I'm wondering if someone might possibly be able to help me understand the electronic music layer from FREITAG aus LICHT a little better than I do. I can see from the score that the notation for the electronic music layer is the Friday segment of the super formula, as well as a segment of the EVA-LUZIFER double formula. But from following the score with the recording, there is clearly a lot more also going on in the electronic layer. I presume this is what Stockhausen is alluding to when he explains, in the introduction to the score, that he has elaborated the notes of the formula because of having temporally expanded them so much. He describes forming the interior of each note through things such as microtonal shifts in pitch, slowing and speeding beats, expanding and contracting intervallic relationships, use of isorhythmic pulsation, etc. He says that all of this has been composed according to the formula. What I don't understand is just what this all means, and in what way it has been informed by the formula. There are many passages in the electronic music where there are many more notes being played, often very clearly articulated, than what is notated in the score, and I am not sure how these are added, or how they relate to the formula or even, for that matter, how they relate to this elaboration process that Stockhausen describes in the introduction to the score. If anyone is able to explain any of this to me, or point me to any reference that might explain it to me, I'd be hugely grateful!
I think one of the chapters in Richard Toop's book "6 Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses" is about Freitag's electronic music. To honest, I haven't gotten around to reading it yet (other fires in the iron ;) ).
Is Richard Toop on this forum?
- Ed Chang - Stockhausen - Sounds in Space: Analysis, explanation and personal impressions of the works of the avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. - http://stockhausenspace.blogspot.com/
Thanks for this Ed. I've had a look at Richard's discussion of the electronic music from FREITAG aus LICHT, and it is superb for its explanation of how the sound scenes are structured into the music, but quite brief on the electronic layer itself. Maybe I am just having difficulty reading the score accurately, but a classic example of what I am referring to (for anyone who has the score at hand!) can be seen on pages 82-3 of the FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG score where cue 26 of CD 50C is indicated towards the end of page 82. There, for one minute and 20 seconds until cue 27 on page 83, the only music being played is in the electronic layer which, as I read it, is mostly sustained notes, with just a couple of note changes on a couple of the electronic tape tracks, but the music you hear on the recording is actually much more active than that, with new notes being sharply articulated every few seconds. This is the sort of thing I am trying to work out!
The "score" on page 82-83 is a synopsis of what's happening. This is quite often the case in Stockhausen's scores. In essence, you've got to deal with two scores for this moment. The more important one is the "Form Scheme" on pp. IV-V. Even in this form scheme, you will see less notes than you hear. That's because it is precisely what it claims to be. The most common analog to the Form Scheme are Schenkerian reductions. A Schenker reduction shows you the pillars of the music, but it leaves out all the capitals and filigrees you would find in the actual cathedral of the music (so to speak).
The most salient aspect of this moment (in my view) are the baritone synthesizer hits that originate in the 2nd staff of the Form Scheme (page V, counting from the bottom). These "hits" are outlining the microtonal ascent from G before the "Kinder-Krieg" scene. However, they continue in the electronic music. They don't stop at G 1/4-sharp. They keep bouncing off the G, like a diver gaining momentum on a flexible board: G#, A, A#, etc, until it finally arrives at the B, which belongs to the upper line of the Form Scheme's dyad (Bb-B). This is classic Stockhausen. It's a free improvisation within a clearly articulated scheme. It also foreshadows the kineticism of "Kinder-Krieg", which is hinted at by the parallel arcs in the Form Scheme.
Thank you Joe. That is extremely helpful and explains exactly what I was trying to decipher. I have to confess I wasn't aware that Stockhausen allowed/encouraged improvisation within the parameters set out in the score (other than when he specifically asks for it, of course).
"Improvisation" is misleading in this context. It might be better to think of it as an ornamentation of the underlying structure shown in the Form Scheme. Much of the music in Sonntag has this kind of feel to it, as though Stockhausen improvised on the underlying formula segments and codified his improvisations. (The first section of Michael's formula is another fine example of this compositional method).
I am not aware of how much of the tape was strictly composed. This particular moment may well have been improvised. One of the things I like about the Freitag tape is that it does feel like there are moments of great whimsy in it, despite its leaden ambience.
The other thing that may help explain this moment is consulting his other "realization scores", for works like Kontakte. He said that someone could take the score for Studie II and be able to realize the piece exactly as he had done. Of course, this is impossible in reality. Those realization scores are merely suggesting what is happening in the piece, and they rarely capture the entirety of the actual sonorities. These gaps between the written music and the performed music are not infrequent in Stockhausen's work.
Yes, that's interesting. It also helps explain the comments Stockhausen made in the score to FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG, which I referred to earlier: he's exploring each note from a range of parameters within the note itself. He does suggest that all of this is informed by the formula and I would still love to know to what extent even these more "whimsical" moments are in fact informed by the formula, or whether they are simply free elaborations on the formula.
The other thing that I am discovering, the more I immerse myself in LICHT, is that these works are all very much connected to his other works and that to really understand LICHT, you probably have to understand a lot of his other music, too, such as you point out in relation to works and scores such as KONTAKTE. Already I have had to order the scores of INORI and the VORTRAG ÜBER HU to better understand the movements through different parts of LICHT and, I presume, eventually I will need MANTRA as well to fully understand his application of ring modulation in LICHT-BILDER. It's a fascinating, but costly, journey!
Indeed it is both fascinating and costly. The Mantra score does not have a great deal of information about the ring modulation. The "Introduction to MANTRA" (1991) has a more detailed discussion of it. I don't think either resource is essential to understanding the ring modulation in Licht-Bilder, although it is always helpful to understand how he has previously used the technique.
Licht-Bilder is one of the scores that I was referring to earlier, where it seems as if Stockhausen has immortalized his improvisations on melodic fragments. Engel-Prozessionen is an even better example. Perhaps the best way to get a sense of how much free elaboration he does on the formula is to compare the sketches to the final piece. There are sketches all through the Texte. An anecdote might also help illuminate his process. During his lectures on Lichter-Wasser in 2001, he painstakingly outlined his approach to formula composition and then how he applied it to the piece. At one point, someone pressed him on a stray note that fell outside of the formula scheme that he outlined. It was a repetition that should not have been there according to the "rules" he had just spent the preceding days explaining. His nonchalant explanation was, "I wanted to repeat that note". Full stop.
His breezy dismissal of his own procedure is in keeping with his "insert" technique. He always reserved the right to deviate from his designs, because he recognized that following them too exactly is stifling. This is a major through line in his entire career. We've discussed elsewhere on the forum how Licht is deeply conversant with the rest of Stockhausen's canon. As you've intuited, there's little hope of understanding the gestural language of the cycle without studying Inori. These connections are everywhere in Licht.
When I first began synthesizing my research on the cycle, I drew a map of the cycle. It shows the basic building blocks of Licht in their essential proportions. If you were to diagram all the connections to previous works from this map, it would look like Keith Emerson's patch bay. There are certain techniques and images that recur so often throughout his career. Just think of all the bird imagery, for starters.
That is a fantastic story about Stockhausen and the extra note in LICHTER-WASSER! I am slowly accumulating the TEXTE, and finding them really helpful especially, as you point out, because of the sketches included throughout.
And of course, you are right - it is the Introduction to MANTRA, rather than the actual score, which will be a good source for understanding the early thinking behind ring modulation. I imagine this is the case for many of the works that show techniques and concepts that were then further developed in LICHT: studying them is not vital to understand LICHT, but they do provide an historical context which, in itself, is fascinating. I really know of no other composer who offers such an inexhaustible richness of creative ideas, and connections between them. Stockhausen's insatiable passion to build and innovate has left us very deeply in his debt!
I have, at last, found the full explanation of what I was asking in relation to this aspect of the electronic music of FREITAG aus LICHT, explained to me by Kathinka Pasveer. The detail is actually fully composed by Stockhausen, just not all printed in the published score. As noted earlier, the individual notes in the electronic music were often elaborated with various compositional parameters developed according to the formula - in this case, a rhythmic progression was composed into the note. Stockhausen wrote out these details very precisely in his sketches, but they would have expanded to too many pages to have printed them in the score. An example of this is included in Volume 12 of the Texte and, indeed, the detail is all there, every rhythmic detail intricately planned and composed ahead. Apparently not all of these sketches have been scanned yet, but I will certainly be fascinated to view what I can later in they year at Kürten.
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!