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by Seth Colter Walls

August 4, 2014

Radio: Minimalism for Workin'

by Seth Colter Walls  |  August 4, 2014

Minimalism was never as simple an aesthetic as its most ardent early critics alleged. Still, there's no use in denying the easily enjoyable verve of up-tempo pieces written by the likes of Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Adams and others -- nor the meditative qualities of the more down-tempo movements in the catalogs of Philip Glass and Tom Johnson. Not all of these composers have always described themselves purely as minimalists -- "post-minimalist" being a common distinguishing term used by critics -- though the wealth of repetition-based writing in modern American classical music is hard to ignore as a trend-line.

And, not for nothin', this is great study music, too. So in this radio station, we've put together prime compositions from a broad range of modern and contemporary composers who have been touched by the minimalist bug (at least a little). That means the "strumming music" of Charlemagne Palestine, the early computer music of Laurie Spiegel, the guitar writing of Eve Beglarian, plus a couple of (short) piano works by the granddaddy of the movement, La Monte Young. Paradoxically, much of this music can work well as a bliss-out soundtrack, too. So whether you need to get focused or just relax into a syncopated field of riff and drone, click play now!

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