism being applied to nominally “rock” idioms on Church of Anthrax … can still be felt today.’
Nyman’s reservations relate to what he identifies as the ‘misalliance’ between Riley’s use of minimalist techniques and Cale’s more rock-oriented approach. He points out that ‘[it] was always on the books that the more superficial aspects of Riley’s style would be turned into cosy clichés and spun directly into the pop orbit. And now it has happened …’
However, is there more to Church of Anthrax than the album has been given credit for? The title track itself, with its chaotic concatenation of stylistic elements, does perhaps provide grist to Nyman’s mill. Yet there are other moments, such as the dreamlike ‘The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles’ (a duet between Cale on piano and Riley on soprano saxophone), where minimalism and rock lie in a state of harmonious coexistence.
This paper will reconsider Church of Anthrax by dividing the discussion into two parts. In Part 1, Richard Witts will examine the album from the rock-based perspective of Cale’s contribution. In Part 2, Pwyll ap Siôn will consider it from Riley’s more minimalist-based perspective. Neither will have shared their own approaches to the album with the other presenter beforehand, ensuring that – to paraphrase Cage (and perhaps in line with Cale and Riley’s approach) – this paper is an act of collaborative research for which the outcome is unknown.