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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,282RA Obit: Karlheinz Stockhausen (7 Dec 2007) (23) RE: Obit: Karlheinz Stockhausen 09 Dec 07

I'm having a hard time finding Stockhausen in digital format. I had a number of vinyl recordings of his stuff when I was a teen. One 3-CD set I have that I am quite fond of is "OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music: 1948-1980" It has some important pieces as Pierre Schaeffer's 1948 piece "Etude aux Chemins de Fer" which is a tape splice piece of a needle riding in record grooves that sounds very much like a train station. John Cage's tape collage "Williams Mix" from 1952. Todd Dockstader's "Apocalypse--Part 2" from 1961 is also on it. I've always liked Dockstader. It has Milton Babbit, Terry Riley, David Tudor, Joji Yuasa, Ussachevsky, Otto Luening, Edgard Varese, Morton Subotnick, La Monte Young, Clara Rockmore, Raymond Scott & his electronium, Pauline Oliveros and others. Liner notes by Brian Eno. It also has Stockhausen's "Kontakte" from 1960.

Ironically, we have the Nazis to thank for Stockhausen who despised the regime and its strict military rhythms and sought to rebel against it. He and Cage convinced me to use tape recorders as musical instruments in and of themselves. I created minute-long pieces that contained 200 splices. I became an expert splicer. I ran loops through 2, sometimes 3, playback heads successively. I played tin cans, brake drums, pans with water in them, car engines starting backwards in slow speed. I even played my mother's Hammond organ through fuzz boxes, phasers and wah-wah pedals. We even had a cheap Commodore computer that enabled you to specify a note by number and I would spend hours typing in numbers to come up with little melodies or would do it randomly and then loop it together. I would play the loop through the TV and warp the shit out of the Hammond simultaneously and record it on a reel-to-reel in my mother's living room. This would be a composition in itself but then I could also copy that tape onto another reel and cut it up as splices and create entirely new pieces. I created stereo pieces that put two entirely different sounds in each ear and listen back through headphones in an effort to force the brain to split.

In the 70s, I messed around with Moogs and Arps but couldn't afford one. I'd go to music stores that had them and would spend all day playing them--learning everything I could about them--until the storeowners threw me out. I learned how a control voltage was generated, amplified and filtered and how filters changed the sound characteristics of the signal and how patch cords routed it through various FX and triggers.

Today I record with synths, a sampler and digital sequencing software although nobody hears them but me and what few people I can trap long enough to listen to a piece or two.

It was both fun and very informative and likely had a lot to do with why I went to recording engineer school later in life after leaving the service. Even in the service, I and a shipmate, made used to make avant-garde pieces with his little Fostex cassette multitracker. Plenty of stuff on a Navy ship to record.

So, thank you, Herr Stockhausen. I'd be a far less imaginative musician today were it not for you. Thank you.

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