Where did musical minimalism come from—and what does it mean? In this significant revisionist account of minimalist music, Robert Fink connects repetitive music to the postwar evolution of an American mass consumer society. Abandoning the ingrained formalism of minimalist aesthetics, Repeating Ourselves considers the cultural significance of American repetitive music exemplified by composers such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. Fink juxtaposes repetitive minimal music with 1970s disco; assesses it in relation to the selling structure of mass-media advertising campaigns; traces it back to the innovations in hi-fi technology that turned baroque concertos into ambient "easy listening"; and appraises its meditative kinship to the spiritual path of musical mastery offered by Japan's Suzuki Method of Talent Education.
Introduction. The Culture of Repetition
PART ONE: The Culture of Eros: Repetition as Desire Creation
1. Do It ('til You’re Satisfied): Repetitive Musics and Recombinant Desires
2. “A Colorful Installment in the Twentieth-Century Drama of Consumer Subjectivity”: Minimalism and the Phenomenology of Consumer Desire
3. The Media Sublime: Minimalism, Advertising, and Television
PART TWO: The Culture of Thanatos: Repetition as Mood Regulation
4. “A Pox on Manfredini”: The Long-Playing Record, the Baroque Revival, and the Birth of Ambient Music
5. “I Did This Exercise 100,000 Times”: Zen, Minimalism, and the Suzuki Method
List of Illustrations
Robert Fink is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"The most important, and clearly the most culturally and theoretically informed, of any of the major studies on minimalism. No other book comes remotely close to establishing the historical links between early postmodernist Euro-American social changes. Fink's scholarship is as impeccable as his readings of minimalist compositions are stunningly insightful. Not least, the book is beautifully written."—Richard Leppert, editor of T. W. Adorno, Essays On Music
"A model of interdisciplinary scholarship at its best. Repeating Ourselves is now the central study on both minimalism and on repetition. This is an excellent book, and very important indeed."—Anahid Kassabian, author of Hearing Film