In the 1960s, minimalist music emerged from downtown New York as an aesthetic characterized by a non-representational concept with an emphasis of a gradual internal process. This genre was quickly divided into sub-genres (e.g. totalism, post-minimalism), and fifty years later, more important works arose from this concept, with more composers continuing to push its boundaries. David Lang is a prominent post-minimalist composer who unceasingly advocates for the development of minimalism and resists its categorization. Written for the piano virtuoso Andrew Zolinsky, his solo piano piece this was written by hand was written as a contemplation of the composer’s memory of his youth. My composition Pedals (2014), although received inspiration from this was written by hand, is not a contemplation but instead a study and my first experimentation with minimalism. It attempts to integrate the classical and minimalist aesthetics through the evident formal structure and the motivic unity of all three movements while simultaneously maintaining the gradual process and textural emphasis. All of three movements are connected through different pedal points, each of which attempt to offer an explanation for their titles: a pedal on C (scale degree 1 in the C major scale) in the first movement, a pedal on E (scale degree 3) in the second, and a trill pedal on C and D (scale degree 1 and 2) in the third. Each of these pedal points is exploited differently in texture and function, sometimes standing out excruciatingly without resolutions, sometimes passing ever-so-lightly as a shadow, and sometimes blending into the sonorous texture.
Lam, Khoa, "Pedals" (2015). Student Symposium. 86.
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