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Music under the influence: the living legacy of Karlheinz Stockhausen

The Sound Barrier for Sunday 1 January 2017

After a year that seems to have been plagued by more than its fair share of musical deaths, I thought it might be a nice idea to begin 2017 not with the expected tribute to those who have passed – as worthy and all as that would have been – but instead to the notion that music, even when the people who create it die, continues to live and grow through its influences.

So I thought I would assemble a show to demonstrate just how wide and deep those influences can be, using as my starting point the composer who, as anyone who listens to The Sound Barrier would know, for me towers above all the rest.

But, no – I won't be playing any of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen on this weekend's show – instead just a spattering of the musicians who have claimed him as an influence or inspiration. It is a hugely diverse group and, while the show will be framed by music from the classical avant-garde, with works by François Bayle and Pierre Boulez, in between will be an astonishing range of musical styles and genres that, so different to each other, would not immediately be expected to have a connection with the same musical source: the late electronic jazz of Miles Davis, the early prog rock of Pink Floyd, the experimental krautrock of Can, and the cut-up and sampled vocals of Björk, alongside of course the famous tribute to Stockhausen's HYMNEN in Revolution 9 by the Beatles. And there will also be a little bit of Frank Zappa, who both claimed and disclaimed his debt to Stockhausen.

Yes, musicians die and many of them die far too soon. But, as 2017 kicks off, let's remember that music – especially great music – always has the power to generate something new, and something that will live on beyond the people who create it, and even us.

So tune in or log on for The Sound Barrier this Sunday night, 1st January, at 10 PM (AEDT) on PBS radio (106.7 FM or PBS digital) or online (here on the website or on the PBS smartphone app). The show is also available to listen back to, along with its playlist to check out the details of the music, shortly after it has gone to air.

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