Recording of Studie II by Karlheinz Stockhausen
When I heard this piece a few days back (for the first time in years) I’d forgotten how fundamentally good this piece is. I’d forgotten the seductive, if abrasive, curves of its mellow, noisy goodness. I’d forgotten the insistent consistency of it. I’d even forgotten my initial reaction to it when a teacher played it for a class I took as an undergrad.
Conversing with a friend, we mused briefly over our shared experience with this piece. Our first encounters ran much as I imagine others did: we were introduced to the piece in an academic/teaching environment and were initially put off by it. We discovered that we had both felt disdain for the tape hiss, the antiquated sound (“it’s cheesy sounding!”), the cold, German emotionless-ness of it. (sorry Germans!)
Hearing it again I am struck by the warmth of it, the continuity of thought and execution, and the musicality of the contour. I will neither explicate the musical material nor the electronics here, as there are many and better sources for this purpose. My only aim is to either remind you of an old friend that deserves another visit, or to introduce you to a piece you may find yourself admiring very much… some day!