Organised Sound

Research Article

The influence of technology on the composition of Stockhausen's Octophonie, with particular reference to the issues of spatialisation in a three-dimensional listening environment

Michael Clarkea1 and Peter Manninga2

a1 Department of Music and Drama, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield, HD1 3DH, email: j.m.clarke@hud.ac.uk

a2 Department of Music, Durham University, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL UK, email: p.d.manning@durham.ac.uk

Abstract

The legacy of Stockhausen's role in developing the art and practice of electroacoustic music is significant, in terms of both the repertory of works he produced for the medium from the early 1950s right up to his death in 2007, and also the supporting documentation he has provided in terms of scores and technical records and his many writings on the medium over the years. What emerges from this documentation is a fascinating and at times significant insight into his compositional methods and underlying aesthetic, itself shaped and influenced by the changing nature of the technology itself. Whereas his earlier works have been subject to close scrutiny in this context far less attention has been paid to those composed in more recent years, involving the use of digital technologies. A key consideration in this context is the distinctive and highly individual nature of his approach to the resources at his disposal, in turn driven by aesthetic considerations which of necessity become embedded in the practicalities of realisation. Thus the study of the changing nature of his techné as new tools became available becomes a crucial consideration. This article examines these issues in the context of Octophonie (1991) and with particular reference to the concepts and practicalities addressed in his use of three-dimensional spatialisation.