The Interaction of Linear and Vertical Time in Minimalist and Postminimalist Piano Music
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Minimalist compositions thwart most attempts at analysis given their remarkable simplicity. Moreover, minimalist works are deliberately non-manipulative in order to allow the listener freedom in constructing his or her own experience. For formalist analysis of this music to be of value, it must account for this freedom while simultaneously explaining beyond mere description, a duality which can be achieved by incorporating musical time. Jonathan Kramer describes minimalist compositions as existing in vertical time, an almost eternal present. This notion does much to explain the general listening experience, but fails to accommodate the variety found in minimalism. Instead, it is best to see in this genre that an interaction between the musical elements that create vertical time and those that create linear time establishes the musical time of each piece. This dissertation explores minimalist music's manipulation of time through brief analysis of Terry Riley's Keyboard Study no. 1, Steve Reich's Piano Phase, and Philip Glass's Two Pages. While all three pieces create an overall sense of vertical time, linear time is also present, particularly at the local level, with each composition creating a unique iv temporal experience. The concepts established are then expanded to a full analysis of Tom Johnson's An Hour for Piano, which not only has interaction between the different species of musical time, but also interacts with objective time and varieties of psychological time. The implications of this theoretical approach are even more significant for postminimalist music. As postminimalist composers combined minimalism with a variety of other influences, linear time became more prominent but did not completely overwhelm the sense of vertical time. Instead, postminimalist music tends to create a hybrid between the two, a conclusion that helps justify and clarify the use of the term "postminimalist." This clarity is demonstrated through brief analysis of pieces by William Duckworth, Peter Garland, Beth Anderson, James Sellars, and Paul Epstein. A full analysis of David Borden's Double Portrait then shows the full potential of this approach as the piece begins in nearvertical time and ends in linear time.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Linear and vertical time in minimalism -- Tom Johnson's An Hour For Piano -- Linear and vertical time in postminimalism -- David Borden's Double Portrait -- Conclusions -- Appendix A. Brief biographical information of postminimalist composers -- Appendix B. Major instances of each theme in An Hour for Piano -- Appendix C. Program notes for An Hour For Piano -- Appendix D. Analysis of the rhythmic ground in the Time Curve Preludes, IX -- Appendix E. Further analysis of Paul Epstein's Interleavings "Paraphase: (3x2)x5, 7" -- Appendix F. Interview with David Borden.