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Electronic Music Evolution #01 Minimalism

The minimal effect in music consists of timbre repeating in a uniform form on uniform media. In the first article on the subject of Electronic Music Evolution, I will talk about the effect of minimalism on music.

I will examine the minimalist movement that predicts simplicity in harmonics to take its place in music and then the electronic structure in depth. I found it appropriate to start with the first step of evolution to understand the music I listened to. It would be very unpleasant to feel the music flowing and dancing for hours without discovering the factors in the action. I will try to explain how the electronic music genres came to the consistency with the repetition of the ear illusions.

First of all, it should be noted that Minimalism in the history of music art emerges in the period when it is driven by the impulse of free trials. The attitude of the artist directly affects the musical work and at the same time, the artist shapes his musical understanding within the social structure that he exists as an individual. Another meaning to be deduced from this statement is that minimalism represents the emergence of a new understanding attitude, not only in the art of music but also in the view of life and the questioning of aesthetic values in other branches of art. In fact, apart from the meaning that the concept of minimal corresponds to, in musicality, following many disciplines, currents are tried simultaneously, exhibited and thought at the same time.

          “Minimalism is a beauty enjoyed only with pure mind, addressed to mind and pure mind.”
                                                                                                          Immanuel Kant

While making music history readings, focusing only on the development of music art will make both reading and approach to music art incomplete. Because music is a means of communication. Communication is not a one-way action, but with its many elements, cultural interaction, mass domain, and the way the individual who receives the message expresses himself, the individual re-introduces this message to the communication network with its new form. The communication action I mentioned is also like this in the art of music. It is necessary to say that music is a communication tool, music is often a message. The reason I opened this parenthesis is to prevent the idea that music originates only from its existence or that it exists.

While free trials are experienced in music, surreal understanding influenced by the dadaist philosophy also affects music. Dada complains quite a lot about the loss of established aesthetic values by using philosophy and art to protest the brutality in World War I. The discourses in the declaration of Andre Breton that shook the moral and aesthetic values caused new winds to blow in the music.

The glorified spirit of intuition and improvisation has brought freedom of art to the light. This composer and commentator heralds the time of freedom, which takes its place in music, up to the form and writing of notes. In the period when there are new searches and free trials in music, the philosophy of dada appears as a solid philosophy that forms the basis of it. The random method in liberation movements in music has been named happening, where various branches of art, for example theater and music, are interpreted simultaneously.

The methods he tried for the first time at Black Mountain College in 1952 were called “happening”. John Cage unveiled the idea that various arts, sound, light, and motion were interpreted at the same time in the theater, displaying the timbre, which was not written, based on the improvisation style without any stage planning. This initiative will form the basis of collage work and performance art. The experimentation of John Cage and minimalism as a trend against him appears in this period.

The last step to the historical journey towards minimalism remains. The “Fluxus” current has caused the so-called “Music” to lose its meaning. Minimal sounds, such as the sound of water drops, have begun to appear in the music. Fluxus movement is based on the next generation’s music studies and the meaning and development of minimal music.

Another discovery caused by random music is music that is grasped by the illusion of ear. György Ligeti (1923-2006) In his orchestra work Atmospheres, it creates such a complex and effective texture that the ear cannot fully perceive music. In the music that the minimalists repeat and play the same motif in the same rhythm without getting tired, the ear becomes unable to perceive the details. The result is a combination that the ear chooses, which it relates to itself, and even adds voices that do not exist. (1)

The term “Minimal Music” was used for the first time in 1968 by Michael Nyman in an interview with Henning Christiansen, a Danish composer, at a concert in London as a critic. Turkey in the “Akşam” in his interview with the newspaper, said:

Yes, I was the first critic to use the term “Minimal Music” in October 1968. I actually found the term by chance. The term “Minimal Art”, which everyone was familiar with at that time, became the equivalent of music. We can define this term as a musical intelligence that does not give the listener a serious privilege initially but satisfies the intelligent listener’s contemporary tone and quest for operation, going beyond the restrictions of cultural tourism of pop music and world music. (14.12.2012) (2)

The basic principle of minimalism stipulates that the repetitive musical sentence or tonality and rhythm within the short motifs will change slightly and slowly. (3)

In response to the intense expression of abstract expressionism, it emphasizes simplicity, simplicity, clarity, and the object’s feature of being an object. It was influenced by the mysticism and spiritual philosophy of the East. With a similar approach in music, it is aimed to create a simple, simple and hypnotic effect in the works. It has been simplified in harmony, melody, form, instrumentation and notation. Care was taken to capture the general feeling of the work, without allowing the audience to focus. This approach continues to exist in some sub-genres of today’s electronic music, such as IDM, Chill Out or Ambient. While minimalists present this on the part, electronic musicians perform it in the form of a slow replacement of small motifs called “loop” with digital music programs. (4)

Repeating motifs form a certain whole. The piece of music does not completely abandon the notation movement at the starting point while going in another direction from the point it started. It contains knitted mechanics. The word knitted is the most accurate word to describe this movement. It is not possible to talk about a structure that is added to each other and stacked. The movement we need to mention here is that the motifs are brought together one after the other, finding a combination with the addition of new melodies in repetitive action. It activates the perception process of the brain by creating a hypnotic effect.

The purpose of the minimalist composer is to get away from the melody, diversity, harmony, or rhythm anxiety and create the effect of magic in a uniform environment and pass the listener. Minimalist music, which bridges the genres of pop and jazz music, evaluates the symphonic structure learned or heard so far as pure music. After this article, which handles the minimalist touches that guide contemporary music, it will continue to process the journey of electronic music in accordance with the subject of the file.

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(1).(3) Zaman İçinde Müzik-Elvin İlyasoğlu Sy:288-289
(2).(4) Güleryüz, R . (2018). Minimalist Müziğin Elektronik Müzik Üzerine Etkisi .
Kent Akademisi , 11 (1) , 153-162 . Retrieved from




Hello, I’m Arya. I get free by dancing and I believe that music is a means of communication. My Music Writing adventure that I have been going on for 7 years with short breaks. From now on, I continue under the Now You Tech wings!