BG: Yeah, but I am also talking about the relationship between you and your-
self, and the time that you have between birth and when you die. If it is
enough to do all of the things you want..
KS: No, you can only do a very small portion of what you want to do. That is
BG: Yeah, maybe I'm very impatient. It's hard for me to...
KS: 80 or 90 years is nothing. There are a lot of very beautiful pieces of
music of the past which the majority of the people alive now will never hear.
These pieces are extraordinarily precious, full of mystery and intelligence and
invention. I'm thinking at this moment of certain works by Johan Sebastian
Bach, or even earlier composers. There are so many fantastic compositions,
five or six hundred years old, not even known to the majority of human
beings. So it will take a lot of time. There are billions of precious things in the
universe that we have no time to study.
BG: You seem to be so patient, like you have all of this discipline to use time.
It freaks me out, I still haven't learned how to sit in my chair, it's very hard for
me. Do you always work eight hours a day?
BG: Do you think the core of your urge is more to show or record the things
out there: to prove they exist, like just for scientific reasons, or is it more
emotional to create an excuse for everybody to unite. So that maybe some-
thing will happen, like your music could achieve that?
KS: It's both.
KS: Of course. I am like a hunter, trying to find something, and at the same
time, well this is the scientific aspect, trying to discover. On the other hand, I
am emotionally in high tension whenever it comes to the moment when I
have to act with my fingers, with my hands and my ears, to move the sound,
to shape the sound. It is then I cannot separate thinking and acting with my
senses: both are equally important to me. But the total involvement happens
in both states: if I am more a thinker, or more an actor; I am totally involved,
I get involved.
BG: I used to travel with my little ghettoblaster, and have my pocket full of
tapes, and try to always find the right song. I didn't care what song it was, as
long as it would unite everybody in the room and get everybody together. But
sometimes that can be quite a cheap trick, you know? I remember once read-
ing that one of the reasons why you don't like regular rhythm is because of
KS: No, no, that's...
BG: That's a misunderstanding?
KS: Mmm, yes. When I dance I like regular music. With syncopation naturally.
It shouldn't always be like a machine. But when I compose, I use periodic
rhythms very rarely, and only at an intermediary stage, because I think there is
an evolution in the language of music in Europe which leads from very simple
periodic rhythms to more and more irregular rhythms. So I am careful with
music which emphasises this kind of minimalistic periodicity because that
brings out the most basic feelings and most basic impulses in every person.
When I say 'basic', that means the physical. But we are not only a body who
walks, who runs, who makes sexual movements, who has a heartbeat which is,
more or less, in a healthy body, 71 beats per minute, or who has certain brain
pulses, so we are a whole system of periodic rhythm. But already within the
body there are many periodicities superimposed, from very fast to very slow
ones. Breathing is, in a quiet situation, about every six or seven seconds.
There's periodicity. And all of these together build a very polymeric music in
the body, but when I make the art music I am part of that whole evolution,
and I am always looking for more and more differentiation. In form as well.
BG: Just because it's more honest, it's more real?
KS: Yes, but what most of the people like is a regular beat, nowadays they
make it even in pop music with a machine. I think that one should try to make
music which is a bit more... flexible, so to speak, a bit more irregular.
Irregularity is a challenge, you see. How far can we go in making music irregu-
lar? Only as far as a small moment when everything falls into synchronicity,
and then goes away again into different meters and rhythms. But that's how
history has been, anyway.
BG: I think that in popular music today people are trying to come to terms
with the fact that they are living with all of these machines, and trying to com-
bine machines and humans and trying to marry them in a happy marriage: try-
ing to be optimistic about it. I was brought up by a mother who believed
fiercely in nature and wanted me just to be barefoot 24 hours and all of these
things, so I was brought up with this big guilt complex of cars and skyscrap-
ers, and I was taught to hate them, and then I think I'm, like, in the middle. I
can see this generation who are ten years younger than me making music, try-
ing to live with it. But everything is with those regular rhythms and learning to
love them, but still be human, still be all gritty and organic.
KS: But regular rhythms are always in all cultures: the basis of the structure.
It's only very lately that they come to make a more complicated rhythm, so I
think it is not so that the machines have brought irregularity.
BG: Yeah, I think what makes me happiest is your optimism, especially about
the future. And I think, for me, here I'm also talking about my generation.
We've been taught the world is going down the drain and we're all gonna die
very soon, and to find someone as open as you, with optimism, is special. A
lot of young people are fascinated by what you are doing. Do you think it is
because of this optimism?
KS: Also I understand that the works I have composed give a lot for studying,
for learning and for experiencing. In particular, experiencing oneself, and that
gives people confidence, so they see there is a lot still to do.
BG: And also maybe because you have done so many things that I think that
so many young people just have to find one per cent of its worth and they can
identify with what you've done.
KS: Maybe with different works, because they cannot know them all. I have
253 individually performable works now, in scores, and about 70 or 80 CDs
with different works on them, all different, so there is a lot to discover. It's like
a world in a world, and there's so many different aspects. That's probably
what they like: all of the pieces are very different. I don't like to repeat myself.
BG: Do you think it's our duty to push everything to its limits, use everything
that we have, like all the intelligence and all the time, and try out everything,
especially if it is difficult, or do you think it's more a question of just following
one's instincts, leaving out the things that don't turn us on?
KS: I am thinking at this moment of my children. I have six children, they are
quite different. In particular there are two, who are the youngest by the way,
who are still drawn into many different directions that concern taste, or excite-
ment, and there is one son who is a trumpeter who tried at a certain moment
a few years ago to become a spiritual teacher. To be a Yoga teacher and help
other people who were desperate to cheer up and to believe in a better world,
but then I told him there are enough preachers, and stick to your trumpet. It
took him a few years before he came back to his trumpet, and now he seems
to be concentrated and leaves out most of the things that are also possible for
him. I could have been a teacher, an architect, a philosopher, a professor in
God knows what amid many different faculties. I could be a gardener or a
farmer very easily: I was a farm hand for a long time, for a year and a half of
my life. I was in a car factory for a moment, and I liked that work as well, but
I understood at the end of my studies, when I still was working on a doctorate
and as a pianist I rehearsed four or five hours a day the piano, as a solo instru-
ment. I played every night in a bar to make a living, but since I composed the
first piece where I felt it sounded very different from all I know, I have con-
centrated on composition and I have missed almost everything that the world
offers to me, other faculties, other ways of living as you've just said, excite-
ment of all kind, entertainment of all kind. I have really concentrated day and
night on that one very narrow aspect, composing and performing and correct-
ing my scores and publishing my scores. And, for me, it was the right way. I
cannot give general advice, because if one does not hear that inner call, one
doesn't do it. So you have to hear the call and then there is no question.
BG: Yeah, it's like where you can go furthest.
KS: I don't know. I just think I couldn't achieve anything that makes sense to
myself if I don't concentrate entirely on that one thing. So I miss a lot of what
life has got to offer.
BG: And learn how to sit in a chair.
KS: You know I conduct also, it's not just sit in a chair. I conduct orchestras,
choirs, rehearse a lot, and run around and set up speakers with the techni-
cians and arrange all the rehearsals, so it's not just sitting on a chair, but I
know what you mean, yes, it's concentrating on that one vocation.