The location is an appropriate one. The great broadcasting hall in Berlin’s Haus des Rundfunks resumed service in 1959 after comprehensive renovation work. Since then contemporary music has been presented there in many forms. For a long time radio was a laboratory for advanced sonic art. The works of Stockhausen, created from the late 1950s onward, are linked to radio as an institution in three ways: he found studios there that made electronic composition possible, spaces where new works could be presented for discussion and it was a medium to broadcast them.
Telemusik was created in a studio like this one, in Japan, as a form of universal music. Its material is made up of sound recordings from China, the mountains of Vietnam, the island of Bali, the Amazon, Spain, Hungary and the southern Sahara. This material is not simply collaged but intermodulated. The layers of material permeate each other. The rhythm of one is modulated with the volume curve of another, the dynamic progress of one with the harmonics and sound colours of another. Their styles and characters are interwoven and transform each other. The world is present symbolically, held together by the creator, the composer, who is familiar with its internal mechanics.
Kontakte offers a sort of mirror image to Telemusik. While in the latter music that has been created vocally and instrumentally is transformed electronically and transposed into a new state of being, in Kontakte musicians who are performing live intervene in an electronic composition. This arose out of shifts in time: single impulses are ordered into rhythms, rhythms turn into pitches and timbres through progressive acceleration. By superimposing numerous transformations and their various stages synthetic sounds were created “in the no man’s land between fur and metal”; in these, human interaction is carried out through the piano (Pierre-Laurent Aimard) and percussion (Dirk Rothbrust), continually lending a new face to what has been produced in advance electronically. The oppositions between idea and form, material and work, existence and transformation are also operating in the background of Zyklus and Refrain. In both cases what the composer has prescribed becomes material that facilitates different realisations.