Dissertation
Dissertation > Art > Music > Music theory and methods > Composition theory

The "Simplicity" and "Complexity" of Minimalism in John Adams’ 《Harmonielehr》

Author SuZuo
Tutor JiaDaQun
School Shanghai Conservatory of Music
Course Composition and Composition Theory
Keywords minimalism simplicity complexity core elements basic skill deep structure
CLC J614
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Minimalist music originates as an American genre of experimental music and is counted as one of the most prominent new trends. Starting in the early 1960s as a scruffy underground scene in San Francisco alternative spaces and New York lofts, minimalism finally becomes the most popular experimental music style of the late 20th century. Although minimalist music is based mostly on simple elements of consonant harmony, steady pulse, and repetitive patterns, it may include more complicated features such as additive process and phase shifting, so that simplicity does not mean crudity. In this paper, I have analyzed several compositions by minimalists, concentrating on the static reiteration or gradual transformation of musical phrases or smaller units such as figures, motifs, core chords and rhythm cells, in order to find the biological structure in their variations and development, and to explore concealed logical design of rhythm, sound, texture, and to investigate the compositional technique, which balances between simplicity and complexity.

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