Perfect Sound Forever


Holger Czukay in action

Comments on "Gesang der Juenglinge"
(April 2000)

This piece is one of the most exciting and also astonishing experiences a music eater can have. Stockhausen in his composition course 1963: “if I could explain everything I knew something would be wrong and that’s why I have a deep religious feeling.”

It must have been in the year 1958 when Stockhausen appeared live with his percussionist Christoph Caskel in the heavy metal production city Duisburg. I had heard him several times in the radio and among other “weird sounding composers” (forgive me I was young!) he was somehow sticking out of them all. Now I was sitting in the audience and listened to his fascinating way of telling people what was moving him to become a creative man as he is. Then we heard "Gesang der Juenglinge." Some people were laughing. Stockhausen: “I’ve seen people laughing on traffic accidents”. Hmm, silence. A man sitting beside me rose up his hand and said: “Mr. Stockhausen, you are doing this all to shock people and then make out a lot of money with it.”

That was a typical music teachers' ammunition. But not Karlheinz though: “I can assure you that I have done this all out of musical reasons. Where money is concerned I have married a rich wife, so I don’t need it.”

And what remains to be said? More than forty years later this music remains being an outstanding musical jewel though the technical development makes one think this being an old hat. Wrong dear, listening to "Gesang der Juenglinge" makes modern technique sometimes look old.

Comments on Kontakte

"Kontakte" is probably the first 4 channel music production ever. Stockhausen invented a special rotating loudspeaker with a horn, which got picked up with four microphones standing in a circle. Thus the four channels got organically connected and the Dolby Surround System is a logical continuation of this idea.

But how did Stockhausen invent this never heard and imagined rhythm’n’ sound universe? Being students of his, he told us that he first created special rhythm profiles unlike the profiles of a car tire. Speeding them up, these rhythm patterns got converted into sounds (remember the Hammond organ principle or test stripe profiles on the motor way?) and the overtones of those creations “were going out the chimney” as he said. It seems that he was going to redifine what a tone is from its very beginning embedded in floods of emptiness. That might sound a bit far out for you but don’t forget he really created what he called flood sounds. And Stockhausen wouldn’t be Stockhausen if his mighty soul wouldn’t have taken care of it all like a mother of the universe. Forget about all these pattern-level-rhythm-tone-floods or whatever emptinesses and let it leave your chimney. Be surprised how new this music still sounds as if it never grows old.

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