Post minimalism

I’m suspicious of terms that start with “post-“. Often these terms are pretentious and inaccurate. When someone says, for example, that we’ve moved into a post-X era, they often mean that they didn’t like X and would like to think it’s gone.

Despite my misgivings about post-this and post-that, I smiled the other day when I heard some music described as “post-minimalist chamber music.” What I like about it is the idea of pursuing things to their most basic elements, then backing off a bit. Minimalist music drives me crazy after a while, but minimalist-inspired music with a little more variety can be pleasant to listen to.

In general, minimalism tends to be harsh. For example, minimalist architecture can be stark and cold. But not-quite-so-minimal architecture, spare but humane, can be beautiful. You could say the same of minimalism as a lifestyle. Taken to extremes, it’s ugly. But a more moderate and graceful form of minimalism is beautiful.

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3 thoughts on “Post minimalism

  1. What minimalist / post-minimalist music are you talking about here? When I read this I’d think of Steve Reich / Nils Frahm but that may not at all be what you meant.

  2. I was listening to the New Sounds podcast I wrote about here. The latest podcast from New Sounds also has some “post minimalist” music, though they didn’t use that term. I think they called it “minimalist inspired”.

  3. In music, I find the “minimalist fathers”, e.g. Terry Riley and La Monte Young to be less harsh, while simultaneously comparably (or in La Monte’s case, more) minimal than some of their next-generation followers.

    I wonder if the harshness partially resulted not from minimalism itself per se, but because minimalism attracted reductionists (for obvious reasons), who in turn tended to produce “cold” music.

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