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Maxing out on Minimalism

Fascinating and intricate patterns or the emperor's new clothes? What is minimalism in music and how do you listen to it?

Less really is more on today’s The Listening Service: we’re maxing out on minimalism, that most popular but also most divisive and most misunderstood of all 20th century musical movements. Music that either makes you bliss out or brings you out in hives - it's the sound of that rhythmic repetitive music by a quartet of American composers - Steve Reich, Philip Glass, LaMonte Young, and Terry Riley, who have defined the movement, the style, even the genre of minimalism. Take a chord, a pattern, a handful of notes - and repeat them - and repeat again…and again...

What is Minimalism in music and why should you listen to it?

Available now

30 minutes

Music Played

  • Steve Reich

    Piano Phase

    Performer: Mahan Esfahani.
    • Archiv.
  • Steve Reich

    Music for 18 musicians

    Performer: Steve Reich and Musicians.
    • ECM.
  • Éliane Radigue

    Trilogie de la Mort - Kyema

    Performer: Éliane Radigue.
    • Experimental Intermedia Foundation.
  • Dennis Johnson

    November

    Performer: Jeroen van Veen.
    • Brilliant Classics.
  • Michael Nyman

    A Zed and two noughts - music for the film: Prawn watching

    Performer: Zoo Orchestra. Performer: Michael Nyman.
    • Venture.
  • John Adams

    Grand Pianola Music - On the Dominant Divide

    Performer: Alan Feinberg. Performer: Ursula Oppens. Performer: Solisti New York. Performer: Ransom Wilson.
    • EMI.
  • Mike Oldfield

    Tubular Bells

    Performer: Mike Oldfield.
    • Virgin Records.
  • Alban Berg

    Concerto For Violin And Orchestra (Beginning of part 2)

    Performer: Itzhak Perlman. Performer: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Performer: Seiji Ozawa.
    • DG.
  • Chuck Berry

    Back in the USA

    Performer: Chuck Berry.
    • Chess.
  • Steve Reich

    Drumming

    Performer: Steve Reich and Musicians.
    • DG.

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