Thursday, February 14, 2013

We simply are not equipped with earlids

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), the most important and
controversial electronic composer of the 20th and 21st centuries
"Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships," writes Marshall McLuhan in The Medium is the Massage (1967). The "ear world" influence of German electronic composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen, trickled down to the pop level via The Beatles and others bands of the 1960s creating many "simultaneous relationships". His electronic, spatial, and chance compositions (e.g. "variable form") influenced other 1960s pop musicians as well, including Frank Zappa and Pete Townsend. The Beatles included his face on the cover montage image of their album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Inspired by Stockhausen and the Fluxus sound experiments of Yoko Ono (now 80 years old and a huge Twitter and Instagram user), Beatle John Lennon wanted to make his own experimental sound piece. Lasting more than 8 minutes, Revolution 9, contained random everyday sounds and tape loops (some from the archives of EMI ) of cheering crowds, cooing babies, random conversation, orchestral music, and laughter. The Stockhausen-influence as heard in Hymnen (1967), made up of electronically manipulated national anthems, is obvious. After some controversy, Revolution 9 (1968) was included on THE BEATLES (a/k/a "The White Album"). The most accessible Stockhausen sound continuum may very well be the Beatles' A Day in the Life. The culminating track on their Sgt. Pepper's album, it includes sounds of an alarm clock, panting, and piano strings aggressively banged and left to decay. "The ringing of the piano went on and on and on...with an 18 kHz track for dogs to listen to," said producer George Martin in a video interview (below). Marshall McLuhan writes of the Beatles influence on "musical effects":

Myth means putting on the audience, putting on one's environment.
The Beatles do this. They are a group of people who suddenly
were able to put on their audience and the English language
with musical effects--putting on a vesture, a whole time, a Zeit. (p. 114)

George Martin talks about "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles

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