1)FIXING/CIRCUMSCRIBING/SUGGESTING/EVOKING. An analysis of Stockhausen’s text pieces.
  
by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Aalborg University, Denmark

2) Zeitkratzer Ensemble 'Stockhausen Old School' by Travis Bird

 

 

 

This article first appeared in MusikTexte 71, November 1997 and is a shortened version of a longer article in Danish which can be found on the internet at International Improvised Music Archive (http://www20.brinkster.com/improarchive/) under the title"Sprog som musikalsk notation"

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It is truly a joy to find an article in MusikTexte which deals with the important improvisatory aspects of ‘the new music’.  "plus, minus, equal" by Hermann-Christoph Müller in issue 67/68 contains an in-depth analysis of Stockhausen’s ‘plus minus’ type work, Prozession.

 

 

 

Comparing Stockhausen’s later From the Seven Days and For Times to Come (in this article I will use the abbreviations Ft7D and FTtC), the author maintains that these pieces “rather suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making  than a clear musical notion”.

 

 

FIXING/CIRCUMSCRIBING/SUGGESTING/EVOKING.

An analysis of Stockhausen’s text pieces.

 

by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Aalborg University, Denmark

 

In the intuitive texts From the Seven Days (Ft7D) and From Times to Come (FTtC) we encounter a number of instruction types which may be combined and which can be viewed in a continuum:

 

1) instructions which describe musical phenomena and processes in quite concrete terminology, for instance:  "extremely long quiet sounds" "Abrupt end"

 

2) instructions which characterize musical phenomena in a circumscribing way:- in a metaphorical-concrete way, for instance: "Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible"

in a metaphorical-poetic way, for instance: "nocturnal forest with dialogues " -  models of processes which do, statistically, govern a specific character but which also produce unpredictable results, for instance: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others"

 

3) Instructions which suggest musical phenomena but which leave a wide space open for individually different interpretations, for instance: "play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms"

 

4) Instructions which aim at suggesting or creating a disposition for playing, for instance:

"play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you"

 

Since the seventies I have had extensive experience with these pieces. In the Group for Intuitive Music Group we have, since 1975, played and still play Stockhausen’s text compositions and our own pieces which were often non-traditionally notated or notated with mixed means. In Germany our group appeared at the 6. New Music Days at Weimar with the theme: "Intuitive music – more than improvisation?". And since 1983 I have regularily lead improvisation courses.

 

In this article I would like to present evidence pointing in a different direction than does the generalizing statement by Müller. Based on examples I am going to demonstrate that his apparent dualism between to “suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making" and presenting "a clear musical notion" is a false one. Instead, we are dealing with a many-sided, dialectical reality.

 

Maybe Müller did not after all advocate for a total dualism – his use of the word "rather" might indicate caution against generalization. However, his formulation comes dangerously close to the widespread misunderstanding that these texts are only to be understood in a vague, poetic manner, not comparable to performance instructions in the normal sense. Also Sutherland, an author who in other contexts treats improvisation and new notations in a differentiated manner, describes the instructions of the text pieces simply as "deliberately vague or enigmatic". Harald Bojé warns against the misunderstanding: "The musician who believes that now he can finally live out his own world without having to pay attention to a composers' instruction, makes a mistake". Brindle thinks that both "deliberately and fanatically impracticable" pieces exist along with some which are "reasonably enough". However, he allows Stockhausens endeavours to appear before the reader, in illustrating this with two very different examples. He is also aware that the text pieces include instructions of quite different kinds: what constitutes such a piece could, according to him, be "a verse or text which suggests a mood the players must create, a manner of playing, a certain kind of musical action, combinations of these, etc."

 

 

FIXING

 

Unanimity (from FtTC) begins like this: "Play and/or sing / extremely long quiet sounds / and / extremely short loud sounds". That is, to be sure, a clear description of the material to play, is it not? There are a further two pieces in FTtC having as their theme the use of solely long or short sounds – Elongation and Shortening.

 

Right Durations, the very first piece that was composed as part of Ft7D,takes as its theme the duration of single sounds: "Play a sound / play it for so long / until you feel / that you should stop". From this, a greatly sensitive music of durations can result. Like in serial music from the fifthies, this music is emancipated from rigid metre, but it is here more immediate and closer to language, because it arises in the moment and was not written out on paper. I have instructed many groups of students in this piece, and while the sounding result of course differs according to the group, it is however every time very clearly a version of the same piece.

 

Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D – see quote below) is carried by long tones and slow intonation movements of tone.

 

In Communication (FTtC) one finds categories like "as quietly, gently and as long as possible", "moderately loud, rather agitatedly and moderately long" and "as loud, excitedly and as short as possible".

 

They stylize the activity, and every category has a signal function in the piece.

 

Many pieces start explicitly from the single tone or single sound. – Also as to describing the processes there exists quite clear instructions. In Awake (FTtC) the text concludes with "Abrupt end" – a relevant challenge to the habitual way in which improvised often will fade out very gradually. And in Interval (FTtC) one can speak of a form scheme: two single tones are to grow gradually into two chords of each ten tones – after having reached this, chords are to get smaller until only two tones are left again.

 

 

 

 

VARIOUS FORMS OF CIRCUMSCRIBING

 

In this category, specific musical ideas are described which need a certain interpretative activity from the musician. Take this instruction from Bird of Passage (FTtC).

 

 

I would interpret it like this: relatively individual parts, relatively constant playing without much pause, being open to inspiration from the others.

 

The next four examples could be seen as models for the forming of contrasts or, oppositely, the melting together in the process of a common sound created by two players

 

.

 

In my experience, the theme of Set Sail for the Sun is simply about intonation "play a tone for so long / until you hear its individual vibrations // hold the tone / and listen to the tones of the others / - to all of them together, not to individual ones - / and slowly move your tone / until you arrive at complete harmony / and the whole sound turns to gold / to pure, gently shimmering fire". It can be achieved by the musicians solely in a teamwork – it could only be prescribed as a certain character they should aim at, but not in a mechanical and exact way. Regardless whether the character in question is "like gold" or like other, interesting qualities!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

And now we arrive at the metaphorical descriptions of a common poetical nature.???? Examples are

 

One can imagine different  interpretations, but I would presume there is a good chance of agreeing on something characteristic. Here, like in most pieces, one may try out a piece several times, maybe with a common dialogue in between and thus, in a sense, "intone" the interpretations together.

 

Models of musical processes which generate unpredictable results are different from the metaphorical ones. In many cases, unpredictability (all intuitive music is unpredictable) arises from heterophony –  the piece prescribes a part which appears differently in various simultaneous augmentations and diminutions. This is the case with Meeting Point (Ft7D): "everyone plays the same tone / lead the tone wherever your thoughts / lead you / do not leave it, stay with it / always return / to the same place". It will be easy to hear how the parts move away from the agreed-upon tone and come back to it. But how the complex pattern of these movements turn out has not been determined. Something similar is valid for Right Durations (see above). In Unanimity (FTtC) there is a special direction for the process: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others / without visual signs". Taken literally this might be impossible. But the attempts produce a special intensity and alternating episodes of condensed activity followed by relative relaxation. Despite the short statement this is a piece having a strong identity. To my ears, it always sounds "pronouncedly expressionistic" (also when played by different groups).

 

 

FIXED AND CIRCUMSCRIBED

 

I will quote Vibration (FTtC) as an advanced example of a multi-layered music:

 

All together – all separate

 

All together – all separate

 

    and so on: slowly accelerate (linger three times)

fast!

accellerate further

until

fused

 

Now we have reached, however, only the first level. The process is to go on, by square multiplication as it were -:

 

fused:

    All together – all separate

 

    All together – all separate

        and

        so

        on [Ivor: suggest you look at the edition and imitate the original layout there ...]

 

 

To my experience this is literally a piece that can make you dizzy, and yet all descriptions are rather concrete. The process must be synchronized, and the idea of "together-separate" may be easy enough to understand. But to realize it is a challenge that calls for collective virtuosity!

 

We have not yet been dealing with poetic and metaphorical macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. But...

 

 

SUGGESTING

 

There is indeed a series of five pieces (in Ft7D) dealing with macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. Here, the imagination of the musician is required in order to translate, for instance, the following elements from "Downwards" into musical phenomena:

 

play a vibration in the rhythm of your limbs

play a vibration in the rhythm of your cells

play a vibration in the rhythm of your molecules

play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms

play a vibration in the rhythm of your smallest particles which your inner ear can reach (...)

 

For all these pieces, the serial notion about a continuum is the structuring principle, and this might perhaps simplify the task of the interpreter. " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1First, to fit all isolated phenomena into a continuum, and then work out and compose contrasting elements from this continuum" (Stockhausen, 1959). Both the interpreters and those listeners who look at this text will have an inner "map" on which the different "landscape forms" appear with a common denominator – comparable to elevations, for instance.

 

Stockhausen relates how "rhythm of your thinking" was once concretized: as a preliminary exercise, close the eyes and tap with a pencil every time there is a change of thought.

 

In this preliminary exercise we have an instance of that which is the matter in the next section:

 

 

 

EVOKING

 

Finally there are certainly also instructions for preparations which are to produce or evoke meditative dispositions in the musician. Bearing in mind the big controversies having taken place in Germany, it is of primary importance to observe how different the pieces are. Gold Dust (Ft7D) is probably without discussion the most extreme one – one may only perform it after having lived four days alone without eating.

Arrival (Ft7D) is much easier accessible – to imagine energies within your body, in a way comparable to that of usual yoga practise, like it is taught at yoga schools everywhere.
IT (requires) a different meditation, that seeks out of the multitude of thoughts and waits for inner silence to appear, forms the introduction of the piece and continues during it.

Unlimited (Ft7D) find in itself a very simple, but potentially very effective imagination which could be categorized as bordering on the category of  poetic descriptions: "play a sound / with the certainty / that you have an infinite amount of time and space". Related to this is
Intensity (Ft7D): is related to the above "play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you (...)". So, the target groups of meditation practitioners consists in the first case of only special adventurers, in the second case it includes all those who have had some yoga meditation training, and the two last pieces are suitable even for untrained people!

 

 

SOUNDING  IDENTITY OF THE PIECES

 

Some pieces, for instance Right Durations and Unanimity, preserve their sounding identity to a high degree from one performance to another and from one group to another. This is not necessaily the case with all pieces. Hugh Davies gives us a dialectical view on this, in stating, concerning Intensity, that this piece sounds in all cases different from a totally free improvisation without any givens. So the basis for Intensity is an inner structure, just like composers may work with inner structures which one cannot directly hear. This is, however, an extreme case in practise. Even a piece like IT, which maybe has been "fixed" to an amount of 40% but of which 60% has been "evoked" in a seemingly unpredictable way, has according to Stockhausen (in "Fragen und Antworten...") a very definite sounding identity, consisting of sudden actions – and personally I can only confirm this.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

As Maconie says, the musical thoughts in FTtC "by and large...take on a more practical turn", compared to Ad7T. Even though there is not a sharp transition, in the second collection there is more fixing, while the "cosmic" pieces and those concerned with meditation form a strikingly large part of Ft7D.  Historically, FTtC came later, however, and it may still be less known.

 

One of the reasons why Ft7D and FTtC consist of very useful contributions to a repertory with a new performance practise is the fact that they were created by a musician who was familiar with working with musical parameters in an exact way. Any musician seeking around here can select pieces with just the right kind of freedom or fixing, the right kind of meditation or concrete description.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

What we are waiting for as something really new about new music seems to be a performance practise which no longer negates the possible exuberance of a free playing together. Through teamwork on equal terms between composer and musician, musicians and listeners are not just having a more interesting time, but also more musical insights. If anyone at this point thinks about Stockhausens' much-commented role as sound projector at the mixing console, then one will have to say that this arrangement has no relevance whatever for what other ensembles do at their own performances. We should loosen the authority of the notes. We are entitled to enjoy, musicians and listeners alike, that we can be nearer to the creation process, and to poly- and heterophony as a way of composing, also being nearer to what has been called "the abundance of non-codified sounds" (formulation by Hermann-Christoph Müller). And we should gradually learn more and more to describe and circumscribe these things in an adaequate manner. That the only form of music-making should be a reproductive one exactly like at the time of Papa Haydn is not ethically defendable any longer. As writings by Bailey, Brindle and Sutherland testify to (although the latter only to a certain extent, see above), there are many endeavours in this new direction. General musicology should take notice of this.

 

 

LITERATURE:

 

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Bailey, Derek: "The composer - in practice" (1), Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 70-74, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.

  Interview with the musician Anthony Pay about his experience with the orchestral piece Ylem in Stockhausens' instruction. This touches also upon principal aspects of improvising from the musicians' point of view

 

Bailey, Derek: "The composer ‑ in question", Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 79‑781, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.PRIVATE

  Contains comments from Hugh Davies to Intensity (From the Seven Days). These statements are dialectically being opposed to statements by Evan Parker about dealing with composition at all instead of freely improvising.

 

Blumröder, Christoph von: Die Grundlegung der Musik Karlheinz Stockhausens, Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 1993.

  The serial procedures in some of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen are contemplated p. 167f

 

Bojé, Harald: "Aus den sieben Tagen. Textinterpretationen", Feedback Papers 16, August,  1978.

  Twelve of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) are scrutinized with a view to the practical interpretation. Bojé was a member of the Stockhausen Group which toured 1968_70 with intuitive music.

 

Brindle, Reginald Smith: The New Music: The Avant‑garde since 1945 (1975), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 1986 (sec.ed).

  This is a general book on new music which treats themes like improvisation and new notations very well, despite a certain sceptical attitude.

 

Brinkmann, Reinhold: "Hören und Denken. Thesen zur "intuitiven" Musik", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik Nr.9, Sept.,  1974.

  In the name of marxism this author airs an absolute allergy against everything which is not rational, as well as against meditation

 

Kohl, Jerome: "Serial determinism and "intuitive music"", in theory only. Journal of the Michigan Music Theory Society vol.3, number 12, March, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1978.PRIVATE

  The author examines Stockhausens' notion of serialism and the compositional construction of the pieces of Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days). Furthermore, the relations of the pieces to one another in the collection is also analyzed and seen as organized according to similar principles. This is an important article that clarifies the relation of the Aus den Sieben Tagen pieces to Stockhausens' general notions of music.

 

Kurtz, Michael: "Aus den sieben Tagen (1968-70)", Stockhausen. Eine Bibliographie. Kassel (Bärenreiter), 1988.

  Biographical and performance history

information around this collection (From

the Seven Days)

 

Lekfeldt, Jørgen: Section "Aus den sieben Tagen: den personlige oplevelse, meditation og kreativitet", i: Sölle og Stockhausen - musikkens teologi og teologiens musik, p. 147-155, Viborg (Schønberg), Denmark 1991.

  Describes the biographical background of the music, the inspiration from yoga and the open, verbally notated music as an invitation to creative activity. The book also contains a detailed portrait of aesthetic principles in the music of Stockhausen. On both music analytical and general philosophical basis, the music of Stockhausen is compared to the

theology of Sölle. Both are interpreted as expressions of emancipative/utopical modernity. A key concept with Stockhausen is the equality of the musical elements - an aesthetic principle that originated in the equality of parameters and their steps within serial music of the fifties. In music with ambiguous notation, also both musicians and different performances are equal.

 

Maconie, Robin: "Aus den sieben Tagen" + "Für Kommende Zeiten", The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, p.250‑261, London 1976.

  Analytical comments. Also a second edition from 1990 exists.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Aus den sieben Tagen", Texte III, Köln (DuMont) 1971B.

  Program note.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Fragen und Antworten zur intuitiven Musik", Texte IV, p. 130-144, Köln (DuMont) 1978.

  Transscript from a discussion with Stockhausen. Important text on intuitive music, on the freedom from cliches and the intuition. To be highly recommended. For an English version, see the booklet to Stockhausen Complete CD Edition CD14A-G.

 

Stockhausen in Nevill, Tim (ed.): "Intuitive Musik", p.35‑44, Towards a Cosmic Music, selected and translated by Tim Nevill, Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset (Element Books Ltd.) 1989.

  Includes, among other things, interviews with Stockhausen on intuitive music from 1969 and 1973.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Musik und Sprache", Darmstädter Beiträge zur neuen Musik 1, Mainz 1958.

 

Maconie, Robin (ed.): "Intuitive music", Stockhausen on Music. Lectures and interviews compiled by Robin Maconie, London/NY (Marion Boyars Publishers) 1991.

  From a lecture in London 1971. Stockhausen tells about experiences with the works in plus-minus notation which preceded those From the Seven Days and examines some of its works (Right Durations; Unlimited; Connection; IT) providing comments and reports from the playing experiences. Good introductory text.

 

Sutherland, Roger: New Perspectives in Music, London (Sun TavernFields), 1994.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIXING/CIRCUMSCRIBING/SUGGESTING/EVOKING. An analysis of Stockhausen’s text pieces.

 

by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Aalborg University, Denmark.

 

This article first appeared in MusikTexte 71, November 1997 and is a shortened version of a longer article in Danish which can be found on the internet at International Improvised Music Archive (http://www20.brinkster.com/improarchive/) under the title"Sprog som musikalsk notation"

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It is truly a joy to find an article in MusikTexte which deals with the important improvisatory aspects of ‘the new music’.  "plus, minus, equal" by Hermann-Christoph Müller in issue 67/68 contains an in-depth analysis of Stockhausen’s ‘plus minus’ type work, Prozession.

 

Comparing Stockhausen’s later From the Seven Days and For Times to Come (in this article I will use the abbreviations Ft7D and FTtC), the author maintains that these pieces “rather suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making  than a clear musical notion”. Since the seventies I have had extensive experience with these pieces. In the Group for Intuitive Music Group we have, since 1975, played and still play Stockhausen’s text compositions and our own pieces which were often non-traditionally notated or notated with mixed means. In Germany our group appeared at the 6. New Music Days at Weimar with the theme: "Intuitive music – more than improvisation?". And since 1983 I have regularily lead improvisation courses. In this article I would like to present evidence pointing in a different direction than does the generalizing statement by Müller. Based on examples I am going to demonstrate that his apparent dualism between to “suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making" and presenting "a clear musical notion" is a false one. Instead, we are dealing with a many-sided, dialectical reality.

 

Maybe Müller did not after all advocate for a total dualism – his use of the word "rather" might indicate caution against generalization. However, his formulation comes dangerously close to the widespread misunderstanding that these texts are only to be understood in a vague, poetic manner, not comparable to performance instructions in the normal sense. Also Sutherland, an author who in other contexts treats improvisation and new notations in a differentiated manner, describes the instructions of the text pieces simply as "deliberately vague or enigmatic". Harald Bojé warns against the misunderstanding: "The musician who believes that now he can finally live out his own world without having to pay attention to a composers' instruction, makes a mistake". Brindle thinks that both "deliberately and fanatically impracticable" pieces exist along with some which are "reasonably enough". However, he allows Stockhausens endeavours to appear before the reader, in illustrating this with two very different examples. He is also aware that the text pieces include instructions of quite different kinds: what constitutes such a piece could, according to him, be "a verse or text which suggests a mood the players must create, a manner of playing, a certain kind of musical action, combinations of these, etc."

 

 

FIXING

 

Unanimity (from FtTC) begins like this: "Play and/or sing / extremely long quiet sounds / and / extremely short loud sounds". That is, to be sure, a clear description of the material to play, is it not? There are further two pieces in FTtC having as their theme the use of solely long or short sounds – Elongation and Shortening. Right Durations, the very first piece that was composed as part of Ft7D,

takes as its theme the duration of single sounds: "Play a sound / play it for so long / until you feel / that you should stop". From this, a greatly sensitive music of durations can result. Like in serial music from the fifthies, this music is emancipated from rigid metre, but it is here more immediate and closer to language, because it arises in the moment and was not written out on paper. I have instructed many groups of students in this piece, and while the sounding result of course differs according to the group, it is however every time very clearly a version of the same piece. Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D – see quote below) is carried by long tones and slow intonation movements of tone. In Communication (FTtC) one finds categories like "as quietly, gently and as long as possible", "moderately loud, rather agitatedly and moderately long" and "as loud, excitedly and as short as possible". They stylize the activity, and every category has a signal function in the piece. Many pieces start explicitly from the single tone or single sound. – Also as to describing the processes there exists quite clear instructions. In Awake (FTtC) the text concludes with "Abrupt end" – a relevant challenge to the habitual way in which improvised often will fade out very gradually. And in Interval (FTtC) one can speak of a form scheme: two single tones are to grow gradually into two chords of each ten tones – after having reached this, chords are to get smaller until only two tones are left again.

 

 

 

VARIOUS FORMS OF CIRCUMSCRIBING

 

In this category, specific musical ideas are described which need a certain interpretative activity from the musician. In the examples to follow, various musical states are circumscribed in a both metaphorical and matter-of-fact way: "Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible" from Bird of Passage (FTtC). I would interpret it like this: relatively individual parts, relatively constant playing without much pause, being open to inspiration from the others. "Place each note / on the head of another" from Presentiment (FTtC) – "Break through the note of another" from Outside (FTtC) – "Penetrate into the note of another co-player" from Inside (FTtC) – "Divide the sound of another" from Spectra (FTtC). Those last four examples could be seen as models for the forming of contrasts or, oppositely, the melting together in the process of a common sound created by two players. And what is the theme of Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D) - ? "play a tone for so long / until you hear its individual vibrations // hold the tone / and listen to the tones of the others / - to all of them together, not to individual ones - / and slowly move your tone / until you arrive at complete harmony / and the whole sound turns to gold / to pure, gently shimmering fire". In my experience this is simply about intonation. It can be achieved by the musicians solely in a teamwork – it could only be prescribed as a certain character they should aim at, but not in a mechanical and exact way. Regardless whether the character in question is "like gold" or like other, interesting qualities!

 

And now we arrive at the metaphorical descriptions of a common poetical nature. Examples are "Fly away" (Bird of Passage – FTtC) – "nocturnal forest with dialogues" (Awake – FTtC) – "until all [notes] ... / begin to burn" (Inside – FTtC). One can imagine different interpretations, but I would presume there is a good chance of agreeing on something characteristic. Here, like in most pieces, one may try out a piece several times, maybe with a common dialogue in between and thus, in a sense, "intone" the interpretations together.

 

Models of musical processes which generate unpredictable results are different from the metaphorical ones. In many cases, unpredictability arises from heterophony –  the piece prescribes a part which appear differently in various simultaneous augmentations and diminutions. This is the case with Meeting Point (Ft7D): "everyone plays the same tone / lead the tone wherever your thoughts / lead you / do not leave it, stay with it / always return / to the same place". It will be easy to hear how the parts move away from the agreed-upon tone and come back to it. But how the complex pattern of these movements turn out has not been determined. Something similar is valid for Right Durations (see above). In Unanimity (FTtC) there is a special direction for the process: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others / without visual signs". Taken literally this might be impossible. But the attempts produce a special intensity and alternating episodes of condensed activity followed by relative relaxation. Despite the short statement this is a piece having a strong identity. To my ears, it always sounds "pronouncedly expressionistic" (also when played by different groups).

 

 

FIXED AND CIRCUMSCRIBED

 

I will quote Vibration (FTtC) as an advanced example of a multi-layered music:

 

All together – all separate

 

All together – all separate

 

    and so on: slowly accelerate (linger three times)

fast!

accellerate further

until

fused

 

Now we have reached, however, only the first level. The process is to go on, by square multiplication as it were -:

 

fused:

    All together – all separate

 

    All together – all separate

        and

        so

        on [Ivor: suggest you look at the edition and imitate the original layout there ...]

 

 

To my experience this is literally a piece that can make you dizzy, and yet all descriptions are rather concrete. The process must be synchronized, and the idea of "together-separate" may be easy enough to understand. But to realize it is a challenge that calls for collective virtuosity!

 

We have not yet been dealing with poetic and metaphorical macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. But...

 

 

SUGGESTING

 

There is indeed a series of five pieces (in Ft7D) dealing with macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. Here, the imagination of the musician is required in order to translate, for instance, the following elements from "Downwards" into musical phenomena:

 

play a vibration in the rhythm of your limbs

play a vibration in the rhythm of your cells

play a vibration in the rhythm of your molecules

play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms

play a vibration in the rhythm of your smallest particles which your inner ear can reach (...)

 

For all these pieces, the serial notion about a continuum is the structuring principle, and this might perhaps simplify the task of the interpreter. " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1First, to fit all isolated phenomena into a continuum, and then work out and compose contrasting elements from this continuum" (Stockhausen, 1959). Both the interpreters and those listeners who look at this text will have an inner "map" on which the different "landscape forms" appear with a common denominator – comparable to elevations, for instance.

 

Stockhausen relates how "rhythm of your thinking" was once concretized: as a preliminary exercise, close the eyes and tap with a pencil every time there is a change of thought.

 

In this preliminary exercise we have an instance of that which is the matter in the next section:

 

 

 

EVOKING

 

Finally there are certainly also instructions for preparations which are to produce or evoke meditative dispositions in the musician. Bearing in mind the big controversies having taken place in Germany, it is of primary importance to observe how different the pieces are. Gold Dust (Ft7D) is probably without discussion the most extreme one – one may only perform it after having lived four days alone without eating. Arrival (Ft7D) is much easier accessible – to imagine energies within your body, in a way comparable to that of usual yoga practise, like it is taught at yoga schools everywhere. A different meditation, that seeks out of the multitude of thoughts and waits for inner silence to appear, form the introduction of IT (Ft7D) and continues during the piece. A very simple, but potentially very effective imagination which could be categorized as bordering on the category of  poetic descriptions can be found in Unlimited (Ft7D): "play a sound / with the certainty / that you have an infinite amount of time and space". Related to this is Intensity (Ft7D): "play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you (...)". So, the target groups of meditation practioners consists in the first case of only special adventurers, in the second case it includes all those who have had some yoga meditation training, and the two last pieces are suitable even for untrained people!

 

 

SOUNDING  IDENTITY OF THE PIECES

 

Some pieces, for instance Right Durations and Unanimity, preserve their sounding identity to a high degree from one performance to another and from one group to another. This is not necessaily the case with all pieces. Hugh Davies gives us a dialectical view on this, in stating, concerning Intensity, that this piece sounds in all cases different from a totally free improvisation without any givens. So the basis for Intensity is an inner structure, just like composers may work with inner structures which one cannot directly hear. This is, however, an extreme case in practise. Even a piece like IT, which maybe has been "fixed" to an amount of 40% but of which 60% has been "evoked" in a seemingly unpredictable way, has according to Stockhausen (in "Fragen und Antworten...") a very definite sounding identity, consisting of sudden actions – and personally I can only confirm this.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

In Ft7D and FTtC we encounter a number of instruction types which may be combined and which can be viewed in a continuum:

 

1) instructions which describe musical phenomena and processes in quite concrete terminology, for instance:

 

"extremely long quiet sounds"

 

"Abrupt end"

 

 

2) instructions which characterize musical phenomena in a circumscribing way:

 

- in a metaphorical-concrete way, for instance:

"Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible"

 

- in a metaphorical-poetic way, for instance:

" nocturnal forest with dialogues "

 

- models of processes which do, statistically, govern a specific character but which also produce impredictable results, for instance:

" Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others"

 

3) Instructions which suggest musical phenomena but which leave a wide space open for individually different interpretations, for instance:

"play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms"

 

4) Instructions which aim at suggesting or creating a disposition for playing, for instance:

"play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you"

 

 

As Maconie says, the musical thoughts in FTtC "by and large...take on a more practical turn", compared to Ad7T. Even though there is not a sharp transition, in the second collection there is more fixing, while the "cosmic" pieces and those concerned with meditation form a strikingly large part of Ft7D.  Historically, FTtC came later, however, and it may still be less known.

 

One of the reasons why Ft7D and FTtC consist of very useful contributions to a repertory with a new performance practise is the fact that they were created by a musician who was familiar with working with musical parameters in an exact way. Any musician seeking around here can select pieces with just the right kind of freedom or fixing, the right kind of meditation or concrete description.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

What we are waiting for as something really new about new music seems to be a performance practise which no longer negates the possible exuberance of a free playing together. Through teamwork on equal terms between composer and musician, musicians and listeners are not just having a more interesting time, but also more musical insights. If anyone at this point thinks about Stockhausens' much-commented role as sound projector at the mixing console, then one will have to say that this arrangement has no relevance whatever for what other ensembles do at their own performances. We should loosen the authority of the notes. We are entitled to enjoy, musicians and listeners alike, that we can be nearer to the creation process, and to poly- and heterophony as a way of composing, also being nearer to what has been called "the abundance of non-codified sounds" (formulation by Hermann-Christoph Müller). And we should gradually learn more and more to describe and circumscribe these things in an adaequate manner. That the only form of music-making should be a reproductive one exactly like at the time of Papa Haydn is not ethically defendable any longer. As writings by Bailey, Brindle and Sutherland testify to (although the latter only to a certain extent, see above), there are many endeavours in this new direction. General musicology should take notice of this.

 

 

LITERATURE:

 

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Bailey, Derek: "The composer - in practice" (1), Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 70-74, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.

  Interview with the musician Anthony Pay about his experience with the orchestral piece Ylem in Stockhausens' instruction. This touches also upon principal aspects of improvising from the musicians' point of view

 

Bailey, Derek: "The composer ‑ in question", Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 79‑781, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.PRIVATE

  Contains comments from Hugh Davies to Intensity (From the Seven Days). These statements are dialectically being opposed to statements by Evan Parker about dealing with composition at all instead of freely improvising.

 

Blumröder, Christoph von: Die Grundlegung der Musik Karlheinz Stockhausens, Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 1993.

  The serial procedures in some of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen are contemplated p. 167f

 

Bojé, Harald: "Aus den sieben Tagen. Textinterpretationen", Feedback Papers 16, August,  1978.

  Twelve of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) are scrutinized with a view to the practical interpretation. Bojé was a member of the Stockhausen Group which toured 1968_70 with intuitive music.

 

Brindle, Reginald Smith: The New Music: The Avant‑garde since 1945 (1975), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 1986 (sec.ed).

  This is a general book on new music which treats themes like improvisation and new notations very well, despite a certain sceptical attitude.

 

Brinkmann, Reinhold: "Hören und Denken. Thesen zur "intuitiven" Musik", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik Nr.9, Sept.,  1974.

  In the name of marxism this author airs an absolute allergy against everything which is not rational, as well as against meditation

 

Kohl, Jerome: "Serial determinism and "intuitive music"", in theory only. Journal of the Michigan Music Theory Society vol.3, number 12, March, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1978.PRIVATE

  The author examines Stockhausens' notion of serialism and the compositional construction of the pieces of Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days). Furthermore, the relations of the pieces to one another in the collection is also analyzed and seen as organized according to similar principles. This is an important article that clarifies the relation of the Aus den Sieben Tagen pieces to Stockhausens' general notions of music.

 

Kurtz, Michael: "Aus den sieben Tagen (1968-70)", Stockhausen. Eine Bibliographie. Kassel (Bärenreiter), 1988.

  Biographical and performance history

information around this collection (From

the Seven Days)

 

Lekfeldt, Jørgen: Section "Aus den sieben Tagen: den personlige oplevelse, meditation og kreativitet", i: Sölle og Stockhausen - musikkens teologi og teologiens musik, p. 147-155, Viborg (Schønberg), Denmark 1991.

  Describes the biographical background of the music, the inspiration from yoga and the open, verbally notated music as an invitation to creative activity. The book also contains a detailed portrait of aesthetic principles in the music of Stockhausen. On both music analytical and general philosophical basis, the music of Stockhausen is compared to the

theology of Sölle. Both are interpreted as expressions of emancipative/utopical modernity. A key concept with Stockhausen is the equality of the musical elements - an aesthetic principle that originated in the equality of parameters and their steps within serial music of the fifties. In music with ambiguous notation, also both musicians and different performances are equal.

 

Maconie, Robin: "Aus den sieben Tagen" + "Für Kommende Zeiten", The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, p.250‑261, London 1976.

  Analytical comments. Also a second edition from 1990 exists.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Aus den sieben Tagen", Texte III, Köln (DuMont) 1971B.

  Program note.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Fragen und Antworten zur intuitiven Musik", Texte IV, p. 130-144, Köln (DuMont) 1978.

  Transscript from a discussion with Stockhausen. Important text on intuitive music, on the freedom from cliches and the intuition. To be highly recommended. For an English version, see the booklet to Stockhausen Complete CD Edition CD14A-G.

 

Stockhausen in Nevill, Tim (ed.): "Intuitive Musik", p.35‑44, Towards a Cosmic Music, selected and translated by Tim Nevill, Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset (Element Books Ltd.) 1989.

  Includes, among other things, interviews with Stockhausen on intuitive music from 1969 and 1973.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Musik und Sprache", Darmstädter Beiträge zur neuen Musik 1, Mainz 1958.

 

Maconie, Robin (ed.): "Intuitive music", Stockhausen on Music. Lectures and interviews compiled by Robin Maconie, London/NY (Marion Boyars Publishers) 1991.

  From a lecture in London 1971. Stockhausen tells about experiences with the works in plus-minus notation which preceded those From the Seven Days and examines some of its works (Right Durations; Unlimited; Connection; IT) providing comments and reports from the playing experiences. Good introductory text.

 

Sutherland, Roger: New Perspectives in Music, London (Sun TavernFields), 1994.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in MusikTexte 71, November 1997 and is a shortened version of a longer article in Danish which can be found on the internet at International Improvised Music Archive (http://www20.brinkster.com/improarchive/) under the title"Sprog som musikalsk notation"

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It is truly a joy to find an article in MusikTexte which deals with the important improvisatory aspects of ‘the new music’.  "plus, minus, equal" by Hermann-Christoph Müller in issue 67/68 contains an in-depth analysis of Stockhausen’s ‘plus minus’ type work, Prozession.

 

 

 

Comparing Stockhausen’s later From the Seven Days and For Times to Come (in this article I will use the abbreviations Ft7D and FTtC), the author maintains that these pieces “rather suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making  than a clear musical notion”.

 

 

FIXING/CIRCUMSCRIBING/SUGGESTING/EVOKING. An analysis of Stockhausen’s text pieces.

 

by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Aalborg University, Denmark

 

In the intuitive texts From the Seven Days (Ft7D) and From Times to Come (FTtC) we encounter a number of instruction types which may be combined and which can be viewed in a continuum:

 

1) instructions which describe musical phenomena and processes in quite concrete terminology, for instance:  "extremely long quiet sounds" "Abrupt end"

 

2) instructions which characterize musical phenomena in a circumscribing way:- in a metaphorical-concrete way, for instance: "Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible"

in a metaphorical-poetic way, for instance: "nocturnal forest with dialogues " -  models of processes which do, statistically, govern a specific character but which also produce unpredictable results, for instance: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others"

 

3) Instructions which suggest musical phenomena but which leave a wide space open for individually different interpretations, for instance: "play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms"

 

4) Instructions which aim at suggesting or creating a disposition for playing, for instance:

"play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you"

 

Since the seventies I have had extensive experience with these pieces. In the Group for Intuitive Music Group we have, since 1975, played and still play Stockhausen’s text compositions and our own pieces which were often non-traditionally notated or notated with mixed means. In Germany our group appeared at the 6. New Music Days at Weimar with the theme: "Intuitive music – more than improvisation?". And since 1983 I have regularily lead improvisation courses.

 

In this article I would like to present evidence pointing in a different direction than does the generalizing statement by Müller. Based on examples I am going to demonstrate that his apparent dualism between to “suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making" and presenting "a clear musical notion" is a false one. Instead, we are dealing with a many-sided, dialectical reality.

 

Maybe Müller did not after all advocate for a total dualism – his use of the word "rather" might indicate caution against generalization. However, his formulation comes dangerously close to the widespread misunderstanding that these texts are only to be understood in a vague, poetic manner, not comparable to performance instructions in the normal sense. Also Sutherland, an author who in other contexts treats improvisation and new notations in a differentiated manner, describes the instructions of the text pieces simply as "deliberately vague or enigmatic". Harald Bojé warns against the misunderstanding: "The musician who believes that now he can finally live out his own world without having to pay attention to a composers' instruction, makes a mistake". Brindle thinks that both "deliberately and fanatically impracticable" pieces exist along with some which are "reasonably enough". However, he allows Stockhausens endeavours to appear before the reader, in illustrating this with two very different examples. He is also aware that the text pieces include instructions of quite different kinds: what constitutes such a piece could, according to him, be "a verse or text which suggests a mood the players must create, a manner of playing, a certain kind of musical action, combinations of these, etc."

 

 

FIXING

 

Unanimity (from FtTC) begins like this: "Play and/or sing / extremely long quiet sounds / and / extremely short loud sounds". That is, to be sure, a clear description of the material to play, is it not? There are a further two pieces in FTtC having as their theme the use of solely long or short sounds – Elongation and Shortening.

 

Right Durations, the very first piece that was composed as part of Ft7D,takes as its theme the duration of single sounds: "Play a sound / play it for so long / until you feel / that you should stop". From this, a greatly sensitive music of durations can result. Like in serial music from the fifthies, this music is emancipated from rigid metre, but it is here more immediate and closer to language, because it arises in the moment and was not written out on paper. I have instructed many groups of students in this piece, and while the sounding result of course differs according to the group, it is however every time very clearly a version of the same piece.

 

Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D – see quote below) is carried by long tones and slow intonation movements of tone.

 

In Communication (FTtC) one finds categories like "as quietly, gently and as long as possible", "moderately loud, rather agitatedly and moderately long" and "as loud, excitedly and as short as possible".

 

They stylize the activity, and every category has a signal function in the piece.

 

Many pieces start explicitly from the single tone or single sound. – Also as to describing the processes there exists quite clear instructions. In Awake (FTtC) the text concludes with "Abrupt end" – a relevant challenge to the habitual way in which improvised often will fade out very gradually. And in Interval (FTtC) one can speak of a form scheme: two single tones are to grow gradually into two chords of each ten tones – after having reached this, chords are to get smaller until only two tones are left again.

 

 

 

 

VARIOUS FORMS OF CIRCUMSCRIBING

 

In this category, specific musical ideas are described which need a certain interpretative activity from the musician. Take this instruction from Bird of Passage (FTtC).

 

 

I would interpret it like this: relatively individual parts, relatively constant playing without much pause, being open to inspiration from the others.

 

The next four examples could be seen as models for the forming of contrasts or, oppositely, the melting together in the process of a common sound created by two players

 

.

 

In my experience, the theme of Set Sail for the Sun is simply about intonation "play a tone for so long / until you hear its individual vibrations // hold the tone / and listen to the tones of the others / - to all of them together, not to individual ones - / and slowly move your tone / until you arrive at complete harmony / and the whole sound turns to gold / to pure, gently shimmering fire". It can be achieved by the musicians solely in a teamwork – it could only be prescribed as a certain character they should aim at, but not in a mechanical and exact way. Regardless whether the character in question is "like gold" or like other, interesting qualities!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

And now we arrive at the metaphorical descriptions of a common poetical nature.???? Examples are

 

One can imagine different  interpretations, but I would presume there is a good chance of agreeing on something characteristic. Here, like in most pieces, one may try out a piece several times, maybe with a common dialogue in between and thus, in a sense, "intone" the interpretations together.

 

Models of musical processes which generate unpredictable results are different from the metaphorical ones. In many cases, unpredictability (all intuitive music is unpredictable) arises from heterophony –  the piece prescribes a part which appears differently in various simultaneous augmentations and diminutions. This is the case with Meeting Point (Ft7D): "everyone plays the same tone / lead the tone wherever your thoughts / lead you / do not leave it, stay with it / always return / to the same place". It will be easy to hear how the parts move away from the agreed-upon tone and come back to it. But how the complex pattern of these movements turn out has not been determined. Something similar is valid for Right Durations (see above). In Unanimity (FTtC) there is a special direction for the process: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others / without visual signs". Taken literally this might be impossible. But the attempts produce a special intensity and alternating episodes of condensed activity followed by relative relaxation. Despite the short statement this is a piece having a strong identity. To my ears, it always sounds "pronouncedly expressionistic" (also when played by different groups).

 

 

FIXED AND CIRCUMSCRIBED

 

I will quote Vibration (FTtC) as an advanced example of a multi-layered music:

 

All together – all separate

 

All together – all separate

 

    and so on: slowly accelerate (linger three times)

fast!

accellerate further

until

fused

 

Now we have reached, however, only the first level. The process is to go on, by square multiplication as it were -:

 

fused:

    All together – all separate

 

    All together – all separate

        and

        so

        on [Ivor: suggest you look at the edition and imitate the original layout there ...]

 

 

To my experience this is literally a piece that can make you dizzy, and yet all descriptions are rather concrete. The process must be synchronized, and the idea of "together-separate" may be easy enough to understand. But to realize it is a challenge that calls for collective virtuosity!

 

We have not yet been dealing with poetic and metaphorical macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. But...

 

 

SUGGESTING

 

There is indeed a series of five pieces (in Ft7D) dealing with macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. Here, the imagination of the musician is required in order to translate, for instance, the following elements from "Downwards" into musical phenomena:

 

play a vibration in the rhythm of your limbs

play a vibration in the rhythm of your cells

play a vibration in the rhythm of your molecules

play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms

play a vibration in the rhythm of your smallest particles which your inner ear can reach (...)

 

For all these pieces, the serial notion about a continuum is the structuring principle, and this might perhaps simplify the task of the interpreter. " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1First, to fit all isolated phenomena into a continuum, and then work out and compose contrasting elements from this continuum" (Stockhausen, 1959). Both the interpreters and those listeners who look at this text will have an inner "map" on which the different "landscape forms" appear with a common denominator – comparable to elevations, for instance.

 

Stockhausen relates how "rhythm of your thinking" was once concretized: as a preliminary exercise, close the eyes and tap with a pencil every time there is a change of thought.

 

In this preliminary exercise we have an instance of that which is the matter in the next section:

 

 

 

EVOKING

 

Finally there are certainly also instructions for preparations which are to produce or evoke meditative dispositions in the musician. Bearing in mind the big controversies having taken place in Germany, it is of primary importance to observe how different the pieces are. Gold Dust (Ft7D) is probably without discussion the most extreme one – one may only perform it after having lived four days alone without eating.

Arrival (Ft7D) is much easier accessible – to imagine energies within your body, in a way comparable to that of usual yoga practise, like it is taught at yoga schools everywhere.
IT (requires) a different meditation, that seeks out of the multitude of thoughts and waits for inner silence to appear, forms the introduction of the piece and continues during it.

Unlimited (Ft7D) find in itself a very simple, but potentially very effective imagination which could be categorized as bordering on the category of  poetic descriptions: "play a sound / with the certainty / that you have an infinite amount of time and space". Related to this is
Intensity (Ft7D): is related to the above "play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you (...)". So, the target groups of meditation practitioners consists in the first case of only special adventurers, in the second case it includes all those who have had some yoga meditation training, and the two last pieces are suitable even for untrained people!

 

 

SOUNDING  IDENTITY OF THE PIECES

 

Some pieces, for instance Right Durations and Unanimity, preserve their sounding identity to a high degree from one performance to another and from one group to another. This is not necessaily the case with all pieces. Hugh Davies gives us a dialectical view on this, in stating, concerning Intensity, that this piece sounds in all cases different from a totally free improvisation without any givens. So the basis for Intensity is an inner structure, just like composers may work with inner structures which one cannot directly hear. This is, however, an extreme case in practise. Even a piece like IT, which maybe has been "fixed" to an amount of 40% but of which 60% has been "evoked" in a seemingly unpredictable way, has according to Stockhausen (in "Fragen und Antworten...") a very definite sounding identity, consisting of sudden actions – and personally I can only confirm this.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

As Maconie says, the musical thoughts in FTtC "by and large...take on a more practical turn", compared to Ad7T. Even though there is not a sharp transition, in the second collection there is more fixing, while the "cosmic" pieces and those concerned with meditation form a strikingly large part of Ft7D.  Historically, FTtC came later, however, and it may still be less known.

 

One of the reasons why Ft7D and FTtC consist of very useful contributions to a repertory with a new performance practise is the fact that they were created by a musician who was familiar with working with musical parameters in an exact way. Any musician seeking around here can select pieces with just the right kind of freedom or fixing, the right kind of meditation or concrete description.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

What we are waiting for as something really new about new music seems to be a performance practise which no longer negates the possible exuberance of a free playing together. Through teamwork on equal terms between composer and musician, musicians and listeners are not just having a more interesting time, but also more musical insights. If anyone at this point thinks about Stockhausens' much-commented role as sound projector at the mixing console, then one will have to say that this arrangement has no relevance whatever for what other ensembles do at their own performances. We should loosen the authority of the notes. We are entitled to enjoy, musicians and listeners alike, that we can be nearer to the creation process, and to poly- and heterophony as a way of composing, also being nearer to what has been called "the abundance of non-codified sounds" (formulation by Hermann-Christoph Müller). And we should gradually learn more and more to describe and circumscribe these things in an adaequate manner. That the only form of music-making should be a reproductive one exactly like at the time of Papa Haydn is not ethically defendable any longer. As writings by Bailey, Brindle and Sutherland testify to (although the latter only to a certain extent, see above), there are many endeavours in this new direction. General musicology should take notice of this.

 

 

LITERATURE:

 

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Bailey, Derek: "The composer - in practice" (1), Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 70-74, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.

  Interview with the musician Anthony Pay about his experience with the orchestral piece Ylem in Stockhausens' instruction. This touches also upon principal aspects of improvising from the musicians' point of view

 

Bailey, Derek: "The composer ‑ in question", Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 79‑781, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.PRIVATE

  Contains comments from Hugh Davies to Intensity (From the Seven Days). These statements are dialectically being opposed to statements by Evan Parker about dealing with composition at all instead of freely improvising.

 

Blumröder, Christoph von: Die Grundlegung der Musik Karlheinz Stockhausens, Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 1993.

  The serial procedures in some of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen are contemplated p. 167f

 

Bojé, Harald: "Aus den sieben Tagen. Textinterpretationen", Feedback Papers 16, August,  1978.

  Twelve of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) are scrutinized with a view to the practical interpretation. Bojé was a member of the Stockhausen Group which toured 1968_70 with intuitive music.

 

Brindle, Reginald Smith: The New Music: The Avant‑garde since 1945 (1975), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 1986 (sec.ed).

  This is a general book on new music which treats themes like improvisation and new notations very well, despite a certain sceptical attitude.

 

Brinkmann, Reinhold: "Hören und Denken. Thesen zur "intuitiven" Musik", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik Nr.9, Sept.,  1974.

  In the name of marxism this author airs an absolute allergy against everything which is not rational, as well as against meditation

 

Kohl, Jerome: "Serial determinism and "intuitive music"", in theory only. Journal of the Michigan Music Theory Society vol.3, number 12, March, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1978.PRIVATE

  The author examines Stockhausens' notion of serialism and the compositional construction of the pieces of Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days). Furthermore, the relations of the pieces to one another in the collection is also analyzed and seen as organized according to similar principles. This is an important article that clarifies the relation of the Aus den Sieben Tagen pieces to Stockhausens' general notions of music.

 

Kurtz, Michael: "Aus den sieben Tagen (1968-70)", Stockhausen. Eine Bibliographie. Kassel (Bärenreiter), 1988.

  Biographical and performance history

information around this collection (From

the Seven Days)

 

Lekfeldt, Jørgen: Section "Aus den sieben Tagen: den personlige oplevelse, meditation og kreativitet", i: Sölle og Stockhausen - musikkens teologi og teologiens musik, p. 147-155, Viborg (Schønberg), Denmark 1991.

  Describes the biographical background of the music, the inspiration from yoga and the open, verbally notated music as an invitation to creative activity. The book also contains a detailed portrait of aesthetic principles in the music of Stockhausen. On both music analytical and general philosophical basis, the music of Stockhausen is compared to the

theology of Sölle. Both are interpreted as expressions of emancipative/utopical modernity. A key concept with Stockhausen is the equality of the musical elements - an aesthetic principle that originated in the equality of parameters and their steps within serial music of the fifties. In music with ambiguous notation, also both musicians and different performances are equal.

 

Maconie, Robin: "Aus den sieben Tagen" + "Für Kommende Zeiten", The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, p.250‑261, London 1976.

  Analytical comments. Also a second edition from 1990 exists.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Aus den sieben Tagen", Texte III, Köln (DuMont) 1971B.

  Program note.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Fragen und Antworten zur intuitiven Musik", Texte IV, p. 130-144, Köln (DuMont) 1978.

  Transscript from a discussion with Stockhausen. Important text on intuitive music, on the freedom from cliches and the intuition. To be highly recommended. For an English version, see the booklet to Stockhausen Complete CD Edition CD14A-G.

 

Stockhausen in Nevill, Tim (ed.): "Intuitive Musik", p.35‑44, Towards a Cosmic Music, selected and translated by Tim Nevill, Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset (Element Books Ltd.) 1989.

  Includes, among other things, interviews with Stockhausen on intuitive music from 1969 and 1973.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Musik und Sprache", Darmstädter Beiträge zur neuen Musik 1, Mainz 1958.

 

Maconie, Robin (ed.): "Intuitive music", Stockhausen on Music. Lectures and interviews compiled by Robin Maconie, London/NY (Marion Boyars Publishers) 1991.

  From a lecture in London 1971. Stockhausen tells about experiences with the works in plus-minus notation which preceded those From the Seven Days and examines some of its works (Right Durations; Unlimited; Connection; IT) providing comments and reports from the playing experiences. Good introductory text.

 

Sutherland, Roger: New Perspectives in Music, London (Sun TavernFields), 1994.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIXING/CIRCUMSCRIBING/SUGGESTING/EVOKING. An analysis of Stockhausen’s text pieces.

 

by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen, Aalborg University, Denmark.

 

This article first appeared in MusikTexte 71, November 1997 and is a shortened version of a longer article in Danish which can be found on the internet at International Improvised Music Archive (http://www20.brinkster.com/improarchive/) under the title"Sprog som musikalsk notation"

 

INTRODUCTION

 

It is truly a joy to find an article in MusikTexte which deals with the important improvisatory aspects of ‘the new music’.  "plus, minus, equal" by Hermann-Christoph Müller in issue 67/68 contains an in-depth analysis of Stockhausen’s ‘plus minus’ type work, Prozession.

 

Comparing Stockhausen’s later From the Seven Days and For Times to Come (in this article I will use the abbreviations Ft7D and FTtC), the author maintains that these pieces “rather suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making  than a clear musical notion”. Since the seventies I have had extensive experience with these pieces. In the Group for Intuitive Music Group we have, since 1975, played and still play Stockhausen’s text compositions and our own pieces which were often non-traditionally notated or notated with mixed means. In Germany our group appeared at the 6. New Music Days at Weimar with the theme: "Intuitive music – more than improvisation?". And since 1983 I have regularily lead improvisation courses. In this article I would like to present evidence pointing in a different direction than does the generalizing statement by Müller. Based on examples I am going to demonstrate that his apparent dualism between to “suggest a psycho-physical disposition to music making" and presenting "a clear musical notion" is a false one. Instead, we are dealing with a many-sided, dialectical reality.

 

Maybe Müller did not after all advocate for a total dualism – his use of the word "rather" might indicate caution against generalization. However, his formulation comes dangerously close to the widespread misunderstanding that these texts are only to be understood in a vague, poetic manner, not comparable to performance instructions in the normal sense. Also Sutherland, an author who in other contexts treats improvisation and new notations in a differentiated manner, describes the instructions of the text pieces simply as "deliberately vague or enigmatic". Harald Bojé warns against the misunderstanding: "The musician who believes that now he can finally live out his own world without having to pay attention to a composers' instruction, makes a mistake". Brindle thinks that both "deliberately and fanatically impracticable" pieces exist along with some which are "reasonably enough". However, he allows Stockhausens endeavours to appear before the reader, in illustrating this with two very different examples. He is also aware that the text pieces include instructions of quite different kinds: what constitutes such a piece could, according to him, be "a verse or text which suggests a mood the players must create, a manner of playing, a certain kind of musical action, combinations of these, etc."

 

 

FIXING

 

Unanimity (from FtTC) begins like this: "Play and/or sing / extremely long quiet sounds / and / extremely short loud sounds". That is, to be sure, a clear description of the material to play, is it not? There are further two pieces in FTtC having as their theme the use of solely long or short sounds – Elongation and Shortening. Right Durations, the very first piece that was composed as part of Ft7D,

takes as its theme the duration of single sounds: "Play a sound / play it for so long / until you feel / that you should stop". From this, a greatly sensitive music of durations can result. Like in serial music from the fifthies, this music is emancipated from rigid metre, but it is here more immediate and closer to language, because it arises in the moment and was not written out on paper. I have instructed many groups of students in this piece, and while the sounding result of course differs according to the group, it is however every time very clearly a version of the same piece. Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D – see quote below) is carried by long tones and slow intonation movements of tone. In Communication (FTtC) one finds categories like "as quietly, gently and as long as possible", "moderately loud, rather agitatedly and moderately long" and "as loud, excitedly and as short as possible". They stylize the activity, and every category has a signal function in the piece. Many pieces start explicitly from the single tone or single sound. – Also as to describing the processes there exists quite clear instructions. In Awake (FTtC) the text concludes with "Abrupt end" – a relevant challenge to the habitual way in which improvised often will fade out very gradually. And in Interval (FTtC) one can speak of a form scheme: two single tones are to grow gradually into two chords of each ten tones – after having reached this, chords are to get smaller until only two tones are left again.

 

 

 

VARIOUS FORMS OF CIRCUMSCRIBING

 

In this category, specific musical ideas are described which need a certain interpretative activity from the musician. In the examples to follow, various musical states are circumscribed in a both metaphorical and matter-of-fact way: "Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible" from Bird of Passage (FTtC). I would interpret it like this: relatively individual parts, relatively constant playing without much pause, being open to inspiration from the others. "Place each note / on the head of another" from Presentiment (FTtC) – "Break through the note of another" from Outside (FTtC) – "Penetrate into the note of another co-player" from Inside (FTtC) – "Divide the sound of another" from Spectra (FTtC). Those last four examples could be seen as models for the forming of contrasts or, oppositely, the melting together in the process of a common sound created by two players. And what is the theme of Set Sail for the Sun (Ft7D) - ? "play a tone for so long / until you hear its individual vibrations // hold the tone / and listen to the tones of the others / - to all of them together, not to individual ones - / and slowly move your tone / until you arrive at complete harmony / and the whole sound turns to gold / to pure, gently shimmering fire". In my experience this is simply about intonation. It can be achieved by the musicians solely in a teamwork – it could only be prescribed as a certain character they should aim at, but not in a mechanical and exact way. Regardless whether the character in question is "like gold" or like other, interesting qualities!

 

And now we arrive at the metaphorical descriptions of a common poetical nature. Examples are "Fly away" (Bird of Passage – FTtC) – "nocturnal forest with dialogues" (Awake – FTtC) – "until all [notes] ... / begin to burn" (Inside – FTtC). One can imagine different interpretations, but I would presume there is a good chance of agreeing on something characteristic. Here, like in most pieces, one may try out a piece several times, maybe with a common dialogue in between and thus, in a sense, "intone" the interpretations together.

 

Models of musical processes which generate unpredictable results are different from the metaphorical ones. In many cases, unpredictability arises from heterophony –  the piece prescribes a part which appear differently in various simultaneous augmentations and diminutions. This is the case with Meeting Point (Ft7D): "everyone plays the same tone / lead the tone wherever your thoughts / lead you / do not leave it, stay with it / always return / to the same place". It will be easy to hear how the parts move away from the agreed-upon tone and come back to it. But how the complex pattern of these movements turn out has not been determined. Something similar is valid for Right Durations (see above). In Unanimity (FTtC) there is a special direction for the process: "Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others / without visual signs". Taken literally this might be impossible. But the attempts produce a special intensity and alternating episodes of condensed activity followed by relative relaxation. Despite the short statement this is a piece having a strong identity. To my ears, it always sounds "pronouncedly expressionistic" (also when played by different groups).

 

 

FIXED AND CIRCUMSCRIBED

 

I will quote Vibration (FTtC) as an advanced example of a multi-layered music:

 

All together – all separate

 

All together – all separate

 

    and so on: slowly accelerate (linger three times)

fast!

accellerate further

until

fused

 

Now we have reached, however, only the first level. The process is to go on, by square multiplication as it were -:

 

fused:

    All together – all separate

 

    All together – all separate

        and

        so

        on [Ivor: suggest you look at the edition and imitate the original layout there ...]

 

 

To my experience this is literally a piece that can make you dizzy, and yet all descriptions are rather concrete. The process must be synchronized, and the idea of "together-separate" may be easy enough to understand. But to realize it is a challenge that calls for collective virtuosity!

 

We have not yet been dealing with poetic and metaphorical macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. But...

 

 

SUGGESTING

 

There is indeed a series of five pieces (in Ft7D) dealing with macro- and micro-dimensions of cosmos. Here, the imagination of the musician is required in order to translate, for instance, the following elements from "Downwards" into musical phenomena:

 

play a vibration in the rhythm of your limbs

play a vibration in the rhythm of your cells

play a vibration in the rhythm of your molecules

play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms

play a vibration in the rhythm of your smallest particles which your inner ear can reach (...)

 

For all these pieces, the serial notion about a continuum is the structuring principle, and this might perhaps simplify the task of the interpreter. " SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1First, to fit all isolated phenomena into a continuum, and then work out and compose contrasting elements from this continuum" (Stockhausen, 1959). Both the interpreters and those listeners who look at this text will have an inner "map" on which the different "landscape forms" appear with a common denominator – comparable to elevations, for instance.

 

Stockhausen relates how "rhythm of your thinking" was once concretized: as a preliminary exercise, close the eyes and tap with a pencil every time there is a change of thought.

 

In this preliminary exercise we have an instance of that which is the matter in the next section:

 

 

 

EVOKING

 

Finally there are certainly also instructions for preparations which are to produce or evoke meditative dispositions in the musician. Bearing in mind the big controversies having taken place in Germany, it is of primary importance to observe how different the pieces are. Gold Dust (Ft7D) is probably without discussion the most extreme one – one may only perform it after having lived four days alone without eating. Arrival (Ft7D) is much easier accessible – to imagine energies within your body, in a way comparable to that of usual yoga practise, like it is taught at yoga schools everywhere. A different meditation, that seeks out of the multitude of thoughts and waits for inner silence to appear, form the introduction of IT (Ft7D) and continues during the piece. A very simple, but potentially very effective imagination which could be categorized as bordering on the category of  poetic descriptions can be found in Unlimited (Ft7D): "play a sound / with the certainty / that you have an infinite amount of time and space". Related to this is Intensity (Ft7D): "play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you (...)". So, the target groups of meditation practioners consists in the first case of only special adventurers, in the second case it includes all those who have had some yoga meditation training, and the two last pieces are suitable even for untrained people!

 

 

SOUNDING  IDENTITY OF THE PIECES

 

Some pieces, for instance Right Durations and Unanimity, preserve their sounding identity to a high degree from one performance to another and from one group to another. This is not necessaily the case with all pieces. Hugh Davies gives us a dialectical view on this, in stating, concerning Intensity, that this piece sounds in all cases different from a totally free improvisation without any givens. So the basis for Intensity is an inner structure, just like composers may work with inner structures which one cannot directly hear. This is, however, an extreme case in practise. Even a piece like IT, which maybe has been "fixed" to an amount of 40% but of which 60% has been "evoked" in a seemingly unpredictable way, has according to Stockhausen (in "Fragen und Antworten...") a very definite sounding identity, consisting of sudden actions – and personally I can only confirm this.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

In Ft7D and FTtC we encounter a number of instruction types which may be combined and which can be viewed in a continuum:

 

1) instructions which describe musical phenomena and processes in quite concrete terminology, for instance:

 

"extremely long quiet sounds"

 

"Abrupt end"

 

 

2) instructions which characterize musical phenomena in a circumscribing way:

 

- in a metaphorical-concrete way, for instance:

"Play/sing as parallel with the others as possible"

 

- in a metaphorical-poetic way, for instance:

" nocturnal forest with dialogues "

 

- models of processes which do, statistically, govern a specific character but which also produce impredictable results, for instance:

" Try to play/sing / more and more attacks / SYNCHRONOUSLY with the others"

 

3) Instructions which suggest musical phenomena but which leave a wide space open for individually different interpretations, for instance:

"play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms"

 

4) Instructions which aim at suggesting or creating a disposition for playing, for instance:

"play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you"

 

 

As Maconie says, the musical thoughts in FTtC "by and large...take on a more practical turn", compared to Ad7T. Even though there is not a sharp transition, in the second collection there is more fixing, while the "cosmic" pieces and those concerned with meditation form a strikingly large part of Ft7D.  Historically, FTtC came later, however, and it may still be less known.

 

One of the reasons why Ft7D and FTtC consist of very useful contributions to a repertory with a new performance practise is the fact that they were created by a musician who was familiar with working with musical parameters in an exact way. Any musician seeking around here can select pieces with just the right kind of freedom or fixing, the right kind of meditation or concrete description.

 

 

PERSPECTIVE

 

What we are waiting for as something really new about new music seems to be a performance practise which no longer negates the possible exuberance of a free playing together. Through teamwork on equal terms between composer and musician, musicians and listeners are not just having a more interesting time, but also more musical insights. If anyone at this point thinks about Stockhausens' much-commented role as sound projector at the mixing console, then one will have to say that this arrangement has no relevance whatever for what other ensembles do at their own performances. We should loosen the authority of the notes. We are entitled to enjoy, musicians and listeners alike, that we can be nearer to the creation process, and to poly- and heterophony as a way of composing, also being nearer to what has been called "the abundance of non-codified sounds" (formulation by Hermann-Christoph Müller). And we should gradually learn more and more to describe and circumscribe these things in an adaequate manner. That the only form of music-making should be a reproductive one exactly like at the time of Papa Haydn is not ethically defendable any longer. As writings by Bailey, Brindle and Sutherland testify to (although the latter only to a certain extent, see above), there are many endeavours in this new direction. General musicology should take notice of this.

 

 

LITERATURE:

 

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Bailey, Derek: "The composer - in practice" (1), Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 70-74, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.

  Interview with the musician Anthony Pay about his experience with the orchestral piece Ylem in Stockhausens' instruction. This touches also upon principal aspects of improvising from the musicians' point of view

 

Bailey, Derek: "The composer ‑ in question", Improvisation. Its Nature and practice in Music, S. 79‑781, Dorchester (The Brit. Libr. Nat. Sound Arch.) 1992.PRIVATE

  Contains comments from Hugh Davies to Intensity (From the Seven Days). These statements are dialectically being opposed to statements by Evan Parker about dealing with composition at all instead of freely improvising.

 

Blumröder, Christoph von: Die Grundlegung der Musik Karlheinz Stockhausens, Stuttgart (Franz Steiner Verlag) 1993.

  The serial procedures in some of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen are contemplated p. 167f

 

Bojé, Harald: "Aus den sieben Tagen. Textinterpretationen", Feedback Papers 16, August,  1978.

  Twelve of the pieces from Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) are scrutinized with a view to the practical interpretation. Bojé was a member of the Stockhausen Group which toured 1968_70 with intuitive music.

 

Brindle, Reginald Smith: The New Music: The Avant‑garde since 1945 (1975), Oxford (Oxford University Press) 1986 (sec.ed).

  This is a general book on new music which treats themes like improvisation and new notations very well, despite a certain sceptical attitude.

 

Brinkmann, Reinhold: "Hören und Denken. Thesen zur "intuitiven" Musik", Neue Zeitschrift für Musik Nr.9, Sept.,  1974.

  In the name of marxism this author airs an absolute allergy against everything which is not rational, as well as against meditation

 

Kohl, Jerome: "Serial determinism and "intuitive music"", in theory only. Journal of the Michigan Music Theory Society vol.3, number 12, March, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1978.PRIVATE

  The author examines Stockhausens' notion of serialism and the compositional construction of the pieces of Aus den Sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days). Furthermore, the relations of the pieces to one another in the collection is also analyzed and seen as organized according to similar principles. This is an important article that clarifies the relation of the Aus den Sieben Tagen pieces to Stockhausens' general notions of music.

 

Kurtz, Michael: "Aus den sieben Tagen (1968-70)", Stockhausen. Eine Bibliographie. Kassel (Bärenreiter), 1988.

  Biographical and performance history

information around this collection (From

the Seven Days)

 

Lekfeldt, Jørgen: Section "Aus den sieben Tagen: den personlige oplevelse, meditation og kreativitet", i: Sölle og Stockhausen - musikkens teologi og teologiens musik, p. 147-155, Viborg (Schønberg), Denmark 1991.

  Describes the biographical background of the music, the inspiration from yoga and the open, verbally notated music as an invitation to creative activity. The book also contains a detailed portrait of aesthetic principles in the music of Stockhausen. On both music analytical and general philosophical basis, the music of Stockhausen is compared to the

theology of Sölle. Both are interpreted as expressions of emancipative/utopical modernity. A key concept with Stockhausen is the equality of the musical elements - an aesthetic principle that originated in the equality of parameters and their steps within serial music of the fifties. In music with ambiguous notation, also both musicians and different performances are equal.

 

Maconie, Robin: "Aus den sieben Tagen" + "Für Kommende Zeiten", The Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen, p.250‑261, London 1976.

  Analytical comments. Also a second edition from 1990 exists.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Aus den sieben Tagen", Texte III, Köln (DuMont) 1971B.

  Program note.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Fragen und Antworten zur intuitiven Musik", Texte IV, p. 130-144, Köln (DuMont) 1978.

  Transscript from a discussion with Stockhausen. Important text on intuitive music, on the freedom from cliches and the intuition. To be highly recommended. For an English version, see the booklet to Stockhausen Complete CD Edition CD14A-G.

 

Stockhausen in Nevill, Tim (ed.): "Intuitive Musik", p.35‑44, Towards a Cosmic Music, selected and translated by Tim Nevill, Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset (Element Books Ltd.) 1989.

  Includes, among other things, interviews with Stockhausen on intuitive music from 1969 and 1973.

 

Stockhausen, Karlheinz: "Musik und Sprache", Darmstädter Beiträge zur neuen Musik 1, Mainz 1958.

 

Maconie, Robin (ed.): "Intuitive music", Stockhausen on Music. Lectures and interviews compiled by Robin Maconie, London/NY (Marion Boyars Publishers) 1991.

  From a lecture in London 1971. Stockhausen tells about experiences with the works in plus-minus notation which preceded those From the Seven Days and examines some of its works (Right Durations; Unlimited; Connection; IT) providing comments and reports from the playing experiences. Good introductory text.

 

Sutherland, Roger: New Perspectives in Music, London (Sun TavernFields), 1994.

 

***

 

 

 

Karlheinz Stockhausen, “Old School”
            Travis Bird                    

Germany’s innovative Zeitkratzer ensemble continues with the fourth installment of its Old School series, dedicated to the music of Stockhausen (after releases focusing on John Cage, James Tenney, and Alvin Lucier). The ensemble focuses on selections from a single piece, Aus den sieben Tagen (From The Seven Days), composed in 1968.

From The Seven Days is an important point, the beginning of Stockhausen’s brief “intuitive music” phase. The piece, composed in a week of deep personal tumult, was a change in Stockhausen’s compositional process, replacing his precisely notated early work with a “text composition” that contains no notes, but uses text to precisely control what the musicians should play when. An example, the score to “Intensität” (Intensity): “play single sounds / with such dedication / until you feel the warmth / that radiates from you.”

The genesis of the piece suggests that Stockhausen sought order in the face of unwanted duress: he wanted to separate musical meditation, which he claimed resulted in “ultra alertness and…creative ecstasy,” from mere sentimentality. Stockhausen was able not only to conceptualize this relationship between feeling and execution, but also to express it musically in a passionate and (initially) effective way. The crucial liner notes speak of the execution of this system by Zeitkratzer, the explanation of which is one of the most important aspects of this release. The ensemble went to lengths to “develop their approach to interpret the texts as precisely as possible, in the traditional way of score-reading.

The reason for their close reading might have something to do with history: Stockhausen performed this piece with his ensemble for only two years, after which they demanded co-writing credit. After all, the piece was entirely dependent on each performer’s personal interpretation of his instructions, entirely dependent on mood and state of being. Stockhausen’s response was to criticize the interpretation as undisciplined, thus highlighting the unresolved tension between his state of mind and theirs – ultimately, maybe, the inability of any two individuals to communicate fully. (Which might make From the Seven Days the first deconstructionist musical work.) Stockhausen returned to musical notation after breaking up his ensemble on this point, but he may have written the piece for himself more than for any performer or listener.

In this, however, one might find the results problematic. The way the Zeitkratzer musicians work within Stockhausen’s framework is innovative, collaborative, an innovative path that has to be facilitated. But what the framework itself allows for sounds quite limited. Disparate tonal clusters swell and dissolve. Sound events come and go, dynamics change, but the piece to me, listening in 2012, becomes a rearrangement of familiar zones and textures. Despite the rigorous discipline and collaboration of the ensemble, the creative ecstasy of the musicians is only occasionally transmitted to this listener.

I suspect that this music requires physical presence, which may account for some of my underwhelmed response. The recording at times lacks definition that one might hear in a smaller concert hall especially. But there are many interesting moments, and the final track, the 17-minute “Setz Die Segel Zur Sonne,” reaches a massive, near-overwhelming depth and density, even though all parties – composer, performer, listener – can only reach so far.