KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN (1928-2007): Kurzwellen for 4 Instruments, 4 Shortwave Radios, 6 Computers and Conductor.
Catalogue Number: 05T064
Description: Kurzwellen was written in 1968, and is an extreme example of the composer at his most experimental. The concept of the work is that it is based on signals picked up by four short-wave radios, chosen because of their capacity to pick up transmissions from far afield (with the overlapping of adjacent stations and noises and distortion being a desirable part of the material). Instrumentalists are required to respond to these sounds in groups of 'events' by imitation and transformation according to four parameters, strictly determined by the composer: overall duration of the event, number of internal subdivisions, dynamic level, and/or pitch register/range. The process is not entirely random; the radio operators are required to search for material amenable to elaboration, and not everything that emerges from the radios is subject to musical treatment. The degree of control exercised reveals Stockhausen the canny and practical composer-performer, as opposed to the tenets of John Cage (from whom he may have got the idea of radios) who delighted in any random sound filling the available time (as in the notorious 4:33). This is exemplified, amusingly, in the version that Stockhausen created for the 1970 Beethoven bicentenary, in which he blatantly 'cheated' by emulating radios that all happened to be picking up broadcasts of Beethoven. This new realization follows the original concept, employs computers in the live electronic transformation and projection of sounds (which was originally done by the composer alone), and of course is based on entirely different shortwave material selected and transformed by different people with different tastes in a different decade. C.L.S.I. Ensemble.