Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 – 2007) is recognized as one of the most important classical composers of the 20th century, for his works and for his influence on both classical and popular musicians.
in this lecture, Stockhausen explains his Four Criteria of Electronic Music, and why new music matters:
“New means change the method; new methods change the experience, and new experiences change man. Whenever we hear the sounds we are changed: we are no longer the same after hearing certain sounds, and this is the more the case when we hear organized sounds, sounds organized by another human being: music.”
The Four Criteria of Electronic Music
Stockhausen four Criteria, and how they relate to human perception:
- Unified Time Structuring – pitch, rhythm and form are the same things, but at different levels of time.
- Splitting of the Sound – the idea that a timbre can transform over time over time, splitting into multiple sounds, and this can be a structural element of a composition – composition and sound design are facets of the same thing.
- Multi-Layered Spatial Composition – in an electronic music, sounds can come from anywhere, so space becomes a a compositional element.
- Equality of Sound and Noise – tones and noise are on a continuum of periodicity to aperiodicity, so the electronic composer has the entire palette between aleatoric and periodic sounds to work with. The choices a composer makes about their palette of sounds directly impact their composition, because periodic tones allow for more discrete scales & melodies that would be impossible to discern with aperiodic sounds.
Stockhausen is brilliantly eloquent, lecturing in a non-native tongue, and it’s easy to understand why his ideas and music have been influential.
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