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Thread: What do you think of spiritual minimalism?

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    Senior Member Perotin's Avatar
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    Default What do you think of spiritual minimalism?

    I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. I have no doubts about profane minimalism like that of Glass, Nyman, Adams nad so on, I find it trivial, annoying and unworthy of being labeled as classical music. But with sacred minimalism, it seems different, at first it makes strong impression as if there was some spiritual depth in it. But after listening to it a couple of times it is also beginning to appear increasingly trivial and boring. This is especially true of Gorecki's 3rd symphony, with Pärt, I am reluctant to overlisten to his music for fear of getting fed up with it. So, what do you make of composers like Pärt, Gorecki, Korndorf, Knaifel?
    Last edited by Perotin; Aug-20-2013 at 17:52.
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    Senior Member GreenMamba's Avatar
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    "Holy minimalism" is the term I often hear. I like a good bit of it (mostly Arvo Part), and it does seem to hearken back to early religious music. I also like Glass, Adams, Reich, et. al., however. None of it is my favorite, but I like it.

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    Some of Reich's music is interesting for a few listens, although not enough to buy any, but the minimalism of Glass, Nyman, Pärt et al. leaves me feeling that it is "trivial... and unworthy of being labelled as classical music."

    I recently found a used copy of Rautavaara's Symphony 7, which could be called spiritual minimalism, I suppose, due to the angelic theme. Some of the movements have a bit more action, so I am willing to give it a chance, but in all honesty, I don't feel much different about it than about the aforementioned.
    Last edited by brotagonist; Aug-20-2013 at 19:45.

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    Since I am minimally spiritual, I'm uncertain.

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    Senior Member nightscape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perotin View Post
    ...This is especially true of Gorecki's 3rd symphony...
    First thing I thought of when I read the title of the thread.

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    I view it as a perfectly valid and reasonable stylistic choice. Maybe not my favorite but more enjoyable than some other musical styles. I don't find it particularly profound, but I'm not looking for profundity in music.

    In today's era of eclecticism, composers can freely draw from all prior western and non-western musical traditions, mix-and-match if they want, and/or attempt to create their own sound. As long as their works don't sound too much like a film soundtrack ( !!! the horror !!! ) we can respect their music.
    Last edited by Icarus; Aug-21-2013 at 07:50.

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    I see minimalism as only a tool composers can use. Some are adept at generating a spiritual soundscape with it and some don't tend to even think in that direction.

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    Senior Member quack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perotin View Post
    I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. I have no doubts about profane minimalism like that of Glass, Nyman, Adams nad so on, I find it trivial, annoying and unworthy of being labeled as classical music. But with sacred minimalism, it seems different, at first it makes strong impression as if there was some spiritual depth in it. But after listening to it a couple of times it is also beginning to appear increasingly trivial and boring. This is especially true of Gorecki's 3rd symphony, with Pärt, I am reluctant to overlisten to his music for fear of getting fed up with it. So, what do you make of composers like Pärt, Gorecki, Korndorf, Knaifel?
    It's interesting you outright find minimalism unworthy of being called classical but that you like holy minimalism. Are you simply applying different standards to the two, judging some minimalism on the extra-musical idea of it's supposed spirituality? I personally think there is potentially a spiritual aspect to any music and isn't confined to music labelled 'requiem' or similar. People are usually searching for something through music and that can be found through crunching guitars just as much as through appeals to a god.

    I like aspects of both kinds of minimalism, sometimes the repetativeness can be simply annoying othertimes it can be very lulling and relaxing, bringing to mind natural things like waves on the shore, then again it can also be very driving and dramatic. On the other hand a lot of the minimalism with an explicit spirituality may be immediately attractive with its simplicity but hardly takes any listening to reveal that it is a false depth, an attempt at profundity that really doesn't tell you anything. John Tavener had this effect on me, his works are very pretty and can appeal instantly, they almost as quickly lost that appeal and sounded like new-age music. Even Gorecki's 3rd has an obvious heart-string pulling quality about it and despite its beauty I tend to feel more manipulated by it every time I listen to it.

    The plainer, less affected minimalism of Reich, Adams and Glass, that doesn't attempt to impose a spiritual dimension holds an increasing interest. Not that these too don't hold a spiritual depth but they seem less likely to choke the music with sentiment.

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    Senior Member GiulioCesare's Avatar
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    I like the "secular" minimalism of Glass, Riley, Young and especially Nyman, Reich and Adams much better than the holy minimalism of Tavener or Pärt (who I despise as a composer).

    I do think minimalism is often unfairly labeled as unworthy and simplistic. It might be wishful thinking, but I think in 100, 200 years' time, minimalism will be as intimately linked with postmodernism as serialism is with modernism. In both cases, people will say "yes, there was other stuff going on, of course, but that is the main style of that time". And that is good, because goodness knows I can't stand most of the non-minimalistic postmodern music.

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    Senior Member ptr's Avatar
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    I find most SM harmless on the verge of tiresome (Someone mentioned Gorecki's Third, what a sleeping pill!), I find slightly more food for the ear in some Secular Minimalism, I'm amazed that a work like Glass' "Voices" have not yet been committed to a commercial recording!

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    Quote Originally Posted by quack View Post
    It's interesting you outright find minimalism unworthy of being called classical but that you like holy minimalism. Are you simply applying different standards to the two, judging some minimalism on the extra-musical idea of it's supposed spirituality? I personally think there is potentially a spiritual aspect to any music and isn't confined to music labelled 'requiem' or similar. People are usually searching for something through music and that can be found through crunching guitars just as much as through appeals to a god.
    Hear! Hear!

    Of course, it does depend entirely on who's crunching the guitars: Marr, no thanks, Greenwood, yes please! I get plenty spiritual from Radiohead.

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    Senior Member Jobis's Avatar
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    I find it a little dull and an easy way to avoid having to create something complex.

    I'd rather hear spiritual maximalism like Saint Francois on crack.

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    Senior Member Yardrax's Avatar
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    I think 'spiritual minimalism' is a misleading name. I haven't heard any obvious evidence of the use of the kind of additive processes, phasing or augmentation that were characteristic techniques of 60's minimalism. I also know for a fact that Arvo Part refers to his own work as 'Tintinnabular' music and makes no reference that I know of to the work of Reich or Glass.

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    Senior Member Geo Dude's Avatar
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    Spiritual minimalism? Given that I'm as irreligious as a stone I am quite fond of the idea.

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    Senior Member Selby's Avatar
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    I enjoy both minimalism and "spiritual" minimalism.

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