Nice invocation of Dune. I didn't see you at our Second Dream concerts, but La Monte Young speaks in very similar terms. The whole point of those concerts was to bring people to a higher consciousness through these sustained tones and the overtones they create. Stimmung is very clearly derived from La Monte's work, and the Alphabet comes from that Stimmung-Sternklang continuum. A kind of harsh way of looking at it is that it's the period where Stockhausen had run out of ideas and was just treading water.
Still, a great performance of An Himmel is a thing of beauty. There are a couple singers in here in the city who do it very well!
I didn't know Am Himmel was done in NY. Did you produce it? I would've liked to see that.
Speaking of sustained (over)tones for consciousness-raising, the improvisor Michiko M does alot with sine tones. I personally find her "playing" pretty boring, but when I've asked people who've attended her concerts, they describe it as a kind of mood-altering experience. Have you ever seen her? I remain skeptical. In general, drone-based music doesn't suit me, which is why I've never been to the Dream House or any of LaMonte's events. Though lately I've been diving deep into Scelsi and his works don't bore me for some reason.
The Dream House is definitely worth a visit. The temporary space that Dia put up in Chelsea is very nice, but it's a totally different experience (and piece) than the long-running version above La Monte's apartment. When we rehearsed in the original space, the blur of the overtones was dizzying. In the temp space, we could barely create any, because it's so huge and the carpet is so thick. It was easier when it was filled with people, but it wasn't quite as visceral an experience as our rehearsals.
When all those overtones are interacting, it becomes quite dramatic. It was very easy to get past 90 minutes, and I could easily have played the music for 2-3 hours. La Monte's right that it creates a different kind of consciousness. It kind of "cleanses" your ears.
It's funny that people don't think of Licht as drone music, but there are drones through so much of it.
"An Himmel" has been done a few times in the past couple years. I didn't produce it.
The really droney elements in Licht are probably my least favorite part. As you know I've done "personal mixes" where I overlaid a less droney work over a droney one to make it more palatable, or even put the droney parts through Audacity/Audition and sped them up 400%...
:) Have you posted those? I remember you talking about them, but I don't recall hearing them.
I get that there's "drone music" like Stimmung or La Monte's music, but there's also music with drones, which is at the core of so much of Licht from the very beginning of the scenic action, when the first sound we hear is the drone of the instrumental tape in Kindheit. There's just so much of that sort of thing all throughout Licht, but I guess the ears are drawn elsewhere.
One typical example is Düfte-Zeichen, which features very typical synth drones that dot the landscape of Licht. The vocal lines in those solos tend to be very circumspect, partially because of the drones and partially because of the nature of the piece. Still, the overall effect is quite static, and for some reason, the essentially static nature of Licht's music goes largely uncommented on.
Nah, posting my "combinatorial realizations" would be a line too far, especially considering that the Foundation (read: Kathinka) has been very generous about letting me use images from scores and booklets. I did ask you at one point if you thought it would be worth sharing these with Kathinka and you seemed to think they might not be very appreciative of it. So...they'll sit on my iPod for the time being. Someone else asked about my retrograde realization of Cosmic Pulses (using the loops on the CD) and I declined to share it online as well. It's easy enough for anyone to do themselves anyways.
This is way off topic (perhaps a "drones in Stockhausen" thread would be good), but I think the drones serve as a way to beef up the textures of the scenes, especially since there is no pit orchestra. The reason for them from Stockhausen's words is of course a temporal projection of the super-formula, but I suspect they may be there for economical/practical reasons as well. At least it's not necessary to have 6 months of an INORI-like orchestra rehearsal to get the textures right. On the other hand, due to the sometimes technology-dated timbres, I think Stockhausen probably lost some fans who were more into Gruppen, Carre, Punkte, etc... Listening to Scelsi, I can imagine a work like Mittwochs Gruss, or Freitags Gruss/Abschied being much more popular in the "avant garde zeitgeist" if they were realized with acoustic instruments. I suppose there's no reason that someone could do just that in the future, but again, circling back to the top of this text, I doubt it would get the support of the Foundation...
I would be happy to read a thesis on drones in KS. Perhaps I'll take a stab at it sometime on the blog.
I actually love the drones exactly as they are ... I don't particularly see the timbres as dated, although I admit that, when technology is involved in the production of sound, it becomes much easier to identify the precise time-period in which they were written. I know Stockhausen chose these electronic synthesiser sounds for practical reasons, as you point out, but I then think that he then wrote the music very much with those sounds in mind and, had he been writing for conventional orchestral instruments (for example) he would have written something very different. So, while I can see that it might be interesting as a matter of curiosity to hear the works played on acoustic instruments, my bet is that they would not sound as good. I personally love the ambience those sounds create - the ways there can be all kinds of action happening musically at other levels in the piece, and then there is a moment's pause, and the synthesiser sounds are heard still holding their space beneath and around it all, often seeming to come from a different part of the universe, purely because of their unique, distinctive timbres.
It's interesting to hear Joe's references to the static nature of the music. I hadn't thought of the music as static but I can now, in a way, see it from that perspective too. I see the drones as embracing, encompassing the music - the large nesting doll that holds the smaller, busier ones, to borrow Rudolf Frisius's metaphor - and in that sense it does place all of the other activity within a larger kind of stasis. Interesting.
I admit, it took a deliberate effort for me to get past the electronic tones that Simon and Antonio used, but I've "accepted" them, if that's the right term. The textures and timbres from the Concrete Etude up to Hymnen are the most comfortable to me in all honesty. But I do enjoy the electronic elements after those of course (just not as much).
I'd be curious to hear acoustic realizations of the Licht electronic layers. For one thing, I've always been a fan of alternate arrangements of works (I myself have done so many midi-rock versions of the pre-war repertoire it's almost embarrassing). Also, I just want more Stockhausen CDs! I've made it no secret that I would also love to hear modern electronic realizations of Sirius or the formula-based electronic works. The scores for those works don't have that many timbral demands, and when they do I always think of them as footnotes for posterity anyways (or, especially in the case for Sirius, are just designed to be used as "listening scores"). Otherwise, I don't think the scores for the electronic elements would have any purpose for existing. So it's easy for me to jump from "updated electronic realizations" to new acoustic arrangements. I'm not sure I'd agree that they wouldn't sound as good - I would offer that they sound "as good", but different. I suppose I could draw a parallel with the Tierkreis arrangements, derived from the music boxes... As far as drones holding a space underneath, the background tape of Donnerstag is entirely acoustic/choral, so maybe that aesthetic could work for the other operas as well. Again, I'm not suggesting anything like replacing those electronic versions, but just that it'd be worth investigating and that I believe more people in the "avant-garde" world would be interested in KS's later work.
I do take your point that alternate versions can be viable. I guess I just reckon that if Stockhausen had have created them himself, he probably would have reworked other elements of the pieces as well - they would be real re-creations, geared to the new instrumentation, as was the case with all those different versions of IN FREUNDSCHAFT. But you're right - music as rich and interesting as Stockhausen's does sometimes beg for different approaches to be explored.
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!