MinimalismMinimalism 1. Steady beat; pulse without meter 2. Reclaim diatonicism without tonality 3. Perpetual present 4. Gradual processes 5. Listener-derived formsPhasingConceptual art Frank Stella (b. 1936) (upper right) Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) (lower right)
Terry Riley (b. 1935), In C (1964)Performance InstructionsThe 53 repeating patterns are to be played in consecutive order Instruments with prominent timbres should take care that their partsstarting with 1 and ending with 53. do not consistently dominate. Always try for a blend of interlocking relationships. Strings and voices can be amplified if necessary forAll performers play from the same part except the “pulse.” the blend. Although keyboard and stringed instruments can and should play more or less continuously, it will be necessary for windsWhen possible all parts are to be played in the octave written. and voices to pause for breathing and for resting the lips. PlayingOctave transpositions especially downwards must be done with and resting should always be done with regard to the overall pattern.attention to the overall balance. Enter and exit inconspicuously.If needed or desired, a steady eighth note pulse is played on the top One may omit patterns outside the limitations of one’s technique oroctaves of a piano, marimba, or vibraphone to help keep the instrumental capabilities but take care not to become isolated fromensemble together rhythmically. During the course of the the rest of the group.performance the pulse may be traded off between players. Thepulse is stated before the rest of the ensemble enters and is When coming to the last pattern (Figure 53) sty on that pattern untilmaintained throughout the duration of the work. everyone is on it. Play with the group crescendo and diminuendo until everyone decides it’s time to drop out.When beginning each performer decides for himself when to enter.A strong unison feeling should be established for fie or ten minutes Rehearsals should begin with all performers repeating each figure inbefore different alignments of the patterns are attempted. The most unison. Repeat each figure in unison a set number of repetitionssuccessful performances are those in which the ensemble stays before going on to the next. This will ensure that each performer iswithin a compass of 4 or 5 patterns. Although each performer is free playing each figure the same way. Then each figure may beto move from figure to figure at his own rate, it is important to note rehearsed in combinations with itself in various alignments and thenthat steady continuous repetition will stabilize his part so that it can in combination with adjacent figures and so on. The tempo shouldbe related to by other performers and he, in turn, can make a only be as fast as everyone can play comfortably.meaningful relationship to them. Above all, performers must notwander ahead or lag behind the nucleus of the ensemble so that There are no specified durations. Average performances tend to lasttheir part is removed from context and an absolute tempo must be 45 minutes to 90 minutes. A ritual performance could conceivablymaintained. During the course of the composition the ensemble last 53 weeks with the last pattern ending on the first week of theshould attempt to regroup occasionally in a strong unison pattern. new year.Individual patterns, when started on different parts of the measuremay play against themselves canonically with an eighth noteseparation generally being the smallest effective point of imitation.
Terry Riley (b. 1935), In C (1964) Gamelan ensemble of BaliTerry Riley
Steve Reich (b. 1936), Come Out, 1966Premiered at Town Hall, 17 April 1966, for a benefit concert for the retrial of the “Harlem 6.” Based on the taped account of Daniel Hamm: “I had to, like, open the bruise up, and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.”
Sol Lewitt (1928-2007)Below:Wall Drawing #260: On Black Walls, All Two-Part Combinations of White Arcs fromCorners and Sides, and White Straight, Non-Straight, and Broken Lines (1975)Chalk on painted wall. First installed at SanFrancisco Museum of Modern Art, June 1975Installation in progress, MoMA 4th floor
LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” Artforum, June 1967“What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned. Once given physical reality by the artist the work is open to the perception of all, including the artist…. It doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art. Once out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work.“To work with a plan that is pre-set is one way of avoiding subjectivity…. After that the fewer decisions made in the course of completing the work, the better. This eliminates the arbitrary, the capricious, and tsxhe subjective as much as possible.“Color, surface, texture, and shape only emphasize the physical aspects of the work. Anything that calls attention to and interests the viewer in this physicality is a deterrent to our understanding of the idea and is used as an expressive device. The conceptual artist would want to ameliorate this emphasis on materiality as much as possible or to use it in a paradoxical way.“Art is only good when the idea is good.”
LeWitt, Serial Project, I (ABCD), 1966Baked enamel on steel units over baked enamel on aluminum, 20” x 13’7” x 13’7” The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Serial Project, I (ABCD) details“I have to know A, B, C, and D. I can’t go from A to D without knowing what’s in between.” --Sol LeWitt, 1970