Mus1Y Assignment 1: Music of the 20C & 21C – integrated performance project

Topic: ’20th and 21st century music (minimalist focus)’

Topic questions:

  • ‘How is minimalist practice reflected in contemporary musical genres?’
  • ‘Is minimalism really everywhere?’

This project (unit of work) furthers our topic Music in the 20th and 21st century (minimalist emphasis) by considering in particular the work of English composer Michael Nyman.

Known for his own particular take on minimalist or systems music practice, Nyman is a widely respected contemporary composer.

Our project involved us beginning straight away to learn to play one of Nyman’s pieces, his 1977 work for mixed ensemble, ‘In Re Don Giovanni’.

‘In Re Don Giovanni’ is derived from the first 16 bars of an aria (song) taken from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1797 opera Don Giovanni.

We will learn to play some of Mozart’s original version too, and see how Nyman ‘deconstructs’ Mozart’s piece and transforms it into a contemporary work.

While we are learning parts and experimenting in smaller and larger ensembles we will learn more about Nyman and his approach.

We will listen to and compare a number of recent versions or adaptations of Mozart’s In Re Don Giovanni.

We’ll look at other pieces of music by Nyman.

And you’ll get to compose your own piece based on some of these principles.

There’ll be lots of opportunity to extend and explore related music too.

You’ll research Michael Nyman works and recordings, and his background and influences online, including Michael Nyman’s own website.

You’ll listen to examples of his music in film, and likely discover that you’ve heard some of his work in film already.

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