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By Robin Maconie

Gertrude Stein and thinker Alfred North Whitehead have been not going acquaintances who spent such a lot in their mature lives in exile: Stein in France and Whitehead within the usa. Their friendship used to be in line with a mutual admiration for the philosophical pragmatism of William James and skepticism towards the ecu culture of highbrow abstraction extending way back to Plato and Aristotle. even though neither was once musical, either have been major exponents of a brand new orientation towards time and data acquisition that may move directly to impression succeeding generations of composers. via Virgil Thomson, Stein got here to persuade John Cage and the recent York institution of summary tune; via his educating within the usa, Whitehead’s philosophy of time and cognition got here to be noticeable in the USA and out of the country instead to Newtonian neoclassicism, another sincerely said within the metric modulations of Elliott Carter and Conlon Nancarrow in addition to the post-1950 overall serialism of Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

The likely not going impact of Stein and Whitehead on Thomson, Cage, Carter, and the minimalists tells a notable tale of transmission inside of and one of the arts and philosophy, one who Robin Maconie unravels via his sequence of essays in Avant Garde: An American Odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez. Maconie explores, from Hollywood to Harvard, the way track services as a kind of conversation around the limitations of language, serving the reasons of exchange and international relations via its illustration of nationwide id, emotional personality, honorable purpose, and social self-discipline. The research of song as a language necessarily grew to become the item of data technological know-how after global battle II, yet, as Maconie notes, 60 years on, music’s refusal to yield to medical elucidation has generated a circulate of anti-music propaganda by way of a robust collective of big name technological know-how writers. In a series of associated essays, Stockhausen professional Robin Maconie reconsiders the position of tune and track know-how via cautious exam of key smooth thoughts with recognize to time, lifestyles, identification, and dating as formulated by means of such thinkers as Einstein, Russell, Whitehead, and Stein, in addition to Freud, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and Marcel Duchamp.

This foray into paintings, tune, technology, and philosophy is ideal for college kids and students of those disciplines, in addition to these looking to comprehend extra deeply the impression those members had on one another’s paintings and glossy music.

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In 1958 Stockhausen traveled to the USA. His American audiences have been hugely inspired and between them was once Percy Grainger. He visited the Columbia-Princeton middle codirected by means of Otto Luening, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and the best US serialist Milton Babbitt. Babbitt had staked his attractiveness on a section of customized gear referred to as the RCA Mark II Synthesizer, managed by means of punched tape from a typewriter keyboard. Its tone turbines have been a suite of twelve tuning forks. Stockhausen knew instantly that the Mark II was once basically ever going to provide song of a tutorial and formulaic personality. His subsequent digital composition, Kontakte (Contacts) took form in 1959 and was once accomplished in a hurry with the help of Gottfried Michael Koenig to satisfy the cut-off date for the Cologne IGNM pageant of recent song the next 12 months. The name “contacts” refers back to the manner synthetic waveforms are developed out of snippets of tape, and the way they modify in personality as they go through the spectrum of transformation in pitch and time, in order that a simulated drum sound progressively adjustments right into a piano, then right into a glockenspiel or triangle, counting on the rate of swap. In a model for four-channel tape, piano, and percussionist the reside avid gamers try to trap the digital seems like butterflies and haul them all the way down to earth. After fifty years those hand-crafted sounds nonetheless seem clean and crisp. Emotionally the paintings takes the listener again to the uncooked sound international of George Antheil’s Ballet mécanique. The archive Wergo variation nonetheless on hand on cd is from the unique mixdown and should sound a bit strange. In these days of stability engineering, humans have been unused to blending right down to stereo, not to mention 4 channels into . however the sounds are crisp and fresh. throughout the sixties Stockhausen concentrated more and more at the problem of intermodulation, a approach the place the nature of a valid, for instance a talking voice, is inspired at the fabric of a moment, corresponding to the noise of a teach or jet aircraft. The precedent for intermodulation was once set via a section of out of date gear referred to as a vocoder, that could produce attractive effects yet in basic terms with a quick pattern at a time (the pattern used to be sliced routinely into layers, and the contour of every layer transferred to the provider sound and the slices assembled like a layer cake). yet Stockhausen didn't approve of the vocoder. by some means it indignant his experience of authenticity (it have been used effectively to scramble voice despatches among Churchill and Roosevelt in the course of the war). with out Meyer-Eppler available to recommend him, Stockhausen resorted to primitive ring modulation, the acoustical unwanted effects of which are typically painful at the ear. In Mixtur for orchestral teams and ring modulation he seems to be striving after a studio procedure known as flanging, produced whilst a fancy sound and its tape recorded snapshot stream out of synchronization inflicting a frequency spike to maneuver up and down throughout the musical texture like an acoustic searchlight scanning the orchestral cloth from best to backside.

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