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Thread: Holy / spiritual minimalism - ideas, suggestions

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    Junior Member Daimonion's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Holy / spiritual minimalism - ideas, suggestions

    While exploring the music of Arvo Pärt I came across the reference to so called holy (spiritual) minimalism. I do like the very "theory" behind it, i.e. the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation. It also fits with my earlier sympathy for medieval and renaissance religious music. I have already tried some music by Pärt, Górecki or Tavener and I will surely investigate it in a bit more depth.

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation (I don't want to use the term "spiritual development" because I suspect that most of you would understand it more narrowly than I do)? Do you have any music or composers to recommend?

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    Senior Member dogen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daimonion View Post
    While exploring the music of Arvo Pärt I came across the reference to so called holy (spiritual) minimalism. I do like the very "theory" behind it, i.e. the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation. It also fits with my earlier sympathy for medieval and renaissance religious music. I have already tried some music by Pärt, Górecki or Tavener and I will surely investigate it in a bit more depth.

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation (I don't want to use the term "spiritual development" because I suspect that most of you would understand it more narrowly than I do)? Do you have any music or composers to recommend?
    I've only just been introduced to the music of Jonathan Harvey. He was inspired by Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, it appears.
    this just as this

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    Do you have any music or composers to recommend?
    Joep Franssens - Harmony of the Spheres, Schnittke - Choir Concerto
    but personally, I prefer Hildegard von Bingen for spiritual music

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation?
    There is no link between music and spirituality whatsoever. Yes, you can use music to induce some feelings or enter a trance-like state, but that is no spirituality. At least not any kind of mature spirituality.

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    I would not describe the music of Morton Feldman as holy (spiritual) minimalism. Indeed, it is a very different type of minimalism than that of Part and Gorecki. But for me, some of Feldman's works promote contemplation (or perhaps something closer to meditation) in a manner unlike that of any other composer. Try the Piano and String Quartet.

    https://www.amazon.com/Feldman-Piano.../dp/B000005J27

    There's a version on YouTube, although I see some posts that claim it may not be the full piece but the opening half repeated twice. But even half (of an 80 minute single work piece) will give you a sufficient basis for deciding if it works for you.
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jan-14-2018 at 19:49.

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    Junior Member Daimonion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    There is no link between music and spirituality whatsoever. Yes, you can use music to induce some feelings or enter a trance-like state, but that is no spirituality. At least not any kind of mature spirituality.
    What I had in mind was a kind of contemplative (not trance-like!) attitude (I'd not reduce it to feeling, but rather understand it as a kind of mental framework), which I believe to be quite crucial for spirituality (like in Simone Weil, e.g.)

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    like in Simone Weil, e.g.
    Unfortunately, I do not know her. I've been mostly influenced by Krishnamurti, Meister Eckhart, zen (Huang Po, Hui Hai), Ramana Maharishi, Rumi etc + my own spiritual explorations. A very good way to induce contemplative mind is fasting. But really, the only way is self-knowledge and music is not going to help with that.

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    My first thoughts turn to John Tavener & Arvo Pärt (but not so much to Gorecki's 'spiritualism'). These are favorite discs of mine:

    https://www.amazon.com/Arbos-Hilliar...+ensemble+part
    https://www.amazon.com/Part-Passio-A...+ensemble+part
    https://www.amazon.com/Miserere-Arvo...+ensemble+part
    https://www.amazon.com/Arvo-Part-Te-...1KC0KNC1H499XY
    https://www.amazon.com/Part-Profundi...l+hillier+part

    https://www.amazon.com/Tavener-Ikon-...allis+scholars
    https://www.amazon.com/Tavener-Etern...+ancient+music
    https://www.amazon.com/Tavener-Total...NWYRTRGREZE83B
    https://www.amazon.com/Fall-Resurrec...rection+hickox
    https://www.amazon.com/Tavener-Veil-...=tavener++sacd

    I don't know if he qualifies as a minimalist, but the late Einojuhani Rautavaara's preoccupation with "angels" should be mentioned too, such as his "Angel of Light" 7th Symphony, "Angel of Dusk" 2nd Symphony, and "Angels and Visitations". His String Quintet "Unknown Heavens" is a very interesting work too. Among his choral works, Rautavaara has composed "Evening hymn" (Ehtoohymni) and "Requiem in our Time".

    https://www.amazon.com/Rautavaara-Sy...utavaara+angel
    https://www.amazon.com/Violin-Concer...utavaara+angel
    https://www.amazon.com/Einojuhani-Ra...string+quintet

    There are other modern Scandinavian composers that have composed music for choirs too, such as Vagn Holmboe and Jonas Kokkonen, for instance, both of whom wrote some very fine choral music. Although I'm not very knowledgeable about other living Scandinavian choral composers. Maybe others can help with some suggestions? How about Veijo Tormis?

    https://www.amazon.com/Holmboe-Works...+holmboe+choir
    https://www.amazon.com/Holmboe-Conce...+holmboe+choir
    https://www.amazon.com/Vagn-Holmboe-...+holmboe+choir
    https://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Joona...kkonen+requiem

    I've also recently added discs of the choral music by Eriks Esenvald to my wish list, having read some favorable reviews (?):

    https://www.amazon.com/Esenvalds-Pas...Q0HZ1GY98GKVKP
    https://www.amazon.com/Eriks-Esenval...T7RKZGQ3AYBTX5

    In the UK, there are many contemporary composers that have been strongly influenced by the polyphony of Medieval and Renaissance church music. (Again, I'm not sure who qualifies as minimalist or not...) Groups like Trio Medieval, Orlando Consort, Red Byrd, New York Polyphony, Polyphony (under Stephen Layton), Singer Pur, Estonian Philharmonic chamber choir (led by Paul Hillier), and the Hilliard Ensemble have performed and recorded their works. Some of it is strikingly beautiful. The choral music of Ivan Moody (B. 1964) comes to mind, for example. Also, music by James MacMillan, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Smith, Michael Finnissy, Gabriel Jackson, Piers Hellawell, Tarik O'Regan, and others. & I believe Robin Holloway has composed some choral music as well.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000V8FX4O...m_ws_tlw_trk19
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00122RYFE/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk9
    https://www.amazon.com/Hilliard-Song...rds=ivan+moody (a good place to start.)
    https://www.amazon.com/Trio-Mediaeva...rds=ivan+moody
    https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDA66999
    https://www.amazon.com/Sciarrino-Moo...rds=ivan+moody
    https://www.amazon.com/Akathistos-Hy...rds=ivan+moody

    https://www.amazon.com/Scattered-Rhy...arik+o%27regan

    https://www.amazon.com/Jackson-Not-N...abriel+jackson

    https://www.amazon.com/James-MacMill...cmillan+choral
    https://www.amazon.com/MacMillan-Mas...macmillan+mass

    https://www.amazon.com/Sing-Thee-Now...york+polyphony
    https://www.amazon.com/Times-Turns-N...york+polyphony

    https://www.amazon.com/Aquilonis-Tri...drew+smith+new

    https://www.amazon.com/Gavin-Bryars-...s=gavin+bryars
    https://www.amazon.com/Worcester-Lad...=trio+medieval
    https://www.amazon.com/Bryars-Songbo...bryars+requiem
    https://www.amazon.com/After-Requiem...bryars+requiem

    https://www.amazon.com/All-Ends-Eart...robin+Holloway

    Outside the UK, there is a remarkable "Missa Lumen di Lumine" by Korean composer, Songgji Hong:

    https://www.amazon.com/Stella-Maris-...3W2SH5K2WR03A0

    In the US, I've read favorable reviews about the music of Morten Lauridsen, but I've yet to get to it myself:

    https://www.amazon.com/Lauridsen-Aet...en+lux+aeterna
    https://www.amazon.com/Shining-Night...SH9QB902A3CNH5

    There is also Jackson Hill and Joanne Metcalf, whose music is included on some of the CDs I linked above.

    Finally, I'm aware that Russian composer Alfred Schnittke wrote religious music, but unfortunately I don't know any of it (as I am only currently working my way through Schnittke's opus). There are other Russian composers working in this genre too, but again, apart from the Ukranian composer Oleh Harkavyy (whose music has been performed by Trio Medieval--see link above), I don't know any of these composers. ?

    Obviously, there's a lot to explore here.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jan-14-2018 at 22:17.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daimonion View Post
    While exploring the music of Arvo Pärt I came across the reference to so called holy (spiritual) minimalism. I do like the very "theory" behind it, i.e. the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation. It also fits with my earlier sympathy for medieval and renaissance religious music. I have already tried some music by Pärt, Górecki or Tavener and I will surely investigate it in a bit more depth.

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation (I don't want to use the term "spiritual development" because I suspect that most of you would understand it more narrowly than I do)? Do you have any music or composers to recommend?
    I'm Catholic and I'm a liturgical musician.

    For me, the Gregorian Hymns in the Church are a gold mine. As I have actually performed for liturgical functions where the music I was playing was the backdrop for the congregation to meditate, and when called to do that, I always go with the classics: Adore Te, Ave Maria, Ubi Caritas and those from the Gregorian Hymns. They predate meter, so its pretty awesome. If you do it right, it really sounds like its coming out of left field because everything we hear today has regular phrases. Do some Palestrina style counterpoint for your harmony and don't play chords and there you go...completely different sounding music from anything you are used to hearing, it is liturgically correct, and it is in the tradition of the Church so nobody gets in any trouble if Bishop hears about what you've been getting up to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    There is no link between music and spirituality whatsoever. Yes, you can use music to induce some feelings or enter a trance-like state, but that is no spirituality. At least not any kind of mature spirituality.
    just curious... do you actually play yourself? I ask because I've never personally known any working musician who had that opinion

    you do understand that in my life, I see God's hand in my becoming a classical performer. I believe that I commune with God and the Holy Spirit through playing music. No trances here, just real mature spiritualism. Why do you think I go play at hospitals pro bono?

    anyway...you are missing out on a very large aspect of musicianship. I'll pray for you
    Last edited by Nate Miller; Jan-15-2018 at 18:47.

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    Nate, I am not a musician and do not play any instrument. I can appreciate beautiful music but do not necessarily see it as having any connection to God. However, I have some mathematical education and I am tempted to see the hand of God in the laws of nature as expressed through mathematics. The Dirac Equation is more elegant and beautiful than any symphony written by men. If you are interested in my take on religion, read something by Krishnamurti
    https://tomdas.com/2015/09/24/redefi...n-finding-god/
    or use google, all his talks are freely available online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacck View Post
    Nate, I am not a musician and do not play any instrument. I can appreciate beautiful music but do not necessarily see it as having any connection to God. However, I have some mathematical education and I am tempted to see the hand of God in the laws of nature as expressed through mathematics. The Dirac Equation is more elegant and beautiful than any symphony written by men. If you are interested in my take on religion, read something by Krishnamurti
    https://tomdas.com/2015/09/24/redefi...n-finding-god/
    or use google, all his talks are freely available online.
    so that's actually pretty similar to how I see my work in music, and its relationship to God. Music is built on frequency, and so it is physical terms of wavelength and time. Stability and instability all depend on the resonance or dissonance of the frequencies involved. these are all inherent properties of the universe we live in.

    from what I understand of particle physics, Dick Feynman's equations for the sum of the histories sort of makes resonance an important element when it comes to the odds of encountering a particle. so if everything we see is energy in a state of resonance, then music is like a 2 dimensional abstraction of how the universe is constructed. Resonance and dissonance of wavelengths over time....sounds like we could be talking either physics or music

    ...and I do agree with you that there's nothing to all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo and music from the listening side

    playing is a whole other matter for me. For me it is a communion with my creator.

    BTW, music is rooted in physical phenomenon, and just like natural laws its structures and behaviors can be described mathematically. This is why I say that we probably share more common ground on this issue that it would seem at first glance

    thanks for answering back

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    While I don’t want to get into Religion in this thread (check out the Religious Groups for some views), I do think music is part of Nature / God. Not just in terms of harmonics, resonance and other technical aspects, but of spiritual as in things unseen. We can reflect on this beyond ourselves and what we can see when we hear music. For me Ravel’s Pavane is profoundly a spiritual experience for me.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Sorry,

    When I saw "Holy / spiritual minimalism" on the "Religious Music" page I thought it was a post by Adam West or Burt Ward.

    I love music. I want music. I need music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daimonion View Post
    While exploring the music of Arvo Pärt I came across the reference to so called holy (spiritual) minimalism. I do like the very "theory" behind it, i.e. the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation. It also fits with my earlier sympathy for medieval and renaissance religious music. I have already tried some music by Pärt, Górecki or Tavener and I will surely investigate it in a bit more depth.

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation (I don't want to use the term "spiritual development" because I suspect that most of you would understand it more narrowly than I do)? Do you have any music or composers to recommend?
    Sound/music/tones/mantras have been used for thousands of years to raise the vibrations and the consciousness of the individual. Some feel that music can carry a sense of the sacred and I'm one of them. Music has the power to lift one's spirit to the heights and deepen one's sense of inner peace and quietude, even if temporarily—sometimes at the same time. It can be helpful and supportive in one’s spiritual journey, not as something in and of itself but to facilitate certain states of being and a sense of the sacred that corresponds and is a counterpart to the sacred that exists within the person.

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Feb-13-2018 at 11:47.
    "Without silence... there is no music."... Emil Gilels

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daimonion View Post
    While exploring the music of Arvo Pärt I came across the reference to so called holy (spiritual) minimalism. I do like the very "theory" behind it, i.e. the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation. It also fits with my earlier sympathy for medieval and renaissance religious music. I have already tried some music by Pärt, Górecki or Tavener and I will surely investigate it in a bit more depth.

    What do you think about "holy minimalism" or the idea of music as a vehicle for contemplation (I don't want to use the term "spiritual development" because I suspect that most of you would understand it more narrowly than I do)? Do you have any music or composers to recommend?
    Love it and listen to Arvo Pärt often. Kanon Pokajanen is, I think, a very good example of his most contemplative/meditative works. A capella choir, austere, and lasts about an hour. It's been recorded three or four times, but the original ECM recording hasn't been bettered, imo.

    You mentioned the three most famous names for this style, but there are others (whose names escape me at the moment) - I will hunt up some of the younger composers who write in this style and try to post at a later time.

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