Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Holy Minimalism - 'Spiegel Im Spiegel'

Arvo Part
Born 1935
This piece is one for minimalist lovers, but also simply one for those who appreciate peace and quiet through music. And, at the moment, this is perfect for me. After being told I have glandular fever and that all I can do is rest for weeks, 'Spiegel Im Spiegel' is just as comforting as a cup of tea and a hot cross bun! Composed in 1978 by Estonian classical composer Arvo Part, the piece translates as, 'mirror in the mirror', reflecting the endlessly repeated triads rising and falling back and forth. The meaning of the title also reflects the way in which the piece begins and ends with the same rising triad. By composing this piece, Part created his own compositional style called, 'tintinnabuli' which was mainly influenced by his study of chant music. The style consists of two voices, the first of which we can hear in the constant triads throughout the piece, and the second in the 'melody' that moves diatonically in a stepwise motion. Despite it's simplicity, for me, this piece is undeniably reassuring and calming, and is typical of Part's instantly recognisable compositional style, described mostly as 'holy minimalism'. To be honest, minimalism is not a genre of which I am particularly fond, as I tend to find the techniques used such as repetition and cell displacement quickly boring, however, with Part, his music has such a sense of letting go, that it's difficult to turn it off. Although the piece is arranged in a different setting for piano and violin, the arrangement for cello has much more longing. This is definitely achieved by Part's use of the cello's higher tessitura contrasted with the lower. (Something much more affective than the contrast between the strings of the violin).


  1. sharing this on Google Plus. First met this music, in a book, someone who listened to it while recovering from illness. Has a peaceful meditative quality.

  2. where you have collected a few comments!

    Are you on Google Plus? It is open to teenagers too now, and there are circles of musicians and music lovers there.