Musik als Wahrnehmungskunst: Untersuchungen zu Kompositionsmethodik und Hörästhetik bei Helmut Lachenmann pages:73-100
This article tries to approach Helmut Lachenmann’s music from the perspective of the cognitive sciences. The first part examines important theoretical concepts developed
in Lachenmann’s own writings such as »polyphony of allocations« (Polyphonie von Anordnungen), »structure sound« (Strukturklang), »family« (Familie), »screening
process« (Abtast-Prozess), modes of listening(»(Hin-)Hören« vs. »Zu-Hören«) and points at their cognitive implications.
The second part discusses interrelations between Lachenmann’s and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concepts of »family«. These concepts share an anti-essentialist perspective and argue that »families« might assemble highly heterogeneous mixtures of components.
Theories of cognitive categorization based on Wittgenstein’s notion of »family resemblance« include Irene Deliège’s concept of »cue-abstraction«, based on the
identification of salient features in musical contexts and their similarity, and Adam Ockelford’s »zygonic model« that criticizes this emphasis on similarity-relations; according
to Ockelford, members of a category (or family) do not necessarily share a single property (or essence), but might be connected by association or contiguity.
In the third part, two analytical examples related to Lachenmann’s concept of a »musique concrète instrumentale«, Pression (1969/70) and Allegro Sostenuto (1986/88), exemplify the composer’s intuitive use of cognitive principles, based mainly on Gestalt laws. The consistency of cognitive features in Pression for solo violoncello provides counter evidence against Hans-Peter Jahn’s thesis that the order of sections in this piece is arbitrary. Allegro Sostenuto demonstrates Lachenmann’s inventive play with Gestalt principles that serve as tools for categorical transformation: reference pitches, for example, provide clear levels of listening orientation for sounds that metaphorically »extinguish« or »mask« each other.
The conclusion argues that Lachenmann’s theoretical ideas and theories of cognitive categorization tend to converge and might be transformed into a theory of musical
context that is crucial for an adequate understanding of Lachenmann’s works.