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Sound Scripts

Sound Scripts

Article Title

The Minimalist Connection in Australian Guitar Music

Abstract

Minimalism arguably epitomises immanence from the listener's perspective, aestheticising a mode of perception that suppresses the passing of time and focuses on savouring the moment. Itis a genre that has exerted a continuing relevance on new music and popular culture world-wide for several decades, finding particular resonance in music for the guitar. The guitar is arguably ideally suited to minimalist practices due to its limited tonal range and the predilection for composition through improvisation, including the exploitation of open string drones. The guitar in Australia, which has undergone somewhat of a Renaissance in the late twentieth-century, is marked in its embrace of minimalist influences - including additive and subtractive processes, gradual variation or metamorphosis, a slow rate of harmonic change, and harmonic stasis combined with textural and rhythmic interest. Australian guitar works reflecting minimalist influence include those of main stream composers Nigel Westlake, Robert Davidson, and Peter Sculthorpe, as well as works by player composers such as Phillip Hough ton. This paper discusses several key Australian works for classical guitar that display minimalist influences – exploring the ways that they reflect minimalist compositional techniques, exploit the timbral possibilities of the instrument, and employ landscape metaphors. Ultimately, it may be the aesthetic affinities with popular culture that bring together minimalism and the guitar, facilitating a successful and enriching musical partnership that has redefined the guitar and its music in an Australian context.

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