Electric Counterpoint Essay

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Minimalism is a style of music that developed in the 1960s as a reaction against the complexity of modern music. Features of minimalism include; 1. Repetition of simple ideas (Ostinato) with small changes introduced gradually over time. 2. Melodies slowly built up through the process of note addition. 3. Layered textures. This means that the music is made up of different layers of sound which are all important in adding to the rich texture of the music. These could be different rhythmic as well as melodic musical lines. Layered texture is a feature of African music as well as gamelan and modern music. 4. Diatonic harmony. Meaning simple chords from the key in which the music is in. 5. Slow harmonic rhythm. Meaning the harmony does not change very frequently 6. Little variety in Instrumentation. All of these features can be found in the next set work by Steve Reich. Reich is an American composer who is still alive today. His work shows diverse influences such as African drumming, Hebrew chant and gamelan music. Other minimalist composers include Philip Glass and John Adams. Listen to some of their work to get inspiration for your compositions. Electric Counterpoint (third movement) by Steve Reich Electric counterpoint was written for the famous jazz guitarist Pat Metheny who gave the first performance in 1987. It is in 3 movements. Instrumentation • This work is for live guitar, accompanied by parts for 7 guitars and 2 bass guitars that have been prerecorded. • The live guitar is amplified to blend in with the backing tape. Structure The music builds up in 3 layers: 1. A syncopated quaver motif is introduced in the live guitar and top 4 guitar parts, one part at a time. 2. A new syncopated quaver motif is next introduced in the bass guitars. 3. A more sustained motif built around three chords begins in the live guitar part and is

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