Through his composition student, Makoto Shinohara, Stockhausen was invited by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK to visit Tokyo, and to carry out two commissions in their electronic music studio, in connection with the 50th anniversary of the founding of NHK in 1965. Because of other commitments, Stockhausen was unable to meet this schedule but finally, under pressure from Tokyo, he flew to Japan on 19 January 1966 (Kurtz 1992, 141). According to a note in the score,
Telemusik was realized between January 23 and March 2, 1966 in the Studio for Electronic Music of the Japanese broadcasting system Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), in collaboration with the director of the studio, Wataru Uenami and the studio technicians Hiroshi Shiotani, Shigeru Satô and Akira Honma. (Stockhausen 1969)
The score is dedicated to the Japanese people. The first public performance took place at the NHK studios in Tokyo on 25 April 1966, in a program which also featured the first and second performances (in versions for trombone and for flute) of Stockhausen’s other NHK commission, Solo (Kurtz 1992, 144).
The substance of the work consists of recordings of a variety of traditional ethnic musics from around the world, together with electronically generated sounds (Stockhausen 1971b, 79). More than twenty of these recorded fragments are intermodulated on tape with electronic sounds and with each other to produce « odd hybrid-types »—modulating, for example, « the chant of monks in a Japanese temple with Shipibo music from the Amazon, and then further impos[ing] a rhythm of Hungarian music on the melody of the monks. In this way, symbiotic things can be generated, which have never before been heard » (Stockhausen 1996, 94). Only seven of the work’s thirty-two moments—nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 16—are restricted entirely to electronic sounds (Kohl 2002, 97). The pitch range is deliberately kept rather high, between 6 and 12 kHz, so that the intermodulation can occasionally project sounds downwards, sections « that seem to be so far away because the ear cannot analyse it, so that it entered the normal audible range and suddenly became understandable ». In this way, register becomes a means of bringing the “distant” close up (Greek tele, « afar, far off », as in « telephone » or « television ») the concept from which the title of the work is derived (Stockhausen 1966).
The work was created using a six-track tape recorder custom-built for the NHK studios. One track was reserved for editing during production, with the completed music being intended for playback in five channels, arranged in a circle around the audience. However, there are none of the continually-moving-sound techniques found in other of Stockhausen’s electronic works, such as Kontakte, Sirius, or Oktophonie from Dienstag aus Licht. The spatial conception of Telemusik is therefore closer to that of Gesang der Jünglinge, which was also originally in five channels. For performances elsewhere than at the NHK studios, Stockhausen mixed down several two-channel stereo copies, using a panorama console to approximately position the five channels from left to right as I IV III II V (Kohl 2002, 112–13).
STOCKHAUSEN VISITS JAPAN
ENCOUNTER WITH JAPANESE CULTURE THAT CHANGED THE GERMAN AVANT-GARDE COMPOSER by Geeta Dayal