When time becomes an instant, it is transformed into space. Every spatial construction and each spatial distance is temporal: a temporal unit in which time is consolidated. - Dieter Schnebel
Originally a strictly serial composer, he gradually developed experimental and process methods of composition, reacting to his increasing anti-dogmatism. Influences include Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Henry Cowell and Mauricio Kagel.
Works include visible music (1960/62), the opera Majakowskis Tod - Totentanz (1989/97), Harley-Davidson (2000) for nine motorbikes and trumpet, and Flipper (2002/03) for slot machine, performers, instruments and tape recorder.
He worked as a teacher and as a pastor/preacher, and wrote his music in a series of work cycles with compositional processes lasting for several years. His catalogue includes much choral and sacred music.
He wrote many essays and books, including on composers Bach, Beethoven, Cage, Debussy, Kagel, Mahler, Schubert, Schumann and Wagner.
From 1976 until his retirement in 1995 he was professor of experimental music and musicology, a position created especially for him, at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin.
Schnebel received the 1991 Lahr Culture Prize and was the first winner of the Schwäbisch Gmünd European Church Music Prize in 1999.
Dieter Schnebel died in Berlin on 20 May 2018 from a heart ailment, aged eighty-eight.