AbstractBetween the Ears. On Listening to the Music of Steven Kazuo Takasugi
Between 1999 and 2009, with the exception of one work, the composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi exclusively composed music for headphones. These pieces exploit the advantages of headphones not only over live musicians, but also over loudspeakers to the fullest extent, and the music lives particularly off the ambivalence between sounds produced through muscle power and their digital disposition. In the present text, the differences between listening with headphones and a concert experience with musicians or loudspeakers are brought to light using the example of Takasugi´s works. It begins by analysing technical and compositional differences such as spatialisation, parallelism, density, speed, rhythmic complexity etc. The second part of the essay focuses on listening, dealing first of all with the proximity of the sounds, which manifest themselves directly in the head and thus support an anti-nostalgic stance on the composer´s part. Secondly, it discusses the situation of isolated listening as changing perception. Finally, Takasugi´s compositional critique of the danger of escapism in headphone music is taken up and questioned.