Stockhausen & Elektronische Musik

Spatialization Concepts


The Klangmühle was an early electronic device for spatialization, allowing the panning between different channels by moving a crank, which was then mapped to multiple variable resistors.


The Rotationstisch was used by Karlheinz Stockhausen for his work Kontakte (1958-60) (von Blumroeder, 2018). In the studio, the device was used for producing spatial sound movements on a quadraphonic loudspeaker setup. This was realized with four microphones in a quadratic setup, each pointing towards a loudspeaker in the center:


Functional sketch of the Rotationstisch (Braasch, 2008).

The predominant effect of the Rotationstisch is amplitude panning, using the directivity of the loudspeaker and wave guide. In addition, the spatialization includes a Doppler shift when rotating the loudspeaker. The rotation device can be moved manually, thus allowing to perform the spatial movements and record them on quadraphonic tape:


Rotationstisch , operated by Karlheinz Stockhausen (Stockhausen-Stiftung für Musik, Kürten).


Stockhausen's 1958-60 composition Kontakte can be considered a milestone of multichannel music. It exists as a tape-only version, as well as a version for tape and live piano and percussion. For the tape part, the Rotationstisch was used to create the spatial movements - not fully captured in this stereo version (electronics only). Listen to 17'00'' for the most prominent rotation movement in four channels:



  • Christoph von Blumröder. Zur bedeutung der elektronik in karlheinz stockhausens œuvre / the significance of electronics in karlheinz stockhausen's work. Archiv für Musikwissenschaft, 75(3):166–178, 2018.
    [abstract▼] [details] [BibTeX▼]


  • Martha Brech and Henrik von Coler. Aspects of space in Luigi Nono's Prometeo and the use of the Halaphon. In Martha Brech and Ralph Paland, editors, Compositions for Audible Space, Music and Sound Culture, pages 193–204. transctript, 2015.
    [details] [BibTeX▼]
  • Michael Gurevich. Interacting with Cage: realising classic electronic works with contemporary technologies. Organised Sound, 20:290–299, 12 2015. doi:10.1017/S1355771815000217.
    [details] [BibTeX▼]


  • John Chowning. Turenas: the realization of a dream. In Proceedings of the 17th Journées d\rq Informatique Musicale. 2011.
    [details] [BibTeX▼]



  • Marco Böhlandt. “kontakte” – reflexionen naturwissenschaftlich-technischer innovationsprozesse in der frühen elektronischen musik karlheinz stockhausens (1952–1960). Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 31(3):226–248, 2008.
    [details] [BibTeX▼]
  • Jonas Braasch, Nils Peters, and Daniel Valente. A loudspeaker-based projection technique for spatial music applications using virtual microphone control. Computer Music Journal, 32:55–71, 09 2008.
    [details] [BibTeX▼]