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rouge's foam
05-05-2009, 02:46 PM
David Stubbs's new book "Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen" was released a couple of weeks ago, and I know people were looking forward to it (I certainly was). Has anyone else read it yet? What do you reckon? Why do people seem more at ease with Rothko than with Stockhausen? Even if you haven't read the book you might be able to offer a few answers.

I've written a review here: http://rougesfoam.blogspot.com/2009/04/review-david-stubbs-fear-of-music-why.html and some more thoughts on the book's premise here: http://rougesfoam.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-could-we-talk-about-aesthetic.html

Stubbs says the book is 'intended to tease and provoke further reflection, debate and disagreement rather than to settle any matter' (p.2). I don't think the matter's settled - so let's debate...

zhao
05-05-2009, 03:04 PM
yeah saw this book... and i thought about this topic a while back too...


other sound-artists I've talked to have sometimes complained that sound and music are not something the public and the (art) establishment, take nearly as seriously as visual art. music is entertainment for the most part, while "art" is deemed a more profound, significant, and indeed almost religious, experience.

and it's true, only in recent years have sound been *kind of* taken seriously, with the popularity of artists like Christian Marclay. while famous observations such as "sculture is more suited for the medium of sound, because you can perceive 3 dimensions simultaneously; and with an object you have to walk around it" (who said that again?) have been uttered many years ago. so in this light perhaps the concerns of something like cubism can be easier realized with sound rather than collage or sculpture.

would you agree that in general our societies and cultures seem to (unjustly, arbitrarily) privilege the eyes over the ears? and if you do, where do you think this prejudice comes from?

my knowledge of western philosophy is limited, but i vaguely think this has something to do with the enlightenment and the materialism which followed -- sight would seem to be a more concrete measurement of the physical universe - after all seeing is believing, and sound is just so abstract, intangible, and ephemeral.

josef k.
05-05-2009, 03:23 PM
I'm not sure I get either of them.

mixed_biscuits
05-05-2009, 04:39 PM
It's less hassle to pretend, or try, to like visual art than aural art, because musical pieces develop over time, meaning you have to grin and bear a potentially unpleasant experience for longer.

You don't need to sit through a protracted performance when looking at a painting, you only need to stand in front of it looking pensive for half a minute and you've done all the work that you 'need' to do.

Another reason might be that ordered visual 'dissonance' is all around us in the urban landscape - by walking around central London and looking about yourself, you ceaselessly produce unusual combinations of shapes and colours. Ordered dissonant sound is also present, of course, but rarely beyond the brief repetition of a pneumatic drill or revving car. And so we are more habituated to the former than the latter.

josef k.
05-05-2009, 04:55 PM
Also, Stockhausen serves imperialism.

zhao
05-05-2009, 06:03 PM
well he also said 911 was a work of art so... i don't think his politics is so clear... to himself even :D

scottdisco
05-05-2009, 06:08 PM
You don't need to sit through a protracted performance when looking at a painting, you only need to stand in front of it looking pensive for half a minute and you've done all the work that you 'need' to do.

nailed.

scottdisco
05-05-2009, 06:26 PM
loving your blog rouge's!

rouge's foam
05-05-2009, 11:28 PM
Yeah mixed_biscuits about sitting through music - v good point, I said something similar in the review.

I did think it was a bit odd for Stubbs to complain that experimental music and experimental art are weighed unevenly in the hearts and minds of the public as music and art are unevenly experienced by people.

One of the latest ideas in the psychology of music is that with any music, the distinction between subject and object is much more blurred than with experiencing traditional art objects (paintings, sculptures). People often imagine versions of themselves reflected in or enacting the music, so with music the psychological stakes are higher. Hence why a record collection traditionally has more personal and social currency than a postcard collection.

That's why I say that music is a socio-cultural ritual and not an art object. In a lot of 'world music' music is something you DO, not something you listen to. You sing it, perform it or dance to it. This was still the case in Western classical music up until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when suddenly music was an artistic object you contemplated in silent reverence - but the ritual still applies psychologically even if physical participation was diminished. The illusion that music is an autonomous object is a very recent one particular to our culture. Music is a different game to art - it involves and possesses us in a way that art doesn't.

Great quote, zhao - if you remember who said it let me know! Maybe what I've written above answers what you asked - art and music come in through the eyes and ears but the reception is all in the mind (which has its own agendas); visual perception and sound perception are different tools that entail different cognitive processes, and are consequently mapped differently onto human requirements and behaviours.

Just saw this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/02/classical-music-children which would seem to offer a different analysis to Stubbs at least as far as 'new music' goes.

Stockhausen does indeed serve imperialism. But Rothko serves imperialism more - these days reproductions of his pictures hang in Pizza Huts (oh, I'm sorry, 'Pasta Huts').

bassbeyondreason
05-05-2009, 11:30 PM
well he also said 911 was a work of art so... i don't think his politics is so clear... to himself even :D

Apparently he was misquoted on that, and was actually saying 9/11 was an example of lucifer at work.
Not that that's without its looneyness...

nomadthethird
05-05-2009, 11:40 PM
I haven't read the book so I can't really comment on it, but the first thing I thought when I read the title was--eerrr, hello Kraftwerk => detroit techno => hip-hop.
Stockhausen and other 'modernist' composers were hugely influential on early electronic and "urban" musics. I've heard all kinds of people talk about how mixtapes used to be circulated on the streets that had Stockhausen and that sort of thing on them. Lots of hip-hop artists talk about being influenced by European electronic innovators.

So I think it's kind of silly to say people don't "get" Stockhausen. They've just already worked with it and responded to it and used his work as an influence without merely reproducing it.

UFO over easy
05-05-2009, 11:56 PM
I've heard all kinds of people talk about how mixtapes used to be circulated on the streets that had Stockhausen and that sort of thing on them

id love to hear more about this if you're able to go into more detail, or know anyone who can tell you more

nomadthethird
06-05-2009, 12:24 AM
id love to hear more about this if you're able to go into more detail, or know anyone who can tell you more

Yeah, I'll ask my boyfriend, he's really, really, really into that stuff and knows more about it than I do...i think he has an account on here...

There's probably stuff to be found through a simple amazon or google books search on the subject, too: there has to be a book about the influence of German electronic musicians on hip-hop and detroit techno...

Edit: Anecdotally, I remember being on the Chinatown bus to D.C. once, and the guy across the aisle from me had headphones on so loudly I could hear his tape--and it was a mix or mashup of a bunch of cool German stuff like Kraftwerk and Connie Planck-ish stuff with hip-hop. My boyfriend and I started talking to him about liking that stuff and he said he used to MC and DJ and people would spin all kinds of German stuff in clubs (Bronx, I think he said) when he was young.

Mr. Tea
06-05-2009, 12:43 AM
stockhausen does indeed serve imperialism. But rothko serves imperialism more - these days reproductions of his pictures hang in pizza huts (oh, i'm sorry, 'pasta huts').

Pizza Hut Macht Frei!

Tentative Andy
06-05-2009, 01:00 AM
I'm not sure I get either of them.

Yeah, I'm def in the same boat, and my impression is that the percentage of the population who would fully 'get' either or both is rather small, so the polemic seems a bit misplaced.

rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 01:19 AM
Well yeah, "get" is entirely the wrong word. I'd dispute that there's one single idea or collection of ideas to be "gotten", drawn out of, obtained from any work of art or music. Like reaching in and pulling out the secret truth. Nah. On whose terms? The author's "intention"? Historical context? Ideas of the time? What's wrong with today's ideas?

There are no right answers in interpretation. Stubbs should probably have used "appreciate" not "get".

McDonalds put their own spin on it with "Arbeit McFries" http://www.bbc.co.uk/spanish/specials/images/1636_chapmans/1175557_chapman5.jpg

UFO over easy
06-05-2009, 01:55 AM
Yeah, I'm def in the same boat, and my impression is that the percentage of the population who would fully 'get' either or both is rather small, so the polemic seems a bit misplaced.

tate modern gets five million visitors per year (if this is a decent source - http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art64312), and had a massive rothko exhibition recently which was advertised heavily all over london on public transport, newspapers, tv etc for months

what the author thinks it means to 'get' either stockhausen or rothko is presumably something he goes into a bit deeper in the book

rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 02:13 AM
what the author thinks it means to 'get' either stockhausen or rothko is presumably something he goes into a bit deeper in the book

That's the thing - he doesn't really specify "get" in the book, or the processes of appreciating Rothko or Stockhausen clearly or thoroughly enough. Throughout he seems to imply that high numbers at the free-entry, top 5 tourist attraction Tate Modern seems to indicate that "people get Rothko", and yeah as a casual visitor you can enjoy his work fine in that way. But you can't then compare that to Stockhausen: something you need a musical concert or a recording for, which is a more difficult, committed and expensive process than wandering into the Tate Modern.

UFO over easy
06-05-2009, 02:20 AM
does he talk about the way the arts council distributes public money?

rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 02:47 AM
No he doesn't. But in a section called 'The Corporation' he does talk briefly about big-business capitalism sponsoring art and then talks about the BBC for a couple of pages - he's generally complimentary and mentions how the BBC attempted to encourage listeners to try more dissonant music in the twenties and thirties, which I wasn't aware of. Most of the book though is a random history of twentieth-century art and music.

Arts Council would have been a good way to look at it actually - do you know anything about how they distribute funds? (fairly?)

zhao
06-05-2009, 07:24 AM
One of the latest ideas in the psychology of music is that with any music, the distinction between subject and object is much more blurred than with experiencing traditional art objects (paintings, sculptures). People often imagine versions of themselves reflected in or enacting the music, so with music the psychological stakes are higher.

That's why I say that music is a socio-cultural ritual and not an art object. In a lot of 'world music' music is something you DO, not something you listen to. You sing it, perform it or dance to it. This was still the case in Western classical music up until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when suddenly music was an artistic object you contemplated in silent reverence - but the ritual still applies psychologically even if physical participation was diminished. The illusion that music is an autonomous object is a very recent one particular to our culture. Music is a different game to art - it involves and possesses us in a way that art doesn't.

good stuff: music is indeed ritual, and art, sacred objects.

i dont know why i hadnt connected those dots before, but of course art and music played different roles in the initiation of modern humans to the symbolic order via shamens and the first warriar-artist-priests. and surely the ways these practices have evolved bears traces of their original functions. also i think no early social history of these disciplines can exist without also examining the rise of organized religion and centralized government as they were all connected...

"recorded music is canned music" - another quote i dont remember the author of... a jazz musician...



Just saw this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/02/classical-music-children which would seem to offer a different analysis to Stubbs at least as far as 'new music' goes.

his account of younger people getting into 20th Avant-C is only one side of the story of what is happening to "new music" these days... i witnessed first hand New Music programs get shut down due to limited funding, so that the symphony can play the Magic Fucking Flute for the 50 millionth time.

yes i blame the bourgeois death-philes who uphold bullshit outdated heirarchies through their suffocating cultural programs for... basically everything.

i want to shout at my girlfriend's sister who is a concert cellist: that Top 40 Classical BULLSHIT was created as entertainment for the obscenely rich, and you think it is "serious" music whereas everything else is frivolous?!?!?!

zhao
06-05-2009, 07:31 AM
Lots of hip-hop artists talk about being influenced by European electronic innovators.

and Miles answered "Stockhousen" when asked what he listens to during the electric 70s. which i always thought was the coolest thing ever...

but of course Kraftwerk owes much to Motown, Funkadelic, and various other African-American pop music which preceded them. the idea (of their mature electro-pop incarnation, not the hippie early period) was to make the funky, emotional music which they grew up with, except with machines.

truth of the matter is: Kraftwerk would not have existed if Motown, Soul and Funk did not come before. but Hiphop would still have thrived if Kraftwerk never dropped out of Art School.

CHAOTROPIC
06-05-2009, 07:47 AM
Sound is a process, visual art is (traditionally) an object? Something like that?

If its strength as an image is anything to go by, Stockhausen was right about 911. I never understood why people got so angry about his observation regarding the power of the image of the falling of the twin towers. He never said he admired it or condoned it, as far as I know.

(How can anyone not like Stimmung? It's just totally fucking amazing innit.)

zhao
06-05-2009, 07:59 AM
(How can anyone not like Stimmung? It's just totally fucking amazing innit.)

one of my faves. but people object to the nasally voices i imagine. and the unusual tuning.

subvert47
06-05-2009, 08:13 AM
Also, Stockhausen serves imperialism.

good point :)

subvert47
06-05-2009, 08:20 AM
David Stubbs's new book "Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen" was released a couple of weeks ago, and I know people were looking forward to it (I certainly was). Has anyone else read it yet? What do you reckon? Why do people seem more at ease with Rothko than with Stockhausen?

because music is more important
painting you go and look at and then you go away again
whereas music is part of people's everyday so they have more idea what they want
and stockhausen isn't it ;)

nomadthethird
06-05-2009, 08:46 AM
Yeah, Zhao, I don't think hip-hop wouldn't have existed without Stockhausen, but the influence is definitely there. Def for Miles and the afrofuturists, too. (Ugh you're so right about classical music being entertainment for Kings...I mean, I love it, but still it's not the absolute standard for greatness or "genius"...)

I was thinking about it and I realized that the music you grow up listening to ends up being something your brain cells differentiate around...so maybe people have a harder time with avant-garde music because the tonal system (with all of its built-in melodies and harmonies) is so ingrained in everyone's brains. I think for the average person Stockhausen just sounds very jarring and non-musical--most people tend to have an easier time "seeing" abstract "beauty" in colors and shapes, because it's less of a break from their normal experience of art as an abstract system of shapes and colors. Some people don't understand that music is an abstract (and conceptual) system...

mixed_biscuits
06-05-2009, 10:57 AM
I was thinking about it and I realized that the music you grow up listening to ends up being something your brain cells differentiate around...

Yeah, I remember reading psychological research that said that early (pre-adult) musical experience creates deeply ingrained templates/schema through which subsequent reception of music is filtered. In fact, I think it mentioned that one can almost be blind to aspects of music that lie outside of these schema - you just wouldn't hear it.

Identity formation may also be a higher priority when younger, so associations made with music or musical scenes would be stronger and longer lasting - viz the enduring strength of many Dissensians' love for old rave music/any music of their teenage years.

baboon2004
06-05-2009, 11:39 AM
I don't get Rothko really (apart from the environmental art stuff, like the chapel in Houston - not sure if there is any more stuff like that actually - mind you, I markedly prefer street/environmental art to (most) galleries).

Following from subvert47's comment, more people like Rothko than Stockhausen because people don't know many painters compared to musicians. So yeah, Stockhausen isn't what they want, because they have a far wider array of alternatives to choose from. AND, crucially, people don't have as much confidence in what they like when it comes to visual art - people feel stupid if they don't 'get it', and so if they're told Rothko is good, they'll study it until it makes sense in some way to them. Whereas music has been more democratised - if I think it's good, then fuck it, it is.

What I don't understand is this... many people readily absorb avant-garde music when it is allied to something else (eg soundtracks to horror films, or indeed lots of other kinds of films), but on its own, they often reject it.

baboon2004
06-05-2009, 11:44 AM
Yeah, I remember reading psychological research that said that early (pre-adult) musical experience creates deeply ingrained templates/schema through which subsequent reception of music is filtered. In fact, I think it mentioned that one can almost be blind to aspects of music that lie outside of these schema - you just wouldn't hear it.


This is a very interesting area, but I do think that people will still accept incredibly avant-garde stuff when it is 'packaged' in the right way. This leads me to suspect that it is partly contemporary social pressures, as well as something hotwired into people's brains, that makes them reject things that lie outside typical templates.

What about children who are exposed to comparatively radical (to UK or American ears) schema?

baboon2004
06-05-2009, 12:03 PM
and Miles answered "Stockhousen" when asked what he listens to during the electric 70s. which i always thought was the coolest thing ever...


On a side note, did anyone read (or indeed, write...) the Kode9 article in the Wire this month? He referenced On the Corner a lot...

mixed_biscuits
06-05-2009, 12:16 PM
What about children who are exposed to comparatively radical (to UK or American ears) schema?

I would imagine that they become particularly receptive to whatever style might be presented to them at an early age.

That said, I suppose that there are natural limits to the type of organised sound that could be found pleasant or interesting. Short-term/'working' memory probably restricts the length of a memorable melodic movement to <5 secs or so; the human auditory system limits the frequency range or fineness of melodic movement possible to that which is readily perceptible; and there are probably aesthetic universals (minor chords are sad etc).

baboon2004
06-05-2009, 12:24 PM
there are probably aesthetic universals (minor chords are sad etc).

This is a very interesting area I've been thinking about a lot. So many 'sad' songs are written in predominantly major chords - very surprising really. I'm not sure if it's the lyrical content that tips them that way, or whether it's an ambivalence about harmonies that goes deeper than the major=happy, minor=sad dichotomy.

mixed_biscuits
06-05-2009, 12:32 PM
This is a very interesting area I've been thinking about a lot. So many 'sad' songs are written in predominantly major chords - very surprising really. I'm not sure if it's the lyrical content that tips them that way, or whether it's an ambivalence about harmonies that goes deeper than the major=happy, minor=sad dichotomy.

I suppose the simple dichotomy may be mediated by melodic or harmonic progressions, which themselves may be subject to our innate proclivities.

Another musical universal dichotomy may be discordant/concordant sound.


The Perception of Emotional Expression in Music: Evidence from Infants, Children and Adults
Elizabeth S. Nawrot

Two studies investigated the development of the perception of emotion in music. In Study 1, preschool children and adults matched nine pieces of music to five photographed facial expressions (happy, sad, anger, fear and neutral). While children did not agree with the adult majority interpretation for most pieces, their pattern of responding to the music, both with photograph choices and spontaneous verbal labels, was similar to the adults. Important methodological differences between this and previous research could explain the inconsistencies. Study 2 used happy and sad music along with a dynamic visual display in an intermodal matching experiment with 5- to 9-month-old infants. Infants preferred the affectively concordant happy display but did not look longer to the affectively concordant sad display as predicted. Taken together, these results begin to explore how emotional perception from music may be due to innate perceptual predispositions together with learned associations that develop in childhood

As far as comparing discordant avant-garde music with its supposed analogue in the visual arts, it would be useful to have some kind of means of comparison, by which one could decide whether a Chapman brothers gorescape is more or less unpleasant to experience than a Merzbow noisefest. It might be the case that the visual arts cannot be as negatively affecting as music, giving avant-garde music an unfair advantage in pissing people off.

craner
06-05-2009, 12:46 PM
In November 1995, The Wire published an article titled "Advice to Clever Children." In the process of producing the interview, a package of tapes containing music from several artists, including Aphex Twin, was sent to Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Stockhausen commented:

“ 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 [was] varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations. ”

Aphex Twin responded: "I thought he should listen to a track of mine: 'Didgeridoo,' then he'd stop making abstract, random patterns you can't dance to"



Sorry, I always thought that was really funny.

mistersloane
06-05-2009, 01:10 PM
It's a stupid premis for a book. People 'get' Rothko cos he's really easy. People don't get Stockhausen because he's really difficult.

rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 02:14 PM
in November 1995, The Wire published an article titled Advice to Clever Children.
yeah and Stockhausen said about Plastikman: "I know that he wants to have a special effect in dancing bars, or wherever it is". ! Stubbs puts that in the 'Fear of Music' book.

"Stockhausen: '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 [was] varied to some extent and if it did not have a direction in its sequence of variations'."
I've had composition teachers tell me exactly the same thing about drumloops. Both quotes are reminders that as exportable as Stockhausen's experiments and ideas are, as a composer he was still stuck considerably far up the arse of the Western classical tradition.

biscuits, you have some amazing points about identity formation in early years, but

there are probably aesthetic universals (minor chords are sad etc) I would strongly dispute that the emotional aesthetic of major and minor scale are universal. It wasn't until the eighteenth century that the dichotomy of happy and sad really took hold. Some Renaissance theorists (eg Zarlino) had it the opposite way around. French Baroque music is often in the minor key simply as a convention and it still expresses positive emotions, and some very joyful Yiddish music uses scales that sound to our ears like minor scales. Musical cultures all over the world that don't use major or minor scales at all still manage to produce music expressive of or suited to particular emotional atmospheres.


This is a very interesting area I've been thinking about a lot. So many 'sad' songs are written in predominantly major chords - very surprising really. I think it's something to do with a melancholy irony, and lyrics can help to create the contradiction irony needs. One of the most amazing pieces I know that is sad and written in the major key is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjebOaiyztw which Beethoven practically wrote on his deathbed.


when it comes to visual art - people feel stupid if they don't 'get it', and so if they're told Rothko is good, they'll study it until it makes sense in some way to them.

very, very true.

mixed_biscuits
06-05-2009, 04:43 PM
I would strongly dispute that the emotional aesthetic of major and minor scale are universal.

The major minor thing was a speculative statement on my part, but I'm happy to play devil's advocate.


French Baroque music is often in the minor key simply as a convention and it still expresses positive emotions

It might express positive emotions but not convey them, ie. not make the listener feel how he may think he should be feeling.

Or, if the minor key is a convention, there might be countervailing gladdening formulae that play off other innate predelictions.

Or, if the key is conventional to the extent of being ever-present, emotional content might be emptied out through familiarity - the listener may come to ignore hard-wired emotional responses and direct their attention towards the features of the music that are in the foreground.


Musical cultures all over the world that don't use major or minor scales at all still manage to produce music expressive of or suited to particular emotional atmospheres.


Reactions to major and minor scales can be innate without the form monopolising human expression. One would have to show that cultures bereft of major/minor do not make an instinctive distinction between them.

Even isolated cultures understand emotions conveyed by Western music (http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2009/04/even_isolated_cultures_underst.php)

rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 08:22 PM
That psychology study is fascinating - thanks!

So hearing dissonance as unpleasant is somewhat hard-wired. Hence why people find it relevant / fitting in horror movies, and why Stubbs is swimming against the tide by protesting that people hate dissonance without solving the questions of psychology.

Or, if the minor key is a convention, there might be countervailing gladdening formulae that play off other innate predelictions.
Absolutely - tempo, accompanying texts, occasion etc.

Or, if the key is conventional [Rouge: and by extension amount of dissonance?] to the extent of being ever-present, emotional content might be emptied out through familiarity - the listener may come to ignore hard-wired emotional responses and direct their attention towards the features of the music that are in the foreground.
bingo, this is why Stockhausen fans are Stockhausen fans without flying into a panic with every dissonance, and what Stubbs could have spent a lot more time talking about in his book.

swears
06-05-2009, 09:10 PM
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rouge's foam
06-05-2009, 09:35 PM
no kidding.

stubbs seems like a proper lovely guy. i can see dan hancox in the audience.

CHAOTROPIC
06-05-2009, 10:48 PM
It's a stupid premis for a book. People 'get' Rothko cos he's really easy. People don't get Stockhausen because he's really difficult.

I spent the first two pages of this thread completely bemused 'cos I thought people were talking about Rothko _the band_ :confused:

CHAOTROPIC
06-05-2009, 10:50 PM
It might be more fair to compare Stockhausen to another time-based art. Film?

zhao
07-05-2009, 06:17 AM
It might be more fair to compare Stockhausen to another time-based art. Film?

Maya Darren?

nomadthethird
07-05-2009, 07:23 AM
It's a stupid premis for a book. People 'get' Rothko cos he's really easy. People don't get Stockhausen because he's really difficult.

Good point...modernist visual arts have very obvious eye appeal, especially the paintings. Modernist architecture is even more mass-appealing in its function-over-form utopian efficiency. There's the aura of luxury about it, now, too, thanks to its commodification.

But modernist composers were not so symbolically efficient. And so they're not conceptually quite as easy for just anybody to appreciate, even though tons and tons of down to earth people did "get" it at the time...

mistersloane
07-05-2009, 11:15 AM
It might be more fair to compare Stockhausen to another time-based art. Film?

Yeah, some totally incomprehensible durational video art that goes on for hours and hours with no apparent easy access to its meaning or its reason for existence but that looks quite good. Like my work lol.
Stan Brakhage or like Zhao says Maya Deren maybe, but even those are comparatively 'easy' to understand, just because you don't necessarily look for meaning within seeing, whereas hearing is huge deep chasm if you don't understand it. It's also much more unpleasurable.

I think alot of people don't 'get' Stockhausen because they never heard it live, the whole quadrophonic experience etc made/makes his work much more immersive - and thus 'easier' - when done live rather than sitting down with some fucking four album box set.

rouge's foam
07-05-2009, 12:41 PM
Stan Brakhage would make a good equivalent. Interesting that at the Tate Modern, Maya Deren's 'Meshes of the Afternoon' and 'Un Chien Andalou' are looping constantly in little partially closed off rooms, and people wander in for a few minutes before moving on. Traditionally such a thing would seem somewhat unthinkable for music (even though music doesn't have clear representational narrative as much as film does) though it would be a great way to introduce people to Stockhausen and co - have a similar Stimmung room, for example, and I think it might be quite popular (given the generally liberal disposition of the Tate Modern and its audience). Stockhausen purists might hate it though, if they believed it was obligatory to sit still in intense concentration for over an hour.

I've always thought 'Meshes of the Afternoon' suffers horribly in the wake of the pejorative clich&#233;s of film school student avant-garde efforts. Unstable identities, highly symbolic props, cinematic tricks, narcissism, mysterious lovers, mirrors, angst. But it probably looked great in 1943.

Interesting that unconventional forms are worshipped in films like Memento and Fight Club which appear in the favourite films section of the facebook profiles of half of the people you go to college with (crucially cos there's a storyline basis for them I guess), but Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky etc are relatively unknown outside of the BFI.

josef k.
07-05-2009, 02:13 PM
I think the reason people don't get either, or anything, ever, is because they are both/all held up as the embodiments of elite human greatness, and the truth is that it isn't about this. "They" should play Stockhausen in bars; then I would respect "them" - you probably wouldn't go everyday, but it would be nice now and then to go to the evil deafening Stockhausen bar.

vimothy
07-05-2009, 03:18 PM
All this shit has a lot to do with catching it at the right moment. I remember the first time free jazz made sense to me, I was blown away, and couldn't figure out why it hadn't before. Similarly, when I was young I used to go into HMV and stare at the black metal cds, but when I actually bought one (Panzerfaust, IIRC) and listened to it, I was bitterly disappointed. Shitty production, no songs and some weirdly unsettling riffs. Years later, I got into Darkthrone and now I regard them as one of the greatest bands of all time. Or minimal techno, that was just boring -- etc, etc, etc...

UFO over easy
11-05-2009, 01:16 AM
Stan Brakhage would make a good equivalent. Interesting that at the Tate Modern, Maya Deren's 'Meshes of the Afternoon' and 'Un Chien Andalou' are looping constantly in little partially closed off rooms, and people wander in for a few minutes before moving on. Traditionally such a thing would seem somewhat unthinkable for music (even though music doesn't have clear representational narrative as much as film does) though it would be a great way to introduce people to Stockhausen and co - have a similar Stimmung room, for example, and I think it might be quite popular (given the generally liberal disposition of the Tate Modern and its audience). Stockhausen purists might hate it though, if they believed it was obligatory to sit still in intense concentration for over an hour.

Interesting that unconventional forms are worshipped in films like Memento and Fight Club which appear in the favourite films section of the facebook profiles of half of the people you go to college with (crucially cos there's a storyline basis for them I guess), but Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky etc are relatively unknown outside of the BFI.


i was on the verge of buying satantango as a birthday present for my dad but in the end decided to go for something less than 7 hours long

i would definitely pop into a satantango room at the bfi though

Kate Mossad
14-05-2009, 05:11 PM
I have to say, regardless of it's contents, this is one of the worst edited books I've ever read. Too many sentences make no grammatical sense whatsoever. Poor! Also an index and bibliography would have been nice. No?
Rant over...

rouge's foam
14-05-2009, 06:09 PM
I have to say, regardless of it's contents, this is one of the worst edited books I've ever read. Too many sentences make no grammatical sense whatsoever. Poor! Also an index and bibliography would have been nice. No?
Rant over...

Exactly, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought so. Trouble is, if the book were to have had an index, it would have been at least as long as the preceding material!

empty mirror
14-05-2009, 09:53 PM
Sorry to barge in here having only read the first half of this thread but I came across this passage in The Rest Is Noise in which the author compares the experience of looking at Kandinsky's Impression III and listening to Schoenberg in a concert hall... in summary he says that if at first the viewer has trouble comprehending the Kandinsky picture, the viewer "can walk on and return to it later, or step back to give it another glance, or lean in for a close look)..." but "At a performance, listeners experience a work collectively, at the same rate and approximately from the same distance. They cannot stop to consider the impications of a half-lovely chord or concealed waltz rhythm. They are a crowd, and crowds tend to align themselves as one mind."

Most of us would experience Stockhausen privately on a recording, so I am not sure this applies, yet I thought it may throw some light on the discussion.

monobass
21-05-2009, 01:04 AM
This is a very interesting area I've been thinking about a lot. So many 'sad' songs are written in predominantly major chords - very surprising really. I'm not sure if it's the lyrical content that tips them that way, or whether it's an ambivalence about harmonies that goes deeper than the major=happy, minor=sad dichotomy.

Michel Chion kind of describes something similar in his book on film sound Audio:Vision - what he calls Anempathetic Effects


On the other hand, music can also exhibit conspicuous indifference
to the situation, by progressing in a steady, undaunted,
and ineluctable manner: the scene takes place against this very
backdrop of "indifference." This juxtaposition of scene with
indifferent music has the effect not of freezing emotion but rather
of intensifying it, by inscribing it on a cosmic background. I call
this second kind of music anempathetic (with the privative a-). The
anempathetic impulse in the cinema produces those countless
musical bits from player pianos, celestas, music boxes, and dance
bands, whose studied frivolity and naivete reinforce the individual
emotion of the character and of the spectator, even as the
music pretends not to notice them.

To be sure, this effect of cosmic indifference was already present
in many operas, when emotional pitch was so high that it
froze characters into inaction, provoking a sort of psychotic
regression. Hence the famous operatic convention of madness,
with the dumb little music that a character repeats while rocking
back and forth, . . . But on the screen the anempathetic effect has
taken on such prominence that we have reason to consider it to be
intimately related to cinema's essence—its mechanical nature.

The comparison of Stockhausen with experimental cinema would have been a lot more interesting to me. People are so much more willing to accept dissonance and subversion in a gestalt form like film.

I've met a lot more people who have sat through Tarkovsky films or Un Chien Andalou that have probably never even heard more than 2 minutes of Stockhausen.

I'm struggling here because I know a fair bit about film theory.. sound for film particularly... but not really the equivalent in music (despite being a musician).
But is there an equivalent in music of the Kuleshov effect? Something that can bind together seemingly disparate fragments into a coherent whole and make them palatable and even revolutionary? Hang on, maybe that is Hip Hop. Goodnight.

matt.poacher
26-05-2009, 01:34 PM
Hi - this is my first post in here.

I've been reading Stubbs' book and have similar thoughts to many in here. To me the book feels a little like a rough draft (and not just because of the frequent mistakes and errors, which to be honest are pretty inexcusable). Stubbs clearly has the knowledge to write a long book about 20th century music, and why and where it's creation and reception diverged from modern art - but this isn't it. It's too short, too glossed and there isn't nearly enough about the psychological and physical reception of art and music. Instead you've got a series of capsule reviews of entire decades which show an obvious wealth of knowledge and passion but end up sounding reductive and bland. I wonder if it'll be used as a pitch for a longer book?

And I agree - it desperately needs an index and bibliography. And a proof reader with more than no eyes.

mistersloane
04-06-2009, 12:36 PM
But is there an equivalent in music of the Kuleshov effect? Something that can bind together seemingly disparate fragments into a coherent whole and make them palatable and even revolutionary? Hang on, maybe that is Hip Hop. Goodnight.

That's such a great point to make, I've been thinking about it all week.

wonk_vitesse
02-07-2009, 11:16 PM
I'd like to read this book but reading the criticisms here i'm not sure. This issue has been around a while. Look at any arts TV show and you'll find the same problem whereby serious music is not addressed. I suppose TV isn't really the right medium for Stockhausen.

Comparing the two artists you could argue that Rothko is supremely ambient, it superficially demands little whereas Stockhausen, Schoenberg, Mahler, Wagner, Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven all demand a certain length of concentration. Classical concerts, as has been discussed, are rituals alien to many of the public. I don't think it matters whether it's Tallis or Thomas Ades.

Stockhausen's influence on contemporary music ? it matters not, his was just the most widely known electronische musik available, it relates little to those making beats of the future other than being electronic material.

rouge's foam
02-07-2009, 11:51 PM
Stockhausen's influence on contemporary music ? it matters not, his was just the most widely know electronische musik available, it relates little to those making beats of the future other than being electronic material.

A good point. I've always toyed with the same feeling about Kraftwerk - are they so 'influential' simply because they were among the first and subsequently most famous producers of a synthesiser-based pop, or is it the particular usages and musical patterns they explored on those synthesisers that give them a real importance? A mix of the two, maybe.

er.ik
10-07-2009, 03:58 PM
Why people get Rothko but not Stockhausen? I think Stockhausen himself would have said that it is due to our visual society, where (almost) everything is experienced through the eye. I mean, that's pretty much why he made music, to open up peoples ears, so to say.
I don't know whether dear old Stockhausen was right in his assumption that the human ear is underdeveloped, and that listening to his kind of music would eventually help us understand the mysteries and wonders of sound, but I honestly doubt it.
As I see it, Stockhausen's influence on music is not so much based on his music, but on his thoughts about music and creation.
I mean, does Can, Miles or even early Kraftwerk sound the least like Stockhausen? I think not, but I don't doubt that Stockhausen nevertheless was a huge influence on them, from a process-of-creation point of view.

LoraHup
03-12-2009, 08:28 PM
I admit when I wrote that piece that the title was inflammatory, but the premise was more along the lines of what you noted, "why do people so strongly cling to things contrary to logic".

I recieved more than expected mail from Republicans or former Republicans who agreed at least in part with portions of what I said, but I was taken back by several emails suggesting I was a member of Al Quaeda, an American hater, and in one mail it suggested that I be placed in a "tater sack" and have the life beat out of me.

However this has inspired me to further search for reasons why our intellectual and civic standards have so declined. I am curious as to when the shift of teaching kids what to think instead of how to think occured.

slim jenkins
11-12-2009, 09:12 AM
It's easy to look at and appreciate a Rothko as an ambient visual piece for obvious reasons, although many would not rate it as 'art' in what they regard as the 'proper' sense of the word.

I'm not convinced lots of people 'get' Rothko - it's more like buying into the postcard 'cool' merchandising of him.

He uses paint, yes, people recognise that, but Stockhausen's abstraction of sound is presumably baffling? The old music vs sound conundrum.

straight
11-12-2009, 10:39 AM
Because Stockhausen goes EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKHHEEEEEEKKKKEEEHEEH and is a bit more requiring of effort with duration. I personally dont think Stockhausen has a particularly small following, all the parts of his retrospective at the South bank last year were jammed

slim jenkins
11-12-2009, 10:47 AM
A big following amongst a minority?

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 07:50 PM
truth of the matter is: Kraftwerk would not have existed if Motown, Soul and Funk did not come before. but Hiphop would still have thrived if Kraftwerk never dropped out of Art School.

Are you sure about that? Have you heard the first 4 Kraftwerk albums? There's no doubt there is influence but the same goes for Schlager - I don't feel you can point to one thing in this case.

zhao
15-12-2009, 08:19 PM
Are you sure about that?

quite.


Have you heard the first 4 Kraftwerk albums?

since age 19 (love those flutes on the first 2!) as well as all the related projects.


I don't feel you can point to one thing in this case.

in this case one can certainly point to one thing having a much more dominant and important influence on the other. consider the immensity of Motown, Funk and Soul as massive cultural landslide movements involving hundreds of record labels and thousands of artists and decades of history and their unstoppable momentum and tragectory, versus a few outsider kraut rockers messing with keyboards.

schlager's influence on kraftwerk is questionable at best, while they grew up on American pop and proudly admits of the massive influence.

but of course other things influenced the kraut experiments. Czukay's interested in South Asian melodies and African rhythms, Rother's interest in minimalism and repetition...

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 09:03 PM
[explodes]

Martin Dust
15-12-2009, 10:48 PM
schlager's influence on kraftwerk is questionable at best, while they grew up on American pop and proudly admits of the massive influence.


OK, bit by bit :)

Schlager was a massive influence, they even parodied back the lyric style and sang them in German, which at the time for such bands as Kraftwerk was very unusual. Stockhausen was a bigger influence than US pop, the whole idea of concepts and being conceptual came from here and if you add Conny Plank you can hear the start of everything on the track KlingKlang and later on Autobahn. I don't feel the pop music influence really appeared until Radioactivity.

zhao
16-12-2009, 05:01 AM
OK, bit by bit :)

Schlager was a massive influence, they even parodied back the lyric style and sang them in German, which at the time for such bands as Kraftwerk was very unusual. Stockhausen was a bigger influence than US pop, the whole idea of concepts and being conceptual came from here and if you add Conny Plank you can hear the start of everything on the track KlingKlang and later on Autobahn.

fair enough. this line may have been a little bit neglected in my estimation.


I don't feel the pop music influence really appeared until Radioactivity.

also more or less correct: but that is to say the Kraftwerk the vast majority of the world knows and loves, the electro-pop Kraftwerk, was heavily influenced by all those 4 minute love songs from across the atlantic.

and so my thesis remains: without Kraftwerk hiphop would have surely been born and thrived as a natural extension of all the Black American music which came before. albeit may be via a slightly different route -- but with funk and jazz artists of the 70s already enthusiastically experimenting with electronics, this different route in our alternate universe would have been only very slightly different.

but without the bass heavy boom bap of Funkadelic, without the achingly sweet song craft of Marvin Gaye, without this entire cultural lineage, Kraftwerk would have remained anonymous art uni pranksters in the history of music.

Martin Dust
16-12-2009, 11:05 AM
also more or less correct: but that is to say the Kraftwerk the vast majority of the world knows and loves, the electro-pop Kraftwerk, was heavily influenced by all those 4 minute love songs from across the atlantic.

I'm not sure I agree here either, what people "know" and what is true are two very different things. You seem to be side stepping actual documented history to make your arguement work Zhao

They (Kraftwerk) had already started to condense their music after Autobahn and added even more lyrics to all future releases, I think I mentioned that last time :)

If anyone was a big influence then I'd say it was James Brown, the never ending groove was a big influence (Karl has stated this many times) but they always did things their way and had very strong ideas about how "music werkers" do and present things. The big thing for a lot of Krautrockers was that you must be doing and have something original, it must be your own.

You'll find this attitude in Cluster, Neu!, Pop and Faust etc. This is what Kraftwerk did, they made their own thing and that which influenced also became their own because they did little to copy anyone, look at The Model for example, it doesn't even have a chorus! If they'd be copying or been influenced that strongly by pop music as you suggest it would have one.

But the fact remains that what you're saying doesn't really stack up, Autobahn wasn't pop music and it was this track that broke them to the world, OK it had the humourous reference to The Beach Boys but this piece of work is anything but pop music, plus it's very much the work of the studio and Conny Plank, you have to look at the whole history and not select just the parts that work :)



and so my thesis remains: without Kraftwerk hiphop would have surely been born and thrived as a natural extension of all the Black American music which came before. albeit may be via a slightly different route -- but with funk and jazz artists of the 70s already enthusiastically experimenting with electronics, this different route in our alternate universe would have been only very slightly different.

The DJ, decks and drum machines played a massive part, I'd say that the fact that Kraftwerk drums where always on time was one of the reasons their tracks got picked up and used because they are easy to mix, plus lets not forget the instrumental B-Side that also appeared in the 80s. I don't remember saying that they invented Hip Hop anyway :) and I don't know anything about Hip Hop to chat about it really as I lost interest in it very quickly.

luka
06-09-2017, 10:38 AM
https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2017/event/stockhausen-stimmung-cosmic-pulses

luka
20-11-2017, 01:41 PM
https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2017/event/stockhausen-stimmung-cosmic-pulses

going to this tonite its got a lazer show hopefully be a good laugh