How to write minimal modern-classical music

How to easily write minimal modern-classical music

minimal modern-classical music

Minimal classical music is a form of musical composition that started in the early 20th century as an offshoot of neoclassicism. It was popularized by Philip Glass, who borrowed heavily from minimalism’s compositional techniques for his own work. In this article, I’ll show you how to write some minimal classical pieces yourself using my own compositions as examples:

Derive or make up a melodic motif.

A melodic motif is a short phrase that you can use to build a whole song around. Unlike the melody of a pop song, which usually takes up the entire length of a track, in minimal modern-classical pop music (MMCP), your melody is most likely comprised of only two or three notes. It needs to be simple enough so that it can repeat over and over again without becoming boring—but it also needs to be complex enough so that you can listen to it hundreds of times without getting bored yourself. If you’re writing MMCP for others, focus on creating something likeable enough for them not only enjoy but also remember easily; if you’re making MMCP for yourself, consider how deep into your memory bank this piece will go: will it be something meaningful? A personal favorite? Will someone else feel as strongly about it as they do about their favorite songs from high school?

Write variations on the original.

Once you’ve written your piece, you can make variations on it. The possibilities are endless:

  • Use the same notes, but change the rhythm.
  • Change the dynamics (loud vs. soft).
  • Change the tempo (how fast or slow it is).
  • Change the instrumentation (how many instruments play and what they sound like).
  • Change the harmony (different chords played together).

The part you write should be deceptively simple.

This is a tricky balance. You want to write something that sounds simple, but doesn’t feel simplistic. Your part should be deceptively simple—it has to sound like it could have been written by a beginner, but it’s actually already pretty complicated (and not boring).

In fact, this is the most important thing: your part should be interesting in its simplicity. If you can pull off this paradoxical feat, you’ll create an original piece of minimalist music that stands out from other classical compositions and minimalism in general.

It should be something that you can listen to over and over again and still find something new in it, but not be confused by the parts.

There are a few important elements to consider when writing minimal classical music. The first is that it should be something that you can listen to over and over again and still find something new in it, but not be confused by the parts.

Secondly, the music should be simple, but not boring. This means that if you only hear part of a song, you’ll still recognize what’s happening and want to hear more once it finishes. Lastly this means making sure your piece doesn’t get too repetitive—otherwise people will stop listening eventually!

Finally make sure your piece isn’t just interesting; make sure there’s some sense of emotion behind everything else as well!

Make it repetitive.

Making a piece minimal, especially modern-classical music, is all about repetition.

You can use the same melody that you started with and just repeat it over and over again for an eternity. That’s the most basic way to do it. Or you can switch up your rhythm and use different chords throughout the piece but still have them be in the same order as they were at first. The key here is to make something that people will want to listen to more than once.

Listen to a lot of Philip Glass.

The next step is to listen to a lot of Philip Glass. You’ll want to do this with an open mind, and a pair of headphones. The music can be quite repetitive, but if you give it your full attention, you’ll find there’s plenty of nuance and subtlety in his compositions that might go unnoticed without those two things (and maybe some eyes closed).

Writing minimal music is actually quite involved and difficult once you get started, but it’s good for people who like a lot of repetition, and want to make something out of almost nothing.

To write minimal music, you need to be able to write melodies that are simple but not simplistic. This can be hard if you’re new at writing music. You also need variations on your original idea so that it isn’t just the same thing repeated over and over again!

I hope these tips have helped, and given you the confidence to start writing your own minimalist music. Don’t be afraid of repetition, and remember: if it sounds good, it is good!

(Alain Jamot is a french modern-classical composer, writing for computer. You can listen to his music here.)