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Saturday, December 08, 2007

RIP KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN

"Any sound can become music if it is related to other sounds...every sound is precious and can become beautiful if I put it at the right place, at the right moment."



When I was at Yeovil College around '75/'76 my friend Dave Furber was a big influence on me: he was into Stockhausen, Berio and Boney M, an inspirational blend of sounds that gleefully short-circuited the chasm betwn high-brow and low-brow (and that unlikely brew of shit has stayed with me down through the years)...I came to love Zappa for similar reasons: with FZ hi- and lo-brow were afforded similar Cultural Weight: Doo-wop, R&B and 'race records' linked arms with Stravinsky...

Anyway, I remember Dave wrote Stockhausen a fan-letter which I thought was suuuch a cool thing to do (we were only, like 17 years old and stuck in some provincial town, fer Chrissake) and the Maestro wrote back to him with a really lovely appreciative letter, and sent him some signed vinyl albums and stuff - I never forgot that. I thought it was a really lovely, unselfless thing to do - to take the time to write back to some young fan in a different country. I liked Stockhausen's music (what I'd heard of it - Dave played me his favourites, but I also bought some second-hand Deutsch Grammophon editions for myself, plus this German band that I was into called Can kept name-checking Stockhausen too - Irmin and Holger had studied with him, apparently: a rock band studying with a composer? Woaah: what was that all about? ), but now I found myself warming to the man. He seemed really unstuffy for a classical dude.




His music combined a yearning for the divine and the ecstatic with a wicked, earthy sense of humour (Helicopter Quartet (for musicians in different helicopters), pieces for mulitple orchestras, reviews of the Aphex Twin...) - 4th world exotica combined with primative electronics and tape-manipulation...he gave kids like myself a way into the daunting world of Modern Composition, by making it playful and relevent without dumbing down. This shit all helped open my mind.

Stockhausen and Dave.

Fucking respect due.