Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A taxi-driver writes

I had that Karlheinz Stockhausen in the back of my cab once. Talked a load of nonsense, and his music, what a fearful racket. Give me a nice tune, anyday. Gor blimey.

Update, by Bruschettaboy: Stockhausen and Boulez "the most advanced practitioners of serialism"? The "9/11 bombings"? In the past, Oliver has expressed a fair degree of contempt for the general quality of blogging on Comment is Free; I am reminded of the joke about Republicans, who run on a ticket of saying that the government is incompetent, win, then proceed to prove it.

21 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

"the 9/11 bombings".

I for one refused to believe that our brave boys in their Lancasters had anything to do with it.

Nick Cohen, famously, declared Stockhouse was 'delighted' with 9/11, which was too much even for the Observer's Readers Editor.

Of course if Stockhausen had merely adumbrated his feelings, all would be OK.

12/12/2007 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

I for one would be delighted if more people would put their opinions through the Amis Adumbrator before publication. "These events were guided - don't you feel? - by Lucifer. It was - wasn't it? - his greatest - wouldn't you say? - work of art." Apart from anything else we'd all start sounding like the Suit You tailors after a while, which would (wouldn't it?) be no bad thing. Ooh.

12/12/2007 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Stockhausen wrote Hymnen (the beginning of which can be heard at the opening of Nick Roeg's masterpiece Walkabout). If that was all he had done with his life, it would be enough.

Kamm's a cargo-cult academic. There's the quote from Adorno which doesn't illuminate anything, but shows (look at the page number in the 600s) that he's read Adorno (actually I'd guess he hasn't, but). Ooh. There's quoting, magpie fashion, criticism from Cardew. Ignoring the fact that Cardew thought that almost everyone was an imperialist and whose own non-imperialist music is best forgotten - but that's okay, as Kamm's audience are not readers.

And this is classic Kamm:
"Stockhausen claimed, not convincingly, to have been misquoted."

Given that every other journalist in the room, and the audio recordings, backed up Stockhausen's account - what would it take to convince Kamm?

12/12/2007 08:54:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

there is a beautiful comment about half way down where someone expresses pleasure that at last, the Guardian has at least broken free of the "official" story and appointed at least one blogger who agrees that the 9/11 attacks were bombings.

12/12/2007 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous matt w said...

Cardew... whose own non-imperialist music is best forgotten

Oi! I haven't heard much of his stuff and won't insist on Treatise but early AMM (without the K) is extraordinary good and influential on a wide range of musics. (Nothing against later AMM, but Cardew wasn't in it.)

Not that it would be remotely amenable to Kamm's phumphering about melody and harmony. Doesn't matter, anyway, since Kamm is just fixing on the word "imperialism" so he can bring in his King Charles's Head.

12/12/2007 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Well I was thinking more of Cardew's later period with the bad folk music, or whatever it was. All wonderfully non-imperialist, consciousness raising etc no doubt, but also pretty tedious.

BTW, WTF. Kamm is bashing Stockhausen, hardly a leftwinger, by citing a Maoist from the left's craziest period. And one who let politics dictate his aesthetic.

12/12/2007 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Oh, Scratch Orchestra and AMM were denounced by the older Cardew as imperialist and elitist in his tract (approvingly cited by Kamm). Start with the peasants apparently.

12/12/2007 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

i haven't bothered clicking through to read ok on ks -- kamm really is an extraordinarily dreadful writer even on the occasions he knows what he's claiming to -- but hyper-serialists karlheinz and pierre certainly were for a while there in the 50s: boulez wrote half a book about how to be one yourself (there was meant to be a second half but serialism turned out to be a phase for him and he never turned it in); the KH version of serialism was as bonkers as only he could be, plus packed with quite poor mathematics

this didn't matter at all as the music they were both making at this time was tremendous, of course

adorno and stockhausen were close (in a faintly uneasy way), and big ted wrote well about the (much) younger man's music (including a mild complaint that all this maths homework was what people like him had turned to music to escape)

12/13/2007 12:56:00 AM  
Anonymous steven said...

Oh, I just saw this too. Of course it's utter garbage, even if you don't like Stockhausen.

12/13/2007 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

but hyper-serialists karlheinz and pierre certainly were for a while there in the 50s

yeah, but hardly "the most advanced serialists" - it was only a phase for both of them.

12/13/2007 01:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a complete Red Herring. Nick Davies' talk to the Media Workers Against the War conference is on their website. (There is also a link from Chris Ames' blogspot.) A couple of things in the talk are of interest to Decency Watchers:-
1 about the INC
2 about the Observer

12/13/2007 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Oliver said...

'Stockhausen and Boulez "the most advanced practitioners of serialism"? The "9/11 bombings"?'

Tsk, what more can I do? I give references and page numbers, and still they're not checked. The reference to Boulez and Stockhausen as the most advanced practitioners of serialism is clearly in the context of my presenting Adorno's observations; it is he who describes them (p. 656), in his discussion of serialist composers, as the "most advanced among them". I accept, however, that my bizarre reference to the 9/11 bombings makes us all square with regard to incompetent blogging on this occasion - though I venture that I look marginally the less silly as I wasn't accusing anyone of incompetent blogging at the time of my incompetence. I also have the solace that, not for the first time, Steven has dropped a major clanger, and I must remind myself to check how he copes with it.

12/13/2007 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous dsquared said...

The actual quote is "The serial composers encountered this problem [ie, the problem of whether objective physical time can be reconciled with subjective musical time -dd] a long time ago. The most advanced among them, Boulez and Stockhausen, are laboring at it with great intensity".

Your misquotation of "composers" as "practitioners" looks trivial but is actually quite important, as it changes Adorno's actual comment (that Stockhausen and Boulez were the most advanced composers who were currently working in the serialist idiom) to one that he did not make there (that they were the ones who had been most advanced in serialism).

It's the difference between calling Michael Jordan "the richest sportsman ever to play professional baseball" and saying he was "the richest professional baseball player".

Or to put it another way:

I venture that I look marginally the less silly as I wasn't accusing anyone of incompetent blogging at the time of my incompetence"

see and raise.

12/13/2007 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

"clearly in the context of my presenting Adorno's observations": it is in fact entirely UNCLEAR whether this is to be taken as kamm's observation or adorno's, and there is something rather typical here the way he helps himself to adorno's authority when it helps himn make a point, then distances himself when he's caught out

(it's true that KS and TWA had fierce debates about the shareability of the articulation of the idea early on in their friendship; KS did in fact -- tho he wasn't very upfront about it -- wrestle with this point during most of the late 50s and 60s; it's what brings drama to the sequences of his work in those years)

without being able to look this essay up myself i have to say the dates kamm gives puzzle me -- if the piece stockhausen brought was in indeed in 1950, it's almost certainly a work stockhausen himself considered immature, certainly before the period when his game got going, which starts with the first electronic stucke, in 52-53 i think...; and 1964 isn't "towards the end of adorno's life" except in rather meaningless terms (he died in 1969 aged 66) -- in 1964 he was hale and hearty and had no reason to believe has wasn't going to go on for another 20 years, this essay wasn't a magisterial summary of his life's work

kamm's demolition of steve's point falls apart as soon as you actually read the quotation he introduces for its meaning

12/13/2007 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

the early piece that i recall they had an argument about -- which is out of the canon as far as know, and vanished -- was a work for two pianos; one of adorno's complaints was that there was no articulated reason why it was for two pianos

(also i'd forgotten till i googled that the klavierstucke begin before the electronic works -- it's conceivable adorno is referring to one of these, but i think if it was a known, published, official work, adorno would have cited it) (bcz citing it rather goes to the point he's making, that clarity and articulable shareability are to the point)

12/13/2007 04:17:00 PM  
Anonymous steven said...

I also have the solace that, not for the first time, Steven has dropped a major clanger, and I must remind myself to check how he copes with it.

It can't be much of a solace though, can it, given your demonstrable ignorance of this whole subject?

Still, no need to remind yourself: I have gladly corrected my misremembrance of Scruton's argument, in a way that you, to my knowledge, do not ever publicly correct yourself when regularly proven to be mistaken. In the mean time, for all our entertainment, perhaps you can clarify what you think "western music" is?

12/13/2007 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

western music = "west end boys"

12/13/2007 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Folks, you're missing the hilarious spectacle of Kamm, yet again, making an ass of himself by approvingly citing a work he hasn't read. Follow Kamm's link to Cardew's "Stockhausen serves Imperialism", and you will find that Cardew's argument is a little different to that of master Kamm's.

The problem with Stockhausen is that he represents the final chapter in bourgeoise music, rather than a daring music. The problem with Stockhausen's music, and with "western music" in general, is that it stops "the people" from killing imperialists. Now given the rest of Kamm's article its unlikely that Kamm agrees with this, so we have to assume that he hasn't actually read the book (unless Kamm truly is stupid enough to knowingly offer up such a hostage to fortune, which is possible).

The Cargo-cult academic in action.

12/13/2007 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous steven said...

It's weird that I should have independently thought of Roger Scruton, since the Scruton quotation that Kamm provides in his "defence" is spookily similar to what Kamm himself wrote, although the vocabulary is different enough in the later to render it nonsensical.

Of course, since Kamm did not acknowledge Scruton in his blog post, there can be no question of his simply having lifted Scruton's sentence and substituted terms without understanding their meaning.

12/13/2007 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

I also have the solace that, not for the first time, Steven has dropped a major clanger, and I must remind myself to check how he copes with it.

Over here you did not even purport to provide any defence over several "clangers" of your own. I guess that's a good way to "cope".

I venture that I look marginally the less silly as I wasn't accusing anyone of incompetent blogging at the time of my incompetence.

But you do look more dishonest than your target when founding accusations of dishonesty on... your own dishonesty (see above).

12/13/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Teabag said...

I've just done a fart as enduring and profound as that article.

12/23/2007 12:20:00 AM  

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