Minimal music  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

Minimalist music is an originally American genre of experimental or Downtown music named in the 1960s based mostly in consonant harmony, steady pulse (if not immobile drones), stasis and slow transformation, and often reiteration of musical phrases or smaller units such as figures, motifs, and cells. Starting in the early 1960s as a scruffy underground scene in San Francisco alternative spaces and New York lofts, minimalism spread to become the most popular experimental music style of the late 20th century. The movement originally involved dozens of composers, although only four - Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and, less visibly if more seminally, La Monte Young - emerged to become publicly associated with it in America. In Europe, its chief exponents were Louis Andriessen, Karel Goeyvaerts, Michael Nyman, Gavin Bryars, Steve Martland, Henryk Górecki, Arvo Pärt, and John Tavener. Its emphasis on accessibility, periodic rhythm, consonance, and pleasant and often even pretty sonorities drew millions of fans, especially among pop-music lovers, who had turned away from modern music, while simultaneously enraging many classical and academic musicians who saw it as a cheap throwback to a kind of mindless simplicity. The term minimalist music is derived from the concept of minimalism, which was earlier applied to the visual arts. For some of the music, especially that which transforms itself according to strict rules, the term process music has also been used.

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