(each orch. features a lead instrument: piano, cimbalom, harp, and vibraphone)
(1959-60) [ca. 36']
|Diagrams of structures indicating spatial movement, etc..|
(from score front (© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org))
While on tour in America, Stockhausen spent alot of time flying, and during these flights he would put his ear to the window to hear the various frequency combinations produced by the propeller noise as it encountered different atmospheric conditions. These slow-moving textures inspired him to do something similar with orchestral and choral forces (four in this case) moving in space.
In this work he also attempted to compose beyond the 'time of memory', in other words, beyond what a typical music composition would expect a person's attention-span would be. Most people can tell the difference between 2 and 4 seconds, but after 8 seconds it is much harder to tell exactly how long something has been happening. CARRÉ uses a pitch row that has very slow-moving tempos.
Stockhausen was busy creating the electronic work KONTAKTE, so he didn't have enough to time to notate CARRÉ in time for the commissioned performance. Instead he created 101 diagrams (above and below), indicating pitches, dynamics, level of activity, and movement of sound around the four orchestra groups. His assistant, Cornelius Cardew, (a somewhat mythic figure in his own right) took these diagrams and with Stockhausen looking over his shoulder ("aided, irritated, confused, encouraged, and sometimes even guided..." - Cardew), completed the 3,000-note manuscript (one full score for each of the four orchestras and choirs).
|Diagrams of structures indicating movement, dynamics (1-12), pitch material.|
(from score front (© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org))
Finally, during rehearsals for CARRÉ, there were many difficulties with the conductors unable to hear and synchronize with each other, so Stockhausen did more editing at the 11th hour, just prior to the performance. In order to help synchronize conductors and groups to attack (enter) together, Stockhausen sometimes incorporated short upbeats before each "big" attack (Cardew). In any case, the final work as recorded and broadcast ended up being somewhat different from the original "air-borne" conception, but still retains the general idea of "sounds 'at peace' which last and last and do not change, or change suddenly and briefly" (Cardew).
Stockhausen created several structural plans for CARRÉ, but even the last may not be quite "square" (no pun intended!) with the final score since it was re-edited just prior to the premiere. But this version (reproduced on the score) gives an idea of what things Stockhausen is interested in exploring here.
- Lead instrument: cimbalom, vibraphone, piano, harp
- Attack transient: bells, drums, cowbell, cymbals
- Changing attribute: rhythm, pitch range, timbre, dynamics
- Pitch density: wide spread to narrow spread (?) - 4, 3, 2, 1
- Pitch register: high to low - C2/C3, C1, C, C(E)
- Duration: short to long - short, middle, long, very long
- Volume: loud to soft - 12, 9, 6, 3
- Main Orchestra group: vocal, strings, winds and brass.
In the table below the first column has the CD track sequence number with the actual CD track number in parentheses, since the Stockhausen Edition CD has GRUPPEN in tracks 1 through 48. The CD Track Elements are just from careful listening, and the last column is based on reading the Form Structure above.
|CD Track Number||Time||CD Track Elements||Form Structure
|Section Group Trends indicated by
the Original Form Structure
|low, slow, quiet, bass vocal drones, brief accent at end||1-3||
|0:25||percussion w. cymbals, low syllabic bass vocal, brass/wind, vocal "points"||4, 5|
|0:29||strings, brass points, changing registers, bass vocal||10-14|
|0:18||drum/cymbal attacks, string masses, piano||15-19|
|0:42||slow, string glissandi, winds join in points, vibraphone||27-32|
|0:59||INSERT: slow strings w. building wind and brass points||32X-33|
|1:35||loud, dissonant and static (beating), dense trembling, vocals||34-37|
|0:52||snare rolls, brass timbre changes, vocal points, ritardando||38-40|
|0:28||cowbell and brass attack, sustained string bending, vibraphone, vocal accents||41-43|
|0:44||quiet but dense, muted brass points, sliding masses, vocals||44-47||
|0:45||slow brass, bells, snare, gongs||48, 49|
|0:35||strings & brass swells,
vocal moans, then points
|0:19||quiet muted brass, vocal syllable||52, 53|
|0:45||high, dense texture, snare/bells/vibraphone, pizz. strings, vocals||54-56|
|1:24||tremolos, brass and pizz. points, moving strings, brass & percussion points, harp, bells, soprano long tones, cimbalom||57-62|
|0:27||cowbell, bells, sliding vocals, medium tempo vibraphone, winds, cimbalom
|0:24||INSERT: moving brass/wind/piano stabs, trembling strings||63X|
|0:22||high to low tremolo, slow winds, snare rolls, vibraphone, soprano vocals||64|
|0:44||tremolo perc, quiet high drones/gliss, vocal exhortations||66-69|
|1:42||INSERT: cimbalom solo, turbulent strings and winds, cymbal hit, soprano long tones||69X|
|0:43||high (soprano) vocal/brass long tones, ending w vibraphone solo||70|
|0:23||winds wailing, held strings with anxious vocals||71, 72||
|0:39||INSERT: short but lengthening anxious vocal movement w perc., changing to low brass masses||72X-74|
|1:15||high long tones, moving wind points w fast vocal twittering, piano solo||75, 76|
|0:32||piano tremolos, points, vocal murmuring||77-79|
|0:24||quiet swells, periodic wind/piano accents||80|
|0:24||long tones, cimbalom, vocals||81|
|2:25||explosions and turbulence alternate w trembling sustained textures in different registers, vocal polyphony||82||
|1:25||INSERT: turbulent, brass/vocal swells, then quiet, high, long vocal tones (overhead airplane bleed)||82X|
|0:43||moving brass/perc/vocal points||83-86|
|1:09||bells, vibraphone, sustained high vocal, pizz/trembling strings, cimbalom accents||87, 88|
|0:56||bells, piano, pizz glissandi, transparent, vocal long tones||89, 90|
|0:32||loud brass, turbulent strings, bells, vocal accents||91|
|0:33||string and muted brass masses, bells, clapping, vocal whispers||92|
|1:14||loud masses w snare rolls,
gongs, vocal long tones, vibr/piano/cimb/harp
|0:27||more vocal/orchestral sound masses w snare hits and rolls||98|
|0:22||high register sound masses, vocal whispers||99|
|0:40||piano/strings accent, brass/vocal/percussion stabs||100|
The rightmost column above (Section Group Trends...) helps to show general tendencies but not detail - for example the 4th group in the form scheme lists only winds, but chorus and brass do appear from time to time. The 5th group does not list strings, but strings do sometimes play a background texture. The indication "points" refers to short, sparse accents with rests in between (see KONTRAPUNKTE).
|Score "insert' for Orchestra 1, 69X, with indications for Orchestra 2, 3 & 4 at top for coordination purposes.|
(© Universal Edition)
The choral text is based mostly on sounds and has no function besides sounding 'good' ("The phonetically conceived text was composed according to purely musical qualities. Only here and there do names of children, women, friends emerge." - Stockhausen). This is also the first piece (but certainly far from last!) where Stockhausen uses the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to score vocal parts.
The late addition Inserts include sections 32X, 63X, 69X, 72X and 82X. These feature staccato or otherwise more "turbulent" musical material, bouncing from orchestra to orchestra (actually the sound is supposed to be 'spiraling', but because of the separation between orchestras, it comes out as 'bouncing'). The pitch material is based on a tone row, but all other features (dynamics, etc...) are non-serial.
One other interesting point that Cardew mentions in his own account (see bottom link) is that as the piece goes on, a particular musical element (pitch, dynamic, spatial movement, etc...) is reinforced by repetition, and then a new element is introduced, sometimes going from frequent to infrequent, and sometimes the opposite. This is supported by what's shown in the form structure above.
|Arrows indicate audience facing, dots indicate conductors (also facing inwards), |
rectangles are the orchestras (facing conductors).
(from CD notes © www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
CARRÉ starts out on a somewhat grim note, with the choral basses intoning low notes in something that sounds like what I imagine a "black mass" to be like. It soon lightens up however, and the main features become pretty obvious - groupings of long and short notes moving from one orchestra to another. Many times these "sound masses" begin with a sharp percussion-assisted attack, and then proceed to float through the sound-space. Other times sound masses fade in and out. There are no melodic themes in the traditional sense (no real legato phrases at all), and most of the shorter sound bursts are separated by pauses, or rests.
These stretches of plane-propeller-inspired music are interrupted by the Inserts, dialoguing bursts of staccato chords, ping-ponging around the four orchestras. On CD this effect is not as well experienced, orchestras on the far right and far left sound a bit small, and the center-right and center-left orchestras sound more "important". This is one time where stereo fails somewhat to provide "360 Degree Sound". However special mention goes to section 34 (CD track 56), where Stockhausen seemingly does a "demo" of his future Helikopter String Quartet - with lots of great trembling and vibrating textures. There's even jetliner noise bleeding in at section 82X (which is also very appropriate considering the initial inspiration of the work). After a while things get pretty dense, the sound masses erupt into a pretty turbulent storm of virtuoso orchestration (especially Insert 69X), but shortly before the end of the piece the clouds return and CARRÉ ends in classic post-climax fashion.
Overall I really enjoyed this piece, especially the unique element of the cimbalom (from section 57), which sounds somewhere between an electric guitar and an harpsichord. It's too bad the score was edited before its first performance due to problems synchronizing the conductors. With modern ear-monitor technology that would no longer be a problem, and I think Stockhausen's original intention of "plane-noise music" would have been represented even better. As Cardew attests, much of the "stillness" of the sounds was sacrificed in order to allow the four orchestras to maintain coordination. However many other modern composers have since of mined that territory (starting with Ligeti and Penderecki, and ending with Don Davis' scores for the Matrix movies), so maybe it's not that necessary.
|Last minute cutting session.|
(from CD notes (© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org))
CARRÉ Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering (Stockhausen Edition)
Buy the Score
Report on Stockhausen's 'Carre' (Cornelius Cardew) PDF (offline)
Carre Score on UE Website
Stockhausen's notes regarding CARRÉ set up.
Albrecht Moritz Review
Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen (Robin Maconie)
Compositional techniques in the music of Stockhausen (1951-1970) (John Kelsall PDF)