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Music Monday: Minimalism

John Cage’s 4’33. A pianist comes out and sits at a piano and begins to…do nothing for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Is this taking minimalism too far, or is it just someone beating everyone else to the punch. Probably the latter.

My first exposure to minimalism was Philp Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi. I didn’t hear it as a piece, but as part of the movie. Either way, it’s mesmerizing.

My all time favorite is Ann Southam. Here is just a taste:

Usually, when I hear one of her pieces, I have to stop what I doing and just listen.

Enter my composition. Fast Ride on a Slow Train, which was almost called Slow Ride on a Fast Train, although I’m not sure it makes a difference, makes use of two things: Repetition and dissonance. Dissonance is the sound of two (or more) notes that the ear perceives as not pleasant sounding. I know that this can be subjective but since much of western music is based on certain scales, we do have a common perception of what sounds “right”. I’m sure this could have turned out differently if we had divided the scales into 13, 14, 15 etc. notes instead of twelve. Anyway, I like how notes can clash, but after repeating them many times, the ear gets acclimatized to the sound. Well, mine does. So here we go-let’s take a ride. Thank you, Ann.

-Leon


By Leon Stevens

I am an author, composer, and an artist. I published my first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020 and a book of original classical guitar compositions. My latest book is a short story compilation of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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