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Joe Offline

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Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:49 pm
#21 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Hey, Joe. I thought it was Stockhausen who was pronounced "the most French of all German composers", and Boulez "the most German of all French composers".

Had not heard that, but it makes a kind of sense, especially considering the Sirius Centre that France offered him. Well, not the "Sirius" part, but you know what I mean.

Joe Offline

Posts: 104
Points: 104

Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:57 pm
#22 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Meh, you're not "guilty" of anything! A lot of this is like arguing with lawyers, where definitions matter so much, ie the Clintonian question of what "the definition of is is".

In music especially, labels are applied retroactively, and since most people don't know anything about music, they get repeated as a crutch, and they stick like glue. So, Philip Glass is a "minimalist", even though the greatest minimalist of all time was Webern, hands down, and Glass doesn't want much to do with the term.

Stockhausen's quote about serialism expresses the same ambivalence. He just used it as a way to organize his thoughts. But, at the same time, he would be the first to describe his music as "serialist" (or at least, Kathinka would). He really figured out a way to apply that way of thinking to his art in a totally organic way, such that it is easy to lose sight of as being controlled by any method.

Jerry Offline

Posts: 181
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Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:58 am
#23 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
I think we're working on some misunderstanding here Jerry, which might explain a few things. Just to clarify, I find strict application of integral serialism kind of boring for the entire length of a work, though when it's used as a transitory device ("point-texture") I find it very effective. Of course Stockhausen also uses serialism as a technique for generating form, but that's not what I'm referring to. Of all the composers I've cited, I'm only referring to those works of theirs which exclusively use integral serialism as their primary compositional texture. Perhaps that makes my viewpoint more palatable?

Palatability is not the issue. I'm afraid it is comprehensibility. I still don't have the vaguest idea of what you mean by "integral serialism." This is an expression that is bandied about by many people without ever bothering to define what they are talking about. If you mean (to paraphrase Paul Griffiths's New Grove article) music based on a referential twelve-tone row, with three other parameters of duration, dynamics, and timbres constructed from analogous row forms, then I am happy to accept this academic textbook definition. However, you are going to have an awfully hard time finding any pieces actually made this way. The"classic" example, of course, is Boulez's Structures 1a, but even here timbre is replaced by attack types, and if you know the sketch version you will be aware that in the version for publication Boulez reduced the number of attack types, probably on practical grounds, and the method of traversal through the 12 x 12 matrix for some parameters guarantees that the successions are not even twelve-element, let alone analogues of the allegedly referential pitch row.

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
Regarding your questions about Kontra-Punkte, these are all answered in Stockhausen's lecture, no?

In a word, no. For a start, he says absolutely nothing at all about how the pitches are organized and, since that is usually the starting point for so-called "serial" analysis, it is a very serious omission.

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
As far as Punkte, the erasures are purely based on visual shapes, and so therefore I would expect that durational serialism at the very least would be interrupted.

Cannot visual shapes themselves be serially organized? If not, you had better tell Boulez (parts of Le marteau are organized on visual shapes) and Stockhausen (the early Klavierstücke and the two Electronic Studies are based on very similar shapes, which originate in Messiaen's "neumes")

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
As far as the original version, are you saying that it is not serial?

Not if you intend the textbook definition I offered above, no.

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
If so, how was it composed? To be honest, I have not done a really close examination of my copy of the original version so it's possible (even likely) that it's not written according to strict integral serial technique, but it looks like many cell-like elements (points) are given independently-chosen pitches, durations, dynamics, and articulations, so that's probably where my misinterpretation comes from.

Now we are getting somewhere. All of what you describe can be done (and has been done by many composers) without recourse to anything "strictly" defined as serialism.

Zitat von uatu im Beitrag #18
Anyways, in order to get this dialogue into a more constructive spirit (and less of a semantics debate), I was wondering if you could criticize my introductory text on Zeitmasze ( I saved Zeitmasze for last since I was awaiting the publication of your book, but I'm now basically done with KS' entire work list and had to pull the trigger, so to speak (actually I still have a few posts on Kontakte left to do - saving the best for last). Once your book is out I'll add a link, but in the meantime, just curious if there are any major errors or omissions (which would be appropriate for the layman's approach I'm going for here). Thanks!

I have looked at it superficially, and you seem to have covered the ground fairly well. There is of course a great deal more to say, and I hope I have done so in my book, which appears at last to have gotten to the stage of being typeset. If you want to add something, you might start by describing the pitch structure of the opening 28 bars (not just the first six bars, as some authors have done before declaring the rest of the poece to be "freely composed"). If you want a bigger challenge, try the pitch structure of Part Three (the one that is organized with the 12-tempo scale from Gruppen. If that is still too easy for you, you can progress to the middle part, which you correctly describe as being built in a 4 x 7 structure, but do not explain anything at all about the pitches. BTW, when Stockhausen revised Zeitmaße, it was this middle section's structure that suffered the most interruptions. Doesn't that mean that he destroyed its serial nature, or would you like to re-think what you said a but the erasures in Punkte?

uatu Offline

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Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:37 pm
#24 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

You make many valid points Jerry, I shall have to rethink my comments. As a musician/composer without any academic degree in music whatsoever, I admit I do play loosely with possible "hearsay"...I do get to learn alot tho :)

As far as updates to my Zeitmasze post, I think the elements you describe are beyond the mission scope of my blog, but thanks for the info.

- Ed Chang
- Stockhausen - Sounds in Space: Analysis, explanation and personal impressions of the works of the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Jerry Offline

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Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:28 am
#25 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

It just seemed to me that anyone thinking at textbook level is bound to ask, "what is the tone row on which this pieces is based?" You don't even mention this, though it is easily found by lookingat the opening bars, and the manipulations of it for the first section, at least, have been described in some detail by Pascal Decroupet,amongst others. When you say the third section is similar in treatement to then first, I think this is a great exaggeration, at the very least, but the enormous complexity of the pitch structure (in comparison with the simple procedures of part one) is as good a demonstration of this fact as is the totally different approach to rhythm.

Jerry Offline

Posts: 181
Points: 181

Tue Nov 15, 2016 12:33 am
#26 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

It has been almost a year since the last post on this thread, but there is now something more to add: My book on Zeitmasze is at last scheduled for publication by Routledge, on 7 December in the UK, on 14 December in the US. Dates in other areas TBA. I think the cover looks very nice, and you can see it by Googling ISBN 978-0-7546-5334-9. Just in time for Christmas shopping, be sure to buy a copy for everyone on your gift list! (It is, alas, expensive, so shop around. There is one merchant out there who claims to have a copy ready to ship, at more than US $400.00. I recommend you try elsewhere.)

Ulrich Offline

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Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:15 pm
#27 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Congratulations, Jerry! I always guessed, that this book of yours has been published already years ago. That was a mistake?!

Jerry Offline

Posts: 181
Points: 181

Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:25 pm
#28 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Thank you, Thomas! Some booksellers are listing it as having been published in 2008, but that will come as a big surprise to the publisher, Routledge. It certainly astonished me! There have been many delays, one caused by the disruption when Routledge acquired the original publisher, Ashgate. Another delay had to do with licensing the recording that will be included on a CD with the book. This is the 1971 recording by the Danzi Quintet (with Heinz Holliger on cor anglais), up until now the most difficult to obtain of the commercially released recordings. This has been unfortunate, since the Danzi Quintet's advocacy was one of the most important factors in promoting Zeitmaße in the 1960s. I personally find their control of dynamics (especially in the double reeds) exemplary, and am enormously grateful to Bernard Pulham for having steered me to a copy of this this recording several years ago.

Al Moritz Offline

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Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:09 pm
#29 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Congratulations, Jerry! I know this was a long wait.

As for the included recording and your mentioning of the control of dynamics, this reminds me of a discussion we had after a performance of the work at the Stockhausen courses 2009. You critiqued the performance also in these terms; evidently the parameter of dynamics is very important to you when it comes to this work. While I cannot yet speak for ZEITMASZE that much, I have found that precisely following the dynamics of the score is also enormously critical for the success of a performance of HARMONIEN and the 7 trios derived from it, since dynamics are essential to shaping directionality of the development of the ritornelli (the strings of fast melodic repeats).

Jerry Offline

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Points: 181

Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:55 pm
#30 RE: ZEITMASZE (Time Measures) reply

Hi Al. Yes, it has been a long wait! As for the dynamics, I think I have been sensitized to dynamics, especially in this piece, by two things. First, Stockhausen himself was often very insistent about dynamics, especially in rehearsals. And remember that criticism that he leveled at pop musicians for never varying their dynamics! The second thing, though, is a criticism made of ZEITMASZE many years ago by Bob Probasco, an oboist and fellow student with me at the University of Nebraska, in his 1968 MA thesis. He objected to the over-refinement of dynamic levels in ZEITMASZE, saying that the oboe, at least, was really capable of only three levels at best, and even then not in all registers. This seemed at the time a just criticism, but it nagged at the back of my mind for a long time, especially after I learned that Stockhausen himself had played the oboe while in school in Xanten. Why would he ask for such impossibilities? Your phrase, "shaping directionality", is exactly the point. It is silly to suppose that listeners will have some sort of sense of "absolute dynamics", but they can easily tell when things are getting louder or softer, or are staying the same. The levels Stockhausen uses are to define dynamic shapes, and that is where the double-reed players in the Danzi Quintet are particularly impressive. There are still lots of places where a pianissimo low note in the oboe comes out unavoidably forte, but enormous care is taken to provide the specified shapes, as far as it is possible to do so. I am not so convinced in other recordings that the players are not thinking "punctually" (that is, trying to establish the dynamics of each note separately) instead of regarding the direction a series of dynamics is leading (or not leading, in the case of back-and-forth motion). It is of course impossible to ignore those places where one group of instruments makes a crescendo while another does a diminuendo within a static chord, but I am thinking of the more ordinary textures of ZEITMASZE.

This approach to dynamics is, as you observe, vital to HARMONIEN and the KLANG trios, but also to the great majority of Stockhausen's music (I am thinking, for example, of that great sigh at the end of the LICHT Superformula). Perhaps we could except NATÜRLICHE DAUERN (though shaped dynamics there are of course the main event, even if largely beyond the control of the performer) and the music-box versions of the TIERKREIS melodies. Perhaps it is also true that dynamics are of less importance than pitch or duration in most circumstances, but perhaps that is also why Stockhausen made a special context for them in NATÜRLICHE DAUERN and the opening part of INORI. But It is too easy on these grounds for listeners and musicologists (a deliberate distinction that Stockhausen would enjoy) to disregard dynamics entirely, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak. The same can be said about timbre, of course, but that is a discussion for another time.

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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! Thomas Ulrich
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