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So I figure its about time to talk about Richard Nixon.

In 1987, American (post) minimalist composer John Adams wrote an opera about the President's 1972 visit to China where he meet with Chairman Mao Zedong. The scope of the work is ambitious, but the real thrill is the rare opportunity to see Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and Mao Zedong belt it out.

Minimalism as a subgenera to Classical music is characterized by repetition, repetition, and repetition. The musical content typically isolates short gestures which are then subject to a process that engages both repetition and change. As product of this, the listener's temporal experience is such that time becomes static. Traditionally, once the process of a piece is complete, the gesture is returned to its original state, and the work is complete. One the the most overt example of Minimalist writing is Steve Reich's 1972 work Clapping Music.

Watch, learn, practice with your friends.



The beauty of this work is the simplicity.

The process is clear and

Pitch is secondary to Rhythm.

In the wake of the previous comparative listening post, here is another performance, and another interpretation with an animated representation of the repetition and process.



Post Minimalism was an effort by composers to create the aesthetic of Minimalism, but without the element of process. The removal of this process also offered composers an opportunity to write music in larger score and musical development.

Thus, Richard Nixon, meets Mao Zedong, via John Adams.

The selection from the opera covers the first moment of their rendezvous. The music is beautiful, abstract, and still immediately accessible to the audience. The lyrical content is a mixture of amiable conversation, as well as Richard Nixon's own inner monologue. He is fully aware of the historical significance of this moment, and the news media's obligatory coverage of it.

"And though we spoke quietly, the eyes and ears of history caught ever gesture."

I dig Minimalism. You Dig Dig Dig Dig Dig?