Minimalism, metal, and more

Why is Philip Glass the best-known American minimalist composer? I think some of John Adams’ work is far more interesting. One of my favorite Glass releases isn’t even really minimalist (Kronos Quartet Plays Philip Glass, a collection of his compositions for string quartet). It doesn’t get much wackier than Nixon In China, Adams’ minimalist opera which I am currently enjoying.

There was a discussion a while back on rec.music.progressive that I think is worth going over again. Heavy metal bands were often rhythmically intricate (Metallica, various technical-metal bands) or melodically interesting (Iron Maiden, Queensryche, any number of “progressive” metal bands today), but seldom both. Why is this? Had Queenryche added shifting meters and wild drumming to Operation: Mindcrime, would it have made a better record? Eh… maybe. Only two bands that combine rhythmic complexity with melodic composition into a heavy-metal framework were mentioned: Watchtower and Spastic Ink, neither of which do much for me thanks to their rather sterile sound. Are there any others out there?

I’m seriously considering the sociology major here at Yale, and I think it would be really cool to research the cultural and sociological causes and effects of progressive rock movements outside the UK. The scene in the UK has been well-documented (Macan, Stump, et al), as perhaps has the Krautrock scene, but I haven’t seen any substantial insights into the Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese, Eastern European, or modern Scandinavian or South American scenes. Hmm.

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