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I never much cared for minimalism until I minimally did.

To get right to the point…

To get right to the point…

To get right to the point…

I never much cared for the style of music


called minimalism 


Until I almost [ALMOST aLmOsT] did[id.]

Episode #21 Transcription

One of the things that I realized that I like to do and I forget that I liked to do this, is to do my take on a particular style of music genre that has had a name for a long time. One of those genres, and the one I’m going to briefly explore today, minimally explore today, is minimalism. So this is my minimal take on minimalism, improvised, of course.


That probably does not qualify, fit the criteria of pure minimalism. I’m thinking of the founding fathers of minimalism like Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, and the other guy…doesn’t matter. Anyway, as a youngster, that is somebody in the years of musical development that were particularly important to me becoming who I am as a musician, as an artist, which is like between 14 and 20, the artists that you will be is kind of molded by the music that you are drawn to and how you react to it.

The music I was drawn to during those formative years of my development was very briefly these: rhythm and blues, Stevie wonder, Earth wind and fire, jazz, the whole history of it. Classical, what’s called classical music, particularly Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms. These were in my formative years, the musical genres that formed the basis of what I would do for the rest of my life. Minimalism certainly was not one of those. In fact, I had a kind of violent reaction to minimalism when I first heard it. A friend of mine played Me Einstein on the Beach by Phillip Glass or some other Phillip Glass and some Steve Reich, and I had this reaction to it because it felt entirely pretentious.


People doing things like [MUSIC]for 17 minutes. Oh. Then they varied it like this. Maybe at some point a melody came in. No, they would never go there.

They would not modulate there, and I had this violent reaction to it because it seemed, as I said, pretentious, but also unnecessary. As I later began investigating and learning from various other traditions, including modern contemporary, what’s called contemporary classical music or a New Music.

Another pretentious term. By the way. I went through kind of the history of the western art music tradition, also called classical music and learned of the Schoenbert School, the 12 tones school, the modernists like that, and then the other side of that modernist school in Stravinsky and I learned a lot and loved a lot of that music. Less so the serial, 12th tone style, although I appreciated what it represented and what it meant.

But getting back to my point about minimalism, minimalism was clearly a reaction against the uber-complexity of modernist classical traditions like serialism, but why it seemed pretentious to me and unnecessary was that we already had a more authentic many authentic traditions burgeoning in America in particular, that is jazz rhythm and Blues Later Rock and pop and Broadway. These were truly authentic and original and musical traditions that were already established or coming up and minimalism in comparison seemed like an artifice.

It seemed unnecessary because we already had these things, but it also seemed pretentious because it was trying to make a statement within a dying tradition that made it seem hip—modern art museums with white walls and abstract art, very clean, devoid, really of overt emotion. And so when I compare that to say Miles Davis, it seemed lightweight and kind of stupid, but also pretentious at the same time. So I didn’t like it and I still basically don’t like it. However, in subsequent years I’ve heard things by Glass and John Adams and others, Reich, that I’m on the verge of kind of liking. Because the interesting thing about music, like everything, religion, government, culture in general, is that the founding may in fact be forced and pretentious. But if somebody sticks with a musical theology for long enough, it could develop into something. So in some of that music of Glass and others, I’ve found that they did start to move away from the mechanical aspects of their music and create something more expressive.

So there’s that.


And I started by saying that this is something I love to do and I forget that. I love to do it, which is to basically pretend I’m somebody else, become a minimalist. Because when you do that, and you already have an established musical identity as I do, you are playing a role like an actor, but you’re still essentially yourself. So you find new things in yourself. So I pretend to be a minimalist. I pretend to be on an avant gardist. I pretend to be a punk rocker. Now that that would be really interesting. And by playing those roles, I find new sides of my own musical personality. I find that what I thought I was, there’s more there and I shouldn’t limit myself. So even musical styles that don’t initially or directly appeal to me offer me as an artist, a chance to explore completely different sides of myself. So yeah, thank God for minimalism…


Or not.

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