Tuesday, April 28, 2015






Couple 1:
Woman & Man
Couple 9:
Electric Pencil Sharpener & Pencil
Nr. 63: PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples of FRIDAY)
with soprano, bass, electronic instruments (tape)
(1992/1999)  [65']

ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN vom FREITAG aus LICHT: Electronic Music with Sound Scenes from FRIDAY from LIGHT  [145']
KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (Piano Piece XVI), Nr. 63 1/2 (ie - 63.2): for tape, stringed piano, electronic keyboards ad lib., (1995)  [7']
TWO COUPLES, Nr. 63 2/3 (ie - 62.3): Electronic and Concrete Music,  (1992/1999)  [21']

Introduction: FRIDAY from LIGHT
     PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples of FRIDAY) is the collective title for the "male and female" electroacoustic music comprising the 12 SOUND SCENES (taped interludes) in Stockhausen's opera, FREITAG AUS LICHT (FRIDAY from LIGHT).  FREITAG is the 5th-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (LIGHT), which is a massive work of cathedral-like proportions for acoustic and electronic 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).

     FREITAG is the Day of Temptation where LUCIFER (here represented by the character LUDON) attempts to tempt EVE into joining his revolution against Heaven and bonding with his progeny, CAINO.  Preceded and followed by "entrance" and "exit" works (FREITAGS GRUSS and FREITAGS ABSCHIED), the main body of the opera (entitled FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG, or Friday Temptation) is divided into 2 Acts.  These 2 Acts are constructed from 2 layers of taped electronic and electroacoustic music, as well as live stage music.  In brief, the 3 layers are as follows:
  • 12 SOUND SCENES, collectively known as PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples of Friday): electronic music interludes using electronically-processed male and female voice, coupled with concrete field-recorded elements
  • 10 REAL SCENES (FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG): vocal and instrumental music produced by the musicians on stage, and which presents the main dramatic arc
  • FREITAGS GRUSS and FREITAGS ABSCHIED (WELTRAUM): background electronic music, which is the same tape used for the audience arrival and departure
     PAARE vom FREITAG is also sometimes played back in tandem with WELTRAUM as an electronic work, in which case, it is labeled with the umbrella title ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN vom FREITAG aus LICHT (Electronic Music with Sound Scenes of Friday from Light).

Electronic Effects
     Probably the most immediately striking aspect of the COUPLES of FRIDAY are the electronic effects applied to the Soprano and Bass vocals (sung by Kathinka Pasveer and Stockhausen himself), as well as the "sound effects" and field recordings integrated with them.  Several electronic processing devices were used, usually in combinations with each other:
  • Vocoder - This device takes 2 input signals and uses one to modulate the other.  In a typical scenario, a voice input modulates a synthesizer timbre to create a "robotic" voice (the vowel sounds are replaced by synth tones, called a "carrier").  These have various filters and noise elements which can also "flatten" an input signal into a monotone pitch.  An internal synth timbre can also be used as the carrier instead of a 2nd input (the concrete sounds in this case).
  • Harmonizer - This device takes an input signal and mixes in a parallel pitch-transposed layer (or layers, if a harmonized chord melody is desired).  The original signal can also be left out, leaving only the pitch-transposed layer (which is also robotic-sounding).
  • Sampler - Typically controlled with a keyboard, a sound (field recording, percussive attack, synth timbre, voice, etc...) is dynamically triggered according to different durations and pitches, and optionally looped.  In other words, by playing the keyboard as a trigger, it is possible to create rhythms and melodies using the sampled sounds.
  • Reverb
(A complete list of effects can be found on the WELTRAUM page.)

12 Electronic Couples
     By applying many different combinations of the above effects to his sound sources, Stockhausen and his son Simon created 12 unique sound Couples.  Couples 1-11 each have 13 iterations (1.1, 1.2...1.10, 1.11, 1.12A, 1.12B, 2.1, 2.2...etc...), while Couple 12 has 12 iterations (actually 7, since 12.7-12.12 are contiguous), and each iteration usually has a slightly different combination (or variation) of these effects.  Since there are 12 pairs, this naturally results in 24 individual sound entities ("singles", I suppose).  With all of these iterations, this results in 300 total sound fragments ((11 x 2 x 13) + (1 x 2 x 7)), equaling over 2 hours of material (or 65 minutes as Couples).  In the 12 Sound Scenes, these Couples are carefully layered with staggered entrances and exits, resulting in a total time of about half an hour.  Additionally, a synthesizer chord is added to the background of each Couple iteration with it's own signature timbre ("choir", "glassy", oscillating, mixed with cat sounds, etc...) and dynamic envelope curve (fade outs, reverb tails, glissandi tails, etc...).

     In Act 2 (from Sound Scene 8), adjacent Couples begin exchanging partners. For example, in Sound Scene 8, Couple 1's Woman changes places with Couple 2's Cat. In Sound Scene 9, Couple 3's Photocopy Machine changes places with Couple 4's Racing Car . Basically, in each Sound Scene starting from SS8, an exchange between two Couples occurs. After some exchanges, the Bass and Soprano parts exchange places (for example, Couple 10 in SS11), but otherwise stay with that Couple (ie - the exchange of partners does not bring over the melodic/text material).  Below is a brief listing of the predominant concrete sounds of the 12 Couples (in their initial forms before they begin exchanging partners).  The stage character names of the Couples are listed later, but these are what they are heard to sound like:
1 Woman Man
7 Owl
Rising electronic gliss
2 Cat
8 Female Sigh
(harmonized high, breathy)
(harmonized high)
3 Photocopy Machine (high percussive sounds) Typing 
(low percussive sounds)
9 Pencil Sharpener
(high whirring) 
Pencil Sharpened
(low grinding, tremolo)
4 Race Car
Male vocalizing race car sounds
(low harmonized timbre)
10 Woman
Droplet sounds with vocal buzzing
5 Pinball Machine
(high bumper
Pinball Player
(low flipper
11 Violin
6 Whizzing Ball
(high harmonized breathy timbre)
Soccer Kick
(low percussive)
12 Nest

     Each Couple has 5 basic sound elements: vocoded/harmonized Soprano and Bass vocal melodies, 2 kinds of vocoded/harmonized concrete sounds modulated/triggered with the voices, and an underlying synthesizer chord (sometimes modulated with concrete sounds).  Couple 1 is unique in that it does not have any concrete sounds in it and the vocals have no vocoder effect.  Instead, it has a secondary Soprano/Bass couple which sings a rhythmic ostinato (basically standing in for a sample loop).  The concrete samples (sometimes looped) are often triggered in rhythm (and/or pitch-shifted) with the sung syllables (and/or pitches) of the vocal parts (this could be done either through manually triggering them with a sampler, or with a vocoder using the field recording as a replacement timbre/carrier).  The vocoder also sometimes uses it's own internal synth as the replacement timbre, but often a secondary input (such as the violin or contrabass) is used as the new carrier timbre.  The harmonizer is used to add a parallel lower layer to the Bass vocal, and a parallel higher layer is often added to the Soprano vocal.  All of these elements have varying degrees of reverb added.

    A more detailed summary of the components of each Couple is below.  One thing that I noticed is that oftentimes the first iteration of a Couple has a denser texture (more elaborate concrete sounds), and then the following ones are slightly less dense.  This is probably because after a new Couple is introduced, it becomes increasing mixed with the other Couples, so this variation in density might prevent total sensory overload during these multi-layered moments.   The texts sung by the Soprano and Bass are scored phonetically using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) notation, but I converted these to more common English phonetics below.  In the Vocal Effects column I indicate whether the Soprano and Bass are harmonized up or down.  This effect may be either from the harmonizer or the vocoder modulation (depending on the "carrier" pitch).
 Couple  Partners Concrete Sounds Vocal Effects Sample Text Synth
1 Woman

(Becomes Cat in 1.8/
Sound Scene 8)
a 2nd soprano and 2nd Bass voice sing slow ostinato figures using small intervals, sometimes a Tibetan choir sample is added in the 2nd Bass Soprano: plate reverb w phasing (subtle) e-lu-va
choir timbre
Man Bass: hall reverb w phasing (subtle) zi-ave
(fragment from Lucifer & backwards Eva)
2 Cat

(Becomes Woman in 2.8/SS8)
isolated short and long high caterwauls (modulated by voice pitch), rising/falling (actually sounds more like a small dog whining to me), sometimes with fast-looped high meow Soprano: often vocoded with cat (harmonized higher) e-lu-va-zifer
(Elufa & Lucifer fragment)
Matrix 1000 sometimes with cat/sarengi timbres,
Dog single barks (on vocal syllables), low howls (fast rise, slow fall), sometimes vocoded Bass: sometimes vocoded with dog (harmonized lower) ave-ve-fer-lu
(backwards Eva, Lucifer reversed syllables)
3 Photocopy Machine

(Becomes Racing Car in 3.9/SS9)
switching on noises, high clicks, rushing sound, (actually sounds a little like roller skates to me) Soprano: sometimes vocoded (sawtooth synth timbre), harmonized high k-k-kai-no-tsai-hait
(keine Zeit/
no time)
overtones (whistling), synth tail glissandi (sometimes in split directions)
Typewriter rapid typing sounds (w return bell, paper scrolling, etc.) Bass: sometimes vocoded with grainy timbre, harmonized low mont-evi-ka-hait-d-eva
(Mond, Eva, keine, Zeit mix)
4 Racing Car

(Becomes Photocopy Machine in 4.9/SS9)
race car passing by at high speed, modulated with vocal melody Soprano: heavy exhalation, growling,
harmonized high
Christmas celebration)
modulating, with reverb tails
Racing Car
Bass voice vocoded w. internal saw-tooth oscillation (low subtone harmony)
(male voice imitating a race car)
Bass: asthmatic, hoarse, harmonized low hait-ca-na-ha-xt
(Zeit, keine,
Weihnachtsfest mix
5 Pinball Machine

(Becomes Soccer Ball (whizzing) in 5.10/SS10)
high percussive attack (bumpers), high-pitched note-swarms Soprano: fast vibr., exalted young lady, with high harmonized tremolo effect don-kel-ict-hel-
(dunkel, Lichtschein, hell/
dark, gleam of light, bright)
2nd synth w FM and AM, fast attacks, fade out tails
Pinball Machine
low percussive attacks (flipper "bangs", sounds like a vocoded tom tom drum), with medium-pitched swarms Bass: sharp consonants, low harmonized tremolo effect kerr-tsen-fla-me
candle flame)
6 Soccer Ball (whizzing)

(becomes Pinball Machine in 6.8/SS10)
whistling/sizzling timbre, pitch shifted rising/falling glissandi  Soprano: very breathy, much wind, sometimes glissandi figures, harmonized high don-kel-hu-ke-hel
(dunkel, hell/
dark, bright)
harmonium and "gong" timbres (Australian bullroarer w glisses) with periodic glissandi
Kicking Leg 
with Soccer Shoe
Soccer ball impacts (low resonant percussive attacks, like timpani) Bass: long notes, some rests, w. vocoded voice (internal synth) fla-me-he-lae-l, pe-pe-pl
7 (Moon with Little)

(Becomes Sighing Woman in 7.10/SS11)
long owl hooting, long reverb Soprano: vibrato, periodic accents tak-naxt-ge-burt
(Tag, Nacht, Geburt/
day, night, birth)
owl in synth (glassy - metallic), sometimes w.glissandi spikes
Rocket percussive bass with fast rising gliss to high note-swarms on every attack Bass: long notes (harmonized higher) don-kel-virt-lict
(Donkel wird Licht/
Darkness will become Light)
8 (Bare Arm)
Sighing Woman

(Becomes Owl in 8.8/SS11)
feminine sigh
(timbre from vocal)
Soprano: breathy, sometimes staccato, witch-like, or with vibrato, harmonized high b-b-b-burt-nai-na-i-ja
(mix of Geburt, nein, Freia)
harmonium timbre, glassy, reverb tail
(Hand Holding)
Drug Syringe 
bee-like buzzing timbre
(score indicates 4 samples: needle piercing potato, slurp, drops, bee swarm with metallic synth, open tap with spraying)
Bass: harmonized high biz-biz-biz
9 Electric Pencil Sharpener high grinding, sometimes periodic motor accents Soprano: stutters along w sharpener rhythm, harmonized high and also 1x low [:he:]-nsch-schre[:he:]-ke[:he:]-
(Mensch, Schreckenswelt/
human, dreadful world)
soft bell timbre, harmonized

(Becomes Ice Cream Cone in 9.6/SS12A)
sharpening noise
(low grinding)
Bass: modulated by Sharpener, plus synth 1 oct. lower, harmonized high and low, often some tremolo modulation/ rolled vowels ko[:mer:]-met[:tsain:]-tsaigt-
(Komet, Zeit/
Comet, time)
Typewriter idling (motor accents)
10 Woman's Mouth
(w. Crocus Blossom)
slurping, sucking sounds Soprano: singing with inhalation/exhalation, lip smacking ve-he-lt-virt-hail-ho[:le:]
(Welt vird heil/
world will be healed)
buzzy timbre
Ice Cream Cone

(Becomes Pencil in 10.5/SS12A)
droplets with echo Bass: buzzing, harmonized high and low flaiz-taz-ferz-
(frei, Lucifer?)
11 Violin violin timbre (arco)

(Becomes pizz in 11.12B/SS12B)
Soprano: rapid glissandi, sometimes with pitch shifting, harmonized high or with tritone e-lu-e mixed with violin/viola timbre, sometimes rising

(Becomes Raven in 11.12B/SS12B)
contrabass timbre
(score indicates arco, but sounds a little pizz. also)
Bass: glissandi, harmonized low fr-a-lu
12 Nest  small nest pressed/squeezed on each syllable Soprano: sometimes whispered, harmonized high frai-ya-tak-nait-frai-ge-schlect-frai-fer-zu-
(Freitag, frei Geschlect/
Friday, free gender)
fast nightingales 2 & 3 octaves higher w synth modulation (oscillating)

(Becomes Bow in 12.7/SS12B)
caw on each syllable Bass: nasal, cawing, holding one's nose while singing, harmonized low a-frro-di-te-fri-ga-e-
(aphrodite, Friga)

Melodic Structure
The ELUFA Nuclear Formula.  I added some colored outlines to Stockhausen's original sketch (reproduced from CD 50's booklet).
The orange vertical lines delineate the 12 segments, and the red diamonds outline the segment numbers. 
The bottom staff is an inversion of the top line with some added variations.
     The vocal melodies of the 12 Couples are derived from the ELUFA Nuclear Formula/melody (above), which was originally written as the basis of a piece for basset horn and flute (a Christmas gift to Suzanne Stephens and Kathinka Pasveer).  The 2 layers (treble and bass clefs) are derived from the EVE and LUCIFER Nuclear Formulas, which are in turn derived from the LICHT super-formula.  Stockhausen's LICHT opera cycle is based on a 3-layer melodic structure (super-formula), with the 3 staff layers named the MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER Formulas, respectively.  Each Formula has a simplified version of just a few measures, called a Nuclear Formula, which is based on the central pitches of each part of a Formula (the pitch row, actually).
(from "Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's LICHT" - Jerome Kohl)

     The top melody (treble staff) of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is derived from combining the EVE and LUCIFER Nuclear Formulas and stretching them out (ie - adding and increasing rhythmic note values to the 2nd and 3rd staff measures above). Basically, both of these elaborated Nuclear Formulas are played at the same time by a single melody instrument as the treble layer of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula, often using glissandi to travel from one pitch to the next (when 2 of the original notes fall on the same beat, they are played in quick succession).  Opposing this layer as a mirror-melody, the lower, bass clef voice of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is basically an inversion of the upper layer (upside-down), but also with some exceptions and rhythmic variations.  The ELUFA NF is also divided into 12 segments, each with a different tempo, and in FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG's Real Scene 1, PROPOSAL, the mirrored 2-layer ELUFA Nuclear Formula is heard in its most basic form.  The ELUFA NF and its 12 segments are described in more detail in the page for FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG.

     Note: In the booklets of the CDs and the in the score forewords, Stockhausen calls the inverted layer the top layer, and the normal layer the bottom layer.  This is referring to the parts in ELUFA (the Real Scene), but not for the actual ELUFA Nuclear Formula.  Since the "normal" layer is usually assigned to the treble staff and the inverted layer is assigned to the bass staff, I use those designations.

     In PAARE vom FREITAG, each of the 12 segments of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is assigned to one of the 12 Couples, and in each of the 13 iterations of a Couple (1 through 12B) a progressively-developed version of it's assigned ELUFA segment is sung by the Soprano and Bass (sometimes the Soprano is assigned the top ELUFA layer, and sometimes the lower, and the Bass naturally takes the other remaining layer).  The 12 segments of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula slowly surface in the Sound Scenes as new Couples arrive.  It's only in Sound Scene 12 that, with the arrival of Couple 12's final segment, the full ELUFA Nuclear Formula is heard.

     In his book "Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses Kürten 2002", Richard Toop observes that each Couple's 12-13 held synth chords contains a different major triad, rooted on a note from the EVE Nuclear Formula pitch sequence (they also have a pitch from the LUCIFER Nuclear Formula pitch sequence and the inverted LUCIFER Nuclear Formula pitch sequence).  Since each Couple must cycle through all 12 chords, and the variety of Couples is weighted more towards the end, more chord harmonies occur in the later Sound Scenes.  Each Couple's 12 chords maintain a pedal bass pitch, however, and this unifies the chord timbre (truth to tell, a Couple's chords all sound the same to me, so this is a very subtle chord progression).

Form Structure
Sound Scene 4 Synchronization Plan, showing the entrances and layering of Couples 1-4
(reproduced in the CD 49 booklet and the FREITAG AUS LICHT libretto)
     The Couples and their 13 iterations are spread out in different layered combinations over 12 Sound Scenes, which act as interludes between the 10 live performer Real Scenes (striking me as kind of giving "commentary" on the Real Scenes).  In each Sound Scene, a new Couple is introduced, followed by staggered entrances of the other already-introduced Couples in different sequences.  For the most part, no more than 3 or 4 Couples are heard at the same time, except in a few "pyramid" structures.  The last Couple in a Sound Scene is often the one introduced in the previous Sound Scene.  Starting from Sound Scene 8, in addition to a newly-introduced Couple, the "old" Couples begin exchanging partners (as described above).  Sound Scene 8 actually starts with its exchanged Couple 1 before introducing Couple 8.

     During this slow additive procedure, there are also 3 "inserts" (structures outside of the normal proceedings), where introduced Couples build up to a maximum layer density within a brief period of time, and then subside in the same order.  Sound Scene 7 has "Pyramid 1", where the 7 Couples arrive as usual (in mixed order), but after all have arrived, a tutti held chord is played, followed by a rest (except for a reduced chord layer), followed by a layered build-up (1-7 individually re-enter with held notes), and ending with a 5-accent held chord.  The 7 layers then continue and drop out individually as normal.  Sound Scene 8 has an insert where, after a solo Couple 7 (Rocket, Owl) iteration, all Couples come in at once, before dropping out 1 by 1 starting from Couple 1 going down to Couple 12.
Sound Scene 12A Synchronization Plan
(reproduced in the CD 49 booklet and the FREITAG AUS LICHT libretto)
     In Sound Scene 12A (above), after a section where Couple 11 is solo, all 12 Couples suddenly join in a tutti event, followed by a measure where only the synthesizer layers are heard, followed by a layered build-up to another tutti (each Couple comes in one by one from 1 to 12).  Once all Couples have entered, a tutti unison harmony phrase occurs (score sample below), after which the Couples depart one by one, again starting from 1 going down to 12.  During 12A's harmony event, the sung text is harmonized between the Soprano and Bass voices as "e-lu-fa-tsi-fer-kint-kai-no-tsait-lict-schein-heltz-dun-kel-tak-nacht-ge-burt-ya-men-ve-helt-virt-hail" (a condensation of most of the sung text of all 12 Couples - see above table for translation of these elements).  Following this insert, Sound Scene 12B is basically only Couple 11 and 12 playing synchronously, with Couple 11 playing it's 13th and final iteration (without Soprano part), and 12 playing its 7th-12th iterations uninterrupted (without Bass part).

     It should be noted that from SS12A's 1st tutti event described above, the synthesizer layers of all 12 Couples disappear for 1 measure.  Then, 1 measure follows consisting of only synth layers.  After that, the synth layers disappear for good.  This brief duo/solo construction makes it easier to hear the timbre elements of the individual Couples as heard isolated on CD 48 (as Couples 1.12B, 2.12B, 3.12B, 4.12B, 5.12B, 6.11B, 7.12B, 8.10B, 9.10A, 10.9A, 11.7 and 12.4B, all of which also continue on to the harmony phrase without the synthesizer layer).

     In addition to the 12 Couples, in each Sound Scene where two Couples have exchanged partners (ie - from SS8 forward), Bastard-Paare ("Hybrid Couples") appear (6 in total), which are heard as held male and female vocal pitches, harmonizing with the background electronic layer (EVE and LUCIFER Formula layers).  These Hybrids are faded in and out throughout Act 2.

Couple 1.1 (Woman and Man) does not have any vocoder effect, only reverb added.
The synthesizer chord uses a "choir" timbre.
The bottom Soprano and Bass act as a kind of timbre "loop",
since there is no concrete sound pair in this Couple.

Couple 2.1 (Cat and Dog) has a "bark" added to each syllable of the Bass vocal (indicated by "B").
The synth chord has frequency modulation on its timbre.
The concrete sounds are indicated at the bottom,
with the pitches of the cat and dog samples transcribed graphically.

This page shows the tutti harmony phrase in the middle of Sound Scene 12A after the build-up event.
The group of 4 staff lines at the top is the background electronic layer from FREITAGS-ABSCHIED.

Spatial Projection and Staging
Couple 4: Driver and Race Car
     The Couples are spatially arranged in ascending sequence (1-12) from left to right, and elevated towards the middle of the stage.  This creates a CD recording effect where the sounds of the Couples begin on the far left and slowly expand as new Couples arrive, until the entire stereo field is filled.  On stage, when it's a Couples turn to "activate", a light sometimes comes on (spotlighting them) and they perform individual dances of a "sensual" nature (they are couples after all).
By Sound Scene 12A most Couples have exchanged partners (left to right): Driver & Photocopy Machine, Typewriter & Race Car, Kicking Leg & Pinball Machine (in globe), Pinball Player inside Soccer Ball, Moon & Hypo Needle, Bare Arm (in globe) & Rocket, Ice Cream & Electric Pencil Sharpener, Mouth and Pencil (right foreground), 5 Hybrid Couples in the center.  (Dog-Woman and Cat-Man not shown) - Photos from CD50 Booklet
     After each Couple exchange, a new hybrid Bastard Paare (as a combined form) appears, rising from the stage floor (seen above).  Eventually these 6 double-forms sing the 10th Real Scene (CHOR-SPIRALE (Choir Spiral)) after stepping into a giant candle flame (described in more detail in FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG).

CD Recordings
Pinball Machine/Pinball Player (top)
Soccer Ball/Kicking Leg (bottom)
Preproduction costume art Johannes Cohen, 1995
     The Couples of Friday are heard in different settings on 3 different CD releases from the Stockhausen Complete Edition.  CD 48 contains each Couple isolated spread out in the stereo field.  This CD allows one to hear all of the vocals, concrete sounds, and vocoder/harmonizer effects very clearly.  It's basically sequenced in the order that they appear in the opera, but without the overlapping of layers.  As far as I can tell, the titles in the early printings of the booklet are not quite accurate (see addendum at bottom), but in any case it's pretty obvious after awhile which Couple is which.  CD 49 contains ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN vom FREITAG aus LICHT, which is the Couples as they are heard in the opera with the background electronic layer (also known as WELTRAUM/FREITAGS-GRUSS/FREITAGS-ABCHIED).  And finally of course the Couples can be experienced in the opera itself on CD 50.  On CD Editions 49 and 50 the Couples begin on the far left, and as new Couples enter, the sounds expand towards the right.  CD 50 has many excellent photos of the Couples (a few reproduced above).  The opera libretto and score (FREITAG-VERSUCHING) also include many numerous photos and pre-production sketches of the Couples which are very beautiful in their own right (right).

Sound Impressions 
     One of the most striking things about the Couples is their use of the vocoder to produce the effect of human and natural sounds modulating each other.  The idea of intermodulation between sound sources was first explored in TELEMUSIK, and here Stockhausen cross-pollinates melodic vocal material with concrete sounds both as a sample loop and as a timbre source, and further processes them in different effects combinations.  I'm very glad that the 13 iterations of each PAARE vom FREITAG can be heard in CD 48 as isolated layers, since there is alot of fascinating detail to each one, and each time I listen I hear more things I missed previously.  Within the context of ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN or the opera proper, the density of the sounds becomes very difficult to fully absorb at times, especially on a home stereo.  Jerome Kohl has suggested that concentrating on the melodic content and the harmonies that are produced from the layering can be productive.  In a live performance, the visual element of Couples appearing, dancing and disappearing would most likely make this polyphony much easier to appreciate.  However, I still like listening to all 3 versions, since the overall effect of each is quite different, and even the dense parts of the layered Sound Scenes create a sense of environment, or possibly "Sounds from Earth". 

Nr. 63 1/2: KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (Piano Piece XVI)
for tape, stringed piano, electronic keyboards ad lib. (1995) [7']
Antonio Pérez Abellán
      This work was originally commissioned as a finalists' piece for the 1997 Micheli Competition. Basically, Sound Scene 12 is projected on tape (without the background electronic layer from FREITAGS-ABSCHIED), and the pianist/synthesizer player selects and plays (or sings, whistles, plucks, etc...) pitches and attacks from the Sound Scene's 12 Couples, somewhat outlining the melodic pitches sung on the tape (but only individual notes/intervals, no melodic groups). The pitches to be played should mostly be in a different, higher/lower register remote from the ones produced by the Couples. Because the choice of notes is still relatively free, the performer is instructed to create "characteristic processes" over the course of a performance, such as increasing and then decreasing density, or possibly concentrating on different individual register groups at a time. The score for KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI is basically a Sound Scene 12 with some of the synth chords harmonies re-orchestrated for fingering reasons.  This work was premiered in a public concert by Antonio Pérez Abellán in 1999, and recorded on Stockhausen Edition CD 57 in a truly splendid realization, using piano, voice, fingernails, synth, ring modulation, reverb, etc...

Nr. 63 2/3: TWO COUPLES
Electronic and Concrete Music (1992/1999) [21']
      TWO COUPLES was created for use as background score for the 1999 Quay Brother film "IN ABSENTIA". It uses FREITAGS-GRUSS as one layer (starting at the LUCIFER counting event ("eins...") to the end), and permutated sequences of Couples 5 and 6 as another layer. Released on Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 64, the titles are listed as Couple 5's pairings of M1 (pinball player, flipper bangs) with F1 (pinball machine, bumpers), and Couple 6's pairings of M2 (soccer ball kick) with F2 (whizzing). For the first half of TWO COUPLES, Couples 5 and 6 alternate, and then after 2 partner exchanges, the modified Couples continue alternating.  The final film with his music moved Stockhausen greatly.

Sound Samples, Online CD ordering
Ordering the Score (FREITAG - VERSUCHUNG)
Ordering FREITAG AUS LICHT's Libretto (German & English)
IN ABSENTIA (Quay Brothers short film on Vimeo)
Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses Kürten 2002 (Richard Toop)
Simon Stockhausen Homepage

Stockhausen Edition CD 48 Track Title Corrections:

Trk Correct Title
11 3.2 + 3.3
35 2.8
36 3.8
37 6.4
38 5.7
39 7.3 + 7.4 + 7.5
40 5.7 (cont.) + 5.8
41 1.8 (c) + 2.8 (c) + 3.8 (c) + 4.8 + 6.5 + 8.2 + 8.3
42 9.1
43 7.6
44 3.9
45 4.9
46 1.9
47 5.9
48 2.9
65 4.11 + 3.11(c) + 6.10(c) + 11.3
73 8.8

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Score cover
No. 74: LITANEI 97 for choir and conductor
(1997) [23']

     LITANEI 97 is basically a reworking of the piece LITANEI (Litany) from Stockhausen's 1968 collection of intuitive text pieces, AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN (From the Seven Days), which generally uses verbal instructions to direct improvisational ensembles performances.  In contrast to the other members of AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN, LITANEI is worded as a personal message from Stockhausen to the performer, and it's intention is more like "introducing" the concept of intuitive music, rather than instructing the players to play a specific melodic/rhythmic idea.  In 1997, a version of LITANEI, redubbed LITANEI 97, was premiered by the Choir of the South German Radio, and conducted by Rupert Huber.  This version is not based so much on intuitive improvisation, but there are definitely some aleatory elements relating to pitch ranges and glissandi.  Each line of the text is intoned microtonally by members of a mixed choir (SATB), and each voice group is assigned a different pitch range.  In addition, the conductor sometimes sings short phrases from the MICHAEL formula (one of the melodic themes dominating Stockhausen's LICHT opera cycle) and strikes metal percussion bowls as punctuation marks.

(English translation of text from AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN)
     This text was written during a period where Stockhausen was in emotional despair and in self-imposed isolation (as well as undergoing a fast).  Though it was not written first in the AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN cycle, it seems to be directed as a preface to his performing group, who had already performed KURZWELLEN, but had not yet attempted the intuitive texts of AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN.  For more background on the creation of these texts, see AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN.

Musical Structure
The MICHAEL Nuclear formula, divided into 5 segments (Limbs).
This is derived using the central pitches (nuclear tones) of the MICHAEL formula.
The conductor in LITANEI 97 sings one of the 5 limbs before each verse, 
with the 5th limb split into 2 parts to be sung before and after the 5th verse.
     There are 5 verses in LITANEI, with 8, 10, 7, 8 and 11 lines (44 total lines).  Before each verse and after the final verse, the conductor (or alternatively a tenor or a mixed selection of singers) sings a melodic fragment (using selected phrases from the text) as a soloist.  These fragments are actually consecutive segments ("limbs") of the MICHAEL Nuclear formula with additional rhythmic articulations.  The conductor also strikes a Japanese rin bowl (metal singing bowl) at the end of each verse (preceding the vocal solo) with the final pitch(es) of the sung segment, and after the 5th verse he strikes 8 times, using the 5 pitches used previously and ending on a final 6th pitch.

     The "speaking choir" intones the litany verses according a scored rhythm, but the pitches used are aleatory (free) within specific pitch ranges (kind of like a frequency bandwidth).  Each of the 5 verses has a different "bandwidth distribution" and in 2 of the verses the bandwidths undergo slow glissandi (in steps by verses).  In the 3rd verse the male and female speakers alternate syllable groups, and at the end of the final verse a brief harmony section occurs.

     Besides the aleatory bandwidth register of the spoken words, held notes (greater than a quarter note) are usually bent upwards.  In each line there are also specific scored trills, tremolos, held steady pitches, and glissandi shapes (sometimes half of the singers hold a note, and the other half glisses), as well as instructions for whispering, rolled vowels, sotto voce, "morse code" rhythm, etc...  At the end of each line the circle of singers step right or left (which adds a subtle ritualistic element somewhat reminiscent of LUCIFERS ABSCHIED), followed immediately afterwards by a very brief free event where the individual singers sing out a previously-sung syllable from that line, usually creating a kind of brief tutti vocal clamor.  The last line of each verse has no tutti, but is instead marked by the conductor's rin bowl strike.

The musical characteristics of each verse is summarized as follows:
  1. After the conductor opening solo ("Litany..."), Sopranos and Tenors sing in low register, Altos and Basses high.  Ends on a slow, rising, rolled vowel.
  2. After the conductor solo ("...the next stage..."), the choir makes 1 hop and 1 breath sound.  All singers start in the middle band. The Sopranos and Tenors gradually sink to the low register and then back to the middle.  Altos and Basses, in contrast, rise and then fall. 
  3. After the conductor solo ("Do not try to grasp it with your mind..."), the choir makes 2 hops and 1 breath sound.  Males and females alternate speaking syllable groups.  All singers start in the middle band, but with individual members (sort of accompanied soloists) singing outside the middle range in a specific sequence. 
  4. After the conductor solo ("You may have neither the time nor the patience..."), the choir makes 3 hops, rotates once in place, and makes 2 breath sounds.  Bandwidth-wise, this verse is the mirror of 2: All singers start in the middle band. The Altos and Basses gradually sink to the low register and then back to the middle.  Sopranos and Tenors rise and then fall.
  5. After the conductor solo ("...what there is of music in the air..."), the choir makes 4 hops and sings a high held humming note.  Pitch-wise Sopranos and Tenors are assigned high ranges, Altos and Basses low.  As in verse 3, a few unique groupings occur (with accompanied soloists), and more footwork is involved (see Live Performance, below).  During this verse, choir members individually (1 per bar) turn to face outwards, so that at the beginning of the last line, all members are facing outwards (from the center of the circle).  After a single rin strike, the last phrase is sung in a 3-part harmony by the choir ("higher in us and outside").  This ensemble harmony phrase is sung intuitively, in that the members have to be synchronous without being able to see each other, implying that the entire choir have become one's own body (as per K. Pasveer's note).  After a final solo by the conductor ("higher in us and outside, outside, out..."), the choir members scrape their right foot 5 times as the final rin strikes are played, and finally sing a high tutti "HU!".
Beginning of the 2nd verse.
     At top left, the broad direction of the pitch registers is shown (for Soprano/Tenors: falling from the middle register, then rising, Altos/Basses rising/falling).  To the right of that is the conductor's sung solo part, the 2nd Limb of the MICHAEL Nuclear formula (with added articulations), followed by a choir hop ("springen") and a loud breath.  The staff below shows the allowed pitch ranges for the Soprano/Tenors, Altos and Basses (looks kind of like a chord cluster).  The remainder of the staff shows the rhythm to be sung, with the number of beats in large numerals above them.  Each tone longer than a quarter note usually gets an aleatory rising gliss, but some are specifically scored, such as in "Stu-fe....".  At the end, the circled "R" and "L" indicate a right foot step to the side and a left foot slide together.  The circled "W" indicates the aleatory group syllable moment.

Live Performance
     The conductor and choir (clad in light blue robes) enter in single file and arrange themselves in a circle around the conductor, who faces the audience.  During the first 2 verses, at the end of each line the choir circle rotates 1 step counter-clockwise (stepping right, closing with the left).  During verses 3 and 4 the choir movement is clockwise.  Just before verse 5, every other singer takes a step backwards (essentially forming an outer circle).  At the end of each line in verse 5, the inner circle steps clockwise, the outer circle steps counter-clockwise.  After each of the conductor solo phrases, the choir members also make different numbers of hops, and spin in place (as described earlier).  After the last verse (and its attendant foot scrapes, rin strikes and declaration of "HU!"), the choir members disperse into the auditorium, each handing out 3 pages of music to 3 different audience members, and then leave in single file.

Sound Impressions
     LITANEI 97 to me is a kind of microtonal vocal prologue to AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN, especially considering the subject matter of the text.  On the CD 61 release, the premiere recording of this work is paired with KURZWELLEN (also the premiere recording).  It seems natural that AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN should follow, if this were a "cycle" of sorts.  Stockhausen might be surprised (or not?) that I actually find some ideas behind this work to remind me of STUDIE II, since the choir parts are essentially based on frequency "bandwidths" of aleatory spoken word.  Since the pitches for each vocal group are arranged as unbroken frequency ranges (for instance, low C up to E in the Basses in the excerpt above), this creates the vocal equivalent of "colored noise", or bandwidth filtering, at least in theory.  The glissandi also give me this impression.  Though this work is admittedly not one of my "top 10" favorite Stockhausen works, there are some unique effects to be found here (the high humming at the beginning of verse 5, for example, is pretty unique and sounds almost electronic), and these ensemble effects (tongue-rolls, whispering, hissing, etc...) make for an unpredictable timbre palate within a strict range of melodic material.

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