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Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:03 am
#11 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Jerry - please do try to keep up. Have you actually read my Mittwoch review? where it says that MEL is the root of Melancholia (near anagram of Michaelion), Melatonin and Melanoma, meaning black. In German, Melasse (treacle). Melos is the root of "music", melas of "blackness" - including mood. What about "MEL-ANGE"? Or MEL-ODIOUS? What is Momente about, if not permutations of K-M-D? These are names but also qualities. Again, Michael, Eva, and Luzifer are names and also qualities: the names are "incarnations" of musical order, in the spirit of High Renaissance symbolism. My point is that lurking in the background is a darker meaning. Such permutational tricks, in addition to the deep roots of wordplay in German culture (for example the Proteus Poem of Scaliger the Elder, the combinatorics of 16th c. poet Georg Philipp Harsdörffer, reappear in the 20th c. linguistics of Roman Jakobson, syllabic permutation in Gesang der Jünglinge, formal permutation in Momente, anthem fragmentation and reconstruction in Hymnen, and anthropology: Lévi-Strauss's theory of tribal relationships (as in Freitag aus LICHT), ALL based on Information Theory tree diagrams and Markov chains as taught by Meyer-Eppler, and clearly serialist in principle. The above was taught at the 1964-65 Cologne New Music Courses by Georg Heike, successor of Meyer-Eppler at Bonn, and I am referring to my class notes.

Jerry Offline



Posts: 145

Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:07 am
#12 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Oh dear, oh dear! Yes, thank you, Robin, for reminding me of this. I did in fact read your Mittwoch review, but neither do I always remember, nor do I always believe everything I read. I now recall the chuckle I got from your attempted Greek etymologies. The stem in question, of course, is not MEL- but MELA(S) (with an epsilon: μέλας). It does mean dark, or black. However, bringing in German Melasse (treacle, cognate with English "molasses") brings down your entire edifice, because this goes back to an entirely different stem, MELI (μέλι), and the association is not with blackness but with sweetness, and herein lies a much more plausible connection for Stockhausen, who you will recall was fascinated with bees (remember the tuba solo in Orchester-Finalisten). Bear with me, and all shall become clear.

The Duden Etymologie: Herkunftswörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (Duden Band 7, 1963) explains that Melasse "wurde im 18. Jh. aus frz. mélasse, „Zuckersirup, Melasse“ entlehnt, das seinerseits auf gleichbed. span. melaza zurückgeht. Die gehört als Ableitung zu lat. mel (mellis) > span. miel „Honig“ (vgl. Melisse).” Then, under "Melisse" we find further: “stammt aus mlat. melissa, einer gelehrten Ableitung vom gr.-lat. melissó-phyllon „Bienenblatt, Bienenkraut“. Das Bestimmungswort, gr. mélissa (attisch. mélitta) „Biene“ gehört zu gr. méli „Honig“ (die Biene ist als „Honigtier“ genannt). Damit urverwandt ist u. a. lat. mel (mellis) „Honig“ (s. Melasse). Als Bestimmungswort erscheint gr. méli noch in gr. melímēlon „Honigapfel“, das die Quelle für unser Wort →Marmelade ist.”

Now, melímēlon contains two MEL stems: MELI ("honey") and MĒLON (μῆλον, with an eta instead of epsilon, and the word means "apple"). In Greek (or ancient Greek, at least), apples are not thought of as being red (as we tend to do today) but yellow. This stem in turn yields the words μήλοψ ("yellow"), μηλίζω ("quince-yellow"), and μηλίς ("yellow pigment"). The colour of Mittwoch, of course, is yellow. A further derivation is μῆλοψ, which means “shining”, like a LIGHT.

You really ought to give up looking for obscure meanings in these word games, and start looking for more obvious ones. I am ready to accept "melody" and its associated words as appropriate, but have you considered that a word very close to μελῳδία ("melody"), namely MELŌ (μέλω), means "to be an object of care", and from this come μέλε = “my friend” and μελέτωρ = “one who cares for, an avenger”, which could easily be an attribute of Michael (or the Operator, Luca). MELOS (μέλος) also means "limb", and Mittwoch is of course one "limb" of the LICHT superformula.

Happy word-hunting! We have five more permutations of E, L, and M to go!

Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:31 pm
#13 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Dear Jerry, you have just explained that I was on the right track, even to molasses: the "dark side" of honey! Good work. This is not about obscure meanings, but the coexistence of opposites, positive and negative, even in the simplest things.

Ulrich Offline



Posts: 151

Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:19 pm
#14 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Much of that what we all wrote here brings to my mind the German phrase "Die Wut des Verstehens" = "the fury of understanding" - a phrase that stems from Friedrich Schleiermacher. Finally we can connect everything to everything. So I think it is of basic importance to proceed from what is given on the surface - as to MITTWOCH: understanding and harmony between the main figures of the opera. I think: Whatever can be connected with these main items, we can accept as a possible contribution to understanding - but if it cannot be connected we should not use it, because it leads to confusion.

Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:37 pm
#15 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Jerry is bluffing: the root in this case is MEL, incomplete and ambiguous. For the reconciliation of polar opposites read Hegel (THESIS, ANTITHESIS, SYNTHESIS); consider the composer's programme notes to KREUZSPIEL, POLE, MANTRA; and his remarks on Greek drama "Lyric and dramatic form" in Stockhausen on Music. See "Polarities" in Other Planets 49-68. And if the color of MITTWOCH is yellow, why are no characters apart from the camel dressed in yellow? The substitute conductor in Welt-P and the solo violinist in Orchester-F were dressed in bright red. Nothing to do with the color of apples or the presence or absence of an epsilon.

Jerry Offline



Posts: 145

Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:04 am
#16 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Jerry is not bluffing, at least so far as the etymologies of words like "melancholia" are concerned. Jerry is also not bluffing about the various other associated Greek words. If you think he is bluffing, I suggest you look these words up in Liddell and Scott (the authoritative dictionary of ancient Greek). So far as the letters MEL are concerned, naturally there is no ambiguity that they are the first letters in the names Michael, Eve, and Lucifer, and they occur frequently as abbreviations in Stockhausen's sketches.

I am beginning to suspect, Robin, that you suffer from colour-blindness. Camels are not yellow, but camel-coloured (a sort of light brown), and this is as true of the camel costume used in Michaelion as it is of your actual camels, in real life. You astonish me with the question, "why are no characters apart from the camel dressed in yellow?" Unless you mean this to be answered by Graham Vick, or whoever it was who designed the costumes for the Birmingham production (and I presume your question is intended to apply only to Michaelion; all four members of the Elysian Quartet in that production were dressed in yellow, you may recall). In that case, I might rephrase the question as: "Why was the Operator not costumed in yellow, as specified in the score of Michaelion?"

Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:09 am
#17 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Jerry does seem to be selectively amnesic, tilting at dictionaries. Color symbolism is a fundamental aspect of LICHT - as it is for NATURLICHE DAUERN and COSMIC PULSES, the cd covers of which reproduce the Wilhelm Ostwald color circle. In particular, Goethe's Theory of Colors as partial frequencies (Other Planets 414-15, part of the composer's hidden manifesto pitting holism against Newtonian science: "Colors are the deeds and sufferings of light with darkness." NOTE: "LIGHT WITH DARKNESS." I had hoped a production of MITTWOCH would exalt yellow in the manner of Kandinsky's Der gelbe Klang (The Yellow Sound) which associates yellow with the heroic sound of the trumpet. Instead, at Birmingham the color signs for yellow were restricted to the yellow ochre excrement staining the black T-shirts of visibly stoned extras in MITTWOCHS-GRüSS, the bright yellow portal through which the audience filed to hear WELT-PARLAMENT, and the "Cup of Yellow" served at the end. Newtonian empiricism, the foe, is associated with red (qv the canticle on the color red in Hymnen, ending with Johnson saying "Windsor and Newton water colors"). Scarlet is the dress color of the replacement leader of W-P and of the violinist in Orchester-Finalisten. Red is also the color traditionally associated with the British Empire, and for Stockhausen with his own experiences of war. A reference in MITTWOCH's script to KAKABEL (whose color is red) brings to light a sinister relation of yellow to red, making yellow the cloak of conciliation of Wednesday as preparation for more red, the renewal of battle. (Confusingly, Wodin is a Norse god of war, but before Jerry flies to his lexicon yet again, I am not claiming that Wodin is from the same root as woad (yellow facepaint), even though the childish facepainting of WELT-PARLAMENT has menacing undertones. To dismiss all this as party tricks shows scant regard for the composer's all-encompassing symbolism.

Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:47 pm
#18 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Note that woad is not yellow at all, but blue, the colour of Thursday. And a camel, if not yellow, is perhaps the colour KA-RA-MEL. The inserted syllable RA signposts Egyptian, but so does a camel.

Jerry Offline



Posts: 145

Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:35 am
#19 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

Dear Robin, I do not know from where you have gotten the idea that I (of all people!) reject the idea that colour symbolism is an important part of LICHT. You are of course quite right to chastise Graham Vick (as I said you should) for not using a bit more yellow at certain points in the production. You have forgotten to mention, in connection with the Birmingham production, not only the yellow safety vests worn by the string quartet, but also the tall yellow chairs in WELT-PARLAMENT. The costuming in ORCHESTER-FINALISTEN strongly favoured blue, with the notable exception of the violinist's red dress and the yellow-striped jersey worn by the tuba player. Still, this colour business could be overdone, as well. I do not recall, for example, that everything in the Cologne production of SONNTAG was coated in gold leaf, nor was everything shrouded in black at the La Scala staging of SAMSTAG. Considering those tall yellow stools all over the place in WELT-PARLAMENT, don't you agree that an occasional accent of some other colour is at least forgivable, if not actually desirable in order to avoid eye fatigue?

While I agree that the general absence of yellow in the design of Michaelion (not to mention the lack of a tall pointed yellow hat and zen-monk's cape for the Operator) seemed odd, what do you think about the distinction in the colour symbolism between the exoteric colours (yellow for MITTWOCH, light blue for DONNERSTAG, orange for FREITAG, etc.) on the one hand, and the esoteric colours on the other? For MITTWOCH, Stockhausen specified the latter to be "iridescent red-green-blue." Wouldn't you think that, considering the supposedly equal participation of the three protagonists, that black might accompany green and blue in that trio, instead of red? Is it possible that the colour red in the costume of the "replacement leader of W-P"—which, by the way, seems from my photographs to be confined to the Union-Jack-style decorations on what is otherwise a black-and-white dress, plus one segment of her face paint, which also includes green and—yes—yellow.

Robin Maconie Offline



Posts: 67

Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:28 pm
#20 RE: MITTWOCH - review reply

And yet . . . the memorial stone devoted to MITTWOCH is engraved in blue.

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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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