Electronic Music

A contribution by Hans Cousto

The art of expe­ri­enc­ing elec­tron­ic music in a plea­sur­able way is most­ly passed on in a rit­u­al­ized form by expe­ri­enced par­ty­go­ers to inex­pe­ri­enced inter­est­ed peo­ple. The first par­ty in a tech­no club or at a fes­ti­val often has the char­ac­ter of a cer­e­mo­ni­al ini­ti­a­tion into pre­vi­ous­ly unimag­ined dimen­sions of con­scious­ness. The tran­scen­den­tal and mys­ti­cal expe­ri­ences trig­gered by the hours of ecsta­t­ic danc­ing, as well as the changes in per­cep­tion and con­scious­ness expe­ri­enced dur­ing this process, often have a for­ma­tive influ­ence on the devel­op­ment of the per­son­al­i­ty. There­fore it is an advan­tage if the old­er peo­ple who intro­duce the young peo­ple to the par­ty cul­ture are expe­ri­enced and trust­wor­thy par­ty­go­ers in order to be able to guide the novices safe­ly and gen­tly to their self-imposed goal.

The tran­scen­den­tal expe­ri­ence per­ceived in an ecsta­t­ic dance rit­u­al often exceeds the lim­its of pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence and the pre­vi­ous­ly sen­su­al­ly rec­og­nized. The word tran­scen­dent is a com­po­si­tion of the Latin verb scan­dere (to climb, to ascend, to ascend to some­thing) and the prepo­si­tion trans (beyond, over). Tran­scen­dence is a process of a tem­po­rary nature in which one can go far beyond every­day con­scious­ness, but the state of altered con­scious­ness is always tem­po­rary. In con­trast, trans­for­ma­tion, change, recon­fig­u­ra­tion or remod­el­ling is a per­ma­nent change in the struc­tures and func­tions of con­scious­ness.

A bound­less rap­ture in har­mo­ny with the high­est enthu­si­asm is often expe­ri­enced on a dance floor in a state of ecsta­sy. The term ecsta­sy was bor­rowed in the 16th cen­tu­ry from the equiv­a­lent Church Latin word ecsta­sis (Greek éksta­sis: to look out, to get out of sight, to rap­ture). Ecsta­sy is a tran­scen­den­tal expe­ri­ence and is char­ac­ter­ized by a rap­ture of the mind from all sen­so­ry impres­sions as well as by the absence of the con­trast between the out­side world and the self. The ecsta­t­ic per­son expe­ri­ences, with­out the use of his/her sens­es, the imme­di­ate fusion with the divine that is inher­ent in him/her. Dancers report expe­ri­ences that are sur­pris­ing­ly very sim­i­lar or even equal to those report­ed by devout believ­ing Chris­tians after the expe­ri­ence of a sacra­ment.

The prac­tices of the dance cul­ture to elec­tron­ic music gen­er­al­ly take place col­lec­tive­ly in spe­cial cul­tur­al spaces (clubs, fes­ti­val grounds) and are regard­ed by the prac­ti­tion­ers of ecsta­t­ic dance cul­ture as an inte­gral part of their life cul­ture or cul­tur­al her­itage. The art of ecsta­t­ic dance as well as the asso­ci­at­ed rites are still passed on from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. The rites are con­stant­ly being recre­at­ed by com­mu­ni­ties and groups in their con­fronta­tion with their envi­ron­ment, their inter­ac­tion with nature and their his­to­ry, and they con­vey a feel­ing of iden­ti­ty and con­ti­nu­ity to those who par­tic­i­pate in them. In this way, the dif­fer­ent rites in clubs and at fes­ti­vals help to pro­mote respect for cul­tur­al diver­si­ty and human cre­ativ­i­ty. Accord­ing to the def­i­n­i­tion in the UNESCO Con­ven­tion, the rites from the field of elec­tron­ic dance music are thus clear­ly part of the World Cul­tur­al Her­itage and thus also belong to the scope of pro­tec­tion of the UNESCO Con­ven­tion.

Hans Cousto

Hans Cous­to, musi­col­o­gist, math­e­mati­cian, psy­cho­nau­ti­cist and author of books, was born in 1948 in the French-speak­ing part of Switzer­land. He has lived and worked in Berlin for many years. He is co-founder of the asso­ci­a­tion Eve&Rave, which was found­ed in Berlin in 1994 and pio­neered, among oth­er things, drug-check­ing.

Already in the late 1970s he dis­cov­ered the so-called Cos­mic Octave, to which he ded­i­cat­ed many years of his life. He has also made a name for him­self as an author of non-fic­tion books. His most famous pub­li­ca­tions are “Das Weltkul­turerbe Psy­cho­nau­tik – Ein dro­gen­poli­tis­ches Man­i­fest” (eng. The World Cul­tur­al Her­itage Psy­cho­nau­tics — A Drug Pol­i­cy Man­i­festo) and “Psy­cho­nau­tik, Hedo­nis­mus und Ekstase” (eng. Psy­cho­nau­tics, Hedo­nism and Ecsta­sy), both pub­lished by Nachtschat­ten Ver­lag, and “Die Kos­mis­che Oktave – Der Weg zum uni­versellen Ein­klang” (eng. The Cos­mic Octave — The Path to Uni­ver­sal Har­mo­ny), pub­lished by Syn­the­sis.

Biog­ra­phyNachtschat­ten Ver­lagLec­ture
(Ger­man)

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