Music GCSE: Minimalism and the advance of music technology

Howard Goodall explores the second half 20th century music. Following the Second World War, a return to modernist music causes a divide between art music and pop music.

We can trace the legacy of ground breaking work in minimalism, sampling and music technology by composers such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and John Adams and see their impact on hip hop music and artists such as David Bowie and Radiohead.

Extracts from: Music for 18 musicians - Steve Reich It's gonna rain - Steve Reich Kid A - Radiohead

This clip is from the series Howard Goodall's Story of Music.

Teacher Notes

Use this clip when studying minimalist music.

Group students and ask them to record some words using a handheld audio device.

Then ask students to create a composition which explores the ideas fusing minimalist techniques such as ostinato and layering textures with music technology techniques such as looping, panning and manipulating audio.

They could then produce a report detailing what they have produced and why they made the creative decisions they did, and the effects they were hoping to achieve.

Curriculum Notes

This topic is relevant to, GCSE, AS Level and Higher Music in the areas of music history, notation, composition, music theory and understanding styles.

More from Howard Goodall's Story of Music:

Notation and melodic movement
video
Harmony, intervals, triads and cadences
video
Harmony, dissonance and an introduction to opera
video
Key signatures, equal temperament and the 12-tone tuning system
video
Handel, the pianoforte and oratorio
video
Mozart, melodic writing and the symphony
video
Haydn, symphonies and melodic writing
video
A profile of Beethoven
video
Franz Liszt, symphonic poems and orchestral music
Saint-Saëns and developments in French composition
video
Debussy, world music and impressionism
video
Shostakovich and the effects of Nazi rule on composers
video
Stravinsky, Russian music and modernism
video
Blues and ragtime
video