FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 83 THE BEATLES (Why was Karlheinz Stockhausen on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s? ) (Feature on artist Nam June Paik )

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Karlheinz Stockhausen was friends with both Lennon and McCartney and he influenced some of their music. Today we will take a close look at his music and his views and at some of the songs of the Beatles that he influenced.

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer: How Should We Then Live? Episode 9 (Promo Clip)

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John Lennon – Imagine HD

Below a Christmas Card in 1969 from John and Yoko to Karlheinz Stockhausen:

Spin Magazine article

KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN

Christopher R. Weingarten // September 6, 2012

German splatter-composer Karlheinz Stockhausen saw no limits to what you could do (or reasonably should do) with sound, rhythm or texture; so he broke every rule and invented new ones over the course of a career that spanned more than 50 years. He’d make orchestras battle or compose for music boxes; he’d make manipulated tapes ooze into live instruments; he’d bring ring modulators into concert halls. His slurred tapes, synesthesia-inducing sounds, and expressionist bursts of percussion accidentally mirrored the effects of hallucinogenics; so, of course, he influenced everyone from the Beatles to The Who to Zappa to Miles Davis to Kraftwerk (former students!) to Björk to AnCo.

How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

The Beatles were looking for lasting satisfaction in their lives and their journey took them down many of the same paths that other young people of the 1960’s were taking. No wonder in the video THE AGE OF NON-REASON Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” 

As everyone knows John Lennon did not believe in a personal God but he looked at life from a secular point of view and Paul McCartney seems to have followed that path too. How then can finite people hope to find a lasting purpose for their lives in an impersonal universe? Many secular people have struggled with this problem for many years and some like Karlheinz Stockhausen have turned to Evolution for the answer. Others such as the composer John Cage (who influenced Stockhausen) have turned to chance for the answers and painters Paul Klee,  and Francis Bacon  truly thought that a word of direction could come forward from an impersonal universe possibly.

It is beyond dispute that Stockhausen had a major impact on Lennon and McCartney and even talked to them many times and certainly that is why he is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s!!!! Is it possible that his philosophic ideas on why he believed in FRAGMENTATION also filtered down to them? I don’t have the answer to that question but I do want to look at the ideas of Stockhausen and examine the ideas in the culture that may have influenced him too.

Stockhausen on Human evolution – 1972


Stockhausen and his children, early 1970s:
Back: Markus, Stockhausen, Christel, Suja.
Front: Majella, Simon, Julika

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karlheinz stockhausen GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE


Karlheinz Stockhausen & Robert Moog
enjoying themselves at the Lundberg interview…
(Royal College of Music, Stockholm, 13th May 2001)

Lecture 1 [PARTE 1/4] Stockhausen Karlheinz – English Lectures (1972)

Sgt. Pepper’s footnote: Karlheinz Stockhausen passes
[Posted by Dave Haber on Tuesday, 12/18/07 7:34 am] [Full Blog] [Tweet] [Facebook]

It was announced last week that Karlheinz Stockhausen , one of the most important and controversial postwar composers, passed away on Friday, December 7 at his home in western Germany. He was 79.

So taken were the Beatles by Stockhausen’s music that he was included among the Beatle’s other heroes and idols on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.


See this page on our sister-site, The Internet Beatles Album, for more about the Sgt. Pepper’s cover.

There are at least four songs that   Stockhausen’s influence could be easily seen and here they are below:  

The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever – Lyrics

The Layla Story

The Beatles – “Tomorrow Never Knows” Mono

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Revolution 9 from The Beatles

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Horrific: This is the wreckage of the car belonging to Tara Browne, friend of Beatles

Beatles – A day in the life (studio version)

Francis Schaeffer pictured below

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Francis Schaeffer observed in his film series HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?:

The man who perhaps most clearly and consciously showed this understanding of the resulting absurdity for all things was Marcel Duchamp (1887-1969). He carried the concept of fragmentation further in Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), one version of which is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art–a painting in which the human disappeared completely. The chance and fragmented concept of what is led to the devaluation and absurdity of all things. All one was left with was a fragmented view of a life which is absurd in all its parts. Duchamp realized that the absurdity of all things includes the absurdity of art itself. His “ready-mades” were any object near at hand, which he simply signed. It could be a bicycle wheel or a urinal. Thus art itself was declared absurd.

Marcel Duchamp, 1917.

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Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? noted on pages 200-203:

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is perhaps the clearest example in the United States of painting deliberately in order to make the statements that all is chance. He placed canvases horizontally on the floor and dripped paint on them from suspended cans swinging over them. Thus, his paintings were a product of chance. But wait a minute! Is there not an order in the lines of paint on his canvases? Yes, because it was not really chance shaping his canvases! The universe is not a random universe; it has order. Therefore, as the dripping paint from the swinging cans moved over the canvases, the lines of paint were following the order of the universe itself. The universe is not what these painters said it is.

The third way the idea spread was through music. This came about first in classical music, though later many of the same elements came into popular music, such as rock. In classical music two streams are involved: the German and the French.

The first shift in German music came with the last Quartets of Beethoven, composed in 1825 and 1826. These certainly were not what we would call “modern,” but they were a shift from the music prior to them. Leonard Bernstein (1918-) speaks of Beethoven as the “new artist–the artist as priest and prophet.” Joseph Machlis (1906-) says in INTRODUCTION TO COMTEMPORARY MUSIC (1961), “Schoenberg took his point of departure from the final Quartets of Beethoven.” And Stravinsky said, “These Quartets are my highest articles of musical belief (which is a longer word for love, whatever else), as indispensable to the ways and meaning of art, as a musician of my era thinks of art and has to learn it, as temperature is to life.”

Schoenberg Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31

Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg

Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg Photo: INTERFOTO/ALAMY

Then came Schoenberg (1874-1951), and with him we are into the music which was a vehicle for modern thought. Schoenberg totally rejected the past tradition in music and invented the “12 tone row.” This was “modern” in that there was perpetual variation with NO RESOLUTION. This stands in sharp contrast to Bach who, on his biblical base, had much diversity but always resolution. Bach’s music had resolution because as a Christian he believed that there will be resolution both for eah individual life and for history. As the music which came out of the biblical teaching of the Reformation was shaped by that world-view, so the world-view of modern man shapes modern music.

Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude and Arnold Schoenberg, David Raskin. Photograph by Max Munn Autrey

Among Schoenberg’s pupils were Allen Berg (1885-1935), Anton Webern (1883-1945), and John Cage (1912-). Each of these carried on this line of nonresolution in his own way. Donald Jay Grout (1902-) in A HISTORY OF WESTERN MUSIC speaks of Schoenberg’s and Berg’s subject matter in the modern world: “…isolated, helpless in the grip of forces he does not understand, prey to inner conflict, tension, anxiety and fear.” One can understand that a music of nonresolution is a fitting expression of the place to which modern man has come.

(Stockhausen pictured above)

In INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC Joseph Machlis says of Webern that his way of placing the weightier sounds on the offbeat and perpetually varying the rhythmic phrase imparts to his music its indefinable quality of “hovering suspension.” Machlis adds that Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-), and the German Cologne school in general, take up from Webern with the formation of electronic  music which “generates, transforms and manipulates sounds electronically.” Stockhausen produced the first published score of electronic music in his ELECTRONIC STUDIES. A part of his concern was with the element of chance in composition. As we shall see, this ties into the work of John Cage, whom we will study in more detail below.

Stockhausen & John Cage 1972 (Photo: Felicitas Timpe)

(Luigi Nono, Nuria Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Bruno Maderna pictured above)

(John Cage pictured above)

John Cage provides perhaps the clearest example of what is involved in the shift of music. Cage believed the universe is a universe of chance. He tried carrying this out with great consistency. For example, at times he flipped coins to decide what the music should be. At other times he erected a machine that led an orchestra by chance motions so that the orchestra would not know what was coming next. Thus there was no order. Or again, he placed two conductors leading the same orchestra, separated from each other by a partition, so that what resulted was utter confusion. There is a close tie-in again to painting; in 1947 Cage made a composition he called MUSIC FOR MARCEL DUCHAMP. But the sound produced by his music was composed only of silence (interrupted only by random environmental sounds), but as soon as he used his chance methods sheer noise was the outcome.

But Cage also showed that one cannot live on such a base, that the chance concept of the universe does not fit the universe as it is. Cage is an expert in mycology, the science of mushrooms. And he himself said, “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operation, I would die shortly.” Mushroom picking must be carefully discriminative. His theory of the universe does not fit the universe that exists.

All of this music by chance, which results in noise, makes a strange contrast to the airplanes sitting in our airports or slicing through our skies. An airplane is carefully formed; it is orderly (and many would also think it beautiful). This is in sharp contrast to the intellectualized art which states that the universe is chance. Why is the airplane carefully formed and orderly, and what Cage produced utter noise? Simply because an airplane must fit the orderly flow lines of the universe if it is to fly!

Sir Archibald Russel (1905-) was the British designer for the Concorde airliner. In a NEWSWEEK: European Edition interview (February 16, 1976) he was asked : “Many people find that the Concorde is a work of art in its design. Did you consider its aesthetic appearance when you were designing it?” His answer was, “When one designs an airplane, he must stay as close as possible to the laws of nature. You are really playing with the laws of nature and trying not to offend them. It so happens that our ideas of beauty are those of nature. That’s why I doubt that the Russian supersonic airplane is a crib of ours. The Russians have the same basic phenomena imposed on them by nature as we do.”

Cage’s music and the world-view for which it is the vehicle do not fit the universe that is. Someone might here bring in Einstein, Werner Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty and quantum, but we have considered them on page 162, and so will not repeat the discussion here. The universe is not what Cage in his music and Pollock in his painting say it is. And we must add that Cage’s music does not fit what people are, either. It has had to become increasingly spectacular to keep interest; for example, a nude cellist has played Cage’s music under water.

A further question is: Is this art really art? Is it not rather a bare philosophic, intellectual statement, separated from the fullness of who people are and the fullness of what the universe is? The more it tends to be only an intellectual statement, rather than a work of art, the more it becomes anti-art.

Below Francis Schaeffer discusses below the art of Francis Bacon then he skips over to Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, and John Cage and compares them to Bacon in their view that possibly that a message break forth  from the impersonal chance universe:

I have an essay on Francis Bacon by John Russell. Methuan published it in London in 1964.

Bacon goes on, “In my case all painting–and the older I get, the more it becomes so–is an accident.” Now this is very important and to think of Jackson Pollock putting on his paint as a pure accident and you may remember my lecture on Paul Klee.

(Paul Klee, Obstbergweg 6, Bern, 1897)

Paul Klee (1879-1940) speaks of some of his paintings as though they were a kind of Ouija board. Klee thinks that the universe can speak through his paintings. Not because he believes there are spirits there to speak, but because he hopes that the universe will push through and cause a kind of automatic writing, this time in painting. It is an automatic writing with no one there, as far as anyone knows, but the hope that the “universe” will speak.We think of John Cage with the universe speaking though chance.

(Painting: Francis Bacon, Self-Portrait, 1969)

Now Bacon continues and he says something very similar to what Pollock, Cage and Klee believed, “I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things that are very much better than I could make it do. Perhaps one could say it’s not an accident, because it becomes a selective process what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.”

Now here from Francis Bacon’s own viewpoint. An absurd universe in a total sense and in some element of the paint taking on its own personality and a message may come through from impersonal source.

(Francis Bacon below)

 

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Head VI (1949, by Francis Bacon)

Lecture 1 [PARTE 2/4] Stockhausen Karlheinz – English Lectures (1972)

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Electronic Music Pioneer

People + Opinion : Artists / Engineers / Producers / Programmers

Karlheinz Stockhausen lectures on <em>Kontakte</em>, one of his most significant works, at the well–known summer school in Darmstadt, Germany, 1961. Karlheinz Stockhausen lectures on Kontakte, one of his most significant works, at the well–known summer school in Darmstadt, Germany, 1961.Photo: Archive of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kuerten

Few individuals have influenced the development of electronic music as much as Karlheinz Stockhausen, who died last December. We look back at his life and celebrate his many achievements.

Tim Whitelaw

As you glance over Peter Blake’s iconic cover artwork for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, take a closer look at the face fifth from the left on the top row. It is the face of Karlheinz Stockhausen, the German composer of over 350 pieces of classical music, in his mid–30s in this photo, who died on December 5th at the age of 79.

For over 50 years, Stockhausen was a giant of the classical music world: iconoclastic, innovative, and often controversial. He was renowned for his refusal to accept conventional forms and boundaries, and his music was often conceived in outlandishly large terms — his seven–day–long opera Licht, 26 years in the making, will finally receive its first performance in 2008. But his influence and admirers extend far beyond the frontiers of classical music, and artists as diverse as Björk, the Beatles, Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Frank Zappa, David Bowie and Miles Davis have all noted or paid tribute to Stockhausen’s influence on their work.

Post–African Repetitions

At first, this might seem strange; after all, Stockhausen was a fastidious critic of popular music, complaining of its reliance on repetition and consequent predictability. In a memorable exchange published in The Wire in 1995, he recommended that Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) listen to more of his music “because he would then immediately stop with all these post–African repetitions”. Richard James retorted that Stockhausen should listen to more Aphex Twin; “then he’d stop making abstract random patterns you can’t dance to”.

So how did Stockhausen, whose own music could ostensibly not be further from most popular music in its sensibility and scope, end up being admired by popular musicians around the globe — not to mention having a spot on the Sergeant Pepper album cover alongside such pop culture icons as Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan?

Karlheinz StockhausenThe answer lies in his prodigious output of electronic music. Throughout the course of his 50–year composing career, Stockhausen produced over 140 works employing electronics in some capacity, and many of those works (particularly those from the ’50s and ’60s) played a pivotal role in anticipating and helping to form what might be described as the grammar of electronic music. He was among the first to employ techniques such as sampling, directional sound, the blending of live and electronic performance, the complex analysis of acoustic sounds and the mimicking of their characteristics in electronic music, and much else besides. In the days when electronic music was largely uncharted territory, Stockhausen was one of its boldest and most influential pioneers.

Lecture 1 [PARTE 3/4] Stockhausen Karlheinz – English Lectures (1972)

The Art Of The State

To understand his impact, a little context might be helpful. Although popular music has largely led the way in producing innovative electronic music techniques and developments over the last 30 years or so, it wasn’t always this way. Before the advent of commercial synthesizers, the expense of the equipment required for creating electronic music (not to mention the space needed to accommodate it) was so prohibitive that it largely confined experimentation to universities and state broadcasters — institutions which tended to patronise classical composers. At that stage, the union of electronic music, then based on tape recording techniques, and popular music, then based very much around live performance, seemed to be a far–fetched idea.

Therefore, in the postwar period, Europe’s most technically advanced facilities were often run by state broadcasters: the WDR Electronic Studio in Germany, built in 1951, hosted many of Europe’s electronic composers in the ’50s and ’60s. Later, the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, established in London in 1958, would lead the way in British electronic music. In the US, meanwhile, the world’s first programmable electronic music synthesizer — the room–sized RCA Mark II — was built at Columbia University in New York in 1957, funded by a massive grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Suffice to say, in its infancy, electronic music creation was a serious and expensive business, beyond the reach, and probably the interest, of most pop musicians.

It was onto this landscape that Stockhausen emerged as a young classical composer in the ’50s. Born in the village of Moedrath, near Cologne, in 1928, he became a student of musicology, philosophy and German literature at the University of Cologne in his late teens. Following the completion of his degree, he studied in Paris for a short time, before taking up a position at the then newly established WDR music studio in Cologne. He dabbled, as did most electronic composers at that time, in musique concrète — the art of creating musical pieces from recorded sounds and manipulating them via tape techniques. But the limitations of this approach soon became apparent to Stockhausen, and he began to seek to expand the creative horizons of electronic music.

His first important electronic pieces — Studie I and II of 1952 and 1953 respectively — are sonic explorations using pure sine waves, sometimes reverberated, cut off or reversed. Although the pieces are fascinating artifacts of early electronic music, Stockhausen later admitted that they were constrained by both his command of the technology and the limitations of the technology itself. But they are undoubtedly milestones of a sort, in that they are among the first pieces composed by a musician using electronic sounds created from raw waveforms. The task of creating music in this way was complex enough that up to that time few musicians had attempted it, musique concrète being the preferred medium.

Making Contact

Stockhausen at work on the electronic elements of <em>Hymnen</em> in the WDR Electronic Studio, Cologne, where much of his most important work was completed.Stockhausen at work on the electronic elements of Hymnen in the WDR Electronic Studio, Cologne, where much of his most important work was completed.Stockhausen’s first electronic masterpiece arrived in 1956 with Gesang der Junglinge (Song of the Youths) — apparently, Paul McCartney’s favourite piece of his. Created at the WDR studios, it is a 13–minute work of beguiling complexity. It is built around 11 basic electronic elements (mainly sine waves, filtered and modulated in different ways, and electronic clicks) interacting with recordings of the voice of a boy singing (hence the title), producing some highly intricate and fresh–sounding musical effects. Significantly, it was the first piece that combined synthesized sounds with musique concrète, setting the purity and sterility of one against the familiarity of the other, a dramatic contrast then quite new in electronic music.

The piece also represented one of the first musical experiments with spatial effects: creating the piece for five–channel tape, with each channel played back through a different loudspeaker, allowed Stockhausen to begin exploring the directionality of sound in performance, adding another dimension to electronic music performance, which he would develop further in subsequent works.

In 1960, Stockhausen completed Kontakte (Contacts), which would soon be regarded as a key work in the evolution of electronic music. It was among the first to combine electronics and live performance, employing a four–channel tape recording along with live percussion instruments and piano.

The piece’s innovations are numerous. For example, Stockhausen wanted to be able to imitate the live percussion with his electronic sounds. To do this, he engaged in an incredibly detailed spectral analysis of the acoustic sound sources — drums, bells and the like — using their characteristics to shape the electronic sounds. The result doesn’t attempt to mimic the sounds precisely, but uses their characteristics to come up with electronic doppelgangers for them. His distillation of the character of these timbres of metal, skin, and wood into electronic sounds remains incredibly impressive considering the means at his disposal, and anticipates the sound–shaping techniques that would help form much of the electronic sound palette before the advent of sampling.

Kontakte also further explored the directionality of recorded sound, this time combined with live performers. A four–channel tape with four loudspeakers allowed Stockhausen to pass his sounds around and across the audience in an elaborate and dramatic use of acoustic space that might be seen as an early precursor to surround sound.

The WDR Electronic Studio also housed an EMS Synthi 100 modular synthesizer; this photo shows the composer during the production of his piece <em>Sirius</em>. The WDR Electronic Studio also housed an EMS Synthi 100 modular synthesizer; this photo shows the composer during the production of his piece Sirius.Today, to hear Kontakte, even if only in its stereo reduction, is to marvel at its sonic complexity. The detail and intricacy of its sound world is stunning, even to ears accustomed to the limitless possibilities of modern sampling and synthesis. Try to imagine how the piece might have sounded to young musicians of the late ’50s or early ’60s, and you get some understanding of why Stockhausen began to attract attention from across the wider musical world.

His 1967 work Hymnen (Anthems) was particularly significant in this respect. A nearly two hour–long work for tape, Hymnenbegins with scattered fragments of short–wave radio public broadcasts, which are gradually joined by recordings of various national anthems from around the world, as well as synthesized electronic sounds. The piece slowly evolves in to a sort of hallucinatory collage, with the radio broadcasts, national anthems and electronic sounds weaving in and out of one another. With its trance–like sound world and leftish political overtones, Hymnen cast its spell far outside classical music circles — in fact, of all Stockhausen’s electronic works, it seemed to become the one pop musicians became most often enamoured of. Indeed, by the mid–’60s, many of the innovative popular musicians of the era were beginning to take note of the possibilities that Stockhausen’s work seemed to unveil. And among his admirers were the most popular pop musicians of all: Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Lecture 1 [PARTE 4/4] Stockhausen Karlheinz – English Lectures (1972)

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More Helicopter!

Stockhausen retained his interest in electronic composition throughout his life. This photo, again taken in WDR, dates from 1996.Stockhausen retained his interest in electronic composition throughout his life. This photo, again taken in WDR, dates from 1996.Stockhausen continued composing with electronics throughout his life, and in his later years he could often be found at electronic music festivals across Europe, attending performances of his own pieces or overseeing new works. His passion for pushing the envelope never seemed to dim; perhaps the most striking work of his later years is theHelicopter String Quartet of the mid–’90s, a piece which called for four helicopters, a string quartet, and swathes of loudspeakers, televisions and audio processing equipment. Electronically blending the music of the string quartet with the rotor noise of the helicopters, the piece seemed conceived to prove Stockhausen’s theory that “any sound can become music if it is related to other sounds”.

It’s unlikely, of course, that the sampled beats of hip–hop or the studio experiments of rock musicians, or indeed the “post–African repetitions” of Aphex Twin, were what he had in mind in saying this. But whether he intended it or not, his was the path that helped lead the way..

Further Investigation

If you want to find out more about the life, work and opinions of Karlheinz Stockhausen, a good starting point would be a visit to his web site (www.stockhausen.org). This offers a range of resources, including an on–line shop selling CDs, scores, books and videos.

Stockhausen Interview

2 Answers

Jon Pennington

Jon Pennington, Aspiring Beatleologist

In 1961, several years before she met John Lennon, Yoko Ono was the main performer at a concert in Carnegie Hall, which featured experimental and electronic music that could be viewed as a precursor to Revolution 9.  The section of the 1961 concert that most closely resembles Revolution 9 appears to be a performance piece called “Of a Grapefruit in the World of Park.”  I cannot locate a video or recording of this performance (which can be fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your point of view), but a description of the performance piece I found in somebody’s thesis describes it as consisting of “a taped background of mumbled words and wild laughter, musicians playing atonally, and a performer reading the accompanying text with an unemotional voice.”In addition to Yoko Ono’s own experience staging concerts where electronic music was played, she was heavily involved in the Fluxus art movement, which allowed her to develop close relationships with several experimental composers.  First of all, in 1961, Yoko Ono was still married to her first husband, the Japanese electronic composer, Toshi Ichiyanagi.  In addition, while she was living in New York, Ono and her husband took courses in experimental music at the New School for Social Research, where they met another electronic composer, Richard Maxfield.  Maxfield influenced Ono’s early 1960s work, and he’s even listed as “electronic technical assistant” in the poster for Ono’s 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.  Ono’s previous friendship with Richard Maxfield is probably one of the most frequently unacknowledged influences on Revolution 9.

Another influence on the development of Revolution 9 is the friendly competition between Paul McCartney and John Lennon to see who could come up with the most innovative compositional techniques. As early as 1965, Paul McCartney privately began making homemade experimental recordings of tape music that relied heavily on splices from a reel-to-reel tape recorder andmusique concrète sound effects.  In February 1966, Paul McCartney went with his close friend Barry Miles to a concert by the Italian electronic composer, Luciano Berio, after which McCartney and Berio had a little mutual admiration society.  By April 1966, perhaps emboldened by his previous encounter with Berio, McCartney brought one of his homemade experimental tapes to the studio, which was incorporated into the track Tomorrow Never Knows.

Paul McCartney meets Italian electronic composer Luciano Berio.

By the time John Lennon was thinking about releasing his own experimental tape music in 1968, Paul had been experimenting with similar compositional techniques for almost three years.  In his book John Lennon In My Life, Lennon’s close friend Pete Shotton describes how Revolution 9 developed in the spring after the Beatles returned from their trip to India:

Perhaps the most memorable evening I ever spent with John Lennon began routinely enough in the recording studio at the far end of his attic. We shared a piece of LSD, smoked a few joints, and idly amused ourselves with John’s network of Brunell tape recorders. [sic]

Since John had recently become infatuated with the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of our favorite pastimes at that particular juncture—May 1968—was to improvise “music concrete” [sic] by fiddling about with feedback, running our recordings backwards, and constructing tape loops.  This time we opened the windows to the spring air, and were shouting out whatever came into our heads at the uncomprehending trees while the tapes rolled in the room behind us. I, for one, had no inkling that this particular evening’s lark was destined to be captured for posterity on the Beatles’ “White Album,” as part of “Revolution 9.”

This is the point where Yoko steps in.  A day after making his experimental tape with Pete Shotton, John Lennon calls Yoko Ono and encourages her to take a taxi to his home in Weybridge. John plays the experimental tape he made with Pete Shotton, not knowing that Ono had a prior history of making experimental tapes of her own.  According to Pete Shotton,

After they added some touches to “Revolution 9,” Yoko suggested they make a tape of their own. As John twirled his dials with growing abandon, all her inhibitions evaporated, and she let rip with her trademark squawks, shrieks, and other free-form vocal effects. It was then that John suddenly “realized that someone else was as barmy as me,” that Yoko, indeed, was “me in drag!” At sunrise—with the squawks of the birds outside the still-open windows providing counterpoint to Yoko’s—they completed their first “unfinished music” composition, which they titled Two Virgins. Then John and Yoko made love for the first time.

Lennon then took the demo that he made with Shotton and Ono to Abbey Road Studios, where he continued working on it through June 1968.  He incorporated sound effects material from the Abbey Road archives, most notably the sound of a test engineer repeating “Number nine, number nine.”  As for why Lennon wanted to include Revolution 9 on the White Album, one possible answer is that the song is a permanent souvenir of the beginning of John & Yoko’s intimate relationship.  Or to put it another way, it’s a souvenir of the most musically avant-garde first date in the history of all human courtship.

Another reason for including Revolution 9 on the White Album is the possible influence of the Fluxus art movement via Yoko Ono.  The members of Fluxus were generally left-wing or anarchist artists who wanted to see art freed from confines of art galleries and other institutions of high culture.  Instead, they were fascinated with mass-produced consumer products and artworks that engaged with such products, such as the readymades of Marcel Duchamp.  The idea was that by engaging with mass-produced consumer goods you could somehow “reach the masses” in a way that you could not through an art gallery or other highbrow cultural institutions.  In this sense, what could be more consistent with the goals of Fluxus than to sneak in an avant-garde music composition into a mass-produced consumer good made by the most popular music group all time?

Sources:

You can find discussion of Paul McCartney’s early 1965 experiments with tape music in Barry Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now, pp. 218-221.  The quotes from Pete Shotton are from Pete Shotton and Nicholas Schaffner,John Lennon In My Life, pp. 167-168.

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.

The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You want some evidence that indicates that the Bible is true? Here is a good place to start and that is taking a closer look at the archaeology of the Old Testament times. Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

September 19, 2011

By Elvis Costello

My absolute favorite albums are Rubber Soul and Revolver. On both records you can hear references to other music — R&B, Dylan, psychedelia — but it’s not done in a way that is obvious or dates the records. When you picked up Revolver, you knew it was something different. Heck, they are wearing sunglasses indoors in the picture on the back of the cover and not even looking at the camera . . . and the music was so strange and yet so vivid. If I had to pick a favorite song from those albums, it would be “And Your Bird Can Sing” . . . no, “Girl” . . . no, “For No One” . . . and so on, and so on. . . .

Their breakup album, Let It Be, contains songs both gorgeous and jagged. I suppose ambition and human frailty creeps into every group, but they delivered some incredible performances. I remember going to Leicester Square and seeing the film of Let It Be in 1970. I left with a melancholy feeling.

60

‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’

the beatles 100 greatest songs
John Downing/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Main Writer: McCartney
Recorded: February 1 and 2, March 3 and 6, 1967
Released: June 2, 1967
Not released as a single

The Beatles were looking for a way to kill their old Fab Four image altogether by late 1966, and McCartney had an idea: “I thought, ‘Let’s not be ourselves,'” he said, and suggested that they invent a fake band. “Everything about the album,” McCartney said, “will be imagined from the perspective of these people, so it doesn’t have to be the kind of song youwant to write, it could be the song they might want to write.” McCartney proposed the mock-Victorian-era “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (the name came from a joke with roadie Mal Evans about salt and pepper packets), and he wrote a title song to introduce the premise at the album’s outset: a fiery piece of psychedelic hard rock. The Beatles were all fans of Jimi Hendrix; McCartney saw Hendrix play two nights before they recorded “Pepper.” Hendrix was paying attention right back: He played “Pepper” to open his live show in London two days after the album’s U.S. release.

Appears On: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

 

59

‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’

the beatles 100 greatest songs
Simpson/Express/Getty Images

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: February 22, April 18 and 20, August 8 and 11, 1969
Released: October 1, 1969
Not released as a single

“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was the first track started for Abbey Road and one of the last completed. It’s a mass of overdubbed guitars, with a slow-building wall of white noise generated by Harrison’s brand-new Moog synthesizer (“I had to have mine made specially,” he said, “because Mr. Moog had only just invented it”), supplemented with Starr spinning a wind machine found in the studio’s instrument closet.

Lennon’s lyrics were an experiment in minimalism — for much of the song, he just repeats the lines “I want you/I want you so bad” over and over. “‘She’s So Heavy’ was about Yoko,” he told Rolling Stone. “When you’re drowning, you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.’ You just scream.” At the mixing session, Lennon told stunned engineer Geoff Emerick to abruptly cut the tape in the middle of a bar, creating the startling end to the first side of Abbey Road.

Appears On: Abbey Road

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