Karlheinz Stockhausen - KONTAKTE
  Year :   1960
  Location :   Germany
  Worktype :   Electronic Composition
  Materials:   www.stockhausen.org - all material copyrighted by the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kuerten, Germany
  Info :   WDR 1958-1960

  Work Details  
  Kontakte is a giant leap forward from Gesang der Junglinge - it is more than twice the length, the electronic sound world is far richer and the musical ambitions are much greater. It was originally planned as a piece for three percussion, piano and four-track tape, with each performer controlling one track of the tape with a fader. During trial rehearsals it proved impossible for four musicians to synchronise with, and respond to, the tape as well as operate the necessary electronics. The piece now exists in two versions: Kontakte (electronic music) - as performed tonight - and Kontakte for electronic sounds, piano and percussion. Nearly all of the sounds on tape are made with an impulse generator - an early electronic device made for producing short, sharp clicks of varying speeds and lengths. Stockhausen had discovered that if a click was played at a high enough speed (more than 16 clicks per second) it became pitch - a note. And if a note was slowed down it became lower and lower in pitch until it became a click. (This effect can be obtained by sticking a flat, wooden ice-lolly stick into the spokes of a bicycle wheel.) It is a phenomenon that is at once very simple and very sophisticated. He had discovered the continuum between pitch (very fast clicks) and rhythm (slow clicks) and this is demonstrated to great dramatic effect in the piece. Physical space is again integrated into the compositional process and Stockhausen defines ........ six forms of spatial movement: rotations, looping movements, alternations, disparate fixed sources (different sounds from each of the four loudspeakers), connected fixed sources (the same sounds in all the loudspeakers) and isolated spatial points. To control the spatialisation of the sounds he designed an acoustic, quadra-panning system comprising a loudspeaker mounted on a large, hand-operated turntable surrounded by four microphones that formed the corners of a square. Electronic sounds poured from the loudspeaker and Stockhausen turned it by hand diffusing them to the four corners that, via four tracks of tape, would eventually be the four corners of the concert hall. The title refers to the way the musical material contacts as it transforms between different sound colours and to the way distinct forms of spatial movement interact. Robert Worby 2001. Accessed 11.12.06 from http://www.sonicartsnetwork.org/.../Stockhausen.html