SIRIUS, ARIES, LIBRA, CAPRICORN

Score Cover (© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
No. 43: SIRIUS for soprano and bass vocal soloists, trumpet, bass clarinet and 8-channel electronic music
1975-77 [96']

Additional Works Generated (1977-1980):
No. 43 1/2 - ARIES for trumpet and electronic music [15']
No. 43 2/3 - LIBRA for bass clarinet and electronic music [33']
No. 43 3/4 - CAPRICORN for bass and electronic music [28'30"]

Development
     The name "Sirius" probably first came to Stockhausen's attention while working on the "park music" work STERNKLANG (Star-Sounds).  Later he gave the name to his daughter Julika's dog, after which he found it recurring in dreams (including one which showed himself receiving a musical education on Sirius).   Around this time he was also commissioned to write a work to be premiered at Washington DC's Albert Einstein Spacearium (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum) on July of 1976 (celebrating the American Bicentennial).  The Spacearium itself was a planetarium with a projector gifted by the West German government.

     This request presented Stockhausen with an opportunity to use 8-channel electronic music in the circular audience space, and present a work with the cosmic themes he had been having visions of.  To this end he took the 12 zodiac melodies of TIERKREIS and used them as formulas with which to conduct expansions and contractions of melodic pitch range and rhythm.  The structure of the work is based on the 12 months and 4 seasons of the year (later he would work with the 7 days of the week in LICHT, and the 24 hours of the day in KLANG).  Additionally, each of the directions of the compass was assigned an instrument as well as spiritual associations (explained in the "PRESENTATION" text).  The TIERKREIS "heads" for each soloist are as follows:
  • Bass - CAPRICORN (Winter)
  • Soprano - CANCER (Summer)
  • Trumpet - ARIES (Spring)
  • Bass Clarinet - LIBRA (Autumn)

Electronic Music vs Live Music
     One of the most fascinating elements of SIRIUS is the way Stockhausen used the then-state-of-the-art EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer sequencer to manipulate the TIERKRIES melodies (EMS was a synthesizer company co-founded by Tristram Cary, one of the early composers working on the British science fiction program Doctor Who).  The Synthi 100 was only able to store 3 melodic sequences at one time, but it was also possible to manipulate the melodies much more easily than the tape-splice methods used in his earlier electronic works (the last of which was HYMNEN).  The Synthi 100 however, did reveal itself to be a bit more time-consuming in other ways...

     One unique aspect of the Synthi 100 was it's ability to superimpose a melody's pitch sequence onto another melody's rhythm.  In other words, a CAPRICORN melody could be played with an ARIES rhythm (this process of "intermodulation" was first explored in TELEMUSIK).  It could also use melodic or rhythmic data sequences to control timbre or blend multiple melodies together (this blending is actually more like a creating a hybrid melody, rather than layering 2 melodies on top of each other).  In SIRIUS, Stockhausen was able to create "formant melodies", which are built from stacked layers of harmonics (and subtracting the fundamental note).  In other words, the upper and lower harmonics of a stable root note are varied in strength and proportiona to produce different "timbre melodies".  A formant melody could be layered on top of a long drone, or it could be created on top of a totally different melody.  The concept of formants actually goes as far back as GRUPPEN where Stockhausen expressed "formant-spectra" through rhythmic and orchestral means.

Synthi 100 right-most control panel.
At top left is the tempo joystick.
(Click to enlarge)
     The stored melody sequences could also be played back at different extreme speeds (without altering pitch) through keyboard and joystick controllers (see at right).  Pitch ranges of the melodies could be easily compressed or expanded electronically (as Stockhausen had done in MANTRA through painstaking calculations by hand for piano).  The idea of compressing the pitch ranges of melodies would later be further explored in Xi and YPSILON, where new microtonal instrument fingerings are used to realize the melodic compressions.

     Stockhausen programmed the sequences and "blends" into the Synthi 100 and then recorded them while controlling the tempo through the keyboard/joysticks in realtime.  In order to create an 8-track work, Stockhausen used a "rotation table", which was able to spin at speeds up to 12 times a second and was surrounded by 8 microphone inputs (some of the rotation motor noises were used as raw sound material in the Announcement background tape).  After the electronic music portion was completed, Stockhausen then wrote a realization score based on the created tape, and then added the final vocal and instrumental parts below the electronic music parts (see score sample several pages below).

     In contrast to the tape portion, the soloists' parts do not feature as much in the way of drastic tempo extremes or pitch range compressions (these aspects were well-handled by the Synthi 100).  Instead, their parts are designed much more thematically and the TIERKREIS melodies are possibly a little easier to pick out.  Duos, trio, quartets and solos are featured in different combinations, and in these arrangements superimposed layers do occur. The themes do undergo somewhat more "traditional" forms of transformation, such as melody fragmentation, inversion, ornamentation, etc...

Form Structure and Formulas
     SIRIUS has 7 distinct sections: PRESENTATION, the WHEEL (4 parts), the Bridge after the WHEEL, and the ANNUNCIATION.  Altogether a performance takes about an hour and a half, with the WHEEL being about an hour long.  For the DC premiere, the WHEEL section only included the Summer section.  The entirety of SIRIUS was only first premiered August 1977 at Aix-en-Provence in France.  The CD was recorded in May 1979.

PRESENTATION (VORSTELLUNG)
     The low hum of a space mother-ship ends with the release of 4 "landings" by the 4 representatives of SIRIUS, with each arrival beginning on 1 of 4 high pitches and ending with low rumbles.

Bass:
I am North - Earth - the Man.  
I am the night, the seed, winter ...Son of SIRIUS...
(sounds of breaking ice and snow)

Trumpet sounds, Bass continues:
Trumpet is East - Fire - the Youth.  
Trumpet is the morning, the bud...spring.
(sounds of fire crackling)

Soprano:
I am South - Water - the Woman.  
I am Midday, Summer, the blossom ...Daughter of SIRIUS.
(running water sounds)

Bass clarinet sounds, Soprano continues:
 Bass clarinet is West - Air - the Friend, the Beloved.  
Bass clarinet is the Evening, the Fruit, Autumn.
(wind sounds)

Bass/Soprano alternating phrases:
North - East - South - West:  We greet you Earthlings, children of this planet.
Earth - Fire - Water - AirWe renew your life.  
Man - Youth - Woman - Friend (& Beloved):  We ignite in you the joy of the senses.  
Night - Morning - Midday - EveningWe remind you of the diversity of the soul.  
Winter - Spring - Summer - AutumnWe preserve your undying hope.  
Seed - Bud - Blossom - FruitWe kindle your longing for the light of your home in the stars.  

We are messengers from SIRIUS, our mother Sun.  
Perceive in our music the sound of the Directions of Space - the Sexes - Seasons - Phases - Suns.  
May the music of SIRIUS be the felicitation to the pioneers on Earth and in Space. 
May a more divine mankind come out of your works...

As Spring, ARIES (w melody fragment)...comes out of Winter, CAPRICORN (w melody), Seagoat with Saturn...
As Winter comes out of Autumn, LIBRA (w melody), balance - air, winds - Venus...
As Autumn comes out of Summer, CANCER (w melody), Crab, Water, Moon...  
And as Summer comes out of Spring...

The WHEEL
     A performance always begins with the PRESENTATION and ends with the ANNUNCIATION, but the WHEEL (the 4-part middle section based on CANCER, LIBRA, CAPRICORN and ARIES) begins on the the matching season the performance is being held in.  So, if a performance takes place in the summer, the WHEEL sequence begins with CANCER (this is the version on the recorded version).  During the 4 sections of the WHEEL, the 4 main TIERKREIS melodies overlap, just as in real life the seasons do.  CANCER, LIBRA, CAPRICORN and ARIES are the primary melodies, though the remaining 8 zodiac melodies from TIERKREIS do appear briefly.  After the 4th season, a "bridge" occurs, which repeats the first few minutes of the 1st season and then quickly leads into the ANNUNCIATION.  The vocal texts are all based on the 12 zodiac signs and follow this general sequence in the recorded Summer version:
  1. CANCER - LEO - VIRGO -
  2. LIBRA - SCORPIO - SAGITTARIUS -
  3. CAPRICORN - AQUARIUS - PISCES -
  4. ARIES - TAURUS - GEMINI
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     The simplified form scheme above for SIRIUS (from Stockhausen's Composition Course Book 2000 on SIRIUS) shows the temporal trajectories of the 4 main TIERKREIS melodies in the SOLOISTS' PARTS (above yellow line) and the ELECTRONIC MUSIC (Tape I and II, below yellow line). This is an extremely simplified chart, but gives an idea of the distribution of the 4 melodies. Melodies at the top of the page are higher register, lines nearer the bottom are lower register.  For the soloists' parts I couldn't always find the melody named in the diagram above, so either I missed it or this is an early sketch. The color highlighting was done by me to help see the different melodies in the electronic music, which generally follows the above graphic.

Top voice melodies for the 4 main Tierkreis melodies in SIRIUS.
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Timeline
     The below "listening guide" is likely not perfectly accurate, but even if I missed a TIERKREIS melody, it should give an idea of the changing melodic fabric.  The electronic music descriptions are from the SIRIUS score, which Stockhausen annotated to some degree, and which I summarized (from 3 tracks).  I didn't identify any unnamed melodies since they are a bit hard to hear sometimes - maybe at a later date.  The left column sequence numbers are not from the score, they are just for ease of reading, and the time indications are relatively accurate, but some transitions are obviously "fluid".  If listening to the electronic music version, the timings may be off by up to 9 seconds.  If no voice is indicated for the zodiac melody then assume upper voice.  The TIERKREIS melodies in WHITE SHADOW are the 8 guest melodies not directly related to the 4 seasons.  Images of the 12 TIERKREIS melodies (upper voice) can be found at the TIERKRIES fansite (from which the above excerpts were copied).
CANCER (Summer)

Soloists' Parts
Electronic Music (subtract ~8" from timing)
1 Ending of PRESENTATION 0:00
2 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr loosely play ARIES fragments (both upper and lower voices) 0:08 ARIES in 2 layers: one normal, and one which immediately becomes slow, percussive, high tones.  
(For the next 6 minutes, the normal ARIES layer becomes more and more compressed (through interval shrinkage) over 13 cycles into the range of a semi-tone, and then eventually into a G note.  The slow ARIES will slowly transform into CANCER in a couple minutes.)
CANCER (a 3rd layer) is high/very fast (0.4 secs/cycle), with a slow ritard
3 Bass changes to narration, remaining trio plays ARIES fragments and variations 0:33 CANCER slows down, becomes recognizable as a melody, gradually becomes ARIES.  CANCER as "colored noise" added to ARIES and then faded out.
4 Qrtt plays CANCER and ARIES fragments 2:12 Very slow ARIES to CANCER transformation in slow percussive high tones track
5 Bass returns to narration alternating with CAPRICORN, rem. trio slows on ARIES improvisations 3:05 CANCER becomes recognizable in slow percussive high tones track.
ARIES/CANCER rhythm (slow to fast) but in small pitch range (3:46).   
ARIES with CANCER formants (timbre formula) (4:59). 
CAPRICORN expands melody, becomes dominant (5:20).
6 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr CANCER (both voices)(loosely) 6:04 ARIES/CANCER rhythm with CANCER formant and CAPRICORN melody.
CANCER midrange melody follows soloists.  
The initial ARIES is now fully interval-compressed to a single G (a bass hum comes and goes (~7:00)).
7 Bass/BsClr play CAPRICORN, Tpt plays ARIES, Sopr plays CANCER 7:44 CAPRICORN melody range shrinks into a G note, becomes an ARIES pulse drone formant (8:23).
8 (rest) 8:33 ARIES formant drone fades out to low volume
9 Bass returns with announcement of LEO, Tpt fades in w long tones 9:00 Fast ARIES/CANCER rhythm returns, high ARIES melody, dynamic swells
10 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr play LEO (both voices) 9:55 ARIES melody range shrinks
Formant drone swells
11 Sopr begins adding narration, Bass/BsClr play sparse figures in dialogue w Sopr, 
Tpt adds "morse code" rhythmic pulses
10:27 CAPRICORN unfolds from compressed register rhythm
12 BsClr & EM join in LIBRA, Bass sings low long tones 11:36 Low LIBRA melody enters.
ARIES/CANCER rhythm and compressed CAPRICORN melody
13 Bass joins BsClr/EM in LIBRA 12:17 Slow, low percussive tones begin.
14 13 PAUSES (POSES) with freely repeating fragments of LIBRA, CANCER, CAPRICORN (and ARIES?) 12:39 Slow, low percussive tones during pauses, CAPRICORN melody w CANCER formants during non-pauses
15 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr play VIRGO (both voices) 15:24 Slow, low percussive tones only
16 silent pause 16:18 pause
17 Bass narrates, rem. trio loop melody fragments (CANCER) with rests 16:30 CAPRICORN/CANCER changing "with high formant melody".   
CANCER melody with ARIES/CANCER rhythm (later becomes octaves).   
Low CAPRICORN melody swells.   
Fast CAPRICORN becomes fast ARIES.
18 BsClr plays LIBRA variations, Bass comments w CAPRICORN, Tpt comments w ARIES, Sopr comments w CANCER 18:12 Slow changes from ARIES to CAPRICORN to ARIES (CANCER continues w irregular rhythm)
19 BsClr LIBRA solo cadenza w large register leaps 20:20 Rotating single tones (like church bells) going from 16 to 32 layers of cycles, then fading out.
20 END 24:30

LIBRA (Autumn)

Soloists' Parts Electronic Music
1 Sopr/Bass play CANCER (both voices), Tpt & BsClr play LIBRA 0:00 CANCER w ARIES-CAPRICORNrhythm w slow changes in high register 

CANCER-LIBRA melody in low register
2 Sopr/Tpt play CANCER (both voices), Bass/BsClr play LIBRA 0:28 CANCER and LIBRA melodies sync w soloists
3 Tpt changes to LIBRA (high voice), Bass/BsClr play LIBRA (both voices), Sopr stays w CANCER 0:52
4 Bass/BsClr play LIBRA (high), Tpt/Sopr play LIBRA (low) 2:04
5
2:42 LIBRA in low octaves enter, 
high drone tones appear
6 Bass/BsClr and Sopr/Tpt duos alternate LIBRA figures, increasing in speed 3:10 EM gradually becomes louder
7 Qrtt plays mutated LIBRA with pauses 4:14 Long tones layer increases in density
8 Qrtt plays SCORPIO 5:08 LIBRA continues below high drones
9 Bass becomes narration, Tpt & BsClr fight, Sopr begins to fade out 6:26 Drones continue
LIBRA briefly high/fast, then very low/slow again
10 Bass & BsClr play SAGITTARIUS (w Tpt commentary), Sopr rejoins 7:07 LIBRA (w pitch bending), 
High drones continue
11 Qrtt joins rhythmically in SAGITTARIUS, with rests and held notes 7:59 LIBRA - fast transformations, figure mixtures, and tempo changes of CANCER & CAPRICORN rhythm
12 Rest, then BsClr (LIBRA) dialogues w Bass (CAPRICORN), then Sopr (F long tones), Tpt (short figures), loosely joined rhythmically in CAPRICORN 9:33 LIBRA becomes CAPRICORN in complex low timbre w mixed rhythms (~10:00)
13 Bass narrates, Sopr intones, BsClr plays LIBRA, sparse Tpt interjections 11:28 CAPRICORN/LIBRA accelerating ("growling"), long tones layers continue
14 Sopr narrates alt. w. long tones ("LIBRA - Watch out!"), then Bass and BsClr join EM melody in fast CAPRICORN fragment 12:50 LIBRA (parallel minor 2nds), 
then CAPRICORN, changing registers
15 Sopr - long tones, Tpt joins in slow tempo 13:31 Fast register dialogue, w high drones cont'd
16 Sopr: "Oh my God! LIBRA are you alright?" 14:00 LIBRA drops in register
17 Qrtt joins in slow LIBRA, Tpt holds pitch and joins rhythmically 14:11 LIBRA sync w soloists
18 Qrtt joined loosely in LIBRA 14:50 Synced w BsClr
19 Qrtt drones with dynamic volume envelopes  15:37 Changing drone timbres
20 Qrtt ends,  Soprano slowly whispers "CAPRICORN" 16:30 wind noises 
21 END 18:15

CAPRICORN (Winter)

Soloists' Parts
Electronic Music (subtract ~9" from timing)
1 Tpt, Bass, BsClr drone combinations with rests 0:09 CAPRICORN in 3 layer chord
2 Bass sings CAPRICORN w EM, others drone w. some trills or tremoli 0:40 Drone layers added

Low CANCER melody w CAPRICORN rhythm enters, glittering overtones
3 Bass slow, rem. trio intermittently joins 1:45 Low CANCER melody slows down
Growling drone enters with high formant
4 Qrtt long tones/trills in combinations 3:20 Drones, slow low tones
high formant melody (CAPRICORN)
5 Soprano (CANCER) suggests "We all come together in the middle and there we play the tune of AQUARIUS.  Come LIBRA, ARIES come, CAPRICORN - faster" 4:50 Low drone w CAPRICORN formant melody, 
Slow, high, chirping CAPRICORN melody enters
6 (soloists move to center of auditorium, EM only) 5:47 Low drone begins reducing in volume
7 Each plays fragment of AQUARIUS 6:21
8 Tpt/BsClr and Sopr/Bass play AQUARIUS voices 6:50
9 Soprano and Bass dialogue in AQUARIUS 7:18 Drones "change speeds"
10 Tpt/BsClr and Sopr/Bass play AQUARIUS voices (repr.) 7:57 CAPRICORN formant melody fades in and out,
chirping CAPRICORN melody continues
11 Qrtt plays individual fragments 8:25
12 Tpt, Sopr, BsClr play PISCES 8:49
13 Tpt, BsClr (GEMINI inverted?) play dialogue ("amorously") 9:25 Rapid volume changes in drone layers
14 Bass adds drone 9:59
15 Sopr joins drone 10:25 Low CAPRICORN chordal melody enters
16 Qrtt drones in combinations 10:34 Low CAPRICORN chordal melody accelerates 
Low and high percussive long tones
17 Qrtt together: "Striving for Light, Son of mother sun SIRIUS…" 13:34
18 END 13:40

ARIES (Spring)

Soloists' Parts
Electronic Music
1 Bass & BsClr drones, but Soprano intones text, Tpt fades and comments intermittently 0:00 A 3-part ARIES harmony melody with CAPRICORN rhythm begins, with brief, sudden accelerated moments.  This soon becomes a fast, dense, multi-layered "noise-band" timbre.  As CAPRICORN and CANCER rhythms are added (soon followed with their melodies), the loop gains speed and density, becoming "noisier". 
At the same time, low drone chords fade in and out in the lower register.
2 Tpt solo based on ARIES 2:21 High ARIES fragments intermittently slow down (and surface) out of the top voice of the 3-part harmony, as the below noise band (melodies CANCER/ARIES/CAPRICORN) contract and ascend in a slow gliss.
The lowest layer drone chords fade out.

The high ARIES melody eventually stops speeding up and stays at the slower (audible) speed (2:47)
3 Tpt & Sopr join in ARIES (top voice), Bass & BsClr join in ARIES (bottom voice) 3:08 Continue as above.
4 Qrtt long tones 3:38 (High ARIES continues.)
Noise drone reaches A, with a "glittering" timbre, still increasing in speed
5 Trumpet drone solo w slow ad lib dynamics 3:59 High ARIES fragments begin to have intermittent accelerated moments, eventually going back to high speed as before.
Drone in A begins accented pulses on hybridized CANCER, ARIES and CAPRICORN rhythms, then become stable
6 Trumpet ends, EM drone only 6:05 High ARIES loop fades out.
Drone layer on A fades out, then returns with 2 new layers: a LIBRA formant melody layer in the middle, and below that, a lower drone layer (6:45). 
7 Tpt returns 7:34 The high A drone begins to develop accent pulses.
The lower drone layer has microtonal "jumps", and then follows the LIBRA formant melody layer above it
At the end a subtle high formant melody is added (LIBRA).
8 Qrtt plays TAURUS (loosely) 8:54 High LIBRA formant melody, pulses in A and LIBRA below it continue.
9 Tpt solo (short) 9:24 Pulses in A become more distinct.
10 Qrtt plays TAURUS lower voice (loosely) 9:31 Pulses in A begin to have gaps.
11 Tpt solo 10:01 High LIBRA formant syncs with ARIES melody (which is slowly expanding from the pulses in A) and fades out
12 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr plays GEMINI (both voices)(loosely) 11:08 ARIES (from the pulses before) continues to expand with glissandi, but sometimes with intermittent very fast figures
The lower LIBRA formant melody sometimes jumps into the middle register
13 Tpt solo on GEMINI 11:38 ARIES calms down a little

LIBRA eventually fades out
14 Qrtt plays ARIES 12:40 ARIES - syncs w soloists
15 Bass/BsClr long tones, Sopr solos on ARIES 13:06 ARIES w Soprano
16 Qrtt plays ARIES 13:30 ARIES - sync w soloists, synchronous formants
17 Bass/BsClr quarter notes ("march"), Sopr plays whole notes, Tpt solos on ARIES 13:55 follows Tpt
18 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr plays ARIES (both voices) 14:17 follows Tpt & Sopr, doppler effect from rotation
19 END 14:41

Bridge after ARIES (0:00-4:00 same as CANCER)

Soloists' Parts
Electronic Music
1 Sopr/Tpt & Bass/BsClr plays ARIES fragments (both voices, loosely) 0:00 ARIES (2 tracks, 1 normal, 1 immediately becomes percussive long tones).
CANCER track high/very fast, slow ritard
2 Bass changes to narration, trio plays ARIES fragments and variations 0:25 CANCER becomes recognizable as a melody, gradually becomes ARIES.  CANCER as "colored noise" added to ARIES and then faded out.
3 Qrtt plays CANCER fragments polyphonically 2:04 Very slow ARIES to CANCER transformation in slow percussive high tones track
4 Bass returns to narration alternating with CAPRICORN, trio slows on ARIES improvisations 2:58 CANCER rhythm added to primary ARIES track, pitch range shrinks
5 Qrtt intones together 4:03 Additional long tones layers added with dynamic changes.
6 "Thanks giving" 4:25 ARIES/CANCER rhythm (slow to fast) but small pitch range (down to major 2nd).  ARIES with CANCER formants (timbre formula). 
7 END 5:15

 ANNUNCIATION (VERKÜNDIGUNG)
     This section has a text which was written by Jakob Lorber, a 19th Century Christian "mystic" (and former musician) who heard "voices" and wrote them down thinking they were from God.  The text is apparently the voice of Jesus Christ explaining that he is God incarnated on Earth, and of all the planets of the local universe (of which SIRIUS is the center), he chose Earth to become human on.  He declares that he will raise children on Earth similar to himself who will "rule the entire infinite" alongside him.
     The 4 messengers from SIRIUS then return to their planetary landers, which then returns to a Mothership, which flies away into space.
ANNUNCIATION

Soloists' Parts
Electronic Music
1 Bass narrates Lorber text 0:00 Long tones continue from Bridge
2
0:10 Piano enters w PISCES fragment
3 Quintet (w piano tape) polyphonic, loosely PISCES, Bass speaks in PISCES rhythm 0:18 Piano plays PISCES fragments
Background drones rise
4 Quintet plays AQUARIUS (both voices) loosely), Bass speaks in AQUARIUS rhythm 1:35 Piano plays AQUARIUS
5 Qrtt final syllable long tones 2:00 Piano ends, rumbling begins
6
2:18 Each player returns to their surface ship (glassy tones)
7
3:11 EM hum only
8
3:29 Each surface ship flies back into space to the mothership (reverse of Presentation)
9 END 6:55


Score
Beginning of the "pauses" in Cancer (section 14 in the above guide).  
The top 3 staffs are the electronic music tracks, and below them are Trumpet, Soprano, Bass Clarinet and Bass vocal.  
(each page usually has 2 lines - 2x7 staffs).
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Live Performance
     SIRIUS is designed to be mounted in a circular or square auditorium with the audience facing towards the center.  The 4 soloists are on high podiums located in 4 opposite sides of the space.  At one point during the CAPRICORN section they converge in the center of the room.  The soloists are also costumed with colorful space-themed fabrics and perform various gestures (sometimes INORI-based).  The space above the audience has a projection of a night sky (or is a night sky if the space is outdoors - obviously a mid-afternoon performance could be a bit awkward!).


Additional Works Generated: 
ARIES for solo trumpet and electronic music (1977-80) [15']
Rough representation of the ARIES, CANCER, CAPRICORN and LIBRA ELECTRONIC MUSIC elements as described below.
The narrative below is somewhat simplified from the above tables, but with an expanded explanation of the electronic layers.
------------------------------ Electronic Music ------------------------------ Time Trumpet
Low drone chords fade in and out in the lower register. A 3-part ARIES harmony melody with CAPRICORN rhythm begins looping, with brief, sudden "fast" moments.  The rhythm gradually becomes ARIES.
This soon speeds up to become a fast, dense, multi-layered "noise-band" timbre (with intermittent "slow" moments).
CAPRICORN and CANCER are then (re-)added to the mixture.  The loop gains speed and density, becoming "noisier" and begins to ascend in a slow gliss (from around 1:30)
0:00  After a phrase from the end of ARIES (last page of CAPRICORN),
 Tpt plays a monody (Soprano part) with interjections from the original Tpt layer
The lowest layer drone chords fade out.  Rising noise band levels off at 2:28, and begins shrinking in bandwidth (with CANCER/ARIES/CAPRICORN melodies surfacing at times).




High ARIES fragments intermittently slow down (and surface) out of the top voice of the 3-part harmony 2:21 ARIES


ARIES melody slows down to audible speed 2:47
Noise band reaches and holds on an A drone, with a "glittering" timbre and fast rhythm oscillations, slowing down 3:34 ARIES long tones
Fragments begin to have intermittent accelerated moments 3:59 Drone w slow, ad lib dynamics
Drone on A begins accented pulses on hybridized CANCER, CAPRICORN and ARIES rhythms, then becomes a held pitch






4:46
ARIES fragments going back to high speed as before.  Eventually it fades out. 5:07

6:00
Drone on A begins a slow decrescendo 6:14 pause
Lower drone layer enters LIBRA formant melody ("like wind - filter with pure overtone intervals")



Drone on A fades back in 6:47
The lower drone layer has microtonal "jumps", and then becomes a LIBRA layer with the layer above it (at right) The high A drone begins to develop accent pulses.










7:32
LIBRA formant melody (combined from the previous 2 layers) 

























7:40
ARIES gradually returns
A very quiet (pppp), high LIBRA formant melody is added. 8:54 TAURUS
The high A pulses SLOWLY expand in pitch range (to eventually becomes the ARIES melody) LIBRA formant syncs with ARIES melody and fades out



9:52 pause, and then ornamentation ("development intermezzo")
Expansion into recognizable minor 2nd intervals (with glissandi), sometimes with intermittent fast moments, and continuing on to the full ARIES melody intervals
11:08 GEMINI

ARIES calms down a little, begins syncing with Tpt 12:00
12:43 ARIES with variations

CAPRICORN for solo bass vocalist and electronic music (1977) [28'30"]: 
includes CAPRICORN, Bridge after CAPRICORN (using ARIES opening, taking the Soprano part) and Annunciation
Rough representation of the CANCER, CAPRICORN and ARIES ELECTRONIC MUSIC elements as described below.
The narrative below is somewhat simplified from the above tables, but with an expanded explanation of the electronic layers.
------------------------------ Electronic Music ------------------------------ Time Bass
CAPRICORN
(1st time)

0:00 Held, single pitch tones: "Cancer...Aries...Libra, I am coming."
Low drone chords CAPRICORN
(2nd time) with "glittering" formant melody
0:30 CAPRICORN
Drone chord




CANCER 
melody
in CAPRICORN rhythm





CANCER
formant
in CAPRICORN rhythm



1:00
Low drone layers expanded, growling, becoming rougher 

 
High CANCER formant melody continues, eventually becomes... 1:29 Slow
Rhythm begins to slow down, until becoming long held tones, then with volume fluctuations 2:58
3:20 Long tones/trills 
Low drones, sometimes with irregular accents, fluctuating volume continues










CAPRICORN formant melody (overtones, like a frog)







4:38 "Capricornus..."(proposal, pause)
Very slow, isolated high metallic CAPRICORN tones
 






















4:59
Soft formant melodies (overtones), sometimes like CAPRICORN 5:27
6:21 AQUARIUS
(slowly begins as fragments)




formant melody (like wind) 6:44
drones begin slow rising gliss 7:07
Drones with Accents









8:10
8:49 PISCES
CAPRICORN chordal melody, with chord intervals shrinking from 4ths to 3rds, increasing tempo 10:24 "Capricorn…sea goat..." 
(very slow syllables)
CAPRICORN chordal melody, with chord interval a 6th 12:02
Partials surface


 
 
12:15
1 layer of CAPRICORN becomes ARIES melody layer (in unison with CAPRICORN layer) 12:33
13:34 "Striving for Light, Son of mother sun SIRIUS…"
Bridge Begins (beginning of ARIES repeated)
Low drone chords fade in and out in the lower register. A 3-part ARIES harmony melody with CAPRICORN rhythm begins looping, with brief, sudden "fast" moments.  This soon speeds up to become a fast, dense, multi-layered "noise-band" timbre (with intermittent "slow" moments).  As CAPRICORN and CANCER rhythms are added (soon followed with their melodies), the loop gains speed and density, becoming "noisier".  The noise band begins to ascend in a slow gliss (from around 1:30)
0:00 Bass intones text: "Phoenix man, winter-night, night of Christ shows the heaven's firmament..."
Rising noise band levels off at 2:28, and begins shrinking in bandwidth (with CANCER/ARIES/CAPRICORN melodies surfacing at times). High ARIES  fragments intermittently slow down (and surface) out of the top voice of the 3-part harmony 2:21 "Come, Aries!"

ARIES melody slows down to audible speed 2:47
3:08 ARIES (top voice)
Noise band reaches and holds on an A drone, with a "glittering" timbre and fast rhythm slowing down 3:34 Long tones, with overtone vowels matching EM
ARIES fragments begin to have intermittent accelerated moments. 3:59
4:25 Overtones end,
"Friends, we stop the Wheel.."
Drone in A begins accented pulses on  hybridized CANCER , ARIES and CAPRICORN rhythms, then become a stable pitch.
Annunciation drone chords fade in.
4:46
The ANNUNCIATION follows as in SIRIUS above.

LIBRA for solo bass clarinet and electronic music (1977) [33']:
2nd half of CANCER (10'14" to 24'29"), then entire LIBRA (18'10")
Narrative condensed from the main table:
Bass Clarinet
Electronic Music (subtract ~8" from timing)
Sparse figures 10:14 Drone swells 
10:27 CAPRICORN unfolds from compressed register rhythm
LIBRA 11:36 Low LIBRA melody enters.
ARIES/
CANCER rhythm and compressed CAPRICORN melody
12:17 Slow, low percussive tones begin.
13 PAUSES (POSES) with freely repeating fragments of LIBRA 12:39 Slow, low percussive tones during pauses, CAPRICORN melody w CANCER formants during non-pauses
VIRGO 15:24 Slow, low percussive tones only
Silent pause 16:18 pause
CANCER fragments with rests 16:30 CAPRICORN/CANCER changing "with high formant melody". 
CANCER melody with ARIES/CANCER rhythm (later becomes octaves). 
Low
CAPRICORN melody swells. 
Fast
CAPRICORN becomes fast ARIES.
LIBRA variations 18:12 Slow changes from ARIES to CAPRICORN to ARIES (CANCER continues w irregular rhythm)
LIBRA solo cadenza w large register leaps 20:20 Rotating single tones (like church bells) going from 16 to 32 layers of cycles, then fading out.
END 24:30
CANCER ENDS / LIBRA BEGINS
LIBRA 0:00 CANCER w ARIES-CAPRICORN rhythm w slow changes in high register 
CANCER-LIBRA melody in low register
0:28 CANCER and LIBRA melodies sync w Bass Clarinet
2:42 LIBRA in low octaves enter,
high drone tones appear
LIBRA figures, variations with pauses 3:10 EM gradually becomes louder 
4:14 Long tones layer increases in density
SCORPIO 5:08 LIBRA continues below high drones
6:26 Drones continue
LIBRA briefly high/fast, then very low/slow again 
SAGITTARIUS (adding some LIBRA) 7:07 LIBRA (w pitch bending),
High drones continue
7:59 LIBRA - fast transformations, figure mixtures, and tempo changes of CANCER & CAPRICORN rhythm
LIBRA becoming dominant 9:33 LIBRA becomes CAPRICORN in complex low timbre w mixed rhythms (~10:00)
11:28 CAPRICORN/LIBRA accelerating ("growling"), long tones layers continue
12:50 LIBRA (parallel minor 2nds),
then
CAPRICORN, changing registers
13:31 Fast register dialogue, w high drones cont'd
14:00 LIBRA drops in register
LIBRA - slow 14:11 LIBRA sync w Bass Clarinet
14:50 Synced w Bass Clarinet
Drones with dynamic volume envelopes  15:37 Changing drone timbres
16:30 wind noises 
END 18:15

Sound Impressions
Markus Stockhausen in SIRIUS
www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     SIRIUS was a very difficult listen the first time I ever heard it - in fact I didn't really like it much for years.  The electronic music timbres generated by the EMS Synthi 100 are somewhat colder and less "classic" than those in favorite works like KONTAKTE or TELEMUSIK, and the melodic material of the soloists sounded a bit unfocused and basically all over the place - however this was before I had heard the 12 TIERKREIS melodies.  After absorbing the 12 zodiac melodies (which in my opinion is almost a necessary prerequisite to fully appreciating SIRIUS) the crystalline beauty of SIRIUS's 7-layer polyphony revealed itself.

     Stockhausen packed alot of concepts and techniques into this work, many stemming from his experiments in melodic pitch compression/expansion (MANTRA), extreme melody to pitch tempo manipulations (KONTAKTE) and timbre sequence melodies (INORI).  All of this material is embedded in a science fiction cantata sung/spoken in oddly-mannered English (with brief passages in German and a brief bit of Italian).  Some people have compared SIRIUS to the work of Sun Ra, another composer with a "cosmic backstory", but SIRIUS has a very rigorously structured musical fabric, and is not connected to jazz improvisation at all.

     After analyzing the work, SIRIUS has personally become much more enjoyable (though there were definitely moments during my research where I was a bit frustrated and wondering where this was going).  In order to learn to differentiate all the moving parts of SIRIUS, it's very helpful to listen to the soloist's versions of ARIES, LIBRA and CAPRICORN ("additional works generated"), since there are only up to 4 layers in those works and it's much easier to follow the melodic manipulations.  It is also possible to obtain the electronic music of SIRIUS by itself - though the CD is a bit expensive.  In any case, SIRIUS may seem cacophonous on first listen (and maybe even the first 5 listens..10 listens?), but once one learns the "language" of SIRIUS, the work truly shines as one of Stockhausen's most ambitious and well-structured works. 

EMS Vocoder in foreground, Synthi 100, with keyboard controller, at the WDR Electronic Music Studio repository space.
     As far as the electronic music goes, there are many moving layers to appreciate, both from close up and far away, and when the piano enters during the ANNUNCIATION, it's a pretty emotional, almost cathartic moment.  However, I'm still not exactly in love with the Synthi 100 timbres (and neither were the producers of Doctor Who, who scrapped a new theme song using them), so perhaps one day a new realization of the electronic score using a modern granular synth would make the work even better.  It's also worth mentioning that Stockhausen held a contest in 2002 for electronic music composers to use new sample timbres (provided by Stockhausen himself) to create a multi-layered, multi-tempo version of SAGITTARIUS.  That sounds like it could be the first steps to creating a new realization of SIRIUS...

     I can't help but add one more Doctor Who reference here, but another interesting connection between Stockhausen and the science fiction program was that one of the early music performers on the show, Tristan Fry, would later go on to record and release his performance of ZYKLUS.

Links
Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
Stockhausen on the Electronic Music of SIRIUS
SIRIUS Wiki
Albrecht Moritz Rundown
Sonoloco Review
Interview with Synthi designer Peter Zinovieff (2015)
EMS Synthi 100 Brochure (PDF)
EMS Synthi 100 Restored 2006
EMS Synthi 100 Restored (Melbourne)
SIRIUS Youtube clip
Discovering Electronic Music (1983)
What the Future Sounded Like (The Story of EMS, 2006) 

No comments:

Post a Comment