The Influence of Philip Glass on Music

141 views 5 pages ~ 1131 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Philip Glass is an American citizen by birth, born on 31st January 1937 Baltimore; Maryland. His music composition adopts the form of musical minimalism joining other minimalist music composers such as Steve Reich and La Monte Young. He is an innovative, vocal, instrumental and operatic music composer. Glass started his musical journey playing the violin at a tender age of six and the flute when he turned eight years old. At age 15 years, he joined the University of Chicago in a special program designed for the gifted youths to nurture their talents in arts and music. He further enrolled in a bachelor degree program in Arts in the same University. He abandoned playing flute after he realized that the ancient populations had little regard for flutes and thus none could make a career out of playing it. He undertook musicology course out of his own volitions combining music lessons alongside his formal Bachelor degree in arts where he majored in Mathematics and philosophy up to the year 1956 (Hsu 23).

Apart from music as a career and as a hobby, Philip Glass also engaged in other income-generating activities.  He worked as a plumber as well as a cab driver in a moving company they formed together with his cousin as a part time job. His enthusiasm for atonal music drove him to enrol at Juilliard School of Music in 1962 where he majored in composition; another course in addition to the Bachelor of Arts he undertook in University of Chicago. Later he moved to Paris where he studied composition as well with the guidance of Nadia Boulanger.

He then ventured into the field of music establishing his own band named ensemble which played on live concerts or parties. The ensemble used wind instruments and electronically amplified keyboard that engaged in frequent live performances in parties and at corporate levels; a strategy that grew his fan base in New York City and the adjacent towns in the beginning of 1970s (Defferrard 15).

Philip Glass influences

 Glass’s father owned a record store as well as a radio repair shop that made the artist had early exposure to musical instruments. The father had a special interest in musical composition and playing the piano. The young Glass Philip could spend much of his time admiring how his father would manoeuvre between instruments to generate a unifying sound that created a classical musical rhythm.  His father was also a composer and was handy to assist his son as he also strives to emulate what was being done giving him more inspiration to learn music (Rauscher 836). Therefore, Glass Philip’s influence started from his family and surrounding. He was raised in a musical environment where he learned one idea after another. His father, for example, could bring home some of the music compositions such as 78 RPM records that had taken time sell (Glass 18).

Glass equally got inspiration from his own work. He received various awards such as the  Golden Globe Awards, the prestigious Japan Art Association’s Premium Imperiale of the year 2012, received the Academy Awards for the best male young performer alongside other awards. Presentation of awards motivated him to work more as the awards are accompanied by either cash handouts or recording contracts that facilitated his musical work (Ho 557). 

Moreover, Ravi Shankar remains instrumental in the life and success of Glass. The Sitar musician majorly influenced Glass’s musical craft adopting tempo, harmony, and melody into his musical composition (Mayall 367). After meeting Ravi, he embraces a methodology to his composition, which depended on repetitive, at time faintly nuanced musical structures, which would be the roots of contemporary minimalism (Ho, Ang-Cheng 557).

 However, there was a little impact that the lessons he was taken through with his teacher as compared to his exposure to non-western music. His visit to Paris, for instance, was the starting point in his formal musical career as he joined Mabou Mines- a theatre company that was established to nurture talents among upcoming artists (Glass 18). By trading off the western music alongside studying table under the guidance of Allah Rakha, renowned Indian percussionist enhanced his understanding of the Indian Modula style of music. He abandoned his earlier style of composition and in place adopted the cyclic rhythm, an Eastern musical principle to his music composition.

Philip Glass’s Genre

 Minimalism formed the genre of Philip Glass. Most of his initial work had roots on lengthy repetition of brief, sophisticated melodic fragments, which kitted out and in, typical of aural tapestry (Bell 226). In a simplified language, it immersed its audience in a kind of sonic weather, which turns, twists, develops and surrounds. Sitarist Ravi Shankar played a major role in this since he influenced the compositional style of Glass. He occasionally jettisoned the conventional formal features as tempo, harmony, and melody in Glass’s music (Power 768).  He started making ensemble pieces in a repetitive and monotonous style. These pieces comprised of an array of syncopated rhythms inventively extended or contracted in a steady diatonic structure (Lord& Cristina 256). His style of composition was premised on a 12-tone compositional theory as well as advanced harmonic and rhythmic forms.

Philip Glass’s Pieces

Philip Glass’s delivery is exceptional and there is nothing minimalist when it comes to his pieces. in the last two decades, Glass wrote, close to 20 operas, small and large; ten symphonies, two violin concertos and two piano concertos, timpani, orchestra, and Saxophone Quartet (Hsu, 278).  Philip has also undertaken film soundtracks giving novel scores to movies like Koyaanisqatsi (1982) with Godfrey Reggio as the director, The Truman Show (1998), The Illusionist (2006), Fantastic Four (2015), and Hamburger Hill (1987) (Swaminathan 217).Some of his classic hits include Symphony No 9, Koyaanisqatsi,  Einstein on the Beach, Music in 12 Parts, and Glassworks among others (Evans 426).

Works Cited

Bell, Taunjah P., Katharine A. McIntyre, and Rosamary Hadley. "Listening to classical music results in a positive correlation between spatial reasoning and mindfulness." Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain 26.3 (2016): 226.Print.

Defferrard, Michaël, et al. "FMA: A Dataset For Music Analysis." arXiv preprint arXiv:1612.01840 (2016).Print.

Evans, Tristian. Shared Meanings in the Film Music of Philip Glass: Music, Multimedia and Postminimalism. Routledge, 2016.Print.

Glass, Philip. Words Without Music: A Memoir. WW Norton & Company, 2015.Print.

Ho, Ang-Cheng Kris. "Calm or Tension? The Musical Demands in Strung Out (1967) and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978)." International Journal of Social Science and Humanity6.7 (2016): 557.Print.

Hsu, I-chien. "The Implications of Minimalist Music and Space of Theatre in Philip Glass’s ‘Einstein on the Beach’." (2015).Print.

Lord, Cristina Danielle. The influence of popular music in the contemporary classical aesthetic. California State University, Long Beach, 2016.Print.

Mayall, Jeremy Mark. Portfolio of Compositions: Systematic composition of cross-genre hybrid music. Diss. University of Waikato, 2015.Print.

Power, Stephanie. "Philip Glass The Trial, Aberystwyth Arts Centre." Tempo 69.272 (2015): 60-61.Print.

Swaminathan, Swathi, and E. Glenn Schellenberg. "Current emotion research in music psychology." Emotion review 7.2 (2015): 189-197.Print.

October 05, 2023




Number of pages


Number of words




This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro