PRINT March 2008


stockhausen is gone

i feel sad

not only because of his exit but also i felt sad reading obituaries from a lot of classically educated music critics that talked about his greatness many years ago and then his failure later on . i couldn’t understand how measuring how much his repertoire is played in the world’s biggest classical auditoriums could show his impact on the world . for me , his greatness lies elsewhere .

for me personally he was one of the pioneers who started a new root in music . the electronic root . whose aesthetic is very specific , has its own organic interior , a structure which has dna independent from other music trees . ( for example , the classical : beethoven - wagner - mahler tree or the blues / rock / philip glass branch . ) when karlheinz harnessed electricity into sound and showed the rest of us , he sparked off a sun that is still burning and will glow for a long time . this electronic root is still young . it had in his lifetime all the characteristics of a galaxy just after the big bang when more harmonious and organized events ( like in older ones ) haven’t happened yet . for me and my generation stockhausen’s published lectures had unbelievable impact . he was the most hopeful of them . the 21st century was going to be great . while classical teachers in my school kept moaning about the good old days of music and thought keeping it alive was uninspiringly whipping us into rehearsing 945,876 hours a day , changing the masses of music pupils into ( slave ) performers , putting to sleep any creative thought or the will to make new things . ( that with our sportsmanship , will , and self - denial we could masturbate the old dead beast and perhaps it would groan for another few years . )

a lot of people left . people that were interested in making music as well as performing it . and went on to make a lot of music .

i remember very well sitting in his studio in cologne , surrounded by twelve speakers ( four in the four top corners , four in the middle , and four in the bottom corners ) , him creating a current traveling up and down , swirling around us as the force of nature electricity is . god of thunder . my insides pulsating to his noise , primordial , modern , and futuristic . he celebrated the sound of sound , both in his electronic music and his acoustic music as well ( for example , my favorite piece of his , stimmung , is vocal only , where he is very generously doing exactly that , using the voice as a sound where he explores the nuances of it in a microscopic way , rid of the luggage of the opera tradition or any other vocal disciplines / styles / techniques )

now the 21st century has started , karlheinz was right , things are great , we are communicating telepathically , of course ( as he prophesied ) , and music schools have changed , allowing more room for fresh young minds that are writing music on computers ( if they are for acoustic instruments or not ) , even though i hope his prophecy about the animals—that we would kill them all this century—is not right , i look around me , listen to the rumbles and the noises and all the music that is being made today by youngsters , and i feel he wasn’t so far off

he knew

Björk is a singer and songwriter.