German physician Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) demonstrated in his 1863 book On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, that a single sound is the addition of various sound frequencies in addition to the basic pitch. Helmholtz completed the demonstration using his famous Resonators, brass spherical bottles with holes at both ends, in which one can hear the basic pitch of any given sound, however complex. The technology of the time did not allow Helmholtz to go further and create unheard sounds from scratch, but that would have been the next step.
Like Helmholtz, Herbert Eimert (1897-1972) believed in a scientific approach to sound production. When, around 1950, phonetician Werner Meyer-Eppler and sound engineer Robert Beyer convinced Eimert of the feasibility to produce any kind of sound waves through (first the Bode melochord, and later) oscillators, Eimert envisioned a dedicated studio facility providing German musicians with a means for implementing the total serialization of music, the logical conclusion of his hero Arnold Schönberg’s 12-tone technique. Eimert, whose devotion to Schönberg was total and unconditional, was only twenty-seven years old when he published his theoretical book Atonale Musiklehre, or Atonal Music Theory (Leipzig, 1924) summing up the innovations of Schönberg’s 12-tone music.
Eimert had been working as music critic for the Kölnischen Zeitung journal from 1936 to 1945, after which he worked as music editor for Köln (aka Cologne) radio NWDR (Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk, now Westdeutscher Rundfunk), then under British administration. As director of the NWDR’s late-night music programs since 1948, he launched his own broadcast series, Die Klangwelt der elektronische Musik (The sound world of Electronic Music). The first show, aired October 18, 1951, had lectures by Eimert, Beyer and Friedrich Trautwein on his Trautonium, plus sound examples freshly recorded on AEG Magnetophon tape recorders in the specially equipped studio granted by the radio for the realization of the Elektronische Musik, and that was to become the famous Köln electronic music studio. Stockhausen joined 1953, Gottfried Michael Koening in 1954. The first commercially released LPs appeared on Wergo in 1954.
♫ Like any other electronic/electroacoustic studio, the Köln studio had been subject to internal debates and theoretical divides during its first decade: Gottfried Michael Koening and Stockhausen did not get along well ; Robert Beyer had a rather different conception of electronic music than Eimert, the former dreaming of “floating sounds”, says Konrad Boehmer ; many composers visited the studio (Pousseur, Kagel, Ernest Krenek, Herbert Brün, etc), bringing new ideas with them and in a way diluting the original concept ; the music magazine Eimert founded, Die Reihe, 1955-1962, was not well received in the UK and US, too pretentious for some critics. Understandably, Eimert felt the need to sum up what he believed was his discovery in Einführung in die Eletronische Musik, or Introduction to Electronic Music, published by Wergo in 1963. Einführung… is a Hörbeispiele (or radioplay with sound examples) of electronic sounds and various ways to combine them, starting with basic elements like sine wave, pitch, tone mix, noise, chord, pulsation, envelope, and then moving to serial music, composing with electronic sounds, etc. The B-side is devoted to music examples from Webern, Meyer-Eppler, Eimert, etc, plus electronic versions of Stravinski’s music (!). A partial transcription of the text can be found here (in German). The LP comes with 8-page booklet with liner notes by Helmut Kirchmeyer.
This post is a collaboration with Acousmata, who offered to digitize the LP, while I scanned cover+booklet from my own copy.
01 Tone [Ton] (5:40)
02 Sounds [Klang] (4:01)
03 Tone mixture [Tongemisch] (5:17)
04 Noise [Gerausch] (:50)
05 Continuous Glissando (:45)
06 Ring modulation (5:54)
07 Pulsation [Impulses] (3:38)
08 The earliest compositions (1952-53) (2:52)
09 Further developments (until 1960) (5:40)
10 Music and language (1:52)
11 Acoustics and information theory – Werner Meyer-Eppler (2:04)
12 Electronic manipulation of vocal sounds (4:54)
13 In honor of Igor Stravinsky (1957) (1:31)
14 Variations on Webern’s op. 30 (1:28)
15 About the techniques used in ‘Epitaph for Aikichi Kuboyama’ (3:50)
Total time 50:00
LP released by Wergo, West Germany, 1963