Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Stockhausen critiques electronica


Magpel

Recommended Posts

Wow! I just found this at kvr-vst.com Apparently, in 1995 Karleinz Stockhausen was asked to critique some samples of music by Aphex Twin among other contemporary electronic musicians. The old master and pioneer of electronic music had some beautiful things to say, including:

 

I wish those musicians would not allow themselves any repetitions, and would

go faster in developing their ideas or their findings, because I don't

appreciate at all this permanent repetitive language. It is like someone who

is stuttering all the time, and can't get words out of his mouth. I think

musicians should have very concise figures and not rely on this fashionable

psychology. I don't like psychology whatsoever: using music like a drug is

stupid. One shouldn't do that : music is the product of the highest human

intelligence, and of the best senses, the listening senses and of

imagination and intuition. And as soon as it becomes just a means for

ambiance, as we say, environment, or for being used for certain purposes,

then music becomes a whore, and one should not allow that really; one should

not serve any existing demands or in particular not commercial values. That

would be terrible: that is selling out the music.

 

The whole article is here:

 

Stockhausen

 

Highly recommended!

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 49
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I was first introduced to the innovation of Mr. Stockhausen in the '70's, when the public radio station played a considerable amount of his recording called "Hymnen". Haven't been able to get my hands on it since, but never forgot it.

 

Here in Detroit, they just had the third so-called "Electronic Music Festival". When the first one was announced, I was taken aback, thinking of the work by Stockhausen, Tomita, Maurice Jarre, maybe even Jan Hammer and some of the stuff Rick Wakeman got into, and the like!

It didn't seem like there was enough widespread interest in this sort of thing to have a big festival downtown, and it suprised me!

 

But they were actually talking about "Techno Pop",

that repetitive beeping and blooping "non-music" for white kids who can't dance!

 

I couldn't agree with Mr. Stockhausen more, and would never try arguing with him, anyway! If electronica eventually WENT someplace, I might get more interested! Maybe they should call it

"Hypnotica"!

whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Rabid:

Originally posted by Magpel:

...had some beautiful things to say...

Beautiful? Not if you are one of the four artists he is discussing. :D

 

Robert

True, but they seemed to take his comments in good humor.

 

I think it is so funny to hear the words of an avant-garde curmudgeaon! "Ah, the don't mke experimental, boundary shattering art like they used to in the old days!"

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a passing interest in Stockhausen years ago. Kontakte, Momente, Telemusik and Hymnen. The only record I still possess is Kurzwellen. I even sought out and looked at, not enough to say "studied" a few of his "scores". I do agree with the sentiments he expressed above although I don't like his music at all, for the most part.

 

Here is another example of his rambling stupidity quoted right after the 9/11 disaster:

 

Four concerts featuring music by the German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen have been cancelled, following the composer's distasteful, tactless comments concerning the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The concerts were to have formed the thematic focus of the Hamburg Music Festival, which started last Saturday and continues through this Saturday.

 

Asked at a press conference on Monday for his view of the events, Stockhausen answered that the attacks were "the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos."

 

According to a tape transcript from public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk, he went on: "Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn't even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for ten years, preparing fanatically for a concert, and then dying, just imagine what happened there. You have people who are that focused on a performance and then 5,000 people are dispatched into the afterlife, in a single moment. I couldn't do that. By comparison, we composers are nothing. Artists, too, sometimes try to go beyond the limits of what is feasible and conceivable, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves to another world."

 

Asked by a journalist whether he equated art and crime, Stockhausen replied: "It's a crime because those involved didn't consent. They didn't come to the 'concert.' That's obvious. And no one announced that they risked losing their lives. What happened in spiritual terms, the leap out of security, out of what is usually taken for granted, out of life, that sometimes happens to a small extent in art, too, otherwise art is nothing."

 

Before the press conference was over, Stockhausen had already distanced himself from these comments, a spokeswoman for the Hamburg Music Festival said. On Tuesday, the composer formally apologized for his remarks, explaining that he simply wanted to remind people of the role of destruction in art. Stockhausen asked the forgiveness of anyone who felt hurt by what he said at the press conference.

 

In a circular letter sent out by e-mail, the Italian playwright and Nobel laureate Dario Fo also stated his opinion on the attacks: "Big speculators joyfully splash about in an economy that lets millions of people die every year in misery. What are 20,000 dead in New York by comparison? ... Regardless of who carried out the massacre, this violence is the legitimate daughter of the culture of violence, hunger and inhumane exploitation."

 

While Fo's statement is evidence of a cynical anti-Americanism, Stockhausen's words appear as the monstrous result of radical artistic egocentrism. To the victims of terrorism, both the composer's mental descent into hell and the aging left-wing writer's stale, calculating spite must seem like hideous mockery.

 

Monstrous Art

Julia Spinola

Sep. 18

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2001

 

[see www.stockhausen.de for a feeble attempt at disassociation - utterly

contradicted by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk's tape recording of his remarks

exactly as he made them.]

All the best,

 

Henry Robinett

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what to make of the 9/11 comments, but the quote regarding hypnotica was brilliant. I enjoy minimal, repetetive music but his works and the related works of Subotnick are astonishing at times. It's a different ball of wax, so to speak. I don't think that all repetetive music is lazy (check out Autechre "Tri Repetae++"); some ideas and soundscapes require several minutes to bloom into identity and depth.

 

The vision and purposefulness of Stockhausens' work is evident in the listening. And artists ARE raging egocentrics :-)

Give me the ANALOG and no one gets HURT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Magpel:

[QB]Wow! I just found this at kvr-vst.com Apparently, in 1995 Karleinz Stockhausen was asked to critique some samples of music by Aphex Twin among other contemporary electronic musicians. The old master and pioneer of electronic music had some beautiful things to say, including: ....

...... That

would be terrible: that is selling out the music.

QB]

Too late. Electronic Music is dead as hell.
:keys: My Music:thx: I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm continually amazed at how many people in these forums are willing to bash whichever forms of music they don't like (Hip Hop, Electronica, etc.) while other forms of music (prog-rock, classic rock, classical) are almost always raved about (regardless of how played-out or tired they may be).

 

There's a bunch of Electronica that is very worthwhile (and no, you don't have to like any of it). To dismiss a form of music based on the fact that it is somewhat repetitive is overly simplistic.

 

I think Stockhausen makes some good points, but then again, I don't have any Stockhausen CD's in my car - and I'm not taking out BT, Crystal Method, Boards of Canada, Tosca, Moby, and Deepsky to make room for one - Sorry, Karl!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Just finished reading the article. Stockhausen sounds even more egocentric when you read the whole thing.

 

I also enjoyed reading what the Electronica artists had to say when they were asked to listen to some Stockhausen pieces.

 

This was a great article overall - interesting perspective from everyone involved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ravel's "Bolero" is as repetitive as any electronica. But lest you forget, Ravel wasn't really too fond of the piece! Some people like music that goes nowhere. This is their choice. But for me, this is the reason I couldn't generate interest in, say, Kraftwerk. With no direction or destination, this stuff becomes nothing more than an excersize in sonic inventory.

There may be gems among the paste, the "pony in the pile of horseshit" if you will, as far as electronica is involved. It differs from no other form of music. I like classical music. Some have told me they think it's boring, and I agree. A lot of it is. I like jazz, also. And I've confronted the same arguement. There are none of us with entirely ALL the similar tastes in music. And, we must allow for the occasional

"guilty pleasure".

 

As far as Stockhausen's political statements, well, I never let those things stand in the way of my appreciation for a musician's work. I STILL enjoy my old Cat Stevens recordings in spite of his personal beliefs.

 

whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by felix:

...Just finished reading the article. Stockhausen sounds even more egocentric when you read the whole thing...

Yes. What gets me is the fact that for everything that he points out as being wrong with other artists, he suggests one of his own songs as an example of how to do it correctly. Pioneers who struggle against the establishment to produce something different seem very misguided when criticizing someone else for being different.

 

Electronica is dead? It is getting more airplay than ever. It is also beginning to have a large influence on "popular music".

Robert

This post edited for speling.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What makes you think my intention in posting this was to bash electronic music? Far from it. I just thought it was poignant to hear a curmudgeonly old pioneer of electronic music critique some current, circa 1995, practitioners. Your electronica immune system is overactive. No threat here. But it must be nice to live in a state of continual amazement. :eek:

 

What I liked in the passage I quote is not so much the critique of repetition but *his* opinion that music as environment/drug is cheapened, and his relation of that to psychology. I think that's fascinating. I like music that issues a challenge to the mind, not just induces an effect. Electronic music is capable of either. Stocky is allowed to dismiss where the art has gone and you're allowed to hate Stocky. I thought Richard James showed good humor and equanimity in his response. Maybe we should all try that. ;)

 

Originally posted by felix:

I'm continually amazed at how many people in these forums are willing to bash whichever forms of music they don't like (Hip Hop, Electronica, etc.) while other forms of music (prog-rock, classic rock, classical) are almost always raved about (regardless of how played-out or tired they may be).

 

There's a bunch of Electronica that is very worthwhile (and no, you don't have to like any of it). To dismiss a form of music based on the fact that it is somewhat repetitive is overly simplistic.

 

I think Stockhausen makes some good points, but then again, I don't have any Stockhausen CD's in my car - and I'm not taking out BT, Crystal Method, Boards of Canada, Tosca, Moby, and Deepsky to make room for one - Sorry, Karl!

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never realized how truly Fascist, in the historical sense, Stockhausen's aesthetic mentality really is. The article mentioned as well as the 9/11 quotes just confirm it.

 

The aestheticization of violence is at the core of the Fascist perception of the world.

 

Bring me more repetition, more, more, more!

 

He forgets one of the fundamental principles of all music -- the contrapuntal relationship between the tensions that continuity and difference set up in the listener's expectations.

 

A good, repetitive dance or trip-hop or trance artist understands this, and balances the process so that it becomes one with as much interesting and original dynamic as any "modernist" work of art.

 

Despite my fascination with and interest in the early experiments in electronic music, I am all the more moved to dispense with the academic and embrace the commercial in art.

 

Whore on, baby. We all sell something.

 

I was very amused when an old black man, checking my bag for security at the airport, when noticing I had some novels and papers in my bag, muttered (cheerfully) under his breath, "oh! you a book ho!" I was chuckling over that for a good while afterwards.

 

rt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What makes you think my intention in posting this was to bash electronic music? Far from it. I just thought it was poignant to hear a curmudgeonly old pioneer of electronic music critique some current, circa 1995, practitioners. Your electronica immune system is overactive. No threat here.
True, it was a knee-jerk reaction on my part. My apolologies.

 

But it must be nice to live in a state of continual amazement.
Very nice, indeed. ;)

 

What I liked in the passage I quote is not so much the critique of repetition but *his* opinion that music as environment/drug is cheapened, and his relation of that to psychology. I think that's fascinating. I like music that issues a challenge to the mind, not just induces an effect. Electronic music is capable of either.
While I also like to be challenged by music, I also like to just enjoy music sometimes. It seems that music as environment or mind/mood altering has been very common for quite some time, and not only related to Electronic music. I think that music functions powerfully and wonderfully in these ways as well.

 

Stocky is allowed to dismiss where the art has gone and you're allowed to hate Stocky. I thought Richard James showed good humor and equanimity in his response. Maybe we should all try that.
Agreed. Great Response.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Felix. No offense intended by my post either. I think a lot of people here dig various traiditions of electronic music. I'm not very knoweledgable about it but I am getting more and more interested as I find its flavors creeping into my own product.

 

BTW, I ain't no prog-head. There are some of us around here who aren't very fond of "The Seventh Crest of Talia's 15 Robes, Canto 3: Thule's Vindication" type epics...hehe.

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:thu: Some good points were made. Above all, what some expect from music, what you prefer when, and it's relative effects. When someone hears what can be accomplished in the electronic medium, compared to what's being done with it as far as "techno pop" goes, an initial response is to disavow it. After hearing Tomita's interpretations of the classics in comparison to some DJ with baggy pants and a backward hat, one has a tendancy to bemoan the wasted potential of said medium! I like to think of myself as having lofty musical ideals, but if I were in a mood to dance, I sho' 'nuff wouldn't start playing Barber's "Addagio for Strings" now, would I? And besides, the forementioned would apply even in trying to compare Julian Bream and Jeff Beck!

 

As was said by me in some other topic, Some of the most memorable and lasting pieces of music are based on ultimately simple themes. As proved by Mozart, Beethoven and even Irving Berlin. There's a place for everything. A time for everything. And enough people to go around to appreciate any of it!

 

I'm just glad I didn't get a nosebleed from where I was earlier.

 

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by whitefang:

 

As far as Stockhausen's political statements, well, I never let those things stand in the way of my appreciation for a musician's work. I STILL enjoy my old Cat Stevens recordings in spite of his personal beliefs.

 

whitefang

And Wagner, Herbert Von Karajan.

All the best,

 

Henry Robinett

Link to comment
Share on other sites

but if I were in a mood to dance, I sho' 'nuff wouldn't start playing Barber's "Addagio for Strings" now, would I?
You may if you were William Orbit - check out his version of the tune on his album "Pieces in a Modern Style."

 

I'm not an owner of the CD, but your comment seemed funny all things considered :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ezra Pound and TS Eliot, Bruno Bettleheim. How about the case of Walt Disney? Anti-semitic crackpot of the first order, but does that mean that Snow White and Jungle Book aren't rich, brilliant films? This is an incredibly thorny issue. How did you respond when you heard that MLK Jr. plagiarized large portions of his PhD dissertation (a fact revealed by his estate)? How does that re-cast his life's work, if at all?

 

Originally posted by henryrobinett:

[QB}

 

whitefang[/qb]

And Wagner, Herbert Von Karajan.[/QB]
Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let us not forget Henry Ford. Hitler had a photograph of him on his desk. Ford's publications, done in serial form in his newspaper, of a wholly fictional meeting between the "Rabbi's of Zion" and their supposed plan for world domination by taking over the control of world banking, etc. provided "proof" gave fuel to Hitler's "Final Solution".

 

MLK's star became darkened at the revelations of his womanizing. But you can't throw shadows on his accomplishments.

All the best,

 

Henry Robinett

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All true, and Mozart used to tear the wings off flies, but my reaction is not an ad hominem one, but rather to the rather blatant aestheticization of a moment of violence in Stockhausen's response to 9/11.

 

You make "art out of life" that way, you belong back in the 3rd Reich, in my opinion.

 

It's directly antithetical to something like Guernica, which also "aestheticizes violence" but not to celebrate it, rather to reveal its destructive influence.

 

Oh, and that whole Henry Ford thing, if only Hitler had known Henry was a lousy typist, and meant the _Rabbits_ of Zion. He was trying to write a kids' book, about the influence of WWI on a family of rabbits in France that needed to find a new place to live, etc. etc..... didn't know how to use apostrophes. The things that change history.

 

rt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I haven't listened to Stockhausen in 20 years. I just downloaded a couple of clips from his website. Now I remember why I haven't listened to him in 20 years. :D

 

I think we need people like Stockhausen. They round out the world in some way. Sadly, I don't think the world wants any Stockhausens today. At the moment at least, people are responding to force, not finesse.

 

I find his pointing to his own work as both endearing and ironic.

 

It's kinda like the explorer pointing to the farmer, saying "So you built a huge, successful farm on this land? No big deal. I discovered this land years ago."

 

Jerry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Tusker:

 

 

 

I think we need people like Stockhausen.

 

Jerry

Yep! Like my mother always said, "It takes all kinds!" Fortunately for Stockhausen, Too many people have said far more incredulous things. He has a right to his opinion, and has earned the right to express it. Just as you or I have the right to ignore it, and have earned the right to do so!

 

whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like Tusker, I listened to Stockhausen a long time ago. I made a valiant attempt to "appreciate" his music. I still own several LPs of his stuff (including Song of the Children and Kontakte) and also looked at his scores.

 

I especially remember one on which the staves were circular (the lines of each staff comprised 5 equally spaced concentric circles). They had some notes written in (wacky notes, of course) and a fair amount of blank space. At the center of the circular staff was affixed a circular, transparent plastic disk on which additional notes were written, in black and red (I don't recall the significance of the color). You were supposed to spin the disk and then play the result. Aleatory, right? Mmm-hmm.

 

In spite of my initial enthusiam and persistence in the service of "open-mindedness" I finally came to the conclusion that Stockhausen, Cage, and others of their ilk were manifestations of the decline and impoverishment of the Fine Art tradition in the Modern Age (i.e., the 20th century).

 

This is not to say that there has not been plenty of excellent music, painting, writing, etc., even by many of these people I use as examples. For instance, I listened to Song of the Children several times and actually kind of "liked" it (I know that wanting or needing to "like" a work of art is in some circles bourgeois and philistine, but I went ahead and did it anyway). I also very much liked (and continue to like) Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra, opus 16.

 

Many "modern serious music" enthusiasts would claim that people like Stockhausen and Cage were, in their exploration of chance and accident, diametrically opposed to the rigid numerical determinism of Schoenberg and his fellow twelve-toners. I would on the other hand claim that their differences are superficial, and that there is an underlying similarity of approach which is evidenced by a remarkable similarity in most people's responses to their work. What in my perception unites them is in their championship of concept, idea, and philosophy over the actual sensory result, the music as I quaintly like to call it, with the result that most of us find much of what they do unlistenable and even repellent.

 

One consequence is that their thinking and writing about their Art is frequently more interesting by far than their Art. This interview with Stockhausen is an example, along with Cage's writing in "Silence" and Schoenberg's erudite music theory texts.

 

It's "concept art," and it shows up in every medium in the Art Tradition. What "sculptor" was it (I keep thinking Yoko Ono) that dug a hole, then filled it up again and claimed that the "concept" of the whole remained and was a Work of Art. I must say this is a clever idea (not to mention a good gimmick from a marketing viewpoint) and I get a kick out of it. But I don't take it Seriously, and I won't contribute to that individual's bank account by spending money on his or her Art.

 

I think Marcel Duchamp was hip to what was going on a long time ago. He painted the barely (pardon the expression) representational Nude Descending a Staircase and possibly disappointed a lot of art lovers who were expecting something a little more pornographic. He exhibited a urinal that he'd signed as a work of art (he called it "Fountain" or something). As I understand it, he also retired fairly young to spend the rest of his life playing chess. I can picture him thinking, I get it, I can run this scam, and then losing interest. He didn't take it seriously either.

 

I find it interesting that both Stockhausen's Song of the Children and Shoenberg's opus 16 are early works, hybrid efforts, impure, before their Concepts had calcified. I would suggest that maybe they still connect for some (a few) of us because there is still some heart in them, that their creators had not yet succeeded in expunging all feeling and humanity from these works.

 

And to the assertion that these folks are not receiving the recognition they deserve because the listening--or viewing, or reading--public is too plebeian, too shallow, too unsophisticated to appreciate their genius I say bullshit. Nobody's willing to listen to Stockhausen (except maybe a few geeks like me) because there's nothing of value to hear. IMHO. YMMV. LOL. RTFM. etc.

 

-Chrono

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As interesting counterpoint to Stockhausen, I HIGHLY recommend Blackalicious' latest, "Blazing Arrow." Well heck, okay, it's probably not electronic music, but it _is_ fantastically good music, and along with that, some fantastically fantastic rap.

 

Sometimes you sift thru _everything_ and nothing's inspiring. Come up on this CD if you're in that state of musical mind; you'll want to make music after you hear this one. :)

 

rt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The side story to all of this is whether or not you can distance yourself enough from the various other aspects of an artist's life -- political views, actions and so on -- to still allow an appreciation of his or her art form.

 

If the greatest song in the world were composed and performed by a child murderer, and you knew this about the musician, could you still appreciate the music?

 

I have no answer.

 

- Jeff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Blah, blah, blah! I've heard 50 years of this debate over the properties of "true art", without anything being settled. Some artists get so presumptuous, they dismiss anything not to their liking as not being art. I've always considered Norman Rockwell as one of the greatest artists of our times. Art snobs would disregard him as a simple illustrator. But there is nothing simple about it! And if, as some art

instructors have told me, art's true purpose is to evoke emotion and reaction from the viewer, well, Rockwell's work DOES this. Photography has never been considered art for years, and even now that it has, even Photogrphers argue over the notion that it can't be "art" unless it's black and white!

 

In music, some would have you believe that for it to be artistic, it has to fall into a category of what rules were followed; ie: No flatted fifths; this sort of thing. Yet, if art is to be the universal language of self expression, well, how can you force rules on THAT? If I go on, This post will be three pages long, and STILL not resolve anything. If Rockwell was an illustrator, then so was DaVinci!

But there is also minimalist art. Is it not art, nonetheless?

 

Beethoven's ninth symphony is a great work of musical art. But using the minimalist arguement, wouldn't Hank William's "Hey, Good Lookin'" be as well? YOU might think of a flag in a bucket of piss as art, but for me, the first Jackson Pollack "Splatter painting" was a revolution. The following hundred or so others were just self-exploitation! (This actually sounded better in my mind than it does in print!)

 

Get off this "art-is-this-or-that" debate. Try something easier, like finding the true definition of "love"!

 

Whitefang

 

P.S. And quit messing around with the Thesauras!

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or, say, there's a videotape that's purported to be of a famous and highly skilled r&b singer having somewhat messy sex with underage girls...should that put an end to the singer's career? I don't have an answer either.

 

I have a related problem listening to a lot of contemporary music: I find the music itself compelling, but I'm sometimes horrified when I find out what the lyrics are about. I was relieved to realize on Tweet's musically excellent song "Oops (Oh My)" that she was actually singing about pleasuring herself rather than submitting to some stranger, but I still have some trouble with the lyric content of the male rap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whitefang, you're certainly right that we aren't going to resolve any debates about art here. But who ever expected to resolve anything here in The Keyboard Korner or any other online conversation? Some of us (just speaking for myself now) blather on because we like the sound of our own voices. Or, more charitably, it's the journey, not the destination.

 

Your "no flatted fifths" example is a good one, especially in light of Stockhausen's more-or-less implicit "no perfect fifths" rule (What did he call 9ths, 10ths and 11ths? "Cornball" or something Teutonically equivalent). For Schoenberg, the rule was explicit.

 

P.S. I didn't touch your Thesauras or any of the other dinosaurs in the exhibit :D .

 

P.P.S. realtrance, I will check out the Blackalicious CD. Thanks for the pointer.

 

-Chrono

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...