Monday, 2 July 2012

Internet responses to Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet

With the first performance of Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet in the UK, or above it rather, just a few weeks away, those with an interest can turn to the internet to learn about the work and its history. YouTube has some interesting videos, including this one on the 1995 performance at the Holland Festival, and a short clip of a more recent performance in Salzburg in 2003. The latter is worth a look just for the comments, which now number well over 3,000.
Sadly, the level of debate is pitiful, even by YouTube's unenviable standards. But it does demonstrate a surprising lack of comprehension in this fairly transparent work. Perhaps I'm being naïve, but I'd have thought that a generation raised on the industrial sounds of thrash metal and suchlike would have little problem with the mechanical noises on which this music is based.
But no, it seems passive hostility is the best that Stockhausen can expect here. Some commentators are supportive, although mostly of the idea of modern music rather than the piece or its composer. And the one fact that Stockhausen's detractors have picked up is that he described the September 11 attacks as 'the greatest work of art ever', a statement that does have a certain resonance when disparaging the composer's airborne aesthetic.
Most responses are a bit more basic than that though. Here's a sample. My favourite is the last one:

what 4 hyperactive and completely unmusical children would do if handed string instruments for the first time.
Am I supposed to call it music just for the sake of modernity?
this video is brilliant. i LOVE Monty Python!
a hideous mockery of music
holy shit i didnt know they made classical grindcore.
Certainly, this kind of music is the most ungodly pile of shit ever conceived of by the human mind.
However terrible this sounds, it still sounds better than metal music.
this is horrendous
just pointless and terrible
Be honest--it's crap.
Stockhausen - what was wrong with this dude! it sounds awful!
Pointless....A complete waste of time.
I support odd music but this is not worth the carbon emissions those helicopters generated.
i could have been watching porn this whole time

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