Looking Through Philip Glass

Traditions are imploding and exploding everywhere – everything is coming together, for better or worse, and we can no longer pretend we’re all living in different worlds because we’re on different continents.”Philip Glass

“I love Philip Glass’ work, not only as a film composer but also as a musician. The film score work that he does always amazes and shocks me.” Park Chan-wook

Philip Morris Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American composer. He is one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. His music is also often controversially described as minimal music, along with the work of the other “major minimalists” La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich

Minimal music originated in the New York Downtown scene of the 1960s and was initially viewed as a form of experimental music called the New York Hypnotic School.Prominent features of the style include consonant harmony, steady pulse (if not immobile drones), stasis or gradual transformation, and often reiteration of musical phrases or smaller units such as figures, motifs, and cells.

It may include features such as additive process and phase shifting which leads to what has been termed phase music. Minimal compositions that rely heavily on process techniques that follow strict rules are usually described using the term process music.

Einstein on the Beach

“The most striking characteristic of Einstein is its use of repetitions, which are rarely exact — a large part of the music’s allure lies in Glass’ subtle varying of the repeated patterns. The length of the patterned sections demands an extraordinary level of concentration from the performers, and listeners, regardless of their feelings about the music itself, cannot help being amazed at the virtuosity of the singers, speakers, and instrumentalists who could pull off such a remarkable feat of memory and endurance. For the listener willing to give him- or herself over to the music’s spell, it can have a visceral, mesmerizing effect”. Stephen Eddins

“The idea of minimalism is much larger than many people realize. It includes, by definition, any music that works with limited or minimal materials: pieces that use only a few notes, pieces that use only a few words of text, or pieces written for very limited instruments, such as antique cymbals, bicycle wheels, or whiskey glasses. It includes pieces that sustain one basic electronic rumble for a long time. It includes pieces made exclusively from recordings of rivers and streams. It includes pieces that move in endless circles. It includes pieces that set up an unmoving wall of saxophone sound. It includes pieces that take a very long time to move gradually from one kind of music to another kind. It includes pieces that permit all possible pitches, as long as they fall between C and D. It includes pieces that slow the tempo down to two or three notes per minute.” Michael Nyman

Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi

There is an assumption on the part of the filmmaker, Godfrey Reggio, that we’ll immediately get the message. And the message, I think, is that nature is wonderful, but that American civilization is a rotten despoiler that is creating a “crazy life.”

But I am irreverent, and given to my own thoughts during the film. After I have admired its visionary photography (this is a beautiful movie) and fallen under the spell of its music (an original sound track by the distinguished composer Philip Glass), there is still time to think other thoughts, such as: This film has one idea, a simplistic one. It contrasts the glory of nature with the mess made by man. But man is a messy beast, given to leaving reminders of his presence all over the surface of planet Earth. Roger Ebert

“What came to me as a revelation was the use of rhythm in developing an overall structure in music.” Philip Glass

Glass has distanced himself from the “minimalist” label, describing himself instead as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.”Though his early mature music shares much with what is normally called “minimalist”, he has since evolved stylistically. Currently, he describes himself as a “Classicist”, pointing out that he is trained in harmony and counterpoint and studied such composers as Franz Schubert, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Nadia Boulanger.

 

Aside from composing in the Western classical tradition, his music has ties to rock, ambient music, electronic music, and world music. Early admirers of his minimalism include musicians Brian Eno and David Bowie.

In the 1990s, Glass composed the aforementioned symphonies Low (1992) and Heroes (1996), thematically derived from the Bowie-Eno collaboration albums Low and “Heroes” (composed in late 1970s Berlin).´

Glass has collaborated with recording artists such as Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, Mick Jagger, Leonard Cohen, David Byrne, Uakti, Natalie Merchant, and Aphex Twin

“Songs From Liquid Days became Philip Glass’ most popular and successful recording. The title holds the clue to the music’s accessibility: These are songs, providing a more familiar and comfortable format for appreciating the world of minimalism than Glass’ operas or instrumental pieces. Working with such lyrical collaborators as David Byrne and Suzanne Vega, he created art music which sounds radio friendly. There is also great variety displayed on this album. While the musical backing is unmistakably Philip Glass, the arrangements and vocal treatments range from the coolly subdued chamber music of “Freezing,” featuring the Kronos Quartet and Linda Ronstadt, to the appropriately electrifying and almost new wave-ish “Lightning.” The album’s highlight, however, is the opener, a ten-minute opus called “Changing Opinion.” Freddy Stidean

Philip Glass and Wendy Sutter

List of compositions by Philip_Glass

Nadia Boulanger

Juliette Nadia Boulanger (16 September 1887 – 22 October 1979) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century. She also performed as a pianist and organist.

“I can tell whether a piece is well-made or not, and I believe that there are conditions without which masterpieces cannot be achieved, but I also believe that what defines a masterpiece cannot be pinned down. I won’t say that the criterion for a masterpiece does not exist, but I don’t know what it is”.Nadia Boulanger

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