Organic to electronic and vice versa: acoustic and electronic noise through Stockhausen’s compositional practice

Williams, Sean Organic to electronic and vice versa: acoustic and electronic noise through Stockhausen’s compositional practice. In: Music and Sonic Arts conference 2017, 7-9 Jul 2017, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Abstract

Drawing on a range of sources including the realisation tapes and sketches for “Gesang der Jünglinge”, this paper traces techniques which cross the boundaries between electronic and acoustic music, demonstrated using audio examples, through Stockhausen’s early electronic music, the late 1960s acoustic compositions, to the Licht cycle.

Focusing on integrating noise as a compositional element, I connect this sound type back to natural sounds easily heard in the Bergischland surroundings of Stockhausen’s home, and sketch different manifestations as consistent but evolving sound types throughout his compositions. This covers use of octave and narrow band-pass filtering of white noise, through unvoiced instruments and the use of a range of different mutes as acoustic filters. The different electronic and acoustic filtering technologies which are often used in conjunction with these noise elements provide an excellent illustration of the flexible and innovative use of technology to enable a rigorous compositional strategy.

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