Minimalist Music

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate music that has a starkness about it; music that feels like wide open spaces. Minimalist music. Today, I’ll share a few of my favorite musicians, and a little of my own music.

I’ve listened to a lot of different kinds of music in my time. I can appreciate minimalist composers like Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, and John Cale. But I’m a singer-songwriter at heart. I tend to gravitate toward melody.

What Is Minimalist Music

By definition, minimalist music is a reductive style or school of modern music utilizing only simple sonorities, rhythms, and patterns, with minimal embellishment or orchestrational complexity, and characterized by protracted repetition of figurations, obsessive structural rigor, and often a pulsing, hypnotic effect.

True minimalist music has very little, if any melodic structure. So the music I’m going to share in this post isn’t truly minimalist, but it does have minimalist qualities.

The Music Of Bill Callahan

One of my favorite albums to come out in the past five years is Bill Callahan’s Dream River. Callahan doesn’t do slick production or fast pace. He prefers to make simple and slow music with a uniqueness of it’s own.

Here’s the opening track to Dream River, “The Sing.”

Callahan has written more than a dozen albums. You can find Callahan’s work at Drag City

Neil Young: An Old Standby

Okay, so I might be showing my age here, but I love the music of Neil Young. He has the ability to play straight forward three-piece Rock & Roll. But he can also make great acoustic music. He has a great way of putting space into his music. One of my favorite records by Neil Young is Silver and Gold.

Neil has been writing great music for decades. Check out his complete discography.

Meet The Drive-By Truckers

As I have an affinity for great songwriters, I couldn’t leave out these guys. The Drive-By Truckers play straight and simple songs with great lyrics that tell stories of everyday people. Here’s a cut off they’re latest album, American Band.

There are dozens more artists I’d like to share with you, but I’ll save them for another time.

A Little Music Of My Own

I’ve been writing songs since I was 8 years old and I’ve literally written about 1000 songs in my lifetime. In the past, I’ve recorded in professional recording studios. The past few years I’ve started learning how to use Garage Band on the iPad.

This year I’ve been working on a project that mixes digital and live instruments.

I’m also working on an all-digital true minimalist-music project.   

If you’d like to listen to some of my music, I have three demo albums available for free listening at SoundCloud.

Although much of my music might not be considered minimalist music, my journey in music has led me to focus on simplicity.

If you take time to listen to some of the greatest pop and rock music of all time, you’ll discover a secret. The best songs are the simplest ones.

Come back tomorrow for a musical surprise.

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James Ewen
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