Friday, February 12, 2010

Click's and Cuts an expression of Minimalism

Kyle Gann attempts to quantify and clarify what it means to be minimalist when reviewing or discussing a piece of music through a set of twelve descriptions of minimalism's process. In looking at Thomas Brinkman's piece, 011, on the album, Clicks & Cuts Vol 2. it is easy to identify how much this work has been influenced by previous minimalist's works and the processes that those works used to create their sound. Minimalism as an art movement avoided decorative trappings or accouterments. In the same way minimalists stuck to very simple tones through the use of static harmony or keeping the harmony related to a specific scale or part of a scale. Though Brinkman's work is hard to place as specific notes on a scale, as a sonorous object there does seem to be a range of clicks, pops, and other sounds that are at different pitches on a progressive scale. In the same way minimalism uses the processes of addition and repetition 0100 also relies on the repetition of certain beat cycles of clicks creating new sounds by combining several cycles of beats on top of one another. Gann explains that this use of repetition and addition brought the idea that minimalism was more of a process than anything else, an idea I don't necessarily agree with.

Brinkman's piece certainly doesn't fall under all of the categories that Gann describes, but then neither does every minimalist piece. "This is hardly a complete list of techniques and features of minimalist music, but it does constitute a family of character traits. No minimalist piece uses all of these, but I could hardly imagine calling a piece minimalist that didn't use at least a few of them." The trouble with Brinkman's piece in describing it as minimalist is that in part it uses the techniques of minimalism while using sounds I would describe as post-minimalist. Its taking these clicks and cuts and putting them into minimalist processes. In part that may be because Brinkman's music came after minimalism and thus was influenced by these other artist's works. Another artist's work that I would posit, might have influenced Brinkmann might be Steve Reich's, Drumming Pt. 1. Many of the processes seem similar and later on in Reich's piece the phase shifting seems similar to Brinkman's, the offsetting of beats to slightly different tempos helps bring the addition and repetitive processes to a culmination. Lastly I would point towards the fact that in both pieces the audible structure is easily apparent, by revealing their structure to all those that listen closely it makes the music both easy to comprehend yet it forces the listener to focus on it.

Works cited

Brinkman, Thomas. 0100. Clicks & Cuts, Vol. 2. 2001

Gann, Kyle. "Thankless Attempts at a Definition of Minimalism." Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. Ed. Cristpoph Cox and Daniel Warner. New York: Continuum, 2008.

Reich, Steve. Drumming, Pt. 1.

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