Musing on Minimalism: Nature vs. Nurture
Although I am relatively new to the study of minimalist music, we have all been surrounded by it in one form or another. And even though I openly welcome inspiration from the style, I still have mixed feelings about minimalist music in its purist form. There is something inherently pretentious about a genre of art that aims to sound emotionally detached, as though the creator is too lofty for mere human emotions. That being said, a lot of minimalist music ends up possessing some emotive qualities (and can be very moving indeed) just by the very nature of harmony and texture, no matter what the process had intended.
Which brings me to the compositional process. One of the main features of minimalist music is for it to be constructed of audible processes. This makes the music a lot more understandable (even upon first listen) than its predecessor, Serialism. The ear can latch onto a multiple repetitious musical cells (which each have their own process) and listen to how the entire body of sound evolves. These processes through which the cells are destined to evolve are premeditated.
This brings me to my big question: Is composing a piece of minimalist music some kind of shortcut? Is the mesmerizing and intricate beauty of minimalist music born of nature (chance/accident/fate) or is it nurtured along the way (crafted). If you set it up correctly, let each cell out of the gate at tasteful intervals, will nature itself write the piece for you?
Perhaps standing back and observing how nature carries the music forward is the reason why the early minimalist composers wanted their music to not be (or sound) emotionally driven. Personally, I am always a little suspicious of anything that even smells of conceptual art as I just associate it with self aggrandizing artists.
Whether or not the beauty of minimalist music is a result of nature or nurture, I highly recommend getting yourself acquainted with some of it if you aren't already!