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Thread: Help identifying a particular style of classical music

  1. #1
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    Feb 2007
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    Default Help identifying a particular style of classical music

    Hi all,

    I've recently been captivated by (what I believe to be) an amazing piece of (contemporary) classical music by John Adams - Harmonielehre. I've never really been a fan of classical music per se, but after hearing this it really blew my mind... I'm really keen to start listening to more, but I don't know where to start

    The style I'm really after is what I can only describe as a flowing melodic, semi-dramatic, romantic (?) tune (the best way I can describe it, seeing that I know NOTHING about classical music! ), which seems to involve the whole orchestra (as opposed to some pieces involving only violins, or pianos, that I've heard). The exact style I am looking for would be at the beginning of the third movement of Harmonielehre, up until 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

    If anyone could help in ANY way I would greatly appreciate it, as I really am keen to take up listening to more classical music!

    thanks a lot!


  2. #2
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Prague, CZ
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    I don't know the actual piece that you are talking about, but the composer John Adams is an exponent of Minimalism. I say exponent with emphasis because he is not a hard line minimalist, he mixes in a bunch of other things, some general and some personal.

    The term "Minimalism" with respect to music was coined in the late 1960's to describe the music of Terry Riley and a few others. But the true minimalists came to the fore in the early 1970's, Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.

    Pure, hard line minimalism takes a small musical idea (a cell) and repeats it or elements of it ad nauseum, with small changes every now and then.

    For examples of this, listen to Glass' Einstein on the Beach and Reich's Drumming. Both of these composers developed beyond their initial super-minimalist styles, but both retain to this day the main element of minimalism, which is the repetition of a basic cell. The difference is that the cells themselves have evolved into more complex and varied entities.

    If you liked the Adams piece, listen to his Short Ride on a Fast Machine, which qualifies as a very good example of a piece that wins over people who don't like classical music.

  3. #3
    some guy


    The first minimalist, to identify someone who was consciously starting a "school," would be LaMonte Young. He and Riley and Reich and Glass are all about the same age. The kind of minimalism Kurkikohtaus mentions is only one flavour, and that one not the first.

    Adams has made a name for himself as a minimalist. I don't think anyone who is a minimalist, or who listens to any of them, really considers him one, though.

    Phase music used to be the branch most commonly thought of as Minimalism, but with later Glass, repetition with small changes is what came to be thought of as Minimal. Adams kind of took off from there--sorta--in a way--so to speak...

    I wonder* if Michael Gordon or Michael Torke think of themselves as minimalists? They're two people Dewaaz might also find intriguing. (I found a reference to Torke as a "post-minimalist." Poor, sad over-used "post-" )

    *well, no. I don't.

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