Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Act 1
Act 2
Act 3

Kathinka Pasveer (piccolo) w Jácinta Juhász & Noémi Csaposs)
in the photo which corresponds to the 12th nuclear tone in the EVE formula.
(from MONTAG AUS LICHT CD booklet ©
Monday Farewell (EVE's Farewell) - Tape piece for speed-manipulated piccolo flute, soprano voices and bird samples
1986/1988 [28']

No. 59, extract 1, "Even" for 3 players (ex. alto flute, clarinet, piccolo-trumpet) [7']
No. 59, extract 2, 3, 4, for melody instrument (with micro-tones)/bassett-horn/flute [9']

     MONTAGs-ABSCHIED is the Farewell, or closing work, for MONTAG AUS LICHT (Monday from Light), the 3rd-premiered opera of Stockhausen's 7-part, 29-hour musical-dramatic work, LICHT, based on the 7 days of the week.  LICHT has 3 main archetype characters, and Monday is the character EVE's day.  EVE's signature instrument is the bassett-horn and flute, and so it's quite fitting that both the Greeting (MONTAGs GRUSS) and Farewell feature those two instruments respectively.

     The genesis of MONTAGs ABSCHIED comes from the opera MONTAG AUS LICHT's last  scene, ENTFÜHRUNG (Abduction), which is part of Act 3's EVAs ZAUBER (EVE's Magic).  In Abduction, a Pied Piper named AVE, represented by a flautist, entrances a children's choir and leads them "into the clouds", while the choir sing a repeating refrain:

    MONDAY - Born from LIGHT - Ceremony and Magic.   

     The refrain melody is based on the EVE nuclear formula (a simplified version of the EVE character's representative melody-formula and derived from the LICHT 3-layer super-formula).  It is performed by the flautist and 2-part children's choir (below) in 26 cycles, each time with elaborate variations and ornamentation in the piccolo flute.  This scene also includes parts for synthesizers, percussion and tape (sampled concrete sounds).
1 cycle of the children's choir part derived from EVE nuclear formula.
(from MONTAG AUS LICHT CD booklet ©

     "Monday Farewell" is a tape-manipulated version of "Abduction" consisting of the children's choir part (sung by soprano Kathinka Pasveer on 2 tracks (lower and higher voice)) and the piccolo flute part (also Pasveer).  Additionally, dense samples of birdsong (44 different species) are interspersed throughout MONTAGs ABSCHIED.  In the latter part of the work, Pasveer sings (in German):

     The EVE-children are abducted - by music - into higher worlds - with green clouds.    

     The tape-recording process of MONTAGs ABSCHIED was designed so that on an aural level, the piccolo and soprano voices "ascend into the clouds" as well.  The piccolo flute and soprano voices are transposed upwards over a duration of 28 minutes so that they join the "natural" (un-modulated) bird sounds in the higher sonic stratosphere.

     To do this, the piccolo part from "Abduction" was first re-recorded with Pasveer playing with an initial tempo of 107 and gradually slowing down (ritardando) to 40.  This increased the duration of the original 10.5 minutes of Abduction to 56 minutes (which Pasveer played live and unedited).  Pasveer then sang the two children's choir parts (low and high) with the same ritardando as the piccolo part.  These soprano vocal lines in the score are also transposed upwards (irregularly) every 2 cycles so that the first note of each cycle-pair follows a sequence of the 13 EVE nuclear tones (12 pitch row of the EVE formula, plus octave note).

     This 56-minute recording was then copied to a second tape with a gradual accelerando in playback speed (from 50% (half-speed) up to 160%), resulting in Monday Farewell's 28 minutes.  This is basically a rhythmically-lengthened and melodically-rising Abduction.

     After some equalization (to reduce the shrillness from speeding up the tape I imagine) the birdsong samples and Pasveer's sung text (starting from 18'25") were added. 

     MONTAGs ABSCHIED is played as a 4-channel tape piece as "exit music" to the opera MONTAG AUS LICHT.  The exit foyer space is "immersed in slowly floating clouds as the audience departs."  A sculpture of the female flautist (AVE, the Pied Piper) with 2 children kneeling at her feet is in the center of the room (top photo), while the walls are adorned with photographs of the Pied Piper (Kathinka Pasveer in all cases so far) in 12 playing poses corresponding to the 12 pitches of the EVE nuclear tones (pitches of the EVE formula).

Sound Impressions
     This piece effectively lifts the intricate piccolo flute part of Abduction into a higher level (both aurally and spiritually).  The tape speed acceleration is extremely subtle, and because the rate of ascension is so slow, it doesn't sound forced or "artificial".  It's only after several minutes that one realizes that the flute and vocal parts are becoming a bit "other-worldly" (quite fittingly).  Also the addition of the birdsong samples (which remain unmodulated throughout) help to blur the tape modulation of the other parts.  By the time Pasveer's vocal insert begins, the recorded flute and voices have effectively merged with the birdsong.

QUITT Graphic score.
(from score front ©
Work No. 246/Opus 59, extract 1
     QUITT ("Even") is a work for 3 micro-tonal instruments which slowly ascend (at roughly the same rate) for 2 minutes, after which they move micro-tonally and non-synchronously between A sharp (sharp 25 cents) and E flat, sometimes creating frequency beating patterns and applying different timbres (flute can flutter-tongue, clarinet can circular-breathe).  At 4'41", one player (the trumpet in the recorded version) glisses down and then gradually slows down while playing a wide 2 note tremolo.  The score was first developed in 1989 as a graphic score in 3 colored pitch lines (above).

     In 2003 additional details were added and developed in rehearsals with Kathinka Pasveer (alto flute), Suzanne Stephens (clarinet) and Marco Blaauw (piccolo trumpet).  In a live performance, the players approach one another until they are very close at 4'33" (the dense section), immediately after which the trumpet signals the beginning of his descent and walks away from the flute and clarinet performers.  The trumpeter and the wind players are "even".

(YPSILON Score front ©
Work No. 247, 248, 249/Opus 59, extract 2, 3, 4
      YPSILON (the Greek character for "variable quantity, or indeterminate factor" according to Stockhausen) is a micro-tonal solo work derived from a pitch range-compressed version of the EVE formula layer of the LICHT super-formula (in its original state an octave plus a minor 3rd).  The performer must develop the instrumental ability to play an evenly spaced micro-tonal scale of 16 distinct intervals in as small a pitch range as possible.  The graphic score is written as graduations (steps) of these 16 micro-intervals.  In Kathinka Pasveer's version for flute, the melody is "vertically compressed" so that the original EVE pitch range fits roughly inside a minor 3rd interval, and the modified EVE formula is stretched out to 9 minutes.  This kind of performer realization is in contrast to Xi, in that in YPSILON the pitch range is indeterminate, but the number of scale steps are determined (in Xi, the pitch range is determined and the number of scale steps is indeterminate).  The idea of compressing/expanding the pitch ranges of melodies was previously explored in MANTRA (expanded piano scales) and SIRIUS (electronic manipulation), but in Xi and YPSILON, new microtonal instrument fingerings are used to realize the compressions.
     Additionally, the score indicates places where the performer shakes Indian bells worn on her limbs, or where she jumps and stamps the floor with a bell-adorned foot, possibly as an analogue to LICHT's "colored noise" gestures.  YPSILON also retains the EVE formula's other gestural elements, such as vocalizations and kissing noises.  The score indicates 7 Formel-Glied (formula segments) which correspond to the 7 segments of the EVE formula.

1st measure of the EVE formula.
YPSILON's scale definition of 16 micro-intervals, followed by a graphic compression and elaboration of EVE formula measure 1 above it.  The top line with the crossed note-heads indicates the shaking of the Indian bells.
Kathinka Pasveer's fingering realization for flute.  The bottom right square shows how to play the 16 micro-intervals she developed.

Live Performance

YPSILON for Clarinet : Antonia Lorenz
Stockhausen Courses, Kürten 2005

Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
Score samples of YPSILON from James Ingram's site.
Sonoloco review of YPSILON (for Flute)
Youtube clip of MONTAGs ABSCHIED
Youtube clip/score of YPSILON

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