Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MICHAELs JUGEND, UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE

DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT
Greeting
DONNERSTAGs-
GRUSS

Act 1
MICHAELs
JUGEND

Act 2
MICHAELs
REISE UM DIE ERDE
Act 3
MICHAELs
HEIMKEHR

Farewell
DONNERSTAGs
ABSCHIED


MICHAEL (Robert Gambill) and MOON-EVE (Suzanne Stephens)
from a 1980 MONDEVA rehearsal 
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
No. 49: MICHAELs JUGEND
(MICHAEL'S Youth, 1st Act of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT)
for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, piano, elec. organ or synthesizer, tapes (choir and instrument drones)
1979 [64']


Additional Works Generated:
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
No. 49 extract -  INVISIBLE CHOIRS for tape (a cappella choir) [50']
KINDHEIT
No. 49 1/2 -  CHILDHOOD for tenor, soprano, bass vocal soloists, trumpet, basset-horn, trombone, tape [ca. 29']
TANZE LUZEFA!
No. 49 1/2 ext. 1 -  DANCE LUCEFA! for basset-horn or bass clarinet [6']
BIJOU
No. 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU for alto flute, bass clarinet (and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [15']
MONDEVA
No. 49 2/3 - MOON-EVE for tenor and basset-horn (and optional bass vocal, trombone and INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape) [13']
EXAMEN
No. 49 3/4 - EXAMINATION for tenor, trumpet, piano, basset-horn (w optional "jury" (soprano, bass, 2 dancer-mimes)) [22']
KLAVIERSTÜCK XII
No. 49 3/4 extract  -  PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo [22']

     MICHAELs JUGEND (MICHAEL'S Youth) is the 1st Act of Stockhausen's dramatic music work DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT (Thursday from Light), which was the first-performed 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 act to act and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar or even purely phonetic sounds.

     In MICHAELs JUGEND, one statement of the MICHAEL formula (top layer of the 3 layer LICHT superformula) is stretched out over the entire Act.  This is done through extreme rhythmic augmentation and/or by establishing tonal centers around a MICHAEL formula note.  Stretched between each note of this 64-minute version of the MICHAEL formula, a faster, shorter statement of the MICHAEL formula occurs as well.

     The final scene, EXAMEN, has 3 "Exams", and in each one the 3-layered LICHT superformula is fully stated, but in a greatly elaborated form.  In this case, the durations are not necessarily lengthened, instead variations on each melodic fragment of the formulas extend the superformula throughout an Exam's duration. Each of these Exam subscenes also rotates the registers of the 3 formula layers.  Additionally, some sections feature additional layers added to the 3-part construction.  For example, in the last "Sunday limb" measures of one iteration, the MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear formulas are added as additional layers, to reinforce the idea of Sunday being the day of "mystical union" between MICHAEL and EVE.

     DONNERSTAG's 1st Act, MICHAEL's JUGEND, has 3 scenes: KINDHEIT ("Childhood", a portrayal of the protagonist MICHAEL as a youth torn between parents in a dysfunctional marriage), MONDEVA ("MOON-EVE", an encounter with an other-worldly alien who communicates through song) and EXAMEN ("Examination", an inquisition-like scene where MICHAEL reviews his childhood in order to attend advanced music school). Much of KINDHEIT's first and second scenes have elements from Stockhausen's own youth and family life.

     In Scene 1, KINDHEIT,  MICHAEL is portrayed by a tenor vocal soloist, while his MOTHER (named EVE/EVA) and FATHER (named LUCIMON) are portrayed by a soprano and bass.  Three instruments are linked to these characters: trumpet for MICHAEL, basset-horn for MOTHER and trombone for FATHER.  The scene also requires a female dancer, LUCEFA, who is meant to be EVE's reflection in physical dance.  Two ambient background tapes are also faded in and out throughout the Act, one consisting of a trumpet, basset-horn and trombone playing overtone drones, and the other a multi-tracked acapella choir singing extracts from religious texts as well as tongue clicks (with a brief looping clarinet ensemble section in the middle) with the title UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS).

Scene 1 - KINDHEIT (Childhood) Synopsis
Prologue

A background drone of muted overtone notes from trumpet, basset-horn and trombone fill the space, soon joined by an INVISIBLE CHOIR (S/A/B).  MICHAEL runs back and forth between the soprano MOTHER and bass FATHER, who both harmonize with the basset-horn and trombone pitches. 
1






On the left half of the stage, MOTHER teaches MICHAEL words through recitation, starting from "ma - ma" and ending up with the complete Days of the Week.  MICHAEL also intermittently hits the floor with a toy hammer. 
In a tandem scene to the (right) side, FATHER teaches (to the audience) multiplication tables and history at a school blackboard.
MICHAEL runs to FATHER singing the newly-learned Days of the Week.  FATHER attempts to teach MICHAEL a patriotic German song, but MICHAEL says it's "too difficult" and runs away.
FATHER, accompanied by a half-hidden trombone (a musical reflection of FATHER), admires his uniform in the mirror and pretends to shoot and cook a rabbit.
2






MOTHER and MICHAEL return.  MOTHER sits on a stool and MICHAEL runs over to FATHER who offers him some of the cooked rabbit.  He is surprised to find out that it is actually a fried cat.
FATHER proceeds to teach MICHAEL how to pray.  MOTHER takes out a toy basset-horn and is accompanied by a trilling basset-horn player (a musical reflection of MOTHER).  MICHAEL returns to MOTHER's side in fascination, obtains the toy horn and returns to FATHER.  
FATHER gives MICHAEL an airgun to replace the toy horn.  He also gives MICHAEL a trumpet, after which a brief trumpet passage is played (by MICHAEL's musical reflection).  They leave the stage in order to go hunting for wild game.
3

MOTHER opens her skirt and a dancer, LUCEFA, appears (MOTHER's reflection in dance).  She sings and claps to LUCEFA to dance for MICHAEL, and expresses her happiness.  The dancer's steps syncopate with MOTHER's hand-clapping.  The INVISIBLE CHOIR begins making a torrent of tongue clicks, before eventually fading away.
4







 
When MICHAEL and FATHER return (accompanied by the trombonist), MOTHER sings of her love for MICHAEL, the wonderful musician.  MICHAEL is entranced by the dancer, while FATHER has LUCEFA jump over his rifle barrel. 
LUCEFA kisses MICHAEL and runs away, as MOTHER giggles strangely and becomes silent.  FATHER takes MICHAEL away on a bicycle to go hunting again.  The trombonist withdraws.
FATHER and MICHAEL shoot (signaled by bongo strikes) and catch a deer and a rabbit.  They return and FATHER goes into a school house as MICHAEL waits outside.  He shoots a blackbird and a chicken (the MICHAEL trumpeter reappears).  Then LUCEFA runs across the back of the stage and after MICHAEL takes a shot at her, she runs away screaming.  The trumpeter disappears and MICHAEL becomes quiet.  A brief interlude of just the drone instruments ensues.
5



 
At home, MOTHER gives birth to a girl whom she and FATHER (addressed as LUCIMON) name Kathrina.  She then gives birth to a boy whom they name Hermann.  After arguing about money and fidelity issues, MOTHER begins acting strangely and tries to throw herself from the window as FATHER asks if she loves him.
MOTHER sings the EVE nuclear formula and FATHER sings the LUCIFER nuclear formula (accompanied by basset-horn and trombone).  The basset-horn and trombone withdraw.
6a












 
MOTHER begs to be allowed to kill herself while MICHAEL holds on to her sobbing.  FATHER urges her downstairs so that he can call a doctor.  He is concerned about what the neighbors will think.  He counts to 11 while stamping his foot.
A FATHER-trombone makes a brief sputter.  Neighbors peek in the door.  MOTHER calls the cellar "Hell" and the attic "Heaven".  MICHAEL expresses his fear and FATHER tries to calm her, puzzled by her sudden madness.  FATHER considers calling for "...an ambulance."
FATHER leaps onto the attic stairs and tells MOTHER in a solo, "EVE, wife, up there is no Heaven, Heaven only comes after we've died..then we shall be redeemed."
MOTHER's basset-horn, FATHER's trombone and MICHAEL's trumpet return, and with their vocal counterparts play fragments from the EVE, MICHAEL and LUCIFER formulas and nuclear formulas. MOTHER begs MICHAEL: "My Son of Heaven, stay always faithful to music!"  FATHER counts to himself furiously and tells someone to call an ambulance, while MICHAEL begs MOTHER not to go away, "No!"  
6b














 
The INVISIBLE CHOIR briefly begins tongue-clicking again. Orderlies come and put MOTHER in a straightjacket.  They cart her away to the Mental Hospital across the street.  MICHAEL gazes in horror as FATHER tries to comfort him with a promise that MOTHER will soon come back home.
The INVISIBLE CHOIR makes hissing noises.  MOTHER attempts to escape but the windows are barred.  FATHER recites math tables to himself. 
MOTHER mimes caressing her 3 children.  FATHER, dressed untidily, acts drunken (with hiccups).
A doctor enters, MOTHER flirts with him.  FATHER mimes hunting hare.
Hospital orderlies throw MOTHER into a cold shower as she screams "No, devils, bones of Satan, sex-maniacs! Let me go! Do not touch me! That'd suit you fine, a beautiful woman like me!" 
Meanwhile FATHER mimes playing with the 9-month old Herrmann-child.  Herrmann's laughter suddenly stops and FATHER listens to the invisible child's heart, horrified.
MOTHER is put back into solitary wearing a straightjacket, as FATHER prays to Mary.
MOTHER is returned to her cell where she calls, "MICHAEL!"  FATHER in his underwear conducts an imaginary school choir (INVISIBLE CHOIR swells, followed by clarinet loops, then brass/wind drones from opening).

     The 2nd scene follows without a break and focuses on MICHAEL encountering and attempting to seduce a bird-like alien, "Moon - EVE".  At the same time on the far right and left edges of the stage there are two tandem scenes taking place portraying the fates of MICHAEL's MOTHER and FATHER (euthanasia and death in battle, respectively).

Scene 2 - MONDEVA (Moon - EVE) Synopsis
A fabulous creature, MOON-EVE, with a moon face, basset-horn, 7 clawed fingers and 5 clawed toes, hides amongst a patch of birch trees.  She plays the beginning of the EVE formula interspersed with flutter-tongue and key noises.  MICHAEL enters, accompanied by 2 flying swallows (who are represented by a clarinet loop in the distance) and joined by the INVISIBLE CHOIR (S/T/A/B).  
MICHAEL sees MOON-EVE and asks her name. 
MOTHER is hums to herself while sitting alone at the mental hospital.  



























A FATHER-mime and a trombone player fight invisible foes in a war, as FATHER calls out slogans (below).   Shots (from a struck bongo drum) ring out and the FATHER-mime falls to the ground to evade them.




"Attention! Attack!"


"Down with the Enemy!"


"Fight for the FATHERland!"


"Sacrifice for your country!"


"Protect the loved ones!"



"Honor wife and children with a hero's death....!"





"...Moonface? Silver-beak? Or perhaps you are a Luno-Oiseau-saur? Rattle-bird? Do tell me your name...!"
MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula.
"Sorry? Whew - what a long name.  Could you please say your name a little bit slower?" 
MOON-EVE begins playing the EVE nuclear formula 30 times slower.  After 7 notes...
"Stop! This is too slow.  No one can remember this!"
MICHAEL examines MOON-EVE's 7 fingered hands and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 7 segments, and then complete.
"Septadigital!"
MICHAEL inspects MOON-EVE's 5-toes and MOON-EVE plays the EVE nuclear formula in 5 segments.
"7 and 5 make 12 - dodecadigital!  MOON-EVE comes from the 12th planet!" 
As MICHAEL counts her 7 fingers and 5 toes again MOON-EVE plays the 12 notes of the EVE nuclear formula.
"Listen you little dodecadigited Moon-dove - Couldn't you just speak to me in a normal Earthly tempo?"
MOTHER is given a lethal injection and her humming stops. 

The doctor signs a death certificate and her body is carted away on a stretcher.
























"More than anything I'd love to synchronize with you once...for example, like this."  MICHAEL begins pinching MOON-EVE's nipples in order to cue a rhythm, which MOON-EVE plays.
"1 - 2 - 3, Lune...Eva, MOON-EVE...Sirisu...7 little fingers, Luneva, MOON-EVE from the 12th star! Sirisu!"
The FATHER-mime falls down dead ("EVA!") and a men's choir begins singing: "I had a comrade once..."  As the FATHER-mime is carted away on a stretcher, FATHER and the trombonist disappear in a trapdoor.
The men's choir begins to slowly sing numbers, from 1 to 13.









 



MOON-EVE begins playing fragments of the MICHAEL formula with the EVE formula.
A strange rushing sound begins swirling around the room.
"You resound in me - EVE, help me to fulfill my mission!"
A spaceship descends with a claw arm reaching for MOON-EVE.
"Love in your sensual physical beauty..Sirius-music. Sirisu - Mun-diva - Witness of the more beautiful children of Man. You Star-woman - I keep you in my heart."
As MOON-EVE transitions more and more to the MICHAEL formula she repels MICHAEL's advances, and eventually disappears with the spaceship in a flurry of basset-horn key noises.  The spaceship's rushing noises fade away.


     In the 3rd scene, a jury made up of the actors previously portraying FATHER, MOTHER, LUCEFA and the FATHER-mime sit at a table, as MICHAEL is "examined" in 3 subscenes.  In these subscenes, MICHAEL portrays his MOTHER's life, his FATHER's life and then himself, each time using a different "art" (tenor voice, trumpet and dance).

Scene 3 EXAMEN (Examination) Synopsis
1st
Examination
A tenor vocalist and a pianist enter and portray the life of MICHAEL's MOTHER.   
MICHAEL and EVE's formulas are threaded through the parts.  LUCIFER's formula can be heard in the bass counting. 

The bass calls, "MICHAEL!"
1 While holding an imaginary child (representing MICHAEL as a child) in his lap, MICHAEL sings, "EVE,  my mother, you taught me to cry, to laugh, to love, to sing, what children of Man feel..." The pianist accompanies him throughout the scene.
2 "You showed me how to play your instrument, to play your basset-horn". (plays an imaginary basset-horn, as a brief basset-horn phrase sounds)
3 "You loved to dance…Art of dancing, art of Heaven" (dances around the imaginary child)
4 "MOON-EVE, beauty of the body, of the divine body." (jumps over an imaginary rifle and looks at the jury in astonishment)
5 The MICHAEL-tenor mimes giving birth and offering the child to FATHER.  "Are you pleased LUCIMON? We have no more money.  Isn't the hunt too expensive?...Do you love me?"
6


The MICHAEL-tenor mimes attempting to jump out a window.  "Down there is Hell! Up there is Heaven! I want to get into the attic!"  He mimes the events from the mental hospital. "Lum-Mi-Na! Lu-Ce-Fa! Lu-Ce-Va! Li-Che-Va! Mi-Che-Va! Mi-Cha-Ve! Mi-Cha-El! Mi-Cha-Hell!"
7


The soprano and bass jurists harmonize with the tenor. 
"That was my childhood on Earth, lived through the soul of my MOTHER. MOTHER Lu-Ne-Va made human, made song, and given to all human children as music by the son of light."  The jury nods in approval.  The Jury bass vocalist counts to 13 and the MICHAEL-tenor disappears.
2nd
Examination
 
MICHAEL appears as a trumpeter, and an angelic basset-horn-player (MOON-EVE) appears above him (but invisible to him & the jury).  He depicts his childhood in the role of FATHER.  All 3 of LICHT's formulas are interwoven through the parts, including the jury's exhortations.
1 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes lecturing at school, shooting his rifle and conducting a choir group.
2 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes acting drunken, praying and shooting.
3 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes shooting a crow.
4 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes hunting on his bicycle.
5 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes speaking with his wife tonelessly.
6 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes chasing after his wife being taken away.
7 The MICHAEL-trumpeter mimes being killed in the war, counts 1 to 13. He and the MOON-EVE basset-horn player disappear.
3rd
Examination











In this subscene MICHAEL is represented by a dancer, a tenor and a trumpeter.  

The tenor, singing from MICHAEL's formula, controls the eyes and right arm and hand of the dancer with his singing.  The trumpeter, playing from EVE's formula, controls the dancer's left arm and fingers, shoulder, hips, etc…with his playing.  Legs and feet dance with the piano, which plays from LUCIFER's formula. 
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)

The dancer represents MICHAEL's youth.  The dancing area is a grid representing 12 pitches of the chromatic scale and 7 levels of dynamics.  The MICHAEL-dancer portrays the elements of the music using body gestures and the stage grid (right).
1

MICHAEL-tenor: "Listen to my song: Helpless I was born from the womb of human mother, to be recognized, heard, understood, perhaps loved by you. And when you are moved in your heart through my voice you love God, the most wonderful musician."
2 MICHAEL-tenor: "LUCIFER - LUCIFER…"
Bass jurist: "Now there are 3 of them!"
3 Soprano jurist: "MICHAEL of NEBADON!"
The MICHAEL-tenor sings tonelessly in the rhythm of the MICHAEL formula.
4 "MICHAEL's youth as a musicus at the hunt" The MICHAEL-dancer mimes the bicycle game hunt, sleeps, finds a dead rabbit.
5 The MICHAEL-dancer bicycles back with a dead rabbit.
6 MOTHER is taken away, then the MICHAEL-dancer plays marbles.
7


The MICHAEL-dancer mimes the MOON-EVE encounter. "MOON-EVE, EVE, stand by me in the examination, MOON-EVE." 
The jury is impressed: "Damn it, this kid is very gifted, well nowadays everything is possible! 3 persons in 1! Admitted, admitted! Naturally!"

Markus Stockhausen, Majella Stockhausen, Suzanne Stephens, Karlheinz Stockhausen in rehearsal for EXAMEN. 
(from score © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Live Performance
Below is a 1990 WDR TV production of EXAMEN directed by José Montes-Baquer with Stockhausen's input featuring Julian Pike (tenor); Markus Stockhausen (trumpet); and Michèle Noiret (dancer) as MICHAEL, Suzanne Stephens (basset-horn) as the Basset-Horn Angel, Majella Stockhausen (piano) as the Accompanist, and Annette Meliwearher (soprano); Nicholas Isherwood (bass); Elizabeth Clarke, Alain Louafi (mimes) as the Jury.
EXAMEN Pts. 1 & 2 EXAMEN Pt. 3


(Stockhausen Edition CD 31 Cover © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE (INVISIBLE CHOIRS)
     The tape piece which accompanies the bulk of KINDHEIT is faded in and out of specific scenes for generally brief moments at 35 points in the score.  However it is also a 50-minute long work in its own right.  The texts are extracts from religious texts "Judgment Day" (from the "Ascent of Moses") in Sections 1-7, "The End of Time" (from the "Apocalypse of Baruch") in Sections 9-25, and "Hymn" (from "Leviticus") in Sections 28-35, sung in Hebrew and German and with the more bloody parts excised.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     As can be seen in the Form Structure above (with markings for its use in MICHAEL's JUGEND, as well as in FESTIVAL), there are 16 tracks of vocals with a multi-tracked clarinet solo at sections 20-22.  Tongue-clicks are indicated at section 8.  The top 2 rows show the section numbers referenced in the score to MICHAELS JUGEND and the durations in seconds.  The following 16 rows are each of the channels in the multi-track recording, divided into 4 groups (SATB).  The choir is almost impossible to duplicate live because their are so many individual voice parts to manage.  Section 19 is the densest section and has 168 voices superimposed.
Section 8 Page 1
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     There are 35 sections in UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE.  The first 5 sections are somewhat described here:
1 S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
2 S - long tones in 2 groups fading in and out
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm dyad chant
3 S - long tones with rhythmic accents
A/T - rising/falling glissandi with held tones
B - even rhythm dyad chant, slower
(then brief reprise of 2)
4 S - more rhythmic subdivision in 2-part polyphony
A - swooping dyad figures
T - rising/falling glissandi
B - even rhythm dyad chant, ritardando
5 S - slow dyad chant
A - swooping dyad figures
B - even rhythm rolled dyad chant, slow

     In order to keep things manageable, the below chart summarizes the proceedings.  The last column actually only shows number of staves for that voice.  Oftentimes a single stave will have a chord harmony, so there is actually many more voices than indicated.

Section Dur. Voices No. of Staves
1 0:55 SAB 3
2 0:23 S(2)AB 4
3 1:43 SATB 4
4 0:22 SATB 4
5 0:25 SAB 3
6 0:45 S(2)AB, with silent rest in middle 4
7 1:14 S(2)AB, then Bass vowel drone at 0:32 4
8 1:29 SATB - Tongue clicks changing speed 4
9 0:41 S(2)A(2)T(2)B(2) 8
10 0:41 S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4) 11
11 0:31 S(2)A(2)T(2)B(2) 8
12 0:11 S(2)A(2)T(2)B(3) 9
13 1:29 S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4), glissandi in 2 voices 11
14 0:42 S(2)A(2)T(2)B(2) 8
15 0:41 S(3)A(2)T(2)B(4),glissandi in 1 soprano 11
16 0:38 S(2)A(2)T(3)B(2), glissandi in AT 9
17 1:33 S(3)A(2)T(3)B(4), glissandi in SAT, 
then Bass vowel drone at 0:12
12
18 2:27 Hissing in unison long tones, accents, 
ritard., tongue clicks, glissandi
4
19 1:08 S(3)A(3)T(4)B(4) with yodels in T 14
20 1:41 S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA, vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato from 1:15
8
21 1:04 S(3)A(2)B(4) with vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
9
22 0:42 S(2)A(2)B(4) with yodels in SA, vowel drones in B
Clarinet - arpeggiated dyads ostinato
8
23 0:22 S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones 7
24 1:22 S(2)AB(4) with changing dynamics and Bass vowel drones 7
25 1:14 S(2)AB(4) with Bass vowel drones 7
26 6:36 ST toneless "pa", 
A slow gliss, 
B slow dirge
Clarinet - dyads ostinato returns at 4:22
5
27 1:36 toneless wind noises 12
28 0:48 S(3)A(2)T(2)B(3) 10
29 4:07 S(3)AT(2)B(3), then Bass vowel drone at 1:23 8
30 1:27 S(3)A(2)TB(2) 9
31 0:42 S(3)A(2)TB(2) 9
32 2:07 S(3)A(2)TB(2) 8
33 1:02 S(3)A(2)B 6
34 0:20 S(2)A(2) 4
35 4:48 S(2)A 3

Albrecht Moritz wrote an excellent analysis on his site which is well worth reading.

www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
TANZE LUZEFA!
Work No. 179/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 1 - DANCE LUCEFA! [6']
     TANZE LUCEFA! is a solo basset-horn (or bass clarinet) arrangement of the parts sung by MOTHER and her instrumental basset-horn reflection in KINDHEIT's 2nd, 3rd and 4th sections.

BIJOU
Work No. 180/Opus 49 1/2 ext. 2 - BIJOU [15']
     BIJOU is a duo arrangement for alto flute and basset-horn (INVISIBLE CHOIRS tape, optional) of the parts sung by MOTHER and FATHER in KINDHEIT's 5th and 6th sections.

KLAVIERSTÜCK XII 
Work No. 183/Opus 49 3/4 extract  -  PIANO PIECE XII for piano solo [22']
     Piano Work XII is the first of what would become several piano solo works derived from or inspired by LICHT.  In this solo version of EXAMEN, the piano part is also enhanced with some of the trumpet parts, and the soloist vocalizes some of the tenor parts.  The things which stand out for this work (besides the usage of the LICHT super-formula) are tremolos, wide arpeggiated figures, slow scalar bass notes and isolated chord clusters, as well as a few instances of playing the insides of the piano with fingernails.

A video of Simon Smith performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII at the 2015 Stockhausen Courses and Concerts in Kürten can be found here.

A video of Helga Karen performing KLAVIERSTÜCK XII in 2016 can be found here.

Sound Impressions
     KINDHEIT was probably the very first opera scene I'd ever tried to listen to (and not actively avoided!).  Its poly-scenic, highly phonetic nature (in German, of course) didn't immediately convert me into an ardent opera-lover (understandably, I think).  In fact it was many years before I could really appreciate the work, and the lack of a video of this Act of course made it that much harder (especially the dance-based 3rd Examination).  However, after learning of Stockhausen's own upbringing and reading an English translation of the libretto, it's now one of my favorite texts in all of LICHT.  The multi-layering of scenes is off-putting at first, but after repeated listening, the polyphony becomes much more meaningful.  It's probably one of the most meticulously staged parts of LICHT and every detail has a fascinating resonance.  It's also got to be one of the most brutal and gripping portrayals in opera of an imploding family during wartime.

Links
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering 
English Libretto (PDF)
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT Wiki
Sonoloco Review of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT 
Albrecht Moritz on DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT

EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 1
EXAMEN 2010 production by Le Balcon Pt 2
EXAMEN Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering 
EXAMEN 1990 DVD 
EXAMEN 1990 DVD English introduction (PDF)

UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering 
UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE Wiki
Sonoloco Review of UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE
Albrecht Moritz on UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE

TANZE LUZEFA! & BIJOU Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering 

Buy the Score

Thursday, September 25, 2014

SOLO

No. 19: SOLO for 1 Melody Instrumentalist with Looping Feedback System
1966 (10-20')

Form Scheme V
Universal Edition)
Development
     Stockhausen wrote SOLO on a commission by the Japanese radio network NHK in 1966. It's premiere performances featured trombone and flute soloists Yasusuke Hirata and Ryū Noguchi.  However, despite the title, the work required an additional 4 assistants to work its tape-loop-based sampling technology.  In more recent years this support team has been replaced by computer software (most recently running on an iPad 2) and so it now truly lives up to its title.  The compositional techniques Stockhausen uses here recall elements from MIKROPHONIE I (assembly of score from unsequenced notated materials), PLUS-MINUS (choosing material based on similarity/difference to what has just preceded it) and MOMENTE (independent sections which are influenced by the sections surrounding it), and then adds a new technological spin.
The original tape loop system required for SOLO's 6-Delay feedback set up.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
      At its most basic level, SOLO is a work where a melodic (non-chordal) soloist plays aleatory (free-choice) phrases (assembled according to strict rules from a pool of notated material) accompanied by delay loops between 6 and 45 seconds long.  These delayed signals (echoes) become stacked at times, creating up to 5 or more layers at the same time.  The soloist's microphone signal is also sent into 2 channels, each of which gets its own independent looping set up.  So if there are 5 layers in each channel, plus the live soloist, then 11 distinct layers could possibly be heard at one time.  Perhaps for this reason most of the available scored phrases are either relatively quiet, or very slow, or both.  In order to add distinctiveness to each layer, SOLO also requires the soloist to come up with 4 distinct instrumental timbres (such as choosing different mutes for trombone, or different programs for synthesizers).

Scored Materials
     There are 6 unlabeled pages of score from which the soloist can draw single pitches ("elements"), phrases ("parts"), or full staff lines ("systems").  I think of these pages as a kind of "score pool".  SOLO is divided into 6 sections of different lengths, and 1 page of score is devoted to one section (it is left up to the soloist to choose which score page is used for which section).  In actuality however, many sections blur together somewhat, since parts from adjacent sections are often quoted and mixed together.  As indicated above, there are also 4 distinct timbres called for, labeled N (normal), I, II and III in the score. Additionally, on 2 pages three levels of "noisiness" (geräuschhaft) are asked for, which can be created through vocalization, over-blowing, electronic effects, etc...

     The 6 available pages in SOLO can be roughly characterized as below (I relabeled the 4 timbres T1-T4, since "normal" seems to be a relative term in my opinion).
Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3 Pool 4 Pool 5 Pool 6
T2 Equal mix Equal mix half T1-T3,
half T1
T1->T3->T1 half T1-T3,
half T1
varying dynamics varying dynamics w longer note values & vibrato active transformations Fast short interval leaps, some noisy textures vibrato 12 contrasting systems,
some noisy textures


Pool 5 - Every system here starts as T1, transforms to T3 and then back. The arrows (-->) indicate gradual transformation from one timbre to another. 
Universal Edition)
Pool 4 - 2nd, 4th and 6th systems are at 3 levels of "noisiness" (geräuschhaft).
Universal Edition)

Score Assembly
     SOLO is assembled from the 6 page score pool into one of six possible "form scheme" structures (see sample at page top and in next section).  The bottom portion of the form scheme has the rules ("interpretation scheme") on how to assemble the notated materials.  Originally designed to be interpreted "on the fly", this was too hard to do for the performers, so Stockhausen recommended that a soloist should cut and paste sections of the notated pages to create a performable score. The interpretation scheme for Form Scheme I is interpreted (in English) below.

Formscheme I
(10'40")
Section A 
(1'06")
Section B
(1'53")
Section C
 (2'13)
Section D
 (2'32")
Section E 
(1'35")
Section F
(1'20")
11 periods 
x 6 secs
8 x 14.2 secs
7 x 19 secs
6 x 25.3 secs
9 x 10.6 secs
10 x 8 secs
similar contrary similar/different different/contrary similar/contrary different
parts elements/systems elements/parts systems parts/systems elements
quote from
next page
quote from feedback quote from previous page
quote from previous/next page
short
pauses
long
pauses
short/long
pauses

medium/short
pauses
medium
pauses
polyphony/
blocks
chords/
blocks
chords
polyphony/
chords
blocks

     In the above table, Section A is divided into 11 sections ("periods") of 6 seconds each. A period defines the loop time (more on this below).  One complete system (staff line) from the score pool page fits into one period.  The period length basically defines the tempo (short periods translate into faster tempos).  The remaining rows of Section A are interpreted as "similar parts, but mixing in quoted material from the next section, playing short pauses between parts/quotes, and trying to create polyphony and blocks with the feedback layers".  Polyphonic means no silences, blocks means some silences and some reduced layers, chords means total unison with the feedback signal, resulting in contrasts of silences with full layers.
One chord, followed by two blocks:
---  ----------        ----   -- -
---  ---- --- -------------   - --
---  -----    ----  - - - -   -- -

Interpretation schemes of Form Schemes III and V are translated below.
Formscheme III
(15'25")
Section A 
(3'33")
Section B
 (1'30")
Section C
 (2'42")
Section D
 (2'01")
Section E 
(1'06")
Section F 
(4'34")
7 x 30.4 secs
10 x 9 secs
8 x 20.25 secs
9 x 13.5 secs
11 x 6 secs
6 x 45.6 secs
similar/contrary different contrary different/similar contrary/different similar
elements/parts systems parts/systems elements parts elements/systems

quote from previous/next page quote from
next page
quote from feedback
quote from previous page
short/long
pauses

medium
 pauses
long/medium
 pauses
short
pauses
long
pauses
chords/
blocks

polyphony/
2 blocks
chords blocks polyphony/
chords

Formscheme  V
(17'6")
Section A 
(3'02")
Section B
 (4'34")
Section C
 (1'54")
Section D 
(1'28")
Section E 
(3'44")
Section F
 (2'24")
8 x 22.8 secs
6 x 45.6 secs
10 x 11.4 secs
11 x 8 secs
7 x 32 secs
9 x 16 secs
different different/similar contrary/different similar similar/contrary contrary
systems parts parts/systems elements/systems elements elements/parts


quote from previous /next page quote from previous
page
quote from
last period of previous page
quote from
next
page


medium

pauses
long/medium
 pauses
short/long
pauses
long
pauses
medium/short
pauses

polyphony chords/
part blocks w long pauses
polyphony/
element blocks w long pauses
chords polyphony/
chords

Feedback Layers
Form Scheme I
Universal Edition)
     The top part of the Form Scheme with the horizontal bars are ON/OFF instructions for the soloist's 4 assistants. Rows 1 and 2 are channels for "Microphone Pick-Up". Rows 3 & 4 are "Feedback" and 5 & 6 are "Playback" (each row pair is usually set as Left and Right).  Each shaded/lined area indicates an active channel for that period.
The effect of each channel is as follows:
  1. Mic - Save that period's material (loop) by recording the live sound to "Memory"
  2. Feedback - Add the loop as a new layer in Memory.  If the Mic is off, then no change to the loop. Erase Memory if Feedback is "off".
  3. Playback - Play any loop/layers stored in Memory (but not the newest layer just stored).  Playback always occurs before Feedback Memory is added to/erased.
For example, in Section A above this sequence happens for Channel 1:
  1. Record the live sound, save to Memory as Layer A
  2. Play back A (and keep it in Memory)
  3. Play back A (and keep it in Memory)
  4. Record layer B, add to A in Memory
  5. Play back A & B (save both in Memory)
  6. Play back A & B, then erase from Memory
  7. Record layer C, save to Memory
  8. Record layer D, add to C in Memory
  9. Play back C & D from Memory, record Layer E, add to C & D in Memory
  10. Play back layers C, D & E, keep all in Memory
  11. Don't play anything, but keep C, D & E in memory
     In the Form Scheme, the bottom-most Playback rows actually show the number of accumulated layers which will be played back from Memory (1 line for each layer) in each channel.  Layers accumulate until an "OFF" occurs in the Feedback channel.  The number of lines has no meaning to the players, but is helpful to someone following the Form Scheme while listening.  In most performances, the 2 channels for each assistant are divided into LEFT and RIGHT, but Stockhausen also recommends doing ad-libbed panning for the output channels, so it can definitely get confusing to follow all the layers.

     The shaded blocks also have numbers inside them (not clearly seen in the score sample).  These are the number of "perforations" in the recording or saving process.  An assistant must quickly drop and raise the input level in order to create silent gaps in the loop.  These are also ad-libbed.  Usually there only 1 to 4 of these perforation gaps, but a couple periods have 12 and 13.

     As one can imagine, with all of these factors at play, the results can be very unpredictable. 

21st Century Software
 
     This is a version of SOLO (Form Scheme I, performed on contrabass by Enrico Francioni) with all of the feedback layering handled by a pre-programmed iPad 2.  It's possible to actually see the faders moving to match the instructions in the Form Scheme above.  

     It's pretty interesting that there is now actually a small (tiny) cottage industry of people making SOLO-enabling software.  However on authorized recordings supervised by Stockhausen himself, a flautist plays to a pre-recorded tape of the feedback portion, and a synthesizer version is assembled completely on a digital sequencer with no live element at all.

Live Performance
Jason Alder performs SOLO (Form Scheme III) with Max/MSP controlling the Feedback Layers (music begins at 3:35 after a brief explanation)
International Clarinet Association ClarinetFest 2014
LSU Recital Hall, Baton Rouge, LA, USA, August 3, 2014

Sound Impressions
     SOLO takes single lines and figures and explodes them into kaleidoscopic shards flying through a hall of mirrors.  It was designed partly as an attempt to depict a soloist's thought processes while playing - thinking about what has been played and what is yet to be played.  From a listening standpoint it can be appreciated as six blended movements concerned with manipulating and layering looped live material (or as one long development-driven movement, since material from one section frequently carries over into the next).  The techniques used (by both the score assembler and the loop technicians) are very interesting, but in the final analysis they're more or less academic, since whatever music created from the Form Scheme is then atomized and obscured by perforation and layering of the feedback loops.

     I think that, like SPIRAL, a primary characteristic of a SOLO recording is simply the primary instrument, as well as any effects used to convey the 3 levels of "noisiness" (for example, some soloists have used ring modulators to create one of the 3 noise timbres).  In general, because of the mostly slow to moderate tempos involved, there are not many "hard" edges (though Michele Marelli's version for bassett-horn has some pretty wonderfully caterwauling moments).  Personally, I quite like the cello and contrabass versions, since they end up sounding something like polyphonic string quartets.  In any case SOLO was probably the very first solo "ambient soundscape" piece and yet it has apparently survived very successfully into the age of the mobile app.

Links
SOLO (Flute & Synth) Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
Buy the Score
SOLO Wiki
SOLO (Form Scheme III) on cello, Arne Deforce with Max/MSP
SOLO (on tuned percussion, Benjamin Bacon) 
SOLO (on vibraphone, Derek Kwan, Form Sceme III, Live: YouTube, Recording: SoundCloud)
SOLO (Thomas Moore on trombone, & Juan Parra Cancino on electronics) 
Sonoloco Review of SOLO