Steve Reich’s Piano Phase performed by Peter Aidu, YouTube


Let’s do away with the label ‘minimalism’, says Robert Veel

Labels. It seems we can’t live without them in the world of music. Perhaps it’s the ephemeral nature of music or our delight in recognising patterns – rhythmic, harmonic, textural – that drives us to want to label it. Like the butterfly collector, we want to pin down and preserve the beauty of music for everyone and for all time. But in the very act of pinning down and labelling we, like the butterfly collector, are left with nothing but a colourless carcass.

Some of the most common labels in music...