Thursday, May 29, 2014


(Score images © Universal Edition)
for piano with 3 wood blocks, celesta with 3 antique cymbals (crotales), vibraphone with 3 cowbells & 3 glockenspiel plates
1959 (12')

No.11 1/2 (ie 11.2) - 3X REFRAIN 2000, [61']

     After completing the solo percussion piece ZYKLUS (Cycles), Stockhausen wrote another percussion-based work, REFRAIN for piano, celesta and vibraphone.  Like ZYKLUS, REFRAIN has an open aspect to it, in that the performer(s) can create a variation of the score.  In ZYKLUS the performer can start from any page (and cycle past the last page to the beginning), in REFRAIN the performers can rotate a transparent strip attached to the center of the score, which changes the music underneath.
     Stockhausen was also influenced by a performance of John Cage's "Music of Changes" by the pianist David Tudor, in which notes were sometimes held as long as possible until they faded to silence, and then followed by a burst of flurried notes.  REFRAIN has the same kind of technique for many of its chords, resulting in a placid surface texture created from "rippling" chordal attacks.  This sparse chordal material (as well as some melodic fragments) is modified by the overlaid instructions from the transparent strip, and depending on the positioning of the strip, different rates of development can be created.
     Additional to the basic texture, there are periods where vocal syllables/tongue-clicks and secondary percussion are added (woodblocks, crotales, cowbells and glockenspiel) for additional textural effect, and 3 or 4 "side trios" where all 3 instruments create a polyphonic shower of notes.

(top part of strip)
     The score as seen here (left) is drawn so that the transparent strip can be attached to the center and rotated over the 6 staff lines.  The side trios (and coda) are on an second page.

     The transparent strip (right) consists mainly of instructions to add swelling trilling/tremolos, glissandi, clusters, piano bass notes and additional short, fast melodic material to the existing material underneath.
(Score images © Universal Edition)

     Additionally, the notes for the secondary percussion (cowbells, crotales, etc...) on each line are only to be played if they are after the right edge of the transparent strip (until the end of that line).  The additional percussion notes are colored red in the score, as are the vocal interjections.
     The chordal material itself is based an an all-interval 12-tone row (Karlheinz Stockhausen II: Die Werke 1950–1977, Frisius).

     Because the transparent strip can be rotated to different orientations for a particular performance, there are theoretically many variations, but basically there are 3 ways to position the strip: "\", "|", or "/"These 3 positions affect the 6 main staff lines, but staves 3 and 4 have "side trios", and the final staff 6 is followed by an extended coda.  This creates 3 main forms:

For strip position "\" (the example above) the 6 staves end up like this:

  1. R******
  2. -R*****
  3. --R****+++++
  4. ----R**+++++
  5. -----R*
  6. ------R++++++++++
R indicates the "refrain", * indicates added secondary percussion, and "+" indicates the polyphonic side trios and coda.  All of the disturbed/enhanced portions are in red.

The full piece for "\" then gets a structure like this:
  • R******-R*****--R****+++++----R**+++++-----R*------R++++++++++
For strip position "|" (ie - straight up) the full form ends up as:
  •  ---R***---R***---R***+++++---R***+++++---R***---R***++++++++++
And for strip position "/":
  • ------R-----R*----R**+++++--R****+++++-R*****R******++++++++++
     So basically position "\" concentrates "disturbance" patterns more heavily towards the beginning, while "/" has most of the more energetic material building in frequency, after a very calm beginning.  All 3 end the same way of course, since the coda is not affected by the strip position.

Live Performance
Aleksander Wnuk - percussion
Manuel Esperilla - celesta
Kristoffer Nyholm Hyldig - piano

Soloist Class Recital, 19.11.2014, Concert Hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen

Sound Impressions
     The concept of the strip is an interesting one, and it's a fascinating idea to give performers "free will" in the position of the plastic strip.  However, as can be seen in the comparisons of the 3 most obvious forms, the positioning doesn't have that huge of an initial impact, at least compared to the general tone and timbre palette of the entire work.
     I actually found the static fields of metallic, ringing harmonies to be the most interesting and enjoyable.  The instrumentation allows full use of the concept of decay determining tempo and I almost regretted the strip disturbances.  However some of the denser material, especially the points where it sounds like a "basket of crickets" is pretty fun and enjoyable.
     In Jonathan Harvey's "The Music of Stockhausen: An Introduction", Harvey compares the performer vocalizations to Japanese Noh theatre technique.  It's an interesting connection, especially considering DER JAHRESLAUF, Stockhausen's later composition for Japanese gagaku orchestra, but I've never heard Stockhausen really state it as such.  Robin Maconie simply explains them as outgrowths of Stockhausen's time spent studying phonetics with Werner Meyer-Eppler ("The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen").

3X REFRAIN 2000 is basically REFRAIN 3 times in a row
with the above 3 orientations,
with some minor changes to the final coda.
     Those who wish to understand what I have written for the three players in REFRAIN must read the score.
     Those who wish to understand how the players interpret my score must know the score and compare performances.
     Those who simply wish to hear (not understand) a piece of music need only listen.
     What is left to be explained?    

-K.Stockhausen (from the original LP notes)

Samples and CD ordering:
Buy the Score
Sonoloco Review of REFRAIN (SV 6)
REFRAIN on Youtube
REFRAIN Rehearsal with Stockhausen on piano (from TRANS und so weiter, 1973) 
REFRAIN Live (2nd Annual CUNY New Music Festival, May 1, 2011) 

Monday, May 26, 2014



Act 1
 vom LICHT

Act 2


ACT 2 of DIENSTAG AUS LICHT (Tuesday from Light))
for octophonic electronic music, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 synthesizers (1 soloist), 2 percussionists (or MIDI percussionists), 1 flugelhorn, choir, and 3 vocal soloists (soprano, tenor, bass) 
(with ad lib. 6 tutti trumpets & 6 tutti trombones)
1990-1991 [74']

Extract 1: OKTOPHONIE (Octophony)
Octophonic Electronic Music, 1990-1991 [69']
Extract 2: SIGNALE zur INVASION (Signals to Invasion)
for trombone with or without octophonic electronic music 1992 [19-52']
No 61 1/2 (ie 61.2) PIETÀ for flugelhorn and octophonic electronic music
with or without soprano vocal soloist, 1990-1991 [27'45"]
No. 61 2/3 (ie 61.3) DIENSTAGs-ABSCHIED  (Tuesday Farewell)
for choir, synthesizer and octophonic electronic music, 1991 [23']
No 61 3/4 (ie 61.4): SYNTHI-FOU (KLAVIERSTÜCK XV) (Piano Piece XV)
for synthesizer with octophonic electronic music, 1991 [23'] 

          INVASION – EXPLOSION mit ABSCHIED  (INVASION – EXPLOSION with FAREWELL) is the 2nd Act of Stockhausen's dramatic music work DIENSTAG AUS LICHT (TUESDAY from LIGHT), which was the fourth-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light).  LICHT is a work for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into the 7 days of the week (one opera for each day).  This opera cycle revolves around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union.  The music is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters.  These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric.  Story-wise, actors and narrative can (and often do) change from scene to scene, and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar (or even purely phonetic sounds).
War Gamers of the Beyond

Simon Stockhausen as the SYNTHI-FOU

     DIENSTAG (Tuesday) is the "day of war" between MICHAEL and LUCIFER.  Following the somewhat surreal "contest" of Act 1's JAHRESLAUF (THE COURSE OF THE YEARS), in INVASION the forces of MICHAEL and LUCIFER battle using "sound weapons", until LUCIFER exposes a crystal barrier leading to BEYOND.  MICHAEL valiantly defends the barrier but LUCIFER eventually breaches it, revealing a group of "war gamers" manipulating war toys.  Finally a comedic synthesizer player distracts the choir of war gamers and the opera comes to an end.  Similar in some ways to TUESDAY'S GREETING, MICHAEL and LUCIFER each have their own armies with similar numbers, but with slightly different instrumentation. Both have portable synth and percussion divisions (actually MIDI triggers on percussion instruments in the CD recording), but MICHAEL's tenor soloist is backed up by a squad of trumpeters, while LUCIFER's bass soloist is supported by a trombone troop (troupe).  Just as in TUESDAY'S GREETING, EVE appears and tries to create an atmosphere conducive to peace.

Electronic Music
     The 8-speaker electronic music aspect is one of the many unique elements at work here.  4 speakers are arranged in a square around the audience, and 4 are set in a square above each of the floor speakers.  This places the audience in a "cube of sound", so that the sound movements are completely 3-dimensional (left-right, front-back, up-down).  This "octophonic" music (OKTOPHONIE) plays throughout the Act, and the swirling and diving sounds create aural equivalents of bombs going off, missiles shooting upwards and airplanes crashing down.  Low bass drones and ethereal sliding chords create a kind of "miasma of war".  A separate page here describes OKTOPHONIE in more detail.

Mobile Instruments
INVASION Mobile Synth Trooper
     While OKTOPHONIE provides the "air war", the brass and synth-percussion ensembles led by the MICHAEL and LUCIFER vocalists battle on the ground in successive INVASIONs, shouting vocal/instrumental "Signals", roaming the stage, and attacking each other with portable sound artillery.  The synth players and percussionists all have speakers attached their bodies, so their sounds can be "aimed" like beam weapons, while the brass players have directional projection built in naturally.  This also contributes to the idea of sounds moving in space, though these Signals remain 2 dimensional, as opposed to the octophonic 3 dimensional movement created by the electronic music.   The Signals themselves are derived from compounded melodic fragments from the MICHAEL and LUCIFER formulas (Jerome Kohl's observation). In this case the formulas are frankly much more difficult to pick out than in previous LICHT scenes.

     In the 1991-93 productions, Massimiliano Viel (Synth 1) and Simon Stockhausen (Synth 2) played Yamaha KX 5 portable keyboards connected to AKAI S 1000 or Kurzweil K 2000 R samplers.   Andreas Boettger (Percussion 1) played a home-made "MIDI-Lyre", which was a glockenspiel-like controller (with pitch bend wheel) controlling an AKAI S 1000.  Renee Jonker (Percussion 2) created a "Tambour Miditaire", which was a used marching parade drum (tom) fitted with a contact mic, which could trigger programmed SIGNAL sequences and pitch-bends from a Steim Sensor-Lab sequencer into an AKAI S 1000 PB sampler.

Some of the OKTOPHONIE background Elements:
  • Sound BOMBS (&"crickets") (1st invasion) : Bass synth pad attacks with fast decay
  • Sound Missile SHOTS Complex sound clusters with quick rising glissandi, ending in swarms of fireworks
  • Plane Hits and CRASHES: jagged falling glissandi, usually spiraling or "figure 8's", sometimes "recovering", and sometimes just "wobbling" up and down
  • EXPLOSIONS: 3 masses of swarming noises
  • WINDING Sounds: Looped chord arpeggios, similar to a music box, constantly speeding up or slowing down
  • Searchlights or HIGH CHORDS: constantly-panning soft pad chord
  • OVERTONE GLISSANDI (2nd INVASION): similar in effect to the manipulation of formant spectra in SIRIUS
The far right column has brief summaries of the electronic music elements, but a much more detailed form structure is in the OKTOPHONIE page.
CD Trk Sequence Stage Action Stage Music OKTOPHONIE Electronic Music
1 - 10 1st 
Searchlights scan the sky, as 3 silvery planes are shot down by missiles.  One plane is examined by a shadowy figure.
Air-War (Sound-Bombs, Sound Missiles, Plane Downings) with bass drone, twittering, vari-speed pulses, trombone exclamation, droplets of bright points...
11 - 31 1st 
Ground troops enter and battle in front of a mountain side:
MICHAEL (Lt Blue & Red) troops pursue
LUCIFER (Black & Red) troops.
LUCIFER's troops expose a chrome bunker wall in the mountain.
Ground troops exit stage right.
Signals: tenor and bass soloists with short exclamatory phrases underscored by trumpets, trombones, and portable synths/percussion Air-War continued, add crackling/popping,  sirens, metallic wind-up toy/egg-beater sounds, etc…
32 Calm 

Slow layered drone melody: Wednesday EVE fragment
33 - 34 2nd 
Searchlights resume and more planes are shot down by missiles from the hissing mountain bunker.
Air-War with electronically modified male counting: "Eins, zwei, drei...Eins", changing to high frequency cyclonic hissing, bass formula layer briefly fades out, then comes back
35 - 50 2nd 
Ground troops enter:
LUCIFER (Black chrome) troops pursue MICHAEL (Bluish chrome) troops.  LUCIFER's forces dismantle the bunker to reveal a crystal wall beneath.
Signals Air-War w. synth overtone cycles, female voice: "Light, fright, fight, krieg…" (electronic transformations)
51 - 52 Casualty
A piercing scream causes both forces to retreat, leaving a fallen MICHAEL trumpeter center stage.
Bass drone, strings pad (brief overtone drones, fast pulses)
53 - 59 PIETÀ EVE (as a Red Cross nurse) cradles the trumpeter's head in her lap, while his spirit rises and is mirrored by a flugelhorn player standing above them.  Imagery inspired by Michaelangelo's "Pietà" Flugelhorn solo
Soprano vocal soloist joins (using the EVE formula)
(see text below)
4 layers of drone sounds
(bass and synth string pads, bass has short break), 
overtone patches, 
faraway Air War sounds
60 - 64 3rd 
As the war resumes, EVE, the fallen trumpeter and the flugelhorn player all disappear.  LUCIFER troops attack again, while MICHAEL troops try to defend the crystal bunker wall. Signals Air-War with additional twittering, vari-speed pulses, clattering, etc... 
65 - 69 EXPLOSIONs

LUCIFER's forces cause 3 EXPLOSIONs to shatter the crystal structure into snow-like crystal dust, while LUCIFER laughs.  The ground forces all exit Signals, cont'd Multiple missile attacks creating a "3D zone" of destruction, with dense metallophone-like clattering tremoli
70 - 79 BEYOND
A glass world (BEYOND) is revealed, with a conveyor belt holding toy soldiers and war vehicles, surrounded by bluish glass choir singers - "war gamers".  The War Gamers periodically knock down soldiers and toys to a lower conveyor belt, while a tally keeps track. Male choir HUMS and then sings in slow tempo 2 main layers:

Watery bass drones with choir and string patches, faster tempo, dripping sounds
80 - 88 SYNTHI-FOU
Glassy Red Cross nurses enter behind the War Gamers and hold their hands.  The SYNTHI-FOU soloist (in an outlandish costume) enters and plays energetically and happily.  The War Gamers are amused and accompany SYNTHI-FOU. Mixed Choir accompanies solo synthesizer, playing energetically and humorously, phonetic vocalization Bass drones and synth patches continue, adding percussive sound clusters, building in density and intensity
89 - 99 FAREWELL
SYNTHI-FOU continues to mesmerize all, as the toys fall off the conveyor belt.  The walls become transforming mirrors and the War Gamers and Nurses dance off the stage. Choir and solo synthesizer continue, male voice countdown from 13 Synth patches cont'd, add oscillating glassy chirping and pulsing

13 chords end the Act and the opera

This score page shows the 1st 7 "SIGNALS" of INVASION.  
The blue labels MICHAEL's forces and red labels indicate LUCIFER's forces.
(I inverted the colors here for dramatic effect, the actual score is normal black text on white!)
Additional Works and Extracts:

MICHAEL troop on the left, LUCIFER troop on the right.  Some performers carry only batteries or mixers.
     A version of all of the "Signals" played by the MICHAEL and LUCIFER vocal/brass groups was written at the request of trombonist Michael Svoboda.  In this arrangement, a solo trombone interprets all 252 SIGNALS from INVASION both sequentially and sometimes polyphonically.  This version can be performed as separate Invasions (1 through 3) and can be presented with or without OKTOPHONIE.  In this version, the trombonist plays while moving through the aisles of the auditorium and exits while playing during some Invasions.  In the 1st INVASION, Signals for MICHAEL are played to the right, while Signals for LUCIFER are played towards the left.  In the 2nd and 3rd INVASIONS, the directions change but are always opposed.  If played solo (without the electronic tape) then tempo deviations are used to create a sense of dialogue and plasticity.

     PIETÀ can be performed with or without the soprano vocal part, but is always accompanied by its matching OKTOPHONIE backing tape.  It was developed when Markus Stockhausen and his father took a trip together to Sweden in June of 1990 and spent their time exploring the possible timbres of Markus' new specially-constructed "quarter-tone" flugelhorn (which is also capable of producing eighth-tones and has a range of almost 5 octaves!).  The melodic content of the parts are derived by elaborating on notes from the EVE Nuclear formula and also incorporating elements from the 6-layer PIETÀ form scheme (below).

PIETÀ: EVE, a fallen MICHAEL trooper, and MICHAEL as a flugelhorn player (MICHAEL in 3 dimensions).
MICHAEL-trumpeter has been hit in the heart, wounded.
LUCIFER’s trombone invasions.
This life – death – the Beyond
Earth – sleep – Heaven
You fight for Heaven.
May love heal your wounds.
Wonderful Son of God
MICHAEL musicel dearest
rest – rest – rest
sound in my heart
let the man die
return home
await you, Master of Heaven.
GOD, your breath,

gives you new life.

PIETÀ Form scheme.
The 1st, 2nd and bottom staffs (M, E, L) are stretched out versions of part of m. 5 from the LICHT super-formula (derived from taking the PIETÀ measures out of the length of the original LICHT super-formula, as seen in OKTOPHONIE). 
The 3rd, 5th and 7th staff lines (E, M, L) are from m. 11-14 of the super-formula (derived from projecting the super-formula onto the DIENSTAG formula).  See LICHT-BILDER for more on this "projection" technique.
     SYNTHI-FOU is always accompanied by it's matching portion of OKTOPHONIE.  This adaptation can begin with JENSEITS (Beyond) with or without choir (the solo version on Stockhausen Edition 42 actually starts just a little before the EXPLOSION part of OKTOPHONIE).  In JENSEITS, the solo synth and 1 layer of OKTOPHONIE both double the male choir part.  After the solo SYNTHI-FOU section, the soloist continues playing to the end of DIENSTAG's ABSCHIED (Tuesday Farewell).
A mobile Simon Stockhausen as SYNTHI-FOU in front of the JENSEITS

     The score for SYNTHI-FOU (meaning "someone crazy about synthesizers"), indicates a sequence of 131 different sounds-patches and/or sampler-combinations (chosen by the player) which must be switched in while at the same time playing complex notated material  (there are also several interspersed "improvisation windows" where additional sounds and figures can be inserted).  Some of the equipment that Simon Stockhausen used to create his set of 131 sounds include the following synths:
  • Yamaha DX7 (II-FD) synths
  • Yamaha SY 99 synth
  • Casio FZ-1 sampler
  • Roland D-50 synth
  • Akai S 1000 sampler
  • Oberheim Matrix 1000 synth
Additional processing was done with an SVC vocoder and several other digital multi-effects units.  In all interpretations, the synth player must come up with his own sounds, but Stockhausen calls Simon's version a model for future players.  An alternate recording was created by Antonio Perez Abellan in 2004 (using I assume more-current synth technology).  Either way, this solo is pretty amazing, especially considering that virtually every phrase uses a different sound patch combination and sometimes 2 (treble and bass clefs).  As far as the melodic material itself, Stockhausen writes in the Stockhausen Edition CD 42 booklet: "...all notes, chords, rhythms and figures are derived from the SIGNALS of the singers, synthesizer players, percussionists, trumpeters and trombonists  of the INVASIONS, and the sounds of SYNTHI-FOU must also refer to them."
SYNTHI-FOU score indicating places to switch sound patches (100-108) and 2 "improvisation" windows.
     The ending choral part (with OKTOPHONIE tape and SYNTHI-FOU soloist) can also be performed independently from the opera, in which case it begins with the electronic layers from PIETÀ.  13 minutes in, the tenor and bass chorus members begin humming and then singing in 2 separate layers (staffs).  At around 17:14 (when SYNTHI-FOU begins), the soprano, alto and high tenors join the male singers in a mostly synchronous rhythm.  The work continues as in the opera until the end of ABSCHIED.

Sound Impressions:
     INVASION and OKTOPHONIE as a pure electronic work both have lots of moving parts (and not just spatially!), all of which reveal themselves as the piece goes on, as well as after repeated listening.  Aside from the spatial movement aspect, there are many layers at work, and the table above really just lists the major signposts.  Tones, drones and glissandi in each sequence each have their own evolution and lifecycles, and new sound textures continually enter the scene, just as new weapons and vehicles might enter a real battlefield.  Also in 1st INVASION, I really like the high-pitched metallic "wind-up toy" sounds, since they fit right in with the imagery of the toy planes and vehicles at the beginning and end of the Act.  Some of these revving sounds also evoke images of a spinning roulette wheel, which also fits into the "war game" message.

     The Signal troops all roam about the stage (and into the audience at times), so there is sound coming from many distances and directions.  When Stockhausen first proposed this concept to the Ensemble Contemporain (whose patron had commissioned the piece) they refused to perform it, delaying its completion for 3 years.  Possibly they weren't too excited about all the mechanical gear they would have had to lug around.

     Just when the INVASION gets to be overbearing, moments of CALM, or a flugelhorn and soprano duo "requiem", provide relief.  Additionally at the end, the ridiculous antics of the SYNTHI-FOU player somehow condense all of the 3-dimensional complexity into a single (somewhat self-deprecating?) synthesizer solo. This act (as well as DIENSTAG AUS LICHT as a whole) is great fun, even for a "day of war".

Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
Video Excerpts of Leipzig Premiere (MOV)  
OKTOPHONIE Experience with Kathinka Pasveer and Rirkrit Tiravanija
Photos of DIENSTAG AUS LICHT at the Leipzig Opera, 1993. 
From Tape Loops To MIDI (Manion)
OKTOPHONIE & LICHTER-WASSER - Stockhausen and the Serial Shaping of Space (Miller 2009 thesis)
Stockhausen's Spatial Processes in Gruppen & OKTOPHONIE (Overholt)
The influence of technology on the composition of Stockhausen’s Octophonie... issues of spatialisation (Clarke & Manning)
Becoming the Synth-Fou: Stockhausen and the New Keyboardism (Michael Fowler, Tempo V65, N.255)
Sonoloco Review of DIENSTAG AUS LICHT Act II

Saturday, May 17, 2014



Act 1
 vom LICHT

Act 2


Concert arrangement
(score front and CD Notes ©
    Act 1 of TUESDAY from LIGHT
    for "Modern Orchestra"
    and Tape (geisha bells, lion roars, jazz, etc...)
    w. 1 Tenor and 1 Bass vocalist (added 1991)
    (staged with 4 dancer-mimes, 1 actor-singer, 3 mimes, 
    little girl, beautiful woman)   
    1977/1991 [61' staged]

Nr. 47 1/2 (ie - 47.2)
for modern orchestra, tape, 1977 [46']
Extract 1: PICCOLO
for solo Piccolo Flute
or Soprano Sax with Geisha Bell, 1977 [3']
Extract 2: SAXOPHON
for Soprano Saxophone with or without Bongo, 1977 [6']

     JAHRESLAUF (COURSE OF THE YEARS) is the 1st Act of Stockhausen's dramatic music work DIENSTAG AUS LICHT (TUESDAY from LIGHT), which was the fourth-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light).  LICHT is a work for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into the 7 days of the week (one opera for each day).  This opera cycle revolves around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union.  The music is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters.  These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric.  Story-wise, actors and narrative can (and often do) change from scene to scene, and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar (or even purely phonetic sounds).

     DIENSTAG (Tuesday) is the "day of war" between MICHAEL and LUCIFER.  The opening scene is DIENSTAGs GRUSS (TUESDAY GREETING) and the 2nd Act (following JAHRESLAUF) is INVASION - EXPLOSION mit ABSCHIED.

     JAHRESLAUF vom DIENSTAG started out as DER JAHRESLAUF, a 1977 composition commissioned by the National Theatre in Tokyo. Scored for traditional Japanese Gagaku orchestra, the drama apparently came to Stockhausen in a dream, the meaning of which he himself can't fully explain. In any case, he incorporated the novel idea of using groups of instruments to represent 4 different time continuums: millenia, centuries, decades and years (I suppose LICHT and KLANG are in some way a natural development of this line of thought).

     The Imperial Gagaku Ensemble premiered the work (Hikari/Light in Japanese), complete with Noh actor, but this version has never been released in any form.  Apparently the Gagaku musicians had some trouble adapting to Stockhausen's notational methods, since Gagaku music is normally orally transmitted and not notated in Western notation.  Stockhausen also scored the work for European instruments however, with the hope that the players would study the Gagaku style of execution and attempt to duplicate it.

     The basic idea of this drama is that 4 dancer-musician groups, each representing 1 of the 4 time continuums, dance and play according to their calendar "stations", but are frequently halted by temptations, and then incited to begin again.  These temptations and incitements are represented by taped sound effects, often accompanied by stage actions (described below).  The orchestra (mainly harmonium) holds and sustains a single chord quietly and "rigidly" during this "drama window".  Shortly after the work was first conceived, Stockhausen incorporated this work into his LICHT opera cycle, specifically as a contest between MICHAEL and LUCIFER, labeled JAHRESLAUF vom DIENSTAG.  The main difference from DER JAHRESLAUF is that additional "dialogue" between MICHAEL and LUCIFER is added to the beginning and end.

Instrumentation and Group Divisions:
     The 4 "time continuums" each have their own instrumental group, musical content and dancer.  In general, the "Millenia" have the slowest rate of obvious change, and the "Years" have the most active parts, though several times Century and Decade groups also have solos or are otherwise very active.  I haven't been able to find any information regarding why, for example, one Decade sequence is faster than another, but I assume it's for aesthetic balance.

     Besides the solo sections, the content of each group functions very much as a texture, some very smooth, and some very staggered, such as when an ostinato arpeggio is used.  The saxophones mostly play bending notes, in the tradition of Japanese hichiriki technique.  The harmoniums basically play chords or sustained arpeggios (which end up sounding like chords anyways) and at times do no more than swell and diminish as their main activity.

Time Stream : Millenia
European Orchestra : harmoniums
(or synth/samplers)

piccolo flutes anvil
(or steel tube
or geisha bell)

soprano saxes bongo
guitar harpsichord
(or synth/sampler) 
bass drum
Gagaku Orchestra
(links to examples)
: shō
ryūteki  shōko
hichiriki kakko
biwa gakusō (koto) taiko
Num Instr. : 3
3 1
3 1
1 1 1

Form Scheme
(from DIENSTAG aus LICHT CD book, click to enlarge)
     My form breakdown below leaves out the percussion elements for space reasons, but is shown in the above form scheme graphic in the rows above each group.  I also grouped the "Rounds" (my term, not Stockhausen's) by color.  The first column is CD track numbers for Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 29, the second column is for CD 40 (in which the first 7 tracks of the CD are the TUESDAY GREETING).


8 Presentation: Geisha Bells
9 LUCIFER: "MICHAEL, play a Course of the Years with me...
MICHAEL: "...I am not a spoil-sport, (so)..."
LUCIFER: "I will stop time, you will set it in motion again..."
1 10 Entrance: Geisha Bells (Musicians' Entrance Procession)

11 MICHAEL and LUCIFER discuss the rules of the game.

Harmoniums Piccolo  Flutes Soprano Saxophones Guitar & Harpsichord
2 12 Round 1

slow whole notes, legato, vibr./flutter-tongue (if sho), increasing overlap,
pitch range expanding upwards
staccato short notes w. pitch range expanding upwards, increasingly to legato groups w.  pitch range shrinking downwards
bent notes w staggered entrances, separated by short chords, increasing overlap,
rising pitch range
harpsichord dominates over guitar, adding melodic fragments,
pitches expanding upwards
3 13 1st Temptation: Ship's bell sounds, flowers are presented to each of the 4 runners
4 14 1st Incitement: A Girl asks for applause, "so that it can continue!"
5 15 Round

gradually shorter,
pitch range shrinking upwards,
increasing density
(continues through
flute solo and 3rd Tutti)
patterns rising in pitch and expanding in range
(flute solo follows,
then 3rd Tutti)
slow chordal glissandi
(1 chord only in flute solo,
returns in 3rd Tutti)
slow chords
(1 guitar chord only in flute solo,
returns in 3rd Tutti)
6 16 Round 2 Interlude:
Piccolo flute solo (w anvil & harmonium)
7 17 Round

(see image for 2nd Tutti)

pitch range shrinking upwards
(see image for 2nd Tutti)

flute solo cont'd:
patterns w trills 
(see image for 2nd Tutti)

 legato harmonized
chordal figures,
falling register
(see image for 2nd Tutti)

falling & shrinking pitch range 
8 18 2nd Temptation: Table bell, cook with rolling trolley, exquisite food
9 19 2nd Incitement: Lion roaring
10 20 Round 3 Prelude:
Guitar & Harpsichords duo (with subtle harmonium and a flute interjection, see below)
11 21 Round 3

(for guitar/harpsichord duo, harmonium continues process from 3rd Tutti),
short accented chords,
varying dynamics
(in guitar/harpsichord duo,
a couple brief flute figures),
slow siren-like glissandi,
falling/rising pitch range,
staggered chords
(silent for
guitar/harpsichord duo)
wailing chordal glissandi,
beating notes
Guitar & Harpsichord duo
continues from above
12 22 3rd Temptation: Ape on motorcycle, honking
13 23 3rd Incitement: Little girl: "To the winner - 10,000 Marks."
14 24 Round

faster chords,
gradually longer
(register slowly
shrinking upwards
during sax solos)
falling long tones
(a few stray figures
during sax solos section)
wailing chordal glissandi cont'd,
returning to legato harmonized
chordal figures
3 Sax solos
(see below)

shrinking pitch range
(silent during sax solos)
15 25
16 26 Round

 HARLEKIN formula
17 27  INORI formula
18 28  MANTRA formula
19 29 4th Temptation: Slow blues, a woman "Stark naked!" (strip joint)
20 30 Entry Of The Percussionists : "dance rhythm"
21 31 4th Incitement: Sounds of thunder (with acrobats)
21 31 Round

decrescendo & ritardando
crescendo & accelerando
(long individual notes/
irregular accents,
chords accel.)
decrescendo & ritardando
crescendo & accelerando
(morse within the pitch range, accel.)
decrescendo & ritardando
(ind. notes/w. short gliss.)
crescendo & accelerando

decrescendo & ritardando
crescendo & accelerando
(gliss at end)

22 32
23 33
24 34 Final Chord

One Group is chosen as the "winner" and receives the prize money (not on CD)
The COURSE of the YEARS for the following year is announced (not on CD)

35 Musicians' exit procession with portable instruments
36 MICHAEL: "LUCIFER invents strange games..."
LUCIFER: "Bravo MICHAEL...but brace yourself for a much tougher fight!" 

(excerpt from 6th Tutti decrescendo)

Live Performance:
JAHRESLAUF, Leipzig 1993
Orchestra inside globe structure, each dancer mime stays in his own digit.
Leipzig 1993 Performance 

DER JAHRESLAUF (Gagaku Version), Tokyo 2014

 JAHRESLAUF, Tokyo 2014

Additional Works:
PICCOLO for solo piccolo flute (or soprano sax and geisha bell) is the solo from "Round 2".  It features scalar runs, large interval leaps, flutter-tongue (sometimes with bending glissandi) and dynamic modulation.

SAXOPHON for soprano sax and bongo drum starts with the legato chordal phrases preceding the 3 saxophone solos and continues through the 3 solo formula traversals.  It has a few extra bars at the end.

Sound Impressions:
     This is a really entertaining work and is one of the many great examples showcasing Stockhausen's sense of humor.  The juxtaposition of a traditional ethnic music texture with Western motorcycles, promises of money, appeals to the audience to applaud and lascivious blues somehow works.  On paper this could be disastrous, but by creating windows of "stillness" to allow these "commercials" to surface, Stockhausen succeeds in making what could be a statement of some kind.  What that statement consists of is left up to the audience.  One other meta-layer at work here is that the music is only an approximation of traditional Gagaku music.  It does have some traditional scales and chords but in general it is an adaptation of sorts.  So these levels of artifice somehow work together to make a serious comedy. On another level, one could say that the orchestra version is an "approximation" of a Gagaku orchestra doing an "approximation" of contemporary classical music....

     One thing I hope someday to hear is the work performed by a traditional Gagaku orchestra.  Some traditional musicians have reported that the score was difficult to execute due to the notational methods used, so it's possible the Gagaku premier was not up to Stockhausen's standard.  Nowadays, the opportunities for traditional ensembles to crossover into contemporary fare are much more common, so I imagine it could be very interesting.

  Finally, I imagine this is a pretty good workout for the "Year Runner" since he has to complete a circuit 357 times (at least in 1977 where 7 x 51 = 357). 

Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
Purchase the Score
Stockhausen's notes on DER JAHRESLAUF
Video Excerpts of Leipzig Premiere (MOV)
Wikipedia Entry
The Saxophone Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Bunt essay on SAXOPHON, PDF thesis)
Albrecht Moritz
Sonoloco Review of DER JAHRESLAUF
Sonoloco Review of DIENSTAG AUS LICHT
DER JAHRESLAUF (1979) on Youtube 
DER JAHRESLAUF (Licht version) on Youtube  
Gagaku Instruments
Essay extract about the Gagaku Orchestra version