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After the devastation in Manhattan what can radical music mean Einstrzende Neubauten - whose name translates prophetically Collapsing New Buildings - earned their avantgarde stripes in Britain by applying pneumatic drills to a stress-bearing beam at the Institute of Contemporary Arts After 11 September such transgressions surely pale into insignificance Indeed any comparison might seem offensive Musically telethon America responded to the tragedy by drawing on the sombre substratum of hymn-singing which unites country soul and reggae Music designed for church - unmediated communal local and introspective - inevitably sounded kitsch delivered by top-selling stars for international broadcast but in such a context audio terrorism does appear distinctly silly Should the noisy end of the avantgarde shut up and confess its misdemeanours were all a ruse The avantgarde registered its own peculiar response to the disaster Rushing in where angels fear to tread Karlheinz Stockhausen voiced what some may have felt but none dared say For him the crashing planes and collapsing towers felt like art What happened there is now you must re-adjust your brain The greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos Minds achieving in a single act what we in music can only dream of people rehearsing like mad for ten years preparing fanatically for a concert and then dying You have people who are that focused on a performance and then 5000 people who are dispatched to the afterlife in a single moment I couldnt match it Against that we - as composers - are nothing Surely the guy is crazy In Stockhausens defence he did go on to admit it was a crime because part of the audience were not consenting This demur didnt soften Gyorgy Ligetis retort Stockhausen should be locked up in a psychiatric hospital A comment by one TV reporter - that the image of the planes crashing into the towers repeated in the memory like a nightmare loop - was strange You didnt need
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