American Minimal Music

Wim Mertens
Preface by Michael Nyman
Translated by J Hautekiet

The music of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Steve Reich and Philip Glass are dealt with in this book, and an ideological and historical background to minimal music is also provided.






This is the first book which deals with the school of American repetitive music, also know as minimal music. The early work of La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass is discussed in the context of traditional Western music. Minimal music thus emerges as the latest stage in a development leading from Schoenberg, Webern, Stockhausen and Cage. In considering the philosophical thinking of Deleuze and Lyotard, the representatives of the so-called French ‘ libidinal philosophy’, and of Adorno, the author examines the degree to which the ‘ecstatic dimension’ is present in this music or is even consciously introduced to it.


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About the Author

Wim Mertens studied social and political science at the University of Leuven and musicology at Ghent University; he also studied music theory and piano at the Ghent Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Known primarily as a composer, his style has continually evolved during the course of his prolific career, starting from the experimental and avant-garde, gravitating towards minimalism, but always preserving a melodic foundation.


Preface by Michael Nyman
Part One: American Minimal Music
1.1 La Monte Young
1.2 Terry Riley
1.3 Steve Reich
1.4 Philip Glass
1.5 Basic Concepts of Minimal Music
Part Two: The Historical Developments of Basic Concepts
2.1 Arnold Schoenberg
2.2 Webern and Post-serialism
2.3 Stockhausen
2.4 John Cage
Part Three: Ideology
3.1 T W Adorno
3.2 Libidinal Philosophy


…Merten’s book …is both analytical and polemical, distant and personal, limited to the music itself and yet positioning that music in a wider aesthetic/ideological context than is customary
Michael Nyman

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