Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Electronic Music Tips (For Aphex Twin, Plastikman & Others)

Back in 1995, classical composer and electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen (22 August 1928 – 5 December 2007) took the time to give a listen to some then-current tracks by Aphex Twin, Plasticman, Scanner and Daniel Pemberton.

While his comments are a few years old, they’re worth reading for his perspective.

Stockhausen had these music tips for the artists:

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.

In addition to Stockhausen’s general reactions to the state of art in edgier electronica, he had comments on the specific artists and their work.

Stockhausen On Aphex Twin:

I heard the piece Aphex Twin of Richard James carefully: I think it would be very helpful if he listens to my work Song Of The Youth, which is electronic music, and a young boy’s voice singing with himself. Because he would then immediately stop with all these post-African repetitions, and he would look for changing tempi and changing rhythms, and he would not allow to repeat any rhythm if it were varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations.

Stockhausen On Plasticman:

It starts with 30 or 40 – I don’t know, I haven’t counted them – fifths in parallel, always the same perfect fifths, you see, changing from one to the next, and then comes in hundreds of repetitions of one small section of an African rhythm: duh-duh-dum, etc, and I think it would be helpful if he listened to Cycle for percussion, which is only a 15 minute long piece of mine for a percussionist,.

But there he will have a hell to understand the rhythms, and I think he will get a taste for very interesting non-metric and non-periodic rhythms.

I know that he wants to have a special effect in dancing bars, or wherever it is, on the public who like to dream away with such repetitions, but he should be very careful, because the public will sell him out immediately for something else, if a new kind of musical drug is on the market.

So he should be very careful and separate as soon as possible from the belief in this kind of public.

Stockhausen On Scanner:

The other is Robin Rimbaud, Scanner, I’ve heard, with radio noises.

He is very experimental, because he is searching in a realm of sound which is not usually used for music. But I think he should transform more what he finds.

He leaves it too much in a raw state. He has a good sense of atmosphere, but he is too repetitive again. So let him listen to my work Hymnen. There are found objects – a lot like he finds with his scanner, you see. But I think he should learn from the art of transformation, so that what you find sounds completely new, as I sometimes say, like an apple on the moon.

Stockhausen on Daniel Pemberton:

Then there’s another one: Daniel Pemberton.

His work has noise loops: he likes loops, a loop effect, like in musique concrète, where I worked in 1952.

Pierre Henry and Schaeffer himself, they found some sounds, like say the sounds of a casserole, they made a loop, and then they transposed this loop. So I think he should give up this loop; it is too old-fashioned. Really.

He likes train rhythms, and I think when he comes to a soft spot, a quiet, his harmony sounds to my ears like ice cream harmony. It is so kitchy; he should stay away from these ninths and sevenths and tenths in parallel: so, look for a harmony that sounds new and sounds like Pemberton and not like anything else.

He should listen to Kontakte, which has among my works the largest scale of harmonic, unusual and very demanding harmonic relationships. I like to tell the musicians that they should learn from works which already gone through a lot of temptations and have refused to give in to these stylistic or to these fashionable temptations.

What do you think of Stockhausen’s tips for electronic musicians?

via stockhausen, waveformless

85 thoughts on “Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Electronic Music Tips (For Aphex Twin, Plastikman & Others)

  1. He does seem to feel that Stockhausen represents everything you need to know about the history of electronic music!

    It's hard to completely disagree with his assessment of repetition in current electronic music–but impossible to completely agree. He is truly a modernist, and doesn't value the idea of making any compromise with his listeners. He also embodies a conceptual dead-end. The idea of newness for it's own sake reached an end with his generation. When you've gone to the edges of tonal, rhythmic and sonic abstraction, you have no choice but to look back at the things you've 'abandoned' to get there, things like steady rhythm, simple harmony, melody, memorability.

    It's not Stockhausen's world anymore. But it was a brave new one, back in its day, and he was one of the ones who made it so. I'm glad he's still around, and delighted to hear his comments!

    1. His comments about repetition feel like someone criticizing a monk for spending too much time meditating. Just because someone doesn’t have the same approach to you, they don’t necessarily have to conform to your superior views. But he’s entitled to his opinions, though he was probably better off keeping certain aspects of them to himself.

      1. Yes, exactly. Even in electronic music, nothing can be exactly repeated – circuits degrade microscopically, loudspeakers are not the same each time the cone cycles in its movements, and even more so we the listener change constantly in our minds.

  2. Good points.

    Everybody seems to consider Stockhausen highly, but if you ever hear his music it seems very dated and unlistenable.

    And, yes, Plasticman and Aphex Twin probably sound dated and unlistenable to a lot of people, too.

  3. Good to know that the favoured composer of pretentious, self-aggrandizing twats is himself a pretentious, self-aggrandizing twat.

  4. I will consider the article seriously when they drop a Stockhausen track at my local club and we all get freaky with it lol. I mean it like asking your grandad what he thinks of Tech House, what is the point ? I wallow in the repetition and embrace the 'african' progressions lol. Yeah he sounds like a twat.

  5. This is a classic article. I realize the responses are in the link at the end, but your only posting half the story here. I love Aphex Twin's reply:

    Aphex Twin on Song Of The Youth

    Mental! I've heard that song before; I like it. I didn't agree with him. I
    thought he should listen to a couple of tracks of mine: "Didgeridoo", then
    he'd stop making abstract, random patterns you can't dance to. Do you reckon
    he can dance? You could dance to Song of the Youth, but it hasn't got a
    groove in it, there's no bassline. I know it was probably made in the 50s,
    but I've got plenty of wicked percussion records made in the 50s that are
    awesome to dance to. And they've got basslines. I could remix it: I don't
    know about making it better; I wouldn't want to make it into a dance
    version, but I could probably make it a bit more anally technical. But I'm
    sure he could these days, because tape is really slow. I used to do things
    like that with tape, but it does take forever, and I'd never do anything
    like that again with tape. Once you've got your computer sorted out, it
    pisses all over stuff like that, you can do stuff so fast. It has a
    different sound, but a bit more anal.

    1. Exactly, art is in the intention of the creator of the work. He can say what he wants but when it comes down to it. If you are making something intended to be a musical work… then that’s what it is.

  6. Brilliantly right and tragically wrong at the same time.

    If the other musicians wanted to make Stockhausen's kind of thing, then the suggestions are spot-on brilliant. But since they have a completely different audience and esthetic in mind, they suggestions are not right; they're so far off they're not even wrong.

    Do think they might make an interesting hybrid piece, but they'd definitely not be anything the artists' audiences would expect, or like.

  7. I'm gonna try and make a new point here, no real reason to just echo other people's sentaments… I'd say in this case the interviewer got exactly what he wanted and just what he should have expected.
    Composers, especially old and accomplished composers often scoff at the inherent simplicity of other people's work… honestly, I'm sure the entirety of composition is pretty transparent to this guy – and being that way it's easy to point out all the technical methodology used to achieve any particular result… moreover, the article was written for him to be Critical of others… so naturally, listing the stuff you don't like becomes easy…
    it reminds me of what I thought of popular rock bands once I really wrapped my head around the guitar and it's parts… I just kept thinking 'these dudes are idiots, these parts suck… it's just the same stupid chords over and over with lots of distortion"

  8. That being said, I think he fails to give credit to the 'jingle bells syndrome' which is to say, for all his complexity and informed nuance, the fact remains that it is the very simplest of compositions that have the truest power… and the fact that there's only a single melody to something like 'happy birthday to you' is exactly what makes it work… what keeps it around…

    mind you, comming from more traditional music, I can agree that I often find most 'mainstream' electronic music really repetative… at its best, it brings out new aspects of the basic pattern with each cycle, but at it's worst, it really is a crutch and a filler… and probably best when you're already pretty messed up on something…
    but then that makes just about anything bearable and 'interesting'… now doesn't it…

  9. Stockhausen was a wonderbrat himself from the start. He managed to create music that got people so upset they shouted down the show (according to the linked Wire interview).
    Btw, that could nearly have happened with some house music too at the very start: "Too repetitive, this is not music!"
    His advise are problematic though. Consider the talk about "repetitions".
    First you change the tempo, or rather wait time, regularly with every note. You get the worn out ping-pong ball on marble floor and accelerations.
    Then you change them irregularly – but how? Some invented rules to create patterns; twist and turn these patterns, and you have serialism, like it or not. Do this for some time with some variations. You have to conjure the rules from thin air, it's hard and not very rewarding. People have used cosmic radiation patterns, chemical formulae and simple mathematical equations. Usually there's no way of telling apart the end results.
    Then try using random timing. It invariably sounds samey, and crap.
    Then what? Create another piece with those techniques? NO! you're repeating yourself now, Hilfe! we're in a fix.
    Stockhausen knows this, he's been there (in the late 60's perhaps?). He made some repetitive pieces too, there are dance parts in the Seven Days cycle (not very good dances IMO, but disturbingly sleazy in the performance I saw)

    So what is his advise really? Possibly he thinks they would benefit by making the journey, including facing the desperation at the end. If so it's literally sage advise (somewhat inscrutable). And slightly dangerous, people have stopped making music after waking these paths.

    But taken at face value, it seems just self-defeating. And the delivery was overbearing…

  10. Random Chance – I updated the image.

    I thought the other image was a young Stockhausen, but I've seen it attributed to both.

    Thanks for catching that and giving the feedback!

  11. I think this guy is wack. Its crazy how people can be MASTERS of something and still have their head so far up their ass they don't know what is what. Classical music is BASED ON repetition, its called the "Motif". I'm guessing he was talking more about the things that are repeating within an 8 bar phrase instead of the 8 bar phrase repeating, but its the same idea on a different scale. The things this guy is suggesting would ruin what we love about the music. — like someone else said, changing tempos!?!? this is DANCE music (to some degree, the above mentioned are not exactly house, but still).. Anyways, I'm not trying to say that this guy is a poor composer, but he def. is a jack ass and has no clue what he's talking about.

  12. I would have looooooved to read his thoughts on "laptop music" !

    This is a really interesting article, as it reminds the warp-raised composer that there's a lot more to explore than imagined.

    Still, it lacks clarity, as Stockhausen is content with criticizing one way of music making and music listening, but offers no alternative.
    And that, in my mind, is the problem with the "classical" people.
    Everytime a classical composer (or even one that is experimenting with electronics) is invited to talk about IDM, Ambient, House, etc. they go "Meeeh, we've been doing it for centuries", but one it comes to actually go beyond that, well….

    In a few years I'll be headed to IRCAM to pass a music IT diploma. MAN I don't want to meet most of the composers there, because i know I'll get the same shit.

  13. so, I read the whole article, listened to the tracks, and two things come to mind that I thought I'd add…
    first off, I think this whole article was really good in the sense that Synthtopia decided to bring it back out from the past to look at again… I actually cannot think of another single article that I've found so interesting and investigative in exactly the direction of assessment I'm most interested in… I didn't just learn more about Stockhausen, of whom I'd had very little knowlege, but I also got a multitude of takes from both the past and the present, from a wide range of artists about not only their own crafts, but the craftswork of others… and even if I disagree with one or the other, the crossroads of possibility are huge if you take the time to understand where that guy's comming from, or to take the advise from those you agree with…
    Good Job Synthtopia!
    and Secondly, I think Daniel Pemberton's response hits it pretty much right… try new things, look at your songs from different angles, but in the end, follow your own inner muse and make music you like the way you like to make it!

  14. Thanks for the feedback.

    Stockhausen's comments are particularly interesting, because they encapsulate a lot of contradictions. He's clearly a genius and has insightful things to say about these artists – but he's also completely dismissive of styles of music that millions love.

    And while I appreciate his vision for the higher purpose of music, he also seems to be limiting himself to the idea that only certain types of music are worthy of serious though and listening.

    Glad to see that it struck so many people as a stimulating topic, too!

    1. “…but he’s also completely dismissive of styles of music that millions love.”

      And you are critical of that because why? I’m completely dismissive of a tv show called Duck Dynasty that millions love. Am I wrong?

  15. His own daughter changed her name because he said that. Even in the original interview, he still calls murder art. He said it was wrong because the people that died weren't asked, but still called it great art.

    1. “His own daughter changed her name because he said that. Even in the original interview, he still calls murder art. He said it was wrong because the people that died weren’t asked, but still called it great art.”

      So his daughter isn’t one of the sharpest knives in the drawer… by “great” he meant “large in scale” or “having a large effect on society”, not “better than good”. He made it quite clear that the ‘art’ of the 9/11 attacks was evil art perpetrated by a Lucifer archetype. How is he wrong? Only someone who infantilely believes that art must come from a “good place” in order to be “art” could possibly see a problem with his statement. I happen to disagree with him because I think the word “art” is entirely meaningless, however his interpretation of the word ‘art’ is inherently superior to the interpretation of those who would deign to criticize…

    1. ” please explain the proper context of artistic mass murder to me”

      ask Charles Manson, afterall many of your pop-culture heros consider his mass-murdering escapades to be ‘art’, and most of them aren’t even smart enough to recognize it as evil. The one exception: Trent Reznor; after the grotesque action of buying Sharon Tate’s house where the murders took place and living there for some time thinking he was the epitome of ‘cool’ for doing so, he eventually wised up (grew up?) after a one-to-one conversation with Tate’s sister and realized how lame he had been and sold the house right quick…

  16. For Stockhausen music is also an intellectual activity. These new electronic groups who play for a club scene are not playing brain music. The use of electronics by some of these artists is perhaps the only similarity they have with Stockhausen. Farting around on a synthesizer is worlds away from working with a set of rules set up by the composer.

  17. Any composer that thinks of his music as "brain music" and dismisses dance music is inherently limiting himself/herself.

    Why do you think that dance music can't be worthy of serious composition?

  18. Wow, people here do not seem to understand what an “art” musician was trying to say to more “commercial” musicians. Stockhausen created eletronic music because it was different and even offensive. He was not trying to blend in the new with familiar but rather open the door for the endless possibilities you can have with this new “form” of music. Electronic music today uses the techniques that Stockhausen created in his studies (thats really what his songs are!) as an open buffet to serve the valid purposes of entertainment music. I mean thats why we like entertainment music because its fun! But what Stockhausen was trying to say is to keep exploring new techniques, give up entertainment and focus on widening our understanding of music (kinda like what Warhol did with visual art). And he does that by saying experiment, dont repeat yourself, give up on the old and find something that is uniquely yours…

    1. Warhol was not really an analogue for Stockhausen’s ideas. Warhol was very much about popular entertainment. Stockhausen was more about breaking barriers for its own sake and didn’t bother much with melody, groove or satisfying resolutions.

  19. So many people miss the point entirely. Stockhausen’s approach to music is intellectual, which most people don’t understand, because most people are still in an infantile state of emotional attachment to music. He is entirely right that dance music is stupid, made for cavemen stomping around like troglodytes. Of course, he was really polite in saying that, which I am not, but that was lost on most of you who felt so insulted by his (incredibly mildly executed) trashing of your sacred cows. And no, he definitely doesn’t have a ‘problem with africans’, nor was he a hopelessly out-of-touch relic of a bygone era. The one thing he had going for him that the rest of us don’t is that he got there first; the rest of us can’t really be as experimental and avant-garde and expect to get any respect or attention. So we have to hide our creativity behind repetitive beats in order to hopefully appeal to the masses, or at least the discerning hipsters. And while Stockhausen knows that making music to dance to is stupid, he also realizes it has a purpose. The stuff he criticizes more is the “IDM”, or “armchair dance music”, as in the stuff that sounds like club music but you’re supposed to listen to it at home, with headphones or something. That’s not just stupid, it’s a misuse of stupid. If your motive isn’t to stomp around like a caveman, why couch whatever intellectual elements exist in your music, around a banging beat? And why the rigid adherence to tempo? Stockhausen’s music may sound dated and less interesting today than it did when it was fresh, but that’s to be expected. The problem is there are very few people around today with the guts to create and record material that is both state-of-the-art and as boundary-pushing and rule-challenging as Stockhausen’s best work. They exist, but its hard to find them as most people are not interested, because as I said, most people are still mired in an emotional, rather than intellectual attachment to music. And most talented musical-types are not interested in wallowing in obscurity and poverty.

    I’ll conclude this by reiterating that dance music is stupid, and there is no getting around that. If you like dance music, then you like stupid music. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means your musical taste is not refined. That’s OK, I feel the same way, but I am aware of it, and I’m OK with it. If you’re not OK with your own musical tastes and have to tell yourself that the beat-driven music you prefer is not stupid music then that just means you have a fragile ego.

    1. I agree with you that dance music is “stupid”. In many ways that is the purpose, and I think RDJ’s comment that was quoted above pretty much responds to that. If I go to club to dance to techno, I’m not there for an intellectually challenging art display. It’s a way to get some entertainment, have fun with friends, and enjoy the atmosphere. The music is simple, repetitive, hypnotic. It’s there to set the mood, provide rhythm for dancing, and change the energy in the room. The specific musicality or artistic statement is usually secondary, if there at all.

    2. Repetition is an important structural device.

      Who’s to say the intellectual enjoyment of music is inherently higher than emotional or physical?
      Having an understanding of music (or anything else) and how it works can enhance enjoyment but it doesn’t replace the visceral response.

      Different musics serves different functions, that’s one of the things about music that makes it a vast and wonderful thing.

      Repetition is an important structural device.

      My very favourite stuff tends to make me think, feel and move at the same time, that’s why I think Aphex is very, very good.

      I’ve thought and felt to Stockhausen’s music but never wanted to bust any moves 🙂

      Melodies and grooves are very enjoyable.

      Repetition is an important structural device.

    3. Valid point. One thing though. There’s work involved behind even the stupidest music, and most of the time its the work of highest level professionals (radio pop). Its just simple as that. To become a (successful) composer you must learn 10x times the usual professional piano player. By the way sometimes it involves learning the styles. I myself spread the work of juke/footwork, future bass sound, any new sound basically, to fellow composers-students. Some react, some don’t. I’m bad at classical music, I’m ok at writing for small jazz/fusion/rock ensambles, and I make money making stupid techno trax for other people, play live. Some make money writing symphonies, but not moodyman-type trax. Working as a DJ is a nightmare, its like peasants work in medieval terms. Working as a musician is better – warrior or a priest 🙂 . But composers are like aristocracy – they sit in their cosy chairs, sipping tea, playing their 88 weighted controllers to sibelius, and send pdfs to client – isnt it great? Not as fun as a night on speed/lcd/vodka/spliff, but much more intellectual.
      Being in every role described, I can assure you – hypnotizing people with groove and sound is an art. To some extent you can learn it when playing in the band. Its like a full circle DJ-Musician-Composer (or something like that). Each contributes and elevates others. Stockhausen sees music as idea in vertical dimension – the higher the better (space age). Our time gives us another direction – networked structure – horizontal (facebook age). His idea was to invent #tag for himself (originality). Our idea is to include as much #tags as we can, while adequately represent them in the content (universality).
      Yes I enjoyed Hymnen very much. Song of the Young was in my player on constant repeat for months ( I still use dedicated player yay:) . For me he was “the guy who sad, that pitch is rhythm, and rhythm is pitch (in the lower range). That thing alone changed/es the perspective on music for me. Hymnen is very important (his last electronic piece), as I know in 66 he left in another direction – Improvisational music, spontaneous music. Let alone, his students formed Can! Can rock band go any better?

    4. why wasn’t he addressing his comments to minimalist composers like lamonte young, steve reich, et al? stockhausen was simply bitter that no one cared about his music after the explosion of more popular electronic music. file under – petulant whining.

    5. You really lost the point when you used the term “state-of-the-art” – whatever that means. You’re trolling hard and no one cares but you. You probably have a hard time relating to people that enjoy themselves dancing. Did he/she leave you on the dance floor? The scars run deep.

      The comedy of overusing the word “stupid” in a discussion of “intellectual” music is refreshing. Perhaps a career as a critic? Not much pay but tickets and downloads are free. You just can’t call yourself a musician.

    6. “most people are still in an infantile state of emotional attachment to music”. As soon as you wrote that, you showed your own lack of understanding of music and of people. If you aren’t emotionally attached to music, for a variety of musical or non-musical reasons, then you haven’t grasped what music is for. Often, the simplest music carries the most profound meaning. In the popular sphere, who is to say that Yes’s highly complex ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’ is artistically superior to David Bowie’s far simpler ‘Low’ album?

  20. electronic music is not the only style that uses repetitive rhythms. all the opposition to “african” rhythms smacks of racism, too.

  21. I find “post-African repetitions” to have hypnotic pleasure and they enhance melodic resonance. Nice try, Karl. Maybe your marriages wouldn’t have failed if you had tried to dance with your ladies. Just go bitch in the corner like a good German Virgo.

  22. What struck me as interesting about this article is that this was in 1995 and I believe aphex may have taken some of the comments on board in 1995 aphex music was very repetitive but in the years afterwards leading up to druqs his music did become more complex and less repetetive.

  23. Stockhausen says that musicians need to be more creative by being more confined to a model the excludes repetition. This approach excludes options, which in turn limits overall potential possibilities, which actually limits creativity.

  24. pretentious certainly, but also some fantastic thought with regard to really pushing out in terms of sonics, rhythm, tonality. i find the perspective of really, really pushing things completely inspiring. why stay comfortable?

  25. Someone should have had him listen to some Autechre…and perhaps also informed him that people who often feel they know the most, know the least. 😉

  26. hahaha. more whining from the bitter fossil department about the demise of music. who put stockhausen in charge, by the way? the onion said it best:

    Atonal Composers Gather For Atony Awards

    HOLLYWOOD, CA— The recording industry’s top atonal composers gathered in Los Angeles Monday for the gala seventh annual Atony Awards. “Tonight is hostile music’s biggest night,” said Krzysztof Penderecki, nominee in the Most Dissonant Piece category. “I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to be here, surrounded by so many legends of arrhythmic cacophony.” The highlight of the evening is expected to be the awarding of the Olivier Messiaen Lifetime Achievement Award to Karlheinz Stockhausen for “more than five decades of aggressively impenetrable anti-music.”

  27. “I know that he wants to have a special effect in dancing bars”
    Well thats what you get when you expose a lofty pretentious composer to the works of the day. Such a big divide between classical, which is becoming a ‘museum’ music and pop culture. Didnt clasical composers use folk songs of their time once upon a time ala Bartok? Guys like Miguel Atwood Ferguson know whats up, Fancesco Tristano, Jeff MIlls Orchestra(s) etc.

  28. Nils Frahm, Brandt Brauer Frick
    repetition is the new age, constant changes in tempo and harmony is old school because its been done to death and pursued to the nth degree. Electronic music is dependant on its machines and as they evolve so perhaps will harmony and the meter, until then I will happily pac man in the “fashionable dancing bars”

  29. i believe true art, like mathematical equations, tends to have its own timeless longevity to it. music should never be intellectual (though it can be), but it should definitely have a “timeless” feel to it.

    anyone can make something more difficult and more complicated, it’s not rocket science. but to create art that matters in its honesty and purity, that’s a completely different thing altogether.

  30. So, I know that contributing to this conversation doesn’t really solve anything or help anyone reach conclusions. I am an electronic “art music” composer and a huge fan of Stockhausen’s music, but also a huge fan of Aphex Twin, Scanner, etc.

    I’d just like to comment that yes, Stockhausen had a lot of very polarized (and therefore provocative) opinions that he was not hesitant to share–largely for the sake of starting a ruckus like this one. But the fact is, the man was brilliant and he now is dead. I can’t help but feel that calling him a “twat” or whatever else is really disrespectful.

  31. I think pretty much all of what Stockhausen says is “spot on” and most of you guys are misunderstanding what he’s trying to say. Either that, or you guys are just biased against Germans… :p
    Stuff like, “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.” is SO true.

    After hearing this, I have admit it actually encourages me to want to change my listening habits, it’s some great advice.

    In fact, I don’t get all this hate/dislike of Stockhausen. What’s wrong with everyones ears? His music is insanely adventurous and rewarding if you listen closely to it. Very few composers have the guts not to go with “fashionable trends”. I’m happy he decided *not* to.

  32. Stockhausen was a big fan of African music. His complaint about IDM composers re-using African music is that they take a tiny segment of the source and then repeat it, without changes – whereas the original would ebb and flow, go polyrhythmic, would breathe.

    I loved this article. Stockhausen had every reason to be a curmudgeon, and his criticisms are spot-on – very constructive and interesting.

    I’d say it’s a great honor to have Stockhausen give tips on your electronic work. It is quite literally like Beethoven commenting on your symphony. I’m quite sure that it’s one of the things that Aphex Twin (who’s a dynamite composer himself) is most proud of.

  33. Music like food or any number of things has many purposes and to limit oneself is absurd as his constant use of repetition to inveigh repetition

  34. I do agree about repetitions! It makes me bored listening to it. I hate that songs which takes 2 – or more – mins of repetitive beat introductions, without variations and that expectation for…what’s next?. repetitions It is not minimalism, its a lack of creativity.

  35. I can’t say that I disagree with him, but really – quoting your own work as an example of how to do things right just makes you seem like a pompous git.

  36. “Stock”. Might have his pieces and almost as much texts to read but this selfish comments totally emphasize what I always believed.. Academic composers are filled with ignorance and intolerance.. Simply, someone answering with “he should listen to my piece […] ” shows a big lack of empathy and knowledge about a genre.. (apart from a well fed Ego..)
    then there is the “oh.. 9ths and 7ths are so “out” moment… What the f%%%%.. To experiment with bad sounding chords, we have the academia. Get the title, do whatever the fuck you want, nobody inside your academic bubble will have the balls to criticise you or the totally fucked up academia situation itself..

    I’m neither a fan of the above mentioned electronic artists at all, nor I hate KArl’s  work.. but I like to set the academia on fire.. Because I love music of all kind and Academia does bad to it (even to experimental music)

  37. Lets face it. the general public has been SO dumbed down when it comes to the arts that they simply don’t give experimental art, aka creative art, a chance at all. The idle rich may buy a Pollard for their mansion wall to show how “hip” they are, but they have no clue or appreciation. Like Zappa’s output, the average person finds it “ugly”. Most of us need/want to be understood, and more importantly, liked! EDM is nothing more than 4-on-the-floor disco music with good synth programming. I am not saying its all bad, or that you are a bad person for having been conditioned (peer pressure) to consume this crap, but there it is. Its a hard reality. Ironically we live in what many consider to be a “progressive” period. In fact, they call themselves progressives. Guess what? They’re not. People, and the art they create were far more progressive in the 1960’s than they are now. Hell, The Beatles put out singles that were massively popular by being different. Now, hits are 99% shit, and its mostly impossible to tell one artist from another.

    So try to be creative and fukem! I love using loops as much as the next guy, but these Stockhausen comments have me thinking again, and so thanks for posting this article.

  38. If my “listening senses” and “imagination and intuition” are leading me to a certain style of music, then I “should not serve any existing demands” from Stockhausen stating that this style is off-limits.

    In particular, I should not serve any existing demands that I must “stop with all these post-African repetitions”, “look for changing tempi and changing rhythms”, “not allow to repeat any rhythm”, “get a taste for very interesting non-metric and non-periodic rhythms”, “stay away from ninths and sevenths and tenths in parallel”, “look for a harmony that sounds new”, or “learn from works” that have “unusual and very demanding harmonic relationships”.

  39. Admin: Personal attack deleted (“pretentious intellectual fools” and other name-calling).

    Keep comments on topic and constructive.

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