Philip Glass


American Minimalist Composer

Author Quotes

Minimalist music can create quite profound effects over long brush strokes, carrying the listener through an experience that would be very difficult to achieve by other musical methods. For instance, in Glass' Koyaanisqatsi, I think he very effectively flexes sonorities over the course of the movie to great dramatic effect - the pacing of the music and movie, moving in large sections of monotonous gestures, relate in interesting and not always obvious ways. Both movie and music on their own are of little drama, but paired create a unique and powerful experience.

Motivation will make up for a lot of failings.

A new language requires a new technique. If what you?re saying doesn?t require a new language, then what you?re saying probably isn?t new.

Not only do we play it, we do more than that, we perform it, that's the difference. It's one thing to play something - anyone can play the piano - but to actually perform a piece, you have to get beyond it, you have to get beyond the technical problems of playing, and the piece is well beyond that now.

Acceptance would not come right away, but the history of music was going down this road and you either got on the train or you didn't... And if you didn't get on the train, you would be left behind.

And the question for me is: does this music have anything to offer in terms of experience and enrichment. I would say that it does have the potential to do this, simply because it has for me. Repetition in music (without development and variation) can offer an experience that has been measured in terms of its effects on the human body. Repetitive sounds, with subtly controlled changes in harmony or texture can affect ones mood and stress levels. It has been measured - the brain changes - relaxation occurs. And in terms of emotion, perhaps not the sturm und drang of germanic expressionism, but still it offers valid place amongst the array of feeling: peace, calm, tranquility etc.

Collaboration is the source of inspiration for me.

Do I want to hear this music all the time - no! Do I want to write this kind of music, almost never. But that shouldn't mean it is invalid. Has it influenced musical development, yes - both good and not so good. Perhaps it could be argued that it has led to a development of young composers who write music using the copy and paste function on their computers to generate scores, and this would be true. However, I cannot think of an artistic movement that hasn't spawned more bad than good imitators. Real creativity will always be exceptional, no matter what the source of inspiration.

European musicians didn't learn popular music, whereas in America we did, ... So you played in bands, you played in orchestras, you played everything. The high-art/low-art idea, that was a very European idea and not much appreciated in America. People like Cole Porter and Gershwin were considered very important composers.

What came to me as a revelation was the use of rhythm in developing an overall structure in music.

When you're really working, really playing tennis, lifting weights, playing basketball, or whatever it is — it happens in sports, it happens in music, it happens in everything — when you're fully consumed with the act, the witness just disappears. And for that reason, when someone asks, "What was it like?" you can't remember, because the person inside of you who does the remembering was otherwise occupied.

What I've noticed is that people who love what they do, regardless of what that might be, tend to live longer.

You practice and you get better. It's very simple.

When you become a parent, you begin to become sympathetic to your own parents. We begin to understand how much we owe to them, how much we're shaped by their vision of the world.

Maybe the purpose of life is not as important as the process of growth that’s integral with being alive... In answering the question “What’s the meaning of life?” maybe the people who have taken the challenges of life as meaningful are the best ones to ask... These are the people who have appreciated and taken advantage of the possibilities life has to offer. They find life precious.

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American Minimalist Composer