Maximum Power from Minimalism

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When the musical approach known as Minimalism began in the 1960s and '70s it was in part a reaction against the narrative tension-and-release that's fundamental to traditional classical music. Minimalism's non-narrative structures, such as unchanging pulse, and simple, static tonality, seemed better suited to meditation than story-telling.

Yet Minimalism's austere qualities have proven to be very effective in film scores. It can provide a gorgeous backdrop to the film, emphasize moods ranging from excitement to sadness, and add dimensions of meaning and awe. David Garland highlights some recent movie music by Minimalist composers, including Johann Johannsson's score for "Prisoners," and Philip Glass's new collaboration with director Godfrey Reggio, "Visitors" (see the trailer below).

Watch a behind the scenes clip for Johannsson's score for "Prisoners":