Blog We Have Always Been Minimalist book review

We Have Always Been Minimalist book review

Posted May 1, 2021, 8:06 p.m. by T

KFAI - Undead

We Have Always Been Minimalist

The Construction and Triumph of a Musical Style

Christophe Levaux


Minimalism has always intrigued me – specifically in the realm of music. Having emerged as an antidote to twelve-tone bombast, it soon became a varied genre with idiosyncratic genres and styles being interpreted depending on the composer’s preferences and outlook.

Minimalist music is fabled to have come across in the 1960s in New York City as an experimental art form and a “work in progress” in that it did not adhere to structures and with its non-linearity was not being driven towards a desired outcome.

The focus was instead set on the internal processes of music without any limitations pertaining to duration, form or even instrumentation, which finds its sonic equivalent in recurring themes, hypnotic harmonies and repetitive drones and which are rarely embellished on: Minimalism strips music down to its essentials following the credo that less is more and that it is more about the notes that are not played than the ones being produced.

Needless to say, minimalism thoroughly shook the foundations of music as it was traditionally perceived and became one of the impulses to shape and change future music and the approach to it, sparking a resurgence that revolutionised the outlook on art, what it is supposed to stand for at large and questioned the status quo.

With We Have Always Been Minimalist, Christophe Levaux made it his mission to shed light on the genesis of the genre, its opposition and documents how it evolved to become an integral component and pillar modern music as we know it. With his critical and thorough approach, Levaux manages to cast light on the historical contexts, stylistic nuances and elaborates thereby in a manner, that should resonate and be relevant for both the uninitiated as well as the fanatics.

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