36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 207: Sound as music


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 207 — Sound as music
25-February-1972 (Freitag–Fri.)


Musik Universal Edition

Spent the whole day in Electronic Music. Even though it appears that I only keep on repeating myself, it’s because that’s all I’ve been doing. It’s almost an obsession to do it, finish it, fairly soon, and do an excellent job. By the time I’m through, it’ll be just about a complete project with method, thoughts, ideas, score, and composition finished. Even after it’s all done, nobody’ll probably even like it…after it’s all over, I might not even like it.

Anyway, work is readily progressing and the quality is good (at least technically). I was confident though, that I’ll succeed in my hopes of providing some type of “thoughtful” and “sensing” experience for those who hear it—a feeling perhaps.

Spoke with the author [Herr Manfred Teiner] and also with Prof. Kaufmann, unfortunately, all of the composition won’t be able to be included in the book, but at least some will. Kaufmann will have to be helping me a lot with it—and we had a long talk. Next, I must draw up and write down my plans—a score—and make it fairly exact. Well, enough about that.

On my way home, met Mike [organist friend], and he told me to beware of the “millions” of police guarding the ______ Embassy. There was supposed to be some sort of student demonstration. The fun thing was that the police can’t really be taken seriously—they’re not mean, they’re friendly. So it was quite a humorous scene. All these police standing around, in front of a Phillips building (or Embassy) with no one else around. What was even funnier was their “combat” dress. Dress parade uniforms.

Good night.


Electronic music. As you can tell a lot of work is going into this project. I’m feeling confident for a change.

Education book. As previously mentioned, the examples of the manipulation of sound is for use in an elementary education music text—for schools. The publisher is Universal Edition. Of course, only a small example of the recording and the score will be in the book. The purpose is to show students what sounds can come out of a single sound. I liked this idea then and like it now. The opening picture is the title page of the Universal Edition in 1975.

Future musique. In the future, when I retire, I would love to revisit this concept. Take the same sound of breaking glass. Then manipulate it using the software, recording programs, audio hardware, computers, and digital gadgetry of today’s world, and see what the result would be. Then compare it to the original—if I can ever find the tape. That would be a blast. One day, I’ll do it.

Fantasy score
Sound as music. I do consider “sound” to be an element of music. I have used natural and musique concrète sound techniques, electronic sound, and manipulated vocal sounds in some of my experimental music. Sound can be musical. In my teaching, I used sound to teach many musical concepts. What happens when you record the sustained sound of hitting a cluster of piano strings inside of a piano (called prepared piano) and play it back, backwards? It is a powerful and slow crescendo. Sound can certainly affect emotion. If you are not certain of the importance of “sound,” go to any movie and imagine the emotional difference of the movie without any of the sound design (foley, effects). Sound is important. Too often, it drowns out the music soundtrack, which is more important, in my view. The picture (left) is part of the score to the composition published in the Universal Edition book. You can see the repetition created by splicing tape, and the offset layering when combining elements on multiple tracks.

The composition, the score. Prof. Kaufmann will be helping me with the project and book. I am completing an exact score. I have this “paper” draft score and when completed will post a bit of it on the blog. The score sample below shows some of my sketches.

Score sample draft

Student demonstration. My first European student demonstration. Europe is famous for these demonstrations. No, I wasn’t in it and didn’t know what it was about. I passed it by. I didn’t see a lot of students. By the way, the Viennese police are very friendly and the whole thing was probably very civil and well organized.

My friend Mike. I mention my friend Mike (the organist) only a few times in this journal, but he was an organizing force in our group of friends and guided me to many of the operas and concerts that I saw in Vienna. Mike taught us the Vienna Opera’s standing room, walk-run-up-the-stairs, ritual. I will always be thankful to him. Guess what? A while ago, I believe that I tracked down Mike on the Internet. He is a successful organist and choral director, including the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and may still be in Vienna all these years. I will try and track him down and possibly do a post on him.


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