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a personal note 2

intercultural and the question of sensuousness

A Personal Note I“ has more dealt with aspects of my philosophy of life. Furthermore it was supposed just to be a stimulus in order to read the whole essay. In the following text, I try to formulate some more concrete information about myself, a composer who plays Balinese gamelan for 30 years, who has lived in Indonesia for all together about nine years and who even likes to cook.


Intercultural Aesthetics – Synthesis or Antithesis and the Meaning of Sensuousness


For me, the question which role Western and Indonesian thinking has played in my music was never a question of synthesis or antithesis. One’s own musical language can only be the cumulative result of an encompassing transformation of all experiences that one carries around in mind at any temporal point in one’s life. I call this process the search for an own culture. What I am looking for is something authentic, something that transcendents the dichotomy between synthesis and antithesis.

Balinese musical practice, or better, the everyday life in the Balinese society has had a significant influence on me. But this happened as well with big band jazz, free improvisation, my life in Southwest Germany and my visits to Japan and South-India. And how can this all exist together with my love for the music of Maurice Ravel and Igor Strawinsky, not to forget the music of Perotin, Guillaume de Machault, Mozart, Messiaen and Frank Zappa, just to name the most important?


Apparently temporal and spacial dimensions are not separated clearly anymore. They collaborate in different ways and modes. In this aesthetical plurality it is my task, to find an authentic artistic position. Middle-European culture has put the temporal aspect, the historical commitment, too biased into the foreground. Just let us recall Adorno’s dictum:

The rules were not thought voluntarily. They are configurations of the historical compulsion of the musical material (Theodor W. Adorno: Philosophie der neuen Musik, Frankfurt 1958, page 61, translation by the author).


I had understood that quite well, but it has never satisfied me. The role of the spacial component, from the direct socio-cultural environment until other cultures was always of similar importance for me.

At this point, my interest in the culinary explains itself as well, although this is something quite profane on first sight. However, food, eating and drinking habits have always been important signatures of the local in a positive sense and the sensuous at the same time. Both I regard as a historically grown and authentic expression of a culture. The achievement of a wine-grower, who, together with nature, tries to create a common identity or a common expression, has always fascinated me. The same holds for cooks who are able to combine naturalness and a sensuous magic. Therefore cooking is my hobby No. 1. An own vineyard I cannot afford, but at least I am able to appreciate the results of others. The small and by far incomplete selection of wine-growers (see “links”) seems to represent a similar concept as I do.

In regard to cooks, I will never forget at first the late Alain Chapel, while in Germany I owe my long-lasting experiences to people like Franz Keller Jr., Karl-Josef Fuchs, Eckhart Witzigmann, Harald Wohlfahrt and recently Roy Petermann, just to name a few. But if I go back to my roots, I have also to mention I Gusti Gedé Raka (he died in 2002) the head of the family where I stayed in Saba/Bali since 1978. His sensible treatment of spices and even his interest in cooking – he was actually a famous dance- and music teacher or even a kind of philosopher – was always quite moving for me.


All this does not report much about my musical language, but it tells a lot about my idea of life and my responsibility as the basis of my own creative work. By that, the creative process resembles, in spite of all sensuousness, the principle of “composing as an existential experience”, as it has been stated once by Helmut Lachenmann. Based on this background, I would like to say that composing as a “global player” must not necessarily reflect a bi- or multicultural life experience on an ostensible and materialistic level. Here I see my task, my contribution to a world culture. I just simply add a personal nuance to that infinite variety of the world of music.




Perhaps one is missing some more detailed analysis of my compositorical techniques. I have not put them on the website because too much special knowledge would be necessary. If someone is interested in those details, I recommend my own contribution in the book: Musik-Kulturen – Darmstädter Diskurse 2, edited by Jörn Peter Hiekel, Saarbrücken, 2008, Pfau-Verlag, or Torsten Möller (editor): Wenn A ist, ist A - Der Komponist Dieter Mack, Saarbrücken 2008, Pfau Verlag.