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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Stockhausen died last week. I lent my copy of Stimmung to my son's teacher, who played it to the class today.

In 1995, BBC Radio 3 facilitated an exchange between Stockhausen and several young composers. Stockhausen listened to some of music from each composer, and provided some comments and suggestions. In particular, he thought there was too much repetition.

One of the composers, Daniel Pemberton, responded thus: "I know what he means about loops though; that’s because I haven’t got much equipment."

Oh dear, poor Danny. As I pointed out in my earlier post Art and the Enterprise, Stockhausen and his contemporaries didn't exactly have much equipment either. Sometimes innovators have to build their own tools, or forage their own materials, before they can create what they want to create. And sometimes that turns out to be an essential part of the creative process.

Stockhausen is a major figure in twentieth century culture - reviled by those who hate the avant guard on principle, but admired by some of the most popular figures in twentieth century pop music - from Miles Davis to Herbie Hancock, from the Beatles to Pink Floyd, and from Frank Zappa to Sonic Youth.

Ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Sources: Advice to Clever Children (The Wire, November 1995)
Wikipedia: Karlheinz Stockhausen

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