Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Is an idea enough to ensure a name survives? So much talk of Stockhausen's ideas; comparatively little of his actual music. And yet it's the music that matters. Isn't it? What are the ideas worth if their worth is not found in their expression? For myself, the ideas were a barrier, not a path. Not the ideas of Stockhausen himself; rather I mean the fog of ideas that other minds smothered him with. The talk of technique, of ways and means, the impression that nothing less or other than a total mathematical understanding of construction could be any help in understanding his music. A path to understanding that instead led to darkness, fear and confusion. And then the revelation of the actual music. The realisation that all this waffle was just that, and clearing that aside left the music itself standing gleaming, not turning the listener away or demanding penance, but welcoming and inviting. No need for analysis or deconstruction, only a willingness to listen. "Don't give me ideas, give me sounds."

Ideas matter. A disciplined, committed approach to one's art is necessary. Because if one does one's job properly and thoroughly, it should be easy for those that listen to the result, if they have the inclination.

Stockhausen was a great font of ideas, and a great philosopher of sound. But we should not let ourselves forget that he was firstly a Great Composer. Perhaps the last one. Is that enough?

Life on Sirius

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