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Telemusik is an electronic composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Nr. 20 in his catalog of works.

According to a note in the score,

Telemusik was realized between January 23 and March 2, 1966 in the Studio for Electronic Music of the Japanese broadcasting system Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), in collaboration with the director of the studio, Wataru Uenami and the studio technicians Hiroshi Shiotani, Shigeru Satô and Akira Honma. (Stockhausen 1969)

The score is dedicated to the Japanese People. The first public performance took place at the NHK studios in Tokyo on 25 April 1966, in a program which also featured the first and second performances (in versions for trombone and for flute) of Solo.

The principal forming element of Telemusik is duration (Kohl 2002, 100). The work consists of thirty-two structures, called "moments" by the composer (Stockhausen 1971a, 77). Each begins with the stroke of a Japanese temple instrument. These six instruments are each associated with a moment duration according to their natural decay time: the taku (a high-pitched woodblock with almost instantaneous decay) with the shortest duration, the bokusho (a larger woodblock with longer decay time) with the next longer duration, and so on, ending with a group of four large bells for the longest of the six durations used (Kohl 2002, 102). The durations in seconds of these moments are taken from the six Fibonacci numbers between 13 and 144. The numbers of occurrences of these steps are also drawn from Fibonacci numbers, from 1 to 13 (Kohl 2002, 100). The longer the step, the fewer times it occurs, and vice versa, thus:

144 × 1
89 × 2
55 × 3
34 × 5
21 × 8
13 × 13

However, the actual duration values used in the score are systematically varied above these base values so that from longest to shortest there are 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, and 2 variants (144, 89/91, 55/56/57, 34/35/36/37, 21/22/23, and 13/14). In order to achieve the specified numbers of moments, the variants of the shorter values are duplicated, again according to the Fibonacci series (13 × 5, 14 × 8; 21 × 3, 22 × 3, 23 × 2; 34 × 2, and the rest with single instances) (Kohl 2002, 101).

Each of the 32 moments is then subdivided into from two to thirteen subsections, again using Fibonacci numbers, in most cases with some values repeated. For example, one of the composer’s sketches (reproduced in Erbe 2004, 146) shows that moment 22, with a total duration of 91 seconds, has subdivisions of 34 + 21 + 13 + 8 + 5 + 3 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1, though not used in that order in the composition itself (Toop 1981, 190–91).

The substance of the work consists of electronically generated sounds, together with recordings of a variety of traditional ethnic musics from around the world (Stockhausen 1971b, 79). More than twenty of these recorded fragments are intermodulated on tape with electronic sounds and with each other to produce "odd hybrid-types"—modulating, for example, "the chant of monks in a Japanese temple with Shipibo music from the Amazon, and then further impos[ing] a rhythm of Hungarian music on the melody of the monks. In this way, symbiotic things can be generated, which have never before been heard" (Stockhausen 1996, 94).


  • DG LP 643546 (with Mixtur, kleine Besetzung 1967, backwards version)
  • Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 9 (with Mikrophonie I and Mikrophonie II)
  • Stockhausen Text-CD 16 (remastered November 2007)


  • Erbe, Marcus. 2004. "Karlheinz Stockhausens Telemusik". In Kompositorische Stationen des 20. Jahrhunderts: Debussy, Webern, Messiaen, Boulez, Cage, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Höller, Bayle, ed. Christoph von Blumröder, 129–71. Signale aus Köln: Musik der Zeit 7. Münster: Lit Verlag. ISBN 3-8258-7212-2
  • Frisius, Rudolf. 2008. Karlheinz Stockhausen II: Die Werke 1950–1977; Gespräch mit Karlheinz Stockhausen, "Es geht aufwärts". Mainz, London, Berlin, Madrid, New York, Paris, Prague, Tokyo, Toronto: Schott Musik International. ISBN 9783795702496
  • Fritsch, Johannes. 1999. "Telemusik: Fragment des Verstehens." In Internationales Stockhausen-Symposion 1998, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut der Universität zu Köln, 11. bis. 14. November 1998: Tagungsbericht, ed. Imke Misch and Christoph von Blumröder, in association with Johannes Fritsch, Dieter Gutknecht, Dietrich Kämper, and Rüdiger Schumacher, 177–85. Signale aus Köln 4. Saarbrücken: Pfau-Verlag.
  • Kohl, Jerome. 2002. "Serial Composition, Serial Form, and Process in Karlheinz Stockhausen's Telemusik." In Electroacoustic Music: Analytical Perspectives, ed. Thomas Licata, 91–118. Westport, Conn. and London: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313314209
  • Schatt, Peter W. 1989. "Universalismus und Exotik in Karlheinz Stockhausens Telemusik". Musica 43:315–20
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1969. Nr. 20 Telemusik (score). Vienna: Universal Edition (UE 14807)
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1971a. "Telemusik (1966)" In Karlheinz Stockhausen, Texte 3, edited by Dieter Schnebel, 75–77. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg. ISBN 3-7701-0493 5.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1971b. "Interview über Telemusik" In Karlheinz Stockhausen, Texte 3, edited by Dieter Schnebel, 79–84. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg. ISBN3-7701-0493 5. Originally published in Christ und Welt, 7 June 1968.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1996. "Electroacoustic Performance Practice". Perspectives of New Music 34, no. 1 (Fall): 74–105.
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 2009. Kompositorische Grundlagen Neuer Musik: Sechs Seminare für die Darmstädter Ferienkurse 1970, edited by Imke Misch. Kürten: Stockhausen-Stiftung für Musik. ISBN 978-3-00-027313-1
  • Toop, Richard. 1981. "Stockhausen’s Electronic Works: Sketches and Work-Sheets from 1952–1967." Interface 10:149–97.
  • Utz, Christian. 2007. "Zur kompositorischen Relevanz kultureller Differenz: Historische und ästhetische Perspektiven", in Musik und Globalisierung: Zwischen kultureller Homogenisierung und kultureller Differenz—Bericht des Symposions an der Kunstuniversität Graz, 17.–18. Oktober 2006, edited by Christian Utz and Otto Kolleritsch, 29–49. Musiktheorien der Gegenwart 1. Saarbrücken: Pfau-Verlag.


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