Piero Scaruffi's
History of Avantgarde Music

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.


Droning minimalism

TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Alvin Lucier (USA, 1931), instead, returned to LaMonte Young's stationary waves but from an austere, mathematical, scientific point of view in works such as Music For Solo Performer (1965), that used the performer's brainwaves, I Am Sitting In A Room (1970), that progressively degraded speech while progressively amplifying the background noise of the environment, Still And Moving Lines Of Silence (1974), an eight-part work for classical instruments and electronic devices, Music On A Long Thin Wire (1977), that used the vibrations of a metallic wire, and Clocker (1978), live electronics for performer with galvanic skin response sensor, digital delay system and amplified clock.

A rarely-recorded pioneer of minimalism, Phill Niblock (USA, 1933), tried, fundamentally, to create music without rhythm or melody, by slow accumulation of microtones. Niblock's droning soundscapes originated from the superimposition and juxtaposition of sustained sounds which were, in turn, obtained from reprocessing acoustic instruments. Niblock deliberately chose to limit the number of his recordings, believing that his real composition was the live performances and his real instrument was the tape. One can play a tape anywhere, but, like any instrument, the way it is played (back) depends on the player. Ideally, Niblock's tape should be played back by Niblock himself in an environment of his choice. When they finally appeared on compact disc, pieces such as Early Winter (1993) and Pan Fried 70 (2003) proved his stature.

Accordionist Pauline Oliveros (USA, 1932), the most significant purveyor of "deep listening" music, explored the psychological effects of sound in works such as: Horse Sings From Cloud (1975), a sequence of "om" for voice and accordion; Rattlesnake Mountain (1982), a Buddhist-influenced piece in which the sitar-like accordion weaves hypnotic patterns a` la Terry Riley's Rainbow In Curved Air; Wanderer (1985), a polyrhythmic symphony for an orchestra of 22 accordionists and five percussionists; The Roots Of The Moment (1988), a chromatic improvisation driven by digital delay; and finally Deep Listening (1988) for voice, accordion, trombone, didjeridu and found sounds, recorded in an underground cistern. These works virtually invented a new form of chamber music. The exception to the rule was Primordial Lift (2000), an electric improvisation for voice, accordion, violin, cello, electronics and harmonium, whose drones represented soundscaped to be populated, explored, colonized.

Maryanne Amacher (USA, 1943) created huge site-specific installations and sonic sculptures that radiated either colossal drones or subliminal ones to elicit music inside the brain ("third ear music").


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TM, ®, Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi. All rights reserved.