In the 1950s using electronic devices to make music seemed like a new paradigm for composers eager to remove the effects of interpretation between themselves and their audience. The promise was that compositional ideas could be directly made into sound, with the help of a technician whose task it was to carry out instructions. By making a new realisation of Stockhausen’s Studie II, composed in 1954, I interrogate many of the original techniques and practices, and show that there are many sites which require interpretation, and also performance practice. The implication of these discoveries is that there may be advantages to an analysis of early electronic music of the 1950s and 1960s from the perspective of instrumental music practice, and that where there are references to ‘technicians’, great care should be taken to understand and appreciate the range of musical skills often required by such individuals. This approach to realisation also raises serious questions about the ontology of electronic music.
- electronic music, electroacoustic, Stockhausen, performance practice, synthesis