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One of the paradoxes of minimal music is that few of its composers self-identify as minimalist. One of the few who did, Tom Johnson, also wrote one of the best descriptions of the genre. "The idea of minimalism is much larger than most people realise", he writes in The Village Voice. "It includes, by definition, any music that works with limited or minimal materials: pieces that use only a few notes, pieces that use only a few words of text, or pieces written for very limited instruments, such as antique cymbals, bicycle wheels, or whiskey glasses." The origins of minimalism lie in 1960s New York where a collective of American composers known at the time as the New York Hypnotic School composed experimental music. The style evolved into the most popular experimental music genre of the late 20th century and these first New Yorkers became the composers who remain most closely associated with minimalism today

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