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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathAudiovisions
Studie I (Stockhausen, Karlheinz), 1953Kontakte (Stockhausen, Karlheinz), 1960Trombone Propelled Electronics (Collins, Nic)

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audience masters independently and individually.

Concert and Installation

Problems Listening to Electronic Music

How important ‹visual support› is when decoding a musical figure (what kind of facial expression does the musician have? what are his physical gestures when producing a particular sound? and so on) can be demonstrated by example of the Electronic Music of the Cologne School of the 1950s, whose lack of human interpreters on stage and consequently the complete absence of visual elements was perceived as a flagrant communication problem. Electronic tape pieces such as «Studie I» by Karlheinz Stockhausen were frequently described as lifeless, rigid, and unmusical. [7] The return of interpreters to the stage in so-called live electronic music since the 1960s countered this problem either by transforming the sounds produced by the instrumentalists during the performance or by producing and modifying the purely electronic sounds live. Karlheinz Stockhausen's «Kontakte» made the musical effects of electro-acoustic technology visible. Now one could again see the human being making the music.


However, this approach did not always solve the problem to everyone's general satisfaction. Today's audiences often lack a sense of what performers who operate electronic equipment by means of buttons and dials are actually pushing and turning. Unlike the classic playing of instruments, hardly anything is conveyed through physical gestures, because what is hidden behind the individual buttons is different at every concert, while the playing of a violin can be universally interpreted on the basis of the violinist's gestures. It was not without a certain amount of irony that Nic Collins built his «Trombone Propelled Electronics,» with which he controls an electronic piece of equipment with the familiar gestures of a trombonist without, however, having a marked talent for playing the trombone itself. This problem has become even more acute in the case of the computer performers of recent years, who are often nearly rigid and frequently sit at their laptops without a single discernible sign of emotion. Listeners obviously expect more from music than just ordered sound.

One solution for this communication problem is for performances to take place in a new kind of spatial

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