Wednesday, July 6, 2016

DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT: Basel 2016

Detail of Basler Münster (Basel Cathedral)
Introduction
     On June 25th, 2016, a new production of Stockhausen's first opera, DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT (Thursday from Light) premiered at the Basel Theatre in Switzerland, with stage direction by the American-born, Europe-based Lydia Steier (with sets designed by Barbara Ehnes, costumes by Ursula Kudrna, and video effects by Chris Kondek).  This opera, the first in Stockhausen's LICHT opera cycle, originally premiered at La Scala, Milan in 1981, and was last staged in 1985 at Covent Garden in London.  For this third production, the opera received a fairly dramatic "makeover" in it's scenic design, setting, choreography and costuming.

     The original score for DONNERSTAG includes very detailed instructions for many elements of the stage production, and this kind of control is a hallmark of Stockhausen's compositional oeuvre, almost from the start of his career.  In this way, he manages to coordinate (or "harmonize") the music with the visual presentation of his works.  Stockhausen's designs for DONNERSTAG are detailed in this site's entries below:

Original Synopsis
     In short, the first Act, Scene 1, KINDHEIT, describes the youth of the main character MICHAEL as he is torn between the conflicting emotional and intellectual desires of his mother EVA and his father LUCIMON (this scene notably features many elements which reflect Stockhausen's own childhood).  Scene 2, MONDEVA, describes MICHAEL's encounter with a musical space creature named MONDEVA (Moon-Eve), and their attempts to communicate and learn from each other through melody.  In a tandem setting, Michael's mother and father are killed by euthanasia and war, respectively.  Scene 3 is an examination setting where MICHAEL explains his past experiences to a panel of four judges in order to "graduate" to his next state.

     In Act 2, MICHAEL pops in and out of different regions of a giant globe of the Earth, in effect "traveling" through 7 global regions and portraying MICHAEL's experience as a human being on Earth. Near the 7th Station, MICHAEL hears the basset horn call of EVA, an incarnation of MONDEVA, who he'd met in the 1st Act.  MICHAEL leaves the globe to pursue EVA, as a pair of mischievous wind players appear (but which are soon reprimanded and "crucified" by somber brass).  At the end, MICHAEL reappears with EVE and they play intertwining melodies as they "ascend" together.

     In the 3rd Act, MICHAEL has returned to a heavenly plane where he is welcomes by yet another incarnation of EVA.  The first part of the Act, FESTIVAL, presents highly ritualized sequences involving lighted gifts and images and other heavenly phenomena.  At one point a small globe-shaped gift opens to expel a devil-like incarnation of LUCIFER, and the MICHAEL-dancer is forced to battle this disruptive force.  After the devil has been defeated, yet another incarnation of LUCIFER appears at a balcony box and taunts MICHAEL and EVA.  In Scene 2, VISION, MICHAEL (still in his 3 incarnations of tenor, trumpet and dancer-mime) explains LUCIFER's origins in a musical-choreographic soliloquy.  He then explains why he took on a human form and experienced the pain and joy of growing as a human. Seven visions ("shadowplays") are projected on a screen which act as "time-windows" into his Earthly existence and subsequent return to the Heavens.  He ends DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT by proclaiming his love for Mankind.

     Overall, this opera has a premise which begins on a relatively mundane and localized premise (family/education), moves to a global setting (a semi-symbolic journey around the Earth), and then ends in a "cosmic" homecoming, with a few somewhat slapstick-ey moments thrown in to keep things from becoming too overly pompous (MICHAEL defeats the dragon-devil with the help of the orchestra conductor's baton stick, for example).

The Basel 2016 Production
DONNERSTAGs GRUSS in the Basel Theater's lobby stage, featuring a 70's lounge band playing Stockhausen music.
 (photo © Motoko Shimizu)
     The 2016 Steier production essentially revamps/remixes most of the elements of the opera except for the musical score itself.  In other words, everything that was not anchored with a treble or bass clef symbol was deemed open to revision.  Steier's team apparently felt that Stockhausen's original stage premise would need major alterations in order to make the opera more palatable to "contemporary audiences", and thus gave the visual narrative a much more cynical, self-parodying flavor, reducing much of the cosmic symbolism in the original staging to a more traditional opera narrative with a decidedly more "Earthly" through-line.

     The story begins the same, with Michael's dysfunctional childhood, but the euthanasia of Michael's mother becomes a more pivotal flash-point which is revisited in each of the subsequent Acts.  The stress of Michael's childhood causes him to have an apparent mental breakdown, during which he has an Oedipal fantasy (the father repeatedly shoots down auditioning Eve's in various states of moral undress, much to Michael's chagrin).  In the second Act, after admittance to a mental hospital, Michael travels not around the world, but only within the confines of the patient rec-room, and has video-projected hallucinations (partially induced through chemical means) about imaginary adventures in various global locales, .

     The third Act finds a grown-up Michael (as a Christ-like, Stockhausen-circa-1977 figure) becoming a kind of enlightened "guru" in a celestial church, and administering to a somewhat insouciant choir of "space children" acolytes.  Additionally, the dragon-devil figure which Michael fights in FESTIVAL takes on the post-modern costuming of a drag-queen, and in the end Michael becomes disillusioned with the dogmatic restrictions of his own church.  The final Vision scene features a 5-way soliloquy between the 5 incarnations of Michael characters from all 3 Acts, but with a curtailed selection of "mime-plays" concentrating on his relationship with his mother.

     A more detailed comparison between Stockhausen's original staging instructions and the Steier team's alterations follows (photos © Sandra Then, click to enlarge).

Act/Scene Original score setting Basel 2016 Staging
DONNERSTAGs GRUSS
(Thursday Greeting)
     Classical musicians perform in an opera house foyer-salon in traditional performance dress.      A somewhat lackadaisical cabaret band of smoking and drinking 70's-era beatniks perform as a lounge act.
Act 1: MICHAELs JUGEND (Michael's Youth)
Scene 1: KINDHEIT (Childhood)      Scene 1, KINDHEIT, describes the youth of the main character MICHAEL as he is torn between the conflicting emotional and intellectual desires of his mother EVA and his father LUCIMON (this scene notably features many elements which reflect Stockhausen's own childhood). 
     Scene 1 plays out relatively traditionally with Michael's attentions being baited by the mother and father, each at cross-purposes.  A central glass enclosure however includes the addition of dancers with giant mannequin heads miming a private family birthday party (one of the presents is a toy robot, which will make a reappearance in the 3rd Act).  The father-son hunting trip is arrived at with Michael riding on his father's back, instead of on a bicycle.  A video screen later shows the rather graphic skinning of a rabbit, as the mother is presented on a blood-soaked bed, having just miscarried (the original score features a short-lived infant brother).  In the original score, a dancer, LUCEVA, appears and the father flirts with her, but here the dancer appears only in the pantomimed birthday enclosure scene.
Scene 2: MONDEVA (Moon-Eve)
Original MONDEVA costume.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     MONDEVA describes MICHAEL's encounter with a musical space creature named MONDEVA (Mooneve), and their attempts to communicate and learn from each other through melody.  In tandem settings, Michael's mother and father are killed by euthanasia and war, respectively.
     The original score prescribes a simultaneous triptych of scenes between the 3 characters, but here the father and son's scenes are melded together into an Oedipal, Busby Berkeley-inspired fever-dream where a rotating succession of Moon-Eves are shot and killed by the father (these female images are drawn from the various women's magazines read by the Mother in the first scene).  Eventually the dream features a distant Eve's cry, which distracts the father long enough for Michael to shoot his father dead, after which Michael's interplay with Moon Eve continues normally.
Scene 3:
EXAM
     Scene 3 is an examination setting where MICHAEL explains his past experiences to 4 judges in order to "graduate" to his next state.
     Instead of a university thesis examination, here Michael is apparently strapped to a psychiatric bed and is tested by doctors with chemical and shock treatments.  The academic jury is here replaced by white-coated doctors with plastic noses.  At the end, Michael is deemed fit for what will soon be revealed as an insane asylum.
Act 2
MICHAELs REISE UM DIE ERDE
(Michael's Journey Round the Earth)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     In Act 2, MICHAEL pops in and out of different regions of a World's Fair-proportioned Earth globe, in effect "travelling" through 7 ethnic regions and portraying MICHAEL's experience as a human being on Earth. Near the 7th Station, MICHAEL hears the basset horn call of EVA, an incarnation of MONDEVA, who he'd met in the 1st Act.  MICHAEL leaves the globe to pursue EVA, as a pair of mischievous wind players appear (but which are soon reprimanded and "crucified" by somber brass).  At the end, MICHAEL reappears with EVE and they play intertwining melodies as they "ascend" together.









     Here, Michael journeys only within the confines of an insane asylum, populated with zombie-like mental patients being "treated" with cold water baths and other uncomfortable-looking therapies.  A seated audience of patients watches a film projection featuring images from around the 7 world stations (intended as a "soothing" video-therapy), as the overhead stage video screen simultaneously displays Michael and his dance and trumpet incarnations travelling "Monty Python-style" through dreamlike impressions of the 7 ethnic landing spots (Africa features graphic footage of lions killing and eating a deer, and Japan features an animated Godzilla from which Michael and his reflections are forced to flee).

     In the original staging of the scene, the Michael- trumpeter has a "consoling" duet with the contrabass, but here that aspect is visually ignored and only heard.  Instead, Michael acts as a "sane" person trapped inside an insane asylum (ie - "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), and comforts a patient who resembles his mother.  In the finale of the Act, a Christ/Stockhausen-like figure (complete with a white, chest-baring shirt) appears, bathed in light.
Act 3: MICHAELs HEIMKEHR (Michael's Homecoming)
Scene 1: FESTIVAL
Covent Garden, 1985
(© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     MICHAEL has returned to a heavenly plane where he is welcomes by yet another incarnation of EVA. FESTIVAL presents highly-ritualized sequences involving lighted gifts and other heavenly phenomena.  At one point, a small globe-shaped gift opens to expel a devil-like incarnation of LUCIFER, and the MICHAEL-dancer (as a toreador) is forced to battle this disruptive force when it changes into a dragon.  After the devil has been defeated, yet another incarnation of LUCIFER appears from the balcony and taunts MICHAEL and EVA.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)




     Foil-wrapped "acolytes" are seated on bleachers, as the Stockhausen/Michael/Christ figure ministers to a line of supplicants.  The old woman appears with the re-emergence of the toy robot from the first Act's birthday party.  Additionally a stack of video monitors arranged in the figure of a robot (inspired by Nam June Paik's work) is wheeled onto the stage, featuring a soundless, kaleidoscopic collage of Stockhausen's zoomed-in eyes and face, speaking (extracted fragments from archival interview footage).

     Instead of a drag(on)-devil appearing out of a globe, a drag-queen in gothic "Lolita" garb appears out of a giant birthday cake (again hearkening back to the first Act).  The Michael dancer (in a schoolboy uniform) battles the drag-devil.  Eventually the "real" Lucifer appears, not from the balcony or a crane, but as a ghost-like video-apparition from within the glass enclosure.
Scene 2:
VISION
     MICHAEL (still in his 3 incarnations of tenor, trumpet and dancer-mime) explains LUCIFER's origins in a musical-choreographic soliloquy.  He then explains why he took on a human form and experienced the pain and joy of growing as a human. 7 visions ("shadowplays") are projected on a screen which act as "time-windows" into his Earthly existence and subsequent return to the Heavens.  He ends THURSDAY FROM LIGHT by proclaiming his love for Mankind.      Michael climbs over the choir bleachers to end up in a starkly-lit space in order to give his final solo.  He is accompanied by the Michael trumpet and the other previous incarnations of Michael.  The video projects the moving lips of Michael (though sadly not synchronized to the live voice).  The reminiscences of Michael's previous episodes are recited, but the flashback "shadow-plays" are limited mostly to the disturbing fate of Michael's mother (death by gas, instead of injection) as the grown-up Michael struggles to save her through the glass walls.
DONNERSTAGs ABCHIED (Farewell)      The staging of DONNERSTAGs ABCHIED (Farewell) proceeds in the traditional manner, with 5 trumpeters performing from rooftops surrounding the exit of the opera house.

Final curtain call Basel 2016.
(photo © Motoko Shimizu)
Impressions
     This production of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT obviously takes dramatic (no pun intended) liberties with Stockhausen's original score instructions.  For this reason, it might be worth considering this production to be a kind of "remix" or maybe more specifically a "collage", with Steier's premise to be one collage element, and Stockhausen's musical notes and rhythms as the other.  The first scene is more or less "faithful" (or at least within the realm of traditionally-accepted production changes),  but from the second scene on the degree of divergence increases to the point that in some scenes the libretto text (which, like the music, remains mostly intact) seems to be accompanying a completely unrelated stage action or image.  For example, the Moon-Eve scene has a text which is basically a flirtatious seduction, but the stage action features the execution of several prospective Eves without any consequence at all in the text - Michael just keeps on talking to the next Eve as if it were the same one as the previous one.  This strange juxtaposition of contrasting text and image has the effect of producing something like the dadaistic/impenetrably bizarre theater of George Foreman (for example).  However, if one follows the stage narrative without paying too much attention to the libretto, it actually ends up having a form of internal logic and consistency (I think).

     In any case, I was totally engaged and enthralled by the entire 6 hour experience, as the performances from the musicians and dancers were top-notch and at a level of which I'm sure Stockhausen himself would have enthusiastically applauded (the staging would probably have left him apoplectic).  However it often felt a bit like having the rug pulled out from under my feet due to the amount of divergence from Stockhausen's original staging instructions.  Certainly many in the "Stockhausen circle" have felt dismay at the amount of redressing done to Stockhausen's work, and Stockhausen himself frowned upon "remixes" of his work.  I personally wish that a version of DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT with Stockhausen's original premise were available as a film so that an "integral" version could be experienced by a greater audience.  Steier's vision is an interesting experiment and recommended viewing (as long as one accepts that it is a Stockhausen-Steier collaboration), but I also strongly believe that a "faithful" staging would survive a contemporary audience if done right.

     Lydia Steier's production of Stockhausen's DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT is presented at the Basel Theatre three more times in 2016: September 29, October 1 and 2, during the end of the GALAXIE STOCKHAUSEN, a Stockhausen mini-festival from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2.
Listening to DONNERSTAGs ABSCHIED performed from 5 rooftops outside of the Basel Theater,
with Elisabethenkirche in the background.
(photo © Motoko Shimizu)
Links
DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT at Theater Basel Page
Program (PDF, includes a revealing interview with the Basel production team in German)
English Libretto (PDF)
Trailer 
Lydia Steier Page

Reviews
Rolf Kyburz Review (English)
Ben Harper Review (English)
"Oppressive Intense Psychodrama" BR Klassik (German)
NMZ.de (German)
SWR.de (German)
NZZ Welt (German)
der-neue-merker.eu (German)
"Devil from a Cake": Stuttgarter Nachrichten (German)
"Engel für Charly": van.atavist.com (German)
"Kürtener's Astonishment at a Radical Staging": Bergische Landeszeitung (German)
Die Deutsche Bühne (German)
OMM (Online Musik Magazin) (German)
ResMusica (French)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

KONTAKTE - Planning & Design

www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
No.12: KONTAKTE (Contacts)
for 4-channel tape
1958-60 (35:30)

also:
No.12 1/2 (ie 12.2) - KONTAKTE for tape, piano and percussion
No.12 2/3 (ie 12.3) - ORIGINALE (Originals), Musical Theatre with KONTAKTE (1961)  [90 min]

     A discussion of KONTAKTE should probably start with my post on Stockhausen's "4 Criteria for Electronic Music".  That link should be read first, since it acts as an introduction to this more detailed analysis.  It basically summarizes some of the most important ideas featured in KONTAKTE.  

Development
     KONTAKTE is Stockhausen's 5th electronically-created tape work, after ETUDE, STUDIE I & II, and GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE.  The composition plan (consisting of about 700 sheets of paper) was written over 6 months from 1958 to 1959.  Afterwards, Stockhausen used these copious notes to create ("realize") this work at the WDR Electronic Music Studio (with the aid of technicians Gottfried-Michael Koenig and Jaap Spek, in between September 1959 and May 1960).  The premiere was on May 10 of 1960 at a festival concert for the International Society for Contemporary Music in Cologne. 
2 random pages (out of 700 total) from the original design notes of KONTAKTE.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     KONTAKTE marks Stockhausen's first "live" electro-acoustic work in the version with accompanying live instrumentalists.  In GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE, a boy's voice was used in the assembly of the electronic layers, but in this case, the "concrete" sounds would be "joined" at the moment of performance.  Originally planned as an electroacoustic work with 4 live performers playing scores with some aleatoric elements, it was eventually reduced to just tape, piano and percussion, with all of the live parts completely notated out.  After this, Stockhausen would move on to apply electronic signal processing to the live instruments ("live electronic music") in works such as MIKROPHONIE I, MIXTUR, PROZESSION, etc... During these years, the tape-only works TELEMUSIK and HYMNEN would also be major creations.  However, in many ways, KONTAKTE is Stockhausen's signature breakthrough work of this period, and possibly his entire oeuvre, which is saying quite alot, considering the incredible variety and breadth of his 57-year career. 

     From a compositional standpoint, this work is also the meeting point between 2 of Stockhausen's favorite devices.  In KONTAKTE, The synthetic sounds have elements of organized serial technique -  that is, properties such as pitch, duration, dynamics and timbre are organized using unique distribution sequences.  As mentioned in the "4 Criteria", the sounds were also organized with 42 different scales (with step intervals from 1/30th of a 5th up to an entire 5th), each one assigned to a timbre based on its "noise complexity".  The other major idea presented here is "moment form", in which a work is divided into short, consecutive sections which have varying amounts of shared characteristics between them, i.e. - the sections do not necessary have to be related to each other in any kind of traditional thematic way.  The concept of "moment form" was also featured in the concurrently-composed work, CARRÉ for choir and 4 orchestra groups (though moment form elements were hinted at as early as in GRUPPEN for 3 orchestras).

Contacts
     The title KONTAKTE refers to 3 kinds of "contacts":
  • CONTACT Between Sound Families: 
    • The acoustic (percussion) and electronic timbres of KONTAKTE were organized according 3 pairs of pitched and un-pitched sound families:
      • Metal 
        • Tones (crotales, cow bells...)
        • Noises (tam tam, gong, cymbals, hi-hat...)
      • Wood 
        • Tones (wood blocks, marimba...)
        • Noises (bamboo rattles/claves...)
      • Skin (membrane) 
        • Tones (tom-toms, bongos...)
        • Noises (bongos filled with beans...)
    • The un-pitched noise timbres also basically fall under the group description of "colored noises", meaning bandwidth-filtered white noise.   
    • The differences between these 6 basic sound-types were organized according to a transformation scale (dull to bright, etc...), and the use of electronics made it possible to create smooth transitions between these sound families (wood sound to a metal sound, etc...).  The piano and percussion parts essentially help to make different kinds of contact during these transitions (also, since the electronic sounds have microtonal scales, the piano often either doubles the chromatic occurrences or reinforces the percussion player's parts).
  • CONTACT Between Space Shapes:  The use of spatial movement around the listener (and distance from, to a lesser extent) is helpful in adding a dramatic element to serially-organized music, which can tend to have a "flat, pointillistic surface".  The title "Contact" refers to the connections between the spatial shapes created by the sound projection ("Raumgestalten").
  • CONTACT Between Moments:  As mentioned earlier, KONTAKTE is designed as a sequence of independent sections called Moments (usually coinciding with the Structures).  Since each of these Moments can be very different, the contact between these blocks of texture/narrative is another way to appreciate the title's meaning.  Each Moment is organized by sound family, proportion of pitch to noise, register and process (see below).
     This remainder of this post describes the organizational design phase of the composition of KONTAKTE.  I think it's significant that in his own 1972 lecture on KONTAKTE, Stockhausen talks much more about the "4 Criteria" and the final sounding result than these sketch plans.  However, these early sketches are an interesting look at Stockhausen's planning strategies for this watershed work.  A later post will go into the actual creation of the electronic music - the realized "performance" of the score, so to speak.

Moment Form Types and Partial Moments
     A work composed in "Moment Form" is basically a sequence of short, self-contained sections ("Moments"), which do not depend on a previous or a following Moment in order to "make sense".  In traditional classical music, a main theme (a "Moment"), is stated and then developed through variations (each another Moment).  This produces a kind of dramatic arc, and the theme is sometimes revisited at the end as a coda.  Sonata form is based on the development of 1 or 2 main themes, and in general the drama of these kinds of works is produced by the "journey" that the main theme takes.  In "Moment form", the Moments are regarded as "free-standing", so the flow does not have to be based on the forward development of a basic thematic Moment.  In other words, the sequencing is "non-linear", to borrow a term used in audio/video editing software.

     Related to this concept, Stockhausen also envisioned performances in which different works would be continuously repeated in separate rooms and an audience could move from room to room in order to get a "custom" musical experience.  Moment form is a logical solution to the potential problem of missing the beginning of a work.  Since each Moment is free-standing, there is no beginning.  Or possibly, any Moment could be a beginning, since the order of Moments is not based on a "story".

     Using terminology from Stockhausen's article "Momentform", the basic Moments in KONTAKTE can be characterized with 4 properties and the combinations of these properties: Gestalt (individuell), Struktur (dividuell), Zustand (Statisch), and Prozess (dynamisch), or GESTALT, STRUCTURE, STATIC and DYNAMIC.  When combined, these basically describe how divisible a Moment is, and if it develops in some way.  The below table shows 6 out of 8 possible combinations (2 are missing since there are no Moments which are both Static and Dynamic at the same time).

Static or Dynamic Gestalt or Structure Example of Moment type
Static State

(holding steady pitch ranges, tempo and/or dynamic) 
Gestalt
(individual, indivisible)
6 note chord/arpeggio (even rhythm) with all sounds similar timbre and dynamic.
Static sound density.
Structure (divisible) Repetition of different textures (pitch set, cluster, etc...).
Static intensity and lengths of the individual parts.
Combination One layer of repeating clusters with 1 layer made from a sustained pitch.
Static intensity.
Dynamic Process

(changing from one extreme to another, glissando, crescendi, etc..., usually more than 1 property)
Gestalt  Rising glissando.
Dynamically moving through space.
Structure Repetitions of points and clusters.
Dynamically decreasing intensity of each cluster group .
Combination Repeating sequence of 2 kinds of percussive accents using a narrow bandwidth of sound in even rhythm.
Dynamically slowing down and fading away.
     Seppo Heikinheimo's book, The Electronic Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, conveniently breaks down every Structure and partial Structure into Gestalt, Structure, Static and Dynamic categories, but I think I will refrain from listing them all here, since it may be more rewarding in this case to just listen and make one's own assumptions.

Relationships of Isomorphic Elements
in Stockhausen's Kontakte (Stephen Lucas)
      Alternatively, Stephen Lucas describes KONTAKTE in slightly different terms in his paper, Relationships of Isomorphic Elements in Stockhausen's Kontakte:
  1. Directional (changing, often precedes peaks)
  2. Peaks (loud blocks, acts as transition, often precedes extinction of directionality)
  3. Extinction of directionality (quiet, static, acts as the end of a larger section)
  4. Static fragmentary (divisible but no change or pauses, various timbres)
  5. Directional fragmentary (divisible with change and pauses, contrasting dynamics)
  6. Instrumental cadenzas (imitations of acoustic instruments, phrases/clusters, preceded by fragment phases)
     Adapted from a paper by Alessandro Cipriani, it is essentially the same as Stockhausen's breakdown (directional = dynamic, extinction = static, peaks = gestalt, fragmentary = structure), but it has some interesting ways of looking at the sequencing of the whole structure.  Each of the 5 large group sections basically ends with a sequence consisting of Directional-Peak-Extinction.

     The Moments can also be viewed as being in 3 related levels of structural complexity: partial-Moments (a variation of a Moment), Moments (which are focused and individual), and Moment-groups (groups of Moments which may have an element in common).  The first Moment-group is Structure I, consisting of 6 Moments (usually a Structure is made of similar Moments).  The 2nd Moment-group however is made up of both Structure II and III.  For a partial-Moment, if a Moment has, for example, 6 different chords in an even rhythm (Gestalt-Static), each chord could be considered a partial-Moment.  These ideas of micro- and macro-Moments would be much further explored in MOMENTE, organized in a tree-like heirarchy.

Serialism
     A major difference from previous serial works such as KREUZSPIEL is that most scales here are qualitative, as opposed to quantitative.  In KONTAKTE, parameters space, instruments, form, tempo, register and dynamic are arranged on a qualitative scale of 1 to 6 (instead of the quantitative, measurable 12 for a chromatic pitch or tempo scale).  Each Structure/Moment is assigned 6 6-step serially-organized properties, resulting in up to 36 degrees of combined change.  Stockhausen calls this "Reihen der Veränderungsgrad" - serial sequences based of levels of transformations:
"from zero change to maximum change there are:
  • series of change (what changes)
  • degree of change (how much is changed)
  • predominant parameter where a certain degree of change is active (what is most changed)"
     For example, in the sketches for KONTAKTE, spatial movement in 6 scale degrees is expressed in 6 diagrams for the movement of sound in 1 and 2 dimensions (in a line to an adjacent speaker, or as a spreading "flood" to 2 speakers, etc...).

     Pitches, however, get a different set of rules, as they are arranged in 42 different kinds of scales depending on the bandwidth of the sound (as mentioned in "4 Criteria").  For the acoustic, pitched instruments (especially piano), a 12-note serial row (starting from A and expanding outwards by semitones) was used in various permutations to organize the pitches.  Rhythmically, they "underline" the electronic and acoustic textures.

Form Structure
     KONTAKTE was originally planned as 18 "Structures", with 6 subsections in each, but Structures XV-XVIII were not completed in time for the premiere (which was at the ISCM Festival in Cologne on 1960).  Stockhausen did, however, put together 2 introductory Structures, which act somewhat as an "overture and bridge" to the completed sections I-XIV.  For this reason, Structure III in the score is actually Structure I in the original sketch diagram, etc...  In any case, the final score of KONTAKTE has 16 Structures, with most subdivided into smaller sections.
KONTAKTE initial form plan sketch, reproduced in Richard Toop's
6 Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)

     In the above sketch plan, many Structures contain a 6 x 6 number matrix which is the 6 x 6 serially-organized properties (space, instruments, form, tempo, register and dynamic).  The ones written in blue (Structures II, V, VII, X, XII and XVIII) indicate the equal appearance of instrumental and electronic sounds, and ones in green indicate mostly instrumental sounds (however, this design was ultimately altered considerably, and electronic sounds are pretty dominant in all Structures).  The circled numbers below them basically give each Structure a rank based on the summed number matrices (a kind of "scale of transformation" between the Structures).

     Below the circled ranking numbers are 6 columns which visually show the "strength" of each of the 6 properties (contrary to most other form schemes, these have nothing to do with the passage of time).  The numbers below the black columns are durations.  At the lower part of the pages, marked in red, are initials indicating the planned sound family (usually for the percussion part) to be featured in each Structure (H = Holz, or Wood, M = Metal, F = Fell, or Skin (membrane), and G = Geräusch, or Noise).  The subscript numbers indicate register (1 = low, 2 = high).

     In other sketches and tables, Stockhausen organizes the predominant transformation types of Structures, distribution of the 6 sound families, the subdivisions into partial-Moments, and the mix of electronic to electroacoustic Structures (in the original plan, 6 were to be exclusively electronic).  There are also some markings which seem to hint that the amount of freedom for the originally-planned live, indeterminate sections was to be inversely proportional to the amount of structural transformation ("The smaller the transformation value, the larger the choice").

     Finally, during the creation of the electronic tape and the subsequent notation of the live instruments, KONTAKTE changed in many ways according to how the results of his sound experiments actually sounded "in real life".  This pattern of creating a plan, following through with it, and then "course-correcting" based on live performance practice, was a technique Stockhausen would use for his entire career.  In any case, these planning stage sketches of KONTAKTE provide an interesting look at Stockhausen's thoughts on how to organize and create a dialogue between electronic and acoustic textures in balanced proportions (though they differ dramatically from the final result).

Links
Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
KONTAKTE Scores
ORIGINALE Score
Four Criteria of Electronic Music (Stockhausen on Music)
The Concept of Unity in Electronic Music (Stockhausen, PoNM 1)
Wikipedia Entry
Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Robin Maconie)
Electronic Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Heikinheimo)
Compositional techniques in the music of Stockhausen (1951-1970) (John Kelsall PDF)
Kontakte by Karlheinz Stockhausen in Four Channels (Kevin Austin)
On Stockhausen’s Kontakte (1959-60) for tape, piano and percussion (John Rea PDF)
"Zur Entstehungs- und Problemgeschichte der Kontakte von Karlheinz Stockhausen." (On the Origin and Problem of "Kontakte", Helmut Kirchmayer, in German, included with original Wergo LP)
Stockhausen Introduction for “KONTAKTE”, Stockholm, 12th May 2001
Stockhausen Q & A after KONTAKTE, Stockholm, 12th May 2001
Revisiting Kontakte (Talea Ensemble)
Relationships of Isomorphic Elements in Stockhausen's Kontakte (Stephen Lucas)
Problems of methodology: the analysis of Kontakte. Atti del XI Colloquio di Informatica, Musicale. 1995 (A Cipriani)
Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses (Richard Toop)
WDR Electronic Music Studio Tour (photos of electronic gear, 2015)
WDR Studios Vintage Pictures & Video Tour (120 Years of Electronic Music)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

HOCH-ZEITEN, SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED

SONNTAG AUS LICHT
Scene 1
LICHTER- WASSER

Scene 2
ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN

Scene 3
LICHT- BILDER

Scene 4
DUFTE-ZEICHEN

Scene 5
HOCH-ZEITEN


Farewell
SONNTAGS-
ABSCHIED


SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED CD Cover
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Nr. 79, HOCH-ZEITEN ("High-Times", or "Wedding/Marriage") for choir and orchestra, (2001-2002) [2 x '35]
Nr. 80, SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED ("Sunday Farewell") for 5 Synthesizers, (2001, 2003) ['35]
     (also played as KLAVIERSTÜCK XIX for a solo synthesizer player and 5-channel tape)
Nr. 80 1/2, STRAHLEN ("Rays") for a percussionist and 10-channel recording, (2002-2010)  ['35]

Introduction
     The composition HOCH-ZEITEN (High-Times) has several arranged "versions", but the one for choir and the one for orchestra make up the final two Scenes of Stockhausen's dramatic music work SONNTAG AUS LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT).  SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED (Sunday Farewell) is a 3rd arrangement of HOCH-ZEITEN (this time, for 5 synthesizers), which serves as the background "exit music" after the end of the opera's 6 Scenes.  This version can also be played independently as KLAVIERSTÜCK XIX for a solo synthesizer player and 5-channel tape.  The final version of HOCH-ZEITEN is STRAHLEN, which is for vibraphone and tape (or possibly 5 percussionists with live electronics).  The tape for STRAHLEN was completed in 2010.

     SONNTAG AUS LICHT is the last-composed "day" of Stockhausen's 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light), a work of cathedral-like proportions for acoustic and electronic operatic forces, divided into the 7 days of the week (one opera for each day).  This opera cycle revolves around 3 archetype characters, MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER, and over the 29 hours each of these characters are introduced, come into conflict, face temptation and finally come into union.  The music is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters.  These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric.  Story-wise, actors and narrative can (and often do) change from scene to scene, and the libretto text is sometimes made up of non-traditional grammar (or even purely phonetic sounds).

     SONNTAG (Sunday) is the Day of Mystical Union, specifically between the characters MICHAEL and EVE.  The scenes in SONNTAG do not have an obvious narrative arc connecting them - instead, the actual theme of union between the 2 characters is achieved through musical, visual, spatial and even olfactory means.

HOCH-ZEITEN for a Choir and an Orchestra
     HOCH-ZEITEN is performed simultaneously by both a choir and an orchestra situated in 2 separate halls.  Since the theme of SONNTAG is "mystical union", audio/video signals are several times broadcast from one hall into the other during several "Blend-ins".  Physically, however, the 2 musical ensembles are completely separate.  Typically, an audience will experience a performance of one group in the first hall, and then move into the other hall as the performance is repeated (in other words, the performers exchange audiences between 2 performances of the same work).

     The music itself is based around held tones (drones) making a 5-part harmony, with each drone layer played by a different subgroup.  On top of these drone pitches, different types of ornamentation are featured (emphasized, in fact).  The ornamentation is also varied in tempo, which essentially translates as "density".  The pitches and durations of both the orchestral and choral versions are essentially the same, and the vocal timbres of the 1st-composed choral version have a corresponding instrumental color mixture in the orchestral version.

     As mentioned previously, there are 7 "Blend-ins", in each Scene, during which the music from one room "is broadcast" into the other room.  The choir sings the same melodic material as the orchestra, but delayed 18 seconds.  Because of this, the choir broadcasts within the orchestral performance act somewhat as "echoes" of a previous orchestral event.  Conversely, the orchestral intrusions to the choir scene act as "pre-echoes" or "announcements".

     In addition to the "Blend-ins", the orchestral version has 7 "Memories", where a featured duet/trio occurs.  Here, quotes of musical passages from previous Scenes of the LICHT opera cycle appear.  These instrumental "Memories" are also heard in the choral version through the orchestral "Blend-ins".

Harmonies from Formulas
Pitch and tempo form structure for the 5 layers over 14 Phases
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     The music of HOCH-ZEITEN is based on 5 layers of held pitches, often changing at different, independent junctions.  These harmony changes essentially spell out 14 chord harmonies in 14 "Phases" (see above).  Each of these chords/Phases are also signaled musically with a unison chord accent on 1 to 3 live or pre-taped percussion instruments (high to low: crotales, Japanese rin, bronze plates, Thai gongs, Duralumin sound plates).  The 14 chords were created by layering 5 fragments of the LICHT super-formula stretched out to different lengths.  This technique is used in many places in the LICHT cycle in order to generate harmonies.  More discussion of this technique can be found in LICHT-BILDER and DÜFTE - ZEICHEN.

This drawing shows pitches of the percussion strikes on the 1st staff for each Phase.
Below are the central pitches for the Phases for each vocal layer.
The circled notes were emphasized in the percussion attacks.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     As seen above, the LICHT formula layers used to create the 5-part harmonies are as follows:
  • S1: MICHAEL (ending fragment of formula (D in octaves, register changes follow formula dynamic curves))
  • S2: EVE (ending fragment of formula)     
  • A: MICHAEL (Sunday "day" fragment, or m. 17-19)
  • T: EVE (Sunday "day" fragment, or m. 17-19)
  • B: LUCIFER (ending fragment of formula)     

     After Phase 14, the ensemble plays an arrangement of the "Sunday Song" from WOCHENKREIS (DIE 7 LIEDER DER TAGE) from MONTAG AUS LICHT, which uses all of the Sunday fragments from the LICHT super-formula.  The work is also preceded by an introduction and is interrupted by 2 "inserts", which are brief melodic phrases acting as brief excursions from the main texture.

Layer Density and Rhythm
     Each layer has its own unique tempo sequence, roughly divided into 7 unequal sections.  In the form sketch below, top diagram, the 7 sections are marked out in each of the 5 layers with different shapes (squares, diamonds, triangles, etc...).  

HOCH-ZEITEN sketch (from SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED score and HOCH-ZEITEN Composition Course booklet).
The top 5 lines show how each of the 5 layers has 7 sections of different lengths, each with a different tempo.
The middle and bottom diagrams are graphs which chart the tempos for each of the 5 voices (higher = faster tempo).
The 3rd image also includes the number of relative rhythmic subdivisions for each tempo layer.
(Click to enlarge)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     The first pitch chart and the sketch above (bottom drawing) both show the tempos for each of the 14 Phases.  In general, the higher the tempo, the more "active" the layer (naturally) and the more "presence" is felt.  In the bottom drawing in the sketch page above, Stockhausen indicates the "most present" language in each Phase sequence ("CHIN" at Phase 3, "ARAB" at Phase 7, "ENGL" at Phase 10, etc...).  The middle drawing basically shows how the tempo fluctuations can be seen as "waves".

     Even though each layer generally only has one "root" pitch (from the chord harmony) for each Phase, the changing tempi (presence) give each of them variety during the entire work.  When a layer has a "higher tempo", it actually gets more subdivisions in its staff line (is more "busy").  For example, a tempo of 30 results in a staff line with 16 vertical subdivision markings and a tempo of 40 results in 22 subdivisions.  In Phase 1, Layer 3 gets tempo 95.6 gets 51 subdivisions, and is the most "present" voice, with the most ornamentation on each page.  In Phase 2, Layer 2 has tempo 134 and is the "featured" voice, with frequent ornamental dips and spikes applied over its central pitch.  The small numbers in the 3rd drawing give an idea of the relative complexity of each layer in each of the 14 Phases.

     Stockhausen's Composition Course book on HOCH-ZEITEN mentions that rhythmic subdivision was derived by serially organizing the number of bars assigned to specific numbers of beats in each phrase (this is from memory, so it may be a bit fuzzy, but in any case the rhythm changes complexity at unpredictable times based on serial technique).  Between this, the tempo changes and a few other manipulations of the rhythms, Stockhausen describes "a process of internal acceleration with increasing transparency".  This may be related to the fact that in the second half of the work, more solos and other smaller groupings occur.

14 Phases
     Each of the 14 Phases have their own harmony, but many also have a certain “design” logic:
  • Phases 5, 8, 9: the 5 layers are interspersed with pauses so that many sub-groupings appear (solos, duos, trios, silent pauses, etc...), also some "rotational" moments where figures are passed from 1 layer to another
  • Phase 10: Based on "rotation", figures are passed around from group to group
  • Phase 11: Repeats each duration as an equal length  pause.  In the choral version, the 2nd half features a Soprano/Trumpet trio playing a variation of a fragment of MITTWOCH's BASSETSU-TRIO (descending MICHAEL motif & ascending form of EVE's descending fragment).
  • Phase 12: Also repeats durations as equal pauses.  Altos sometimes have a "colored pause" after each bar, then a silent pause (also other similar sequences from combinations of voice, colored pauses, rests)
  • Phase 13: Beginnings of phrases are marked with accents or sustained notes.  Because more and more colored pauses and rests occur, more and more transparency arises, until single isolated groups are heard
  • Phase 14: Basically comprised of excerpts from previous Phases.  Each 16 second-long page begins with a different accented chord, after which each layer settles back onto their normally-assigned central pitch

7 Memories
     As mentioned previously, the orchestral version includes 7 "Memories" or brief revues of previous Scenes from LICHT, arranged for "adhoc" duets or trios.  These occur spread out through the 14 Phases, sometimes continuing over the Phase divisions.  Usually the Memories and Choir Blend-Ins are separated (not super-imposed)
MEMORY
1

(2:08)
Trumpet
Clarinet
DONNERSTAG
AUS LICHT:
MICHAELs JUGEND
MONDEVA: 
m. 133-162
Trumpet/Clarinet take Tenor/Basset-horn parts
MEMORY
 2

(2:24)
Flute
Trombone
SAMSTAG
 AUS LICHT:
 KATHINKAs GESANG
KATHINKAs GESANG: 
Release of the Senses, trombone plays Lucifer Nuclear tones
MEMORY
 3

(1:44)
Cello
Viola
MONTAG
AUS LICHT:
EVAs ZWEITGEBURT (EVAs LIED)
WOCHENKREIS: 
Monday Song, Sunday Song
Cello/Viola take 
Basset-horn/Synth parts
MEMORY
 4

(1:52)
Flugelhorn
Trombone
DIENSTAG
AUS LICHT:
INVASION
PIETÀ:
m. 187-213, 
Trombone takes Soprano part 1 octave lower
MEMORY
 5

(1:43)
Oboe
Bassoon 
FREITAG
AUS LICHT:
ELUFA 
ELUFA:
m. 10-16, 18-19, 
Oboe/Bassoon take Flute/Basset-horn parts
MEMORY
 6

(1:36)
Clarinet
Violin
Cello 
MITTWOCH
AUS LICHT:
MICHAELION
BASSETSU TRIO:  
Clarinet, Violin and Cello play derivations based on MICHAEL & EVE rising/falling scales
MEMORY
 7

(1:33)
Flute
Viola
Synth
SONNTAG
AUS LICHT:
LICHTER-WASSER 
LICHTER-WASSER: 
m. 1-18, 
Flute/Viola take Soprano/Tenor parts, Synth plays central notes from opening of EVE formula


Melodic Articulations
     In the choral version, each of the 5 layers (groups) is sung in a different main language, though as the work progresses, the languages become increasingly shared amongst all 5 layers, until in Phase 14 there are 30 exchanges.  Each of the 5 layers also has its own style of articulation applied to their ornamental elements, somewhat inspired by the languages used.  For example, the Soprano 1 layer (using Hindi as its language) has combinations of 21 variations of glissandi and held notes (see the table below for more descriptions of each characteristic articulation type).  When languages are shared or exchanged between layers, the articulations of the new and old languages are sometimes split between 2 sub-layers (but sometimes articulations are not transferred over at all). 

Orchestral Arrangement and Spatial Placement
     The orchestral version of HOCH-ZEITEN was created after the choral version was first completed.  Instrumental timbres analogous to the choral parts were created from combinations of 1-6 instruments playing the same note, sometimes w. mutes, trills, tremolo, or other articulations.

     On stage, the instruments/singers are arranged from left to right going from low register to high, with each group divided into 2 sub-groups (which play facing each other, profiles to the audience).  More information on the stage set up can be seen in Stockhausen's Notes on HOCH-ZEITEN for orchestra.  Soloists stand up and play towards each other in a conversational manner during the Memories.  The 5 layers are similarly arranged from left to right in reverse numerical order (low register to high) on the Stockhausen Edition CD 73 recording:
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1

Language and Articulation Summary of the 5 Choral and Orchestral Layers (each with 2 sub-layers)
LAYER 5 LAYER 4 LAYER 3 LAYER 2 LAYER 1
Uses 7 types of “head groups”, ie - clusters of "noisy" syllables (spoken, shouted) applied at the beginnings of phrases



Uses 7 types of “dynamic relief” configurations (dynamic envelope shapes, such as cresc., decresc., swells, held at p, pp, f, ff, etc…) resulting in 24 variations (by superimposing the 2 contrasting sub-layers) Uses 8 types of “central configurations” (ornamentation shapes), sometimes uses text
from
ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN


Characterized by quick gliss upwards/downwards, or groups of short, small glisses disturbing a held tone (also various long glissandi "tails")




Combinations of 21 variations of glissandi and held notes, text uses Hindi and text from ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN
(also Indian gods, rivers, regions, love poems from Phase 6 on)
African (Kiswahili) English Arabic Chinese Indian (Hindi/Sanskrit)
Basses Tenors Altos 2nd Sopranos 1st Sopranos
Trombones
(w. mutes)
Cellos Horns Bassoons Clarinets Violas Oboes Trumpets
(w. mutes)
Flutes Violins

Narrative
     The table below summarizes the Phase Layers, Memories and Blend-ins.  The page numbers after the Memories indicate approximately where the Memories occur within the Phases.  Each score page in Phase 1 lasts 32".  Each page in Phase 2 lasts 24".  After that, every score page is 16".  The CD tracks refer to Stockhausen Edition CD 73. 
Phase Dur Score
Pgs
Fastest Layer/
Phase Design
CD
Trk
Orchestra Version:
Memories and
Choir Blend-ins
CD
Trk
Choir Version:
Memories as
Orchestral Blend-ins
Entrance 0:41 1 Entrance Phase:
slow glissandi with
various percussion hits
1
20
1 1:36 2-4 Layer 3: clr, vla/Altos 2
21
2 1:36 5-8 Layer 2: ob., tpt/2nd Sopranos 3 MONDEVA 
(clr, tpt, pg 5-10)
22
3 1:36 9-14 Layer 2: ob., tpt/2nd Sopranos,
Indian, English, Chinese language exchanges begin
4 23
4 1:36 15-20 Layer 2: ob., tpt/2nd Sopranos,
Arabic and Chinese layers briefly exchanged
5 CHOIR Blend-ins 24
5 3:12 21-32 Layer 2: ob., tpt/2nd Sopranos,
Layers (some with "kissing sounds") drop out until a Layer 3 Alto solo, after which layers return.
6 KATHINKAS GESANG
(tbn, fl, pg 21-29)
 - 
CHOIR Blend-ins
(from 2:24)
25 KATHINKAS GESANG
(tnb, fl)
Insert 1 0:16 33 rising accents followed by descending scale 7
26 All (German): "Today is a Wedding Day in the music"
6 1:36 34-39 Layer 1: fl, vln/1st Sopranos
exchanged languages without exchanging articulations
8 CHOIR Blend-ins
-
WOCHENKREIS:
Monday Song,
Sunday Song
(cello, vla, pg 35-41,
from T8, 0:24)

CHOIR Blend-ins
(from T9, 0:32)
27 WOCHENKREIS:
Monday Song,
Sunday Song
(cello,vla)
7 1:36 40-45 Layer 1: fl, vln/1st Sopranos,
exchanges result in mixtures of articulation types
9 28
Insert 2 0:16 46 slow glissandi harmony underneath solos 10 Clarinet solo 29 Alto solo: (German) "We thank Eva-Maria for our Course of the Years on this Earth"
8 3:12 47-58 Layer 5: tbn, cell./Bass,
changing Layer densities 
(Layer 4 Tenor solo)
11 CHOIR Blend-ins
(and Soprano solo)
 - 
PIETÀ
(tbn, flglhn, pg 49-55,
from 0:32)
 -
CHOIR Blend-ins
30 PIETÀ
(tbn, flglhn)
9 3:12 59-70 Layer 3: clr, vla/Altos,
changing Layer densities, 
after the midpoint, a Layer 3 Alto solo is followed by Alto duets with 4, 5, 2, and 1
12 CHOIR Blend-ins
 - 
ELUFA
(bsn, ob, pg 65-71,
from T12, 1:36)
 -  
CHOIR Blend-ins
(from T13, 0:16) 

 
31 ELUFA
(bsn, ob, from 1:18)


  
----
10 1:36 71-76 Layer 4: hn, bsn/Tenors,
Rotation: figures passed from Layer to Layer in different articulation types
13 32
11 1:20 77-82 Layer 5: tbn, cell./Bass,
changing Layer densities, durations balanced with rests
-
2nd half features a variation on BASSETSU-TRIO in Layer 2 (with guest Trumpet)
14 CHOIR Blend-ins 33 ORCHESTRA
Blend-ins
(from 0:16)
1:52 83-88 15 BASSETSU TRIO variation
(cel, clr, vln)
34 BASSETSU TRIO variation (pg 83-89)
Trio: Trumpet and
2 Sopranos:

  ----
 LICHTER-WASSER
(from T35, 1:20)
12 1:36 89-94 Layer 5: tbn, cell./Bass,
durations balanced with rests, various combinations of rushing noises and rests
16 CHOIR Blend-ins
(from 0:16)
35
13 1:36 95-100 Layer 1: fl, vln/1st Sopranos,
solos in Layer 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 1.
Colored pauses and rests increasingly occur, until single isolated groups are heard 
17 LICHTER-WASSER
(vla, fl, synth)
36  LICHTER-WASSER
(cont'd)
14 4:48 101-
118
Layer 1: fl, vln/1st Sopranos,
excerpts from previous Phases.  Every 16 seconds a different accented chord occurs, after which each layer settles back to its central pitch 
18 CHOIR Blend-ins
(1:36-3:00)
37 ORCHESTRA
Blend-ins
(from 3:12)
Sunday
Song
3:47 119-
122
SONNTAGS LIED
Melodic fragments from the last few measures of the LICHT formulas over a sustained harmony.
19
38

Score
Phase 1 from SONNTAGS ABSCHIED
(with my coloration, click to enlarge)
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     This page shows the beginning 16 seconds of Phase 1. Each of the 5 layers is written in 2 staff lines (each has 2 sub-layers), often with contrasting ornaments (or dynamics, in the case of layer 4).  Layer 1 has the slowest tempo and therefore the simplest "bar-lines".  Layer 3 has the fastest tempo and therefore the most dense bar-lines.  Layer 3 and Layer 4 also have their central pitches reinforced by pitched percussion accents.

SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED/KLAVIERSTÜCK XIX
     In 2004, the music for HOCH-ZEITEN was adapted for 5 synthesizers.  Five performer-programmers (Layers 1-5: Marc Maes, Frank Gutschmidt, Fabrizio Rosso, Benjamin Kobler and Antonio Pérez Abellán) worked with Stockhausen to translate the choir version manuscript into synthetic tones, while preserving the linguistic aspects of the text.  The basic instrument used was the Kurzweil 2500x.  As in the original version, the voice registers are placed from low to high, left to right: (5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1).  In this arrangement the pairs of sub-groups of each layer were combined into single tracks, and the Memories and Blend-ins do not occur (except for the MITTWOCH/BASSETSU-TRIO variation in Phase 11, which makes for a nice textural excursion).  When staged, video projections of the keyboardists' hands can be projected onto screens above each player.   This version can also be performed by 1 synthesizer accompanied by a tape of the other 4 parts, in which case it is named KLAVIERSTÜCK XIX (Piano Piece 19).

     Richard Toop's "SONNTAG's ABSCHIED: A Report" is a detailed essay describing the preparation of this version over several days of rehearsals with Stockhausen (one of the difficulties in the preparation of this version was the micro-variations in the harmony tempo of the final section, SONNTAGS LIED). 

STRAHLEN
     STRAHLEN ("Rays") is an arrangement of the basic material from HOCH-ZEITEN for vibraphone (and optionally, glockenspiel).  Since metal percussion tones cannot be sustained, made to swell, bend, or otherwise be manipulated after they have been struck, electronic signal processing was used on recorded samples to accomplish what the score required (including up to 90 seconds of sustain).  "Pulsations" were added to sustained tones to help emphasized the indicated tempos.  Each of the 10 layers were filtered or modulated differently, and recorded with different mallets in different sections.  In a live performance, a percussionist may play 1 of the 10 sub-layers "live" (using tremolo technique if necessary for the sustained tones) with a 10-channel tape projecting the other 9 parts (with 1 channel muted).  The 5 "signal" instruments can be live or pre-taped as well.  In the CD recording performed by Laszlo Hudacek, the 1st layer if the Alto voice (III) was performed live (including the "noises" and "colored pauses" for Layer 5 and Phases 12-13).

     For the 10-channel tape, 7,700 individual tones were deployed across 96 tracks (multiple tracks for different ornamentation types).   In general, short figures were recorded "live", and sustained figures were lengthened electronically.  However, in SONNTAGS LIED, all of the sustained tones were created using tremolos.  For the African "noise" elements, a vocoder was used to modulate the samples, or a "prepared" vibraphone sound was used.  Frequency filtering was used to approximate the vowel sounds in the original choral score.    

Sound Impressions
     I've found that there are two ways of listening to these works.  The first is to listen to them as slowly modulating drone harmonies with ornamentation providing a "rough surface" (or perhaps "imperfections in the paper", from a Cage-ian perspective).  This gives these works a kind of meditative, ritualistic feel, and the metal percussion signals reinforce this imagery.

     The other way (and I think this may be the more intended way) is to concentrate on the ornamentation as a foreground layer on top of a static harmonic background.  In this interpretation, the various articulations "speak" to each other, using the 5 languages applied to the 5 layers.  Stockhausen also emphasizes that the figures and glissandi are "more important than the sustained tones...and should be played very clearly, slightly louder, and never casually or as ornaments." In any case, it's fascinating to compare and contrast these 4 arrangements of essentially the same melodic and harmonic material.  Because of these versions, HOCH-ZEITEN becomes a true exploration of timbre and coloration, expressed vocally, instrumentally, electronically and electro-acoustically.

     The Memories and Blend-ins of the choral and orchestral versions add an additional dimension as well.  Naturally, these Memories become much more meaningful after one has become very familiar with all of the Scenes of the LICHT opera cycle, but even without the recognition factor, they provide a nice contrast to the tightly-focused structure of the main body.  However, just as in DONNERSTAG AUS LICHT's last Scene, VISION (which features a brief revue of that opera's previous scenes), these reminiscences of operas past give the listener who has travelled through all 7 "Days" the strong feeling of an epic journey completed.

Links
Stockhausen Notes on HOCH-ZEITEN for orchestra 
Sound samples, online CD ordering:
Ordering the Scores
Stockhausen Composition Course Booklets 2003/2004 for HOCH-ZEITEN
SONNTAGS-ABSCHIED (SUNDAY FAREWELL) - a Report (Richard Toop)
Wiki Entry
2011 Musikfabric/Oper Köln SONNTAG Production
2011 SONNTAG AUS LICHT Production Dance Company Page
SONNTAG AUS LICHT 2011 Review (Deutche Welle)