Freitag, 18. März 2011

Article on 'Neue Musik' by Genoël von Lilienstern

Genoël von Lilienstern a composer and a friend of mine published an interesting article on 'the end of Neue Musik as avantgarde in the 70ies' (Das Ende der Neuen Musik als Avantgarde in den 1970er Jahren) on his blog 'avantgardepop'. Very well-written it delineates its argumentation with a few video clips worth to watch even if you do not understand german. That's the way to write about music and culture.

Neue Musik is the german term for contemporary classical music. In this sense composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen or John Cage or movements like musique concrète are associated with Neue Musik.

But things are a bit more difficult in Germany. The term Neue Musik does not only just stand for contemporary classical music, it also implies that this music is on the highest level of cultural and artistic progressiveness. Literally translated Neue Musik is new music. In this sense Neue Musik is not just a genre but also a promise for novelty and social progress and therefore an avantgardist position in society.

Outlining the public discourse on 'Neue Musik' in Germany since the 50ies Genoël von Lilienstern claims that Neue Musik broke off being avantgarde in the 70ies. While interest in 'Neue Musik' was very common during the 60ies it faded into state subsidized academic obscurity during the 70ies losing its avantgarde status without giving up its avantgarde self-image. From this time on pop music became the new avantgarde including some fruitful pop-'Neue Musik'-interactions e.g. Krautrock. Avantgardepop is the way out of obscurity.

I'd claim that avantgarde / progressivist aspirations are alright but if they become a means to an end they will never bring about good music. Progressive music must be rooted in some kind of real tension or discomfort that can never be produced by the idea of progress alone. Therefore the first and major aim of good music must always be to spontaneously act upon the sufferings in reality. Probably I'm a naive romanticist.

Coil and Stockhausen at Sonar 2000
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