In the first place, objectivity and perspective are related with plastic arts but, nevertheless, interesting parallels with Minimal Music can be observed. Although the meditative effect is almost exclusively provided by Minimal Music, possible links to other fields of art will be shown to complete the sophisticated picture of Minimal Art and Minimal Music depicted in the preface.

The time factor
One of the most important prerequisites to reach the meditative effect is to dissociate the temporal reference from the composition. The logical and strict time structure is given up and replaced by an extreme lengthening of the tones. This technique leads to a performance of nearly epic breadth and can be observed especially in the works of La Monte Young and Steve Reich. The former used to work with endless seaming tones and overtones until the 1990s.
Reich, by contrast, opts for phasing to give a meditative quality to his repetitive music, but he moves away from the strict, Minimalist principle right at the beginning of the 1970s. Young and Reich have one thing in common: both of them strive to omit all subjective decisions while composing.[1] Several Minimal Artists, too, make use of the experience that a process works completely autonomously after finishing its concept. This has also been shown by Sol LeWitt in his mathematical logical works.
Another basic quality of the meditative effect is to do away with the classical music form, i.e. to leave the unambiguous structures of the composition and just concentrate on the tone hic et nunc.[2] In a certain way Minimal Music follows the philosophical approach that the perception in the present has to be given priority to a way of thinking that includes past and future perspectives. The conceptual artists of Minimal Art try to reach a similar aim when putting the visitor and the object in a gallery or in a public space at one and the same level so that the presence of a work of art can be perceived intensively. As an example for this approach the work One Ton Prop (House of Cards) (1969) by Serra shall be mentioned. The very fragile structure consists of iron plates that are leaned against one another. In the face of the imminent danger of collapsing the recipient is urged to perceive the work right at the current time and place.[3]
There are also some analogies between the meditative aspect of Minimal Music and Optical Art that experienced an impetus in the middle of the 1960s in New York. Both currents have the reception of psychic phenomena and their remarkable precision in common. The latter is striking in the extensive investigation of frequency realised by Young. The optical illusion of Optical Art corresponds not only to Young’s experiments with overtones but also to the psycho-acoustic side-effects that are heard in the Reich’s phasing.
Morton Feldman (born in New York in 1926, died in Buffalo, NY, in 1987) reveals another access to the meditative quality of a piece of music. From 1977 onwards he exclusively works with repetitions and changes of sound patterns and combines this form of composing with an often exhausting length and a very low volume. These qualities can e.g. be found in his work String Quartet II (1983). Feldman does not only take the artists but also the audience to their limits of concentration with a performance that lasts more than five hours.

It seems as if nothing happens
Minimal Music, often referred to as meditative music, is frequently confronted with critical voices saying that nothing were happening, mainly if the repetitions do not vary or the tones are sustained for quite a long time – qualities that are characteristic of Young’s compositions. On the one hand the effect of this compositional technique can express a meditative feeling with reference to time, on the other hand this incessant repetition of the elements creates a cloud of sound that seems to completely possess the audience.
It has been criticised that this kind of music was long-winded, not expressive and even nerve-racking.[4] However, the composer Wim Mertens (born in Belgium in 1952) argues that Minimal Music neither wants to be expressive nor follows the classical striving for the end of a piece of music. Nevertheless, exceptions can be found within the row of Minimalist Composers. On the one hand these exceptions apply the technique of Minimalism but on the other hand they tend to use a very expressive approach to music. The compositions of Henryk Mikolaj Górecki (born in Poland in 1933) between the 1950s and 1960s are designed according to the concept of seriality. At the end of the 1960s he turns towards the concepts of simplification and reduction. Modal elements that are joined by simple triads, though often interpreted as very naive, enable Górecki to find an emotional access to Minimalism. This feature is typical of his late compositions.
It can be said that Górecki opposes a lot of expressivity to the criticism that there was nothing happening during the pieces of Minimal Music. Therefore his works are sometimes referred to as the ’Holy Minimalism’. His most famous composition of this type is Symphony No. 3 (1976). Since it has been sold more than two million times it is considered a commercial success, because only very few compositions of modern music can record a similar success.
Philip Glass is another internationally renowned composer. He mostly owes his success to his later artistic period during which he no longer applied the very strict concept of Minimalism but worked particularly in the field of film music. During his early period when applying the strict rules of Minimal Music to his works he takes a stand towards the criticism that nothing was happening in his music. Glass is conscious of the fact that, from a classical point of view, nothing or nearly nothing seems to be happening. That is the reason why he calls on the audience to turn away from the formal structure of a piece of music and to dedicate themselves to the results of the gradual development of the composition process.[5]
He also frees himself, as does La Monte Young, from the conventional context of the concept of time. This can be observed in Music in Twelve Parts (1971-74) where repetitive elements as well as the whole length of the composition transmit this concept. Not only because of the performance length of more than four hours but also because of being his last Minimalist composition this is Glass’ most important work. In his following composition Another Look At Harmony (1970-1975) Glass turns towards more harmony and a denser technique of composition.
Tom Johnson tries to give another definition for Minimal Music in his essay What is Minimalism really about (1977) In this article he gives a description of the different tendencies of describing this kind of music and makes an attempt to present music less dramatically. Contrary to other music critics Johnson confines himself to describing in a neutral way the so-called Non-Dramatic, the result of the lacking formal structure in a piece of music, just as an important feature of Minimal Music.[6]

The spiritual background
In the early 1960s the Minimalists La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Steve Reich composed a series of music that is considered an early form of meditative music which shows a great range of spiritual qualities. The longest and most intense treatment of the spiritual way of thinking can be found in Young’s compositions. His strong relation to the Far Eastern culture and philosophy is reflected already in the establishment of an office for meditation as well as in his interest in the Japanese haiku.
The simple overtone frequencies are very important in the compositions of Young. During his studies with the Indian guru Pandit Pran Nath which he started in 1970 he got conscious of the fact that these frequencies are based on universal principles of the oscillations of the universe.[7] His tutor also showed him that minimal changes of the frequency can have a direct impact on humans. Experimenting with this background knowledge he wants to mediate a primarily spiritual experience, “If people just aren’t carried away to heaven, I’m failing.”[8]
Minimal Art is led by similar ambitions but wants to reach its aims by other means. The recipient should perceive his relation to the Minimalist object and the present to finally become conscious of his own relation to the universe. According to Morris it is the function of the object to provoke this feeling of respect.[9]
Carl Andre draws a good comparison to that by describing the peace that emanates from places like Stonehenge or from Japanese gardens. According to him the feeling of this kind of peace enables us to see that we can not have the whole universe in our minds.[10]
Far away from American Minimalists some composers from Eastern Europe deal with religious themes that are nearly always closely related to Christian motifs. The Polish composer Górecki introduces religious traditions from his homeland in his late works Old Polish Music (1969). This kind of music also occupies a central role in his third symphony. The first movement is based on fragments of folk music from the collection of the Polish father Wladyslaw Swietokrzyski. In this song Mary begs the dying Christ to share his sorrow and pain with her. In the next moment an 18-year-old girl carves a text into the wall of the cell in the prison of Zakopane. Despite the few instruments that are applied and the short length the piece lasts about eight minutes only, and the second movement generates an oppressive atmosphere which alternates between hope and agony. The piece ends with the lament of a mother that mourns over her son who died during World War One.
Arvo Pärt (born in Estonia in 1935) is another composer from Eastern Europe who shows great interest in religiosity. He tries to elegantly join reduction and repetition with transcendental experiences. There are significant parallels to other Minimalist Artists and Composers who want to hide their individuality as far as possible from their works. Pärt curbs his creativity to come closer to the revelation of the cosmic secrets as a timeless and unchanging reality.[11]
In the piece Für Aline (1976) he makes use of the ‘tintinnabuli style’, a new style which was coined by himself. The name comes from Latin and means ‘little bell’. One voice that moves by step and develops the principal melody is typical of this style. A texture of major or minor triads is then laid over this principal melody by which the triads sound either more strongly or create a dissonance. Most of his contents are based on religious texts. So he reproduces e.g. the whole St. John Passion in this style and names the work Passio (1982).
In conclusion it shall be said that the meditative tendency of Minimal Music must not be mixed up with the genre of Meditation Music, which strongly tends to be popular music. Even if Philip Glass and Michael Nyman tend to compose popular music in their late artistic periods the difference in the conceptual and compositional approaches between Minimal Music and its counterparts in popular music still exists.