Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stockhausen discovered Sri Aurobindo in 1968

German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who is known for his ground-breaking contribution to Electronic Music, might have committed suicide after splitting from his wife, if it weren't for his reading of the biography of Bengali guru Sri Aurobindo, which is when the composition Aus Den Sieben Tagen came to him.

Stockhausen discovered the writings of Sri Aurobindo in May of 1968 and it is in these writings that he found clarification of his own individual philosophy. In the preface to Mantra, Stockhausen quotes Aurobindo who says that music like the mantra comes from the ‘overmind’: For anyone who has the capacity to enter more and more consciously into relation with the higher planes – poet, writer, artist – it is quite evident, perceptible, that after a certain level of consciousness it is no longer it is no longer ideas that one sees and tries to translate. One hears. There are literally vibrations or waves, rhythms which lay hold of the speaker, invade him, then clothe themselves with words and ideas or with music, colours, in their descent. But the word or the idea, the music, the colour, is a result, a secondary effect: they just give body to the impervious vibration

In Stimmung the swinging periodicities of repeated syllabic patterns conveys this feeling of impervious vibration that Aurobido talks of. This statement of Aurobindo equally holds true for Stimmung as it expresses an important aspect of Stockhausen’s thinking on music. Jonathan Cott writes:
Stockhausen has attempted to mediate between Eastern and Western musical traditions. His Development of a new time dimension, his exploration of sounds in space, his meditation of statistical and deterministic elements, his revelation how one can transubstantiate one musical parameter into another, and his presentation in his compositions of the process of these changes are all in the service of an integrating conception of art and life

Stockhausen surrounds himself with a close circle of devotees, many of whom share his enthusiasm for the Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo: both his current "wives" - he is not legally married to either - are Aurobindo disciples, and his second wife, Mary Bauermeister, believes that these eastern philosophies have given her powers of astral projection which she uses to monitor Karlheinz's marital infidelities.

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