Tuesday, December 30, 2014


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Kathinka Pasveer performing KATHINKA's GESANG at IRCAM
No. 52
KATHINKA's Chant as LUCIFER's Requiem, for Flute solo or with 6 Percussionists
1982-1983 |33'|

No. 52 1/2 (ie - 52.2): KATHINKAs GESANG for Flute and Electronic Music 1983
                       (electronic music realized 1984)
No. 52 2/3 (ie - 52.3): KATHINKAs GESANG for Flute and 6 Pianos
                       (or 1 piano and 5 pre-recorded pianos)

          KATHINKAs GESANG as LUZIFERs REQUIEM is the 2nd Scene of Stockhausen's dramatic music work SAMSTAG AUS LICHT (SATURDAY from LIGHT), which was the second-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light).  LICHT is a work 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).

     SAMSTAG is LUCIFER's day, which is the Day of Death (and Resurrection), as well as the Night of the transition to the LIGHT. In KATHINKA's Chant as LUCIFER's Requiem, a cat-like flautist and 6 strangely-garbed percussionists (representing the 6 Mortal Senses: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste, Touch and Thinking) perform a ritual of "Exercises" in order to "protect the soul of the deceased from temptation...through which it is guided to clear consciousness".

"...LUCIFER's REQUIEM is a requiem for every human being who seeks the eternal LIGHT".
- Stockhausen

     LUZIFER's REQUIEM was originally designed to be a work for percussion and supplementary "magic instruments" (and possibly electronic music according to Richard Toop), but with the addition of an integral flute part, it gained the additional aptly-chosen prefix KATHINKA's GESANG.  As the 2nd Scene of LUCIFER's name-day, the LUCIFER formula is naturally highlighted in the flute part, and in fact the main body of this work features 24 stages made up of 22 "Exercises" and 2 pauses, through which the LUCIFER melodic formula is expounded upon and illuminated.  Each of the Exercises (with lengths from 22 seconds to over 4.5 minutes) explore a LUCIFER fragment's special behavioral attribute (or "accessory" gesture), such as it's use of rhythmic modulation, toneless pitch, tremolo rhythm, scalar melodic movement, etc...  Extended timbral flute techniques used include toneless blowing, flutter-tonguing, double and triple-tonguing, tandem vocalization, micro-tonal fingering, and extreme dynamic accents and figures.  The flautist, costumed as a black cat, performs the Exercises while navigating around 2 large mandala-diagrams with musical figures of each of the Exercises on them.  The Exercises are preceded by a "Salute" (an opening fanfare using the 11 primary pitches of the LUCIFER formula (minus 1), and are followed by a the "Release of the Senses", "Exit", "The 11 Trombone Tones" and finally "The Scream".

"Is the SCREAM the release for reincarnation, for eternal extinction, 
or for entrance into the clear LIGHT?  
That will be decided individually by each deceased soul."
- Stockhausen

Version with Percussion
     The 6 percussionists each have 1 or 2 pitched metal plates which together form the Nuclear tones of the LUCIFER formula.  During each Exercise, a different combination of percussionists (arranged around the auditorium) strike their sound plates, creating a combined melody of 2 to 12 tones.  A whistle is also blown once for each sound plate strike in different timbres and rhythms.

     In addition to these primary tones (distributed freely, but one attack for each Exercise and in unison with a matching flute gesture if possible), the 6 percussionists make a certain number of sounds (up to 212 in one stage) with "magic instruments" - unconventional home-made instruments strapped to their costumes.  These magic instruments are basically small percussion objects being struck, rubbed, scraped, shaken, buzzed, etc...  Stockhausen also allows for pitched magic instruments, such as a mechanism from a grandfather clock announcing the "ghostly hour".  Altogether there are at least 30 different magic instruments required.  The attacks of the magic sounds weave with the flute part and otherwise follow the general behavior of the current Exercise (tremolo, irregular duration, etc...).  Since the magic sounds are aleatory, the percussionists also pre-arrange amongst themselves solos, duos, trios, etc... for each performance.

     During the "Release of the Senses" each sound plate is struck in a repeating sequence matching the final measure of the LUCIFER formula, along with whistling, humming and 7 magic sounds each.  At the end they drop their sound plates into LUCIFER's grave and then fly away (or walk).





Version with Electronics
     KATHINKA's GESANG can also be performed with a 6-channel electronic music projection.  In 1984, Stockhausen spent 14 days at the French electroacoustic center IRCAM, and with their 4X synthesizer realized the electronic music (based on a form scheme composed the prior year).  The 4X was able to create synthetic tones made up of a fundamental pitch and separate groupings of 212 of its overtone partials (analogous to the maximum 212 "magic instrument" sounds of the percussion version).  The overtone groups are separated among the 6 channels and are individually phase-shifted (flanged), 1 complete cycle per Exercise.  In other words, the waveforms gradually go in and out of phase with each other, which accentuates or attenuates different frequency ranges.  As the phase differences increase/decrease a sweeping effect occurs, comb-filtering through frequencies in smooth glissandi.  The fundamental pitch for each of the 24 stages follows a melodic simplification of the LUCIFER formula, composed mostly of single notes but with a 1 instance of a chord and in a few others glissandi.

     For each Exercise, some of the 6 channels contains all 212 overtones, and some have an additional 0 to 212 overtones (depending on the Exercise) portioned out in contiguous groups (1-9, 10-36, 37-82, etc...).  Some of the tones are characterized by narrow-band white noise ("rushing noise").  In addition to the fundamental pitches, several synthetic timbres named for orchestral instruments (piano, cello, bass clarinet, tuba) are also mixed in, though they are fairly subtle (at least to my ears).  Each Exercise is signaled by sonic "booms of imaginary giant gongs", after which the phase cycles begin at different rates.  All of the cycles return to zero (unison phases) at the end of an Exercise, after which another "boom" signals the next combination of overtone group cycles.  The spatial element is apparently pretty important since Stockhausen writes, "a reduction to only two channels had an unusually strong impairment of the music effect.  One should therefore unconditionally reproduce the 6-track composition over 6 loudspeakers arranged in a hexagon around the audience."  Sadly, only the 2-channel version is readily available on CD, but it is spatially separated left to right.

Version with Piano and Tape
     A third version is so far unpublished and unrecorded, but a brief description by Richard Toop ("6 Lectures") indicates that 5 pre-recorded piano parts are accompanied by a single live pianist (and flautist, of course).  The piano parts are "open form", similar to the aleatory nature of the pitch and rhythm material in KOMET and KLAVIERSTUCK XVI.  The pianist must also create magic sounds (as in the percussion version) using the piano frame, small instruments, whistles and toys.

Form Structure
SAMSTAG measures of the LICHT super-formula
     The Exercises are each concluded on a "signal figure" based on high F.  This is because in the measures of the LICHT super-formula corresponding to LUCIFER's REQUIEM (at right), the top MICHAEL formula layer repeats an F (the LUCIFER formula layer here is used for one pitch transposition,  Release of the Senses, and a few other non-LUCIFER-ian pitches in the Exercises are from either the middle staff EVE fragment or LUCIFER Nuclear formula (4th staff, not shown here).  Some of the Exercises (such as the first) also have a palinndromic nature - they proceed through various substages and then revisit these stages backwards.  This is a reflection of the MICHAEL formula fragment dynamic arc (much of the preceding observed by Richard Toop).
The LUCIFER formula is traversed and expounded upon in the 24 Exercises below.

The below musical notation images are displayed on the 2 staged mandalas (top of page). 

CD 34B
CD 28
Salute Opens with an Eb long tone, followed by Salute figure with LUCIFER Nuclear tones and a pre-echo of Exercises to come.
1 0:50 20 0:53
(The conclusion of each Exercise is signaled with a brief figure using the MICHAEL formula's high F from the M. formula's LUCIFER's REQUIEM measure.) For each "O" in the boxes below, the percussionist at that stereo position (L/R) plays his TWO sound plate notes anytime during that Exercise. 
A whistle is also sounded for each strike. 
The MAGIC SOUNDS are played by different combinations of percussionists around the stereo field.
. . .
Electronic Version:
Each "O" indicates a fundamental pitch with 212 overtone partials and a synthetic instrument timbre.  The number of MAGIC SOUNDS is the additional overtone partials distributed to combinations of speakers around the stereo field.  In general, the higher the number, the more high frequency phasing.
1st Tone:
Microtonal tremolo eleventuplet rhythms with modulated dynamics, grace notes and initial note accents Left |. . . . . O| Right
2 1:32 21 1:33
2nd Tone:
Eb (1 oct higher)
Figures with increasingly long (then short) staccato tremoli with flutter-tongued glissandi tails |. . . . O .|
3 0:35 22 0:36

Bent and glissed tones connected by halting grace note rhythms and flutter-tongue accents, shakuhachi-like, gradually rising in pitch range, ending in microtonal Ab notes |. . . . O O|
4 1:05 23 1:00

3rd Tone:
Wide interval leaps with upper notes descending from Eb to D and lower notes matching LUCIFER's REQUIEM Nuclear formula pitches |. . . O . .|

(Electronic Version:
Descending fundamental tone)
5 0:28 24 0:25

4th Tone:
Ascending and descending grace notes to Ab with flutter-tongue and rhythmic modulation (variation) |. . . O O O|
6 0:21 25 0:22

Descending groups of major 7th tremolos with dynamic modulation, punctuated by rests and held vibrato notes |. . O . . .|

(E.V.: tetra-chord sound complex)
7 1:35 26 1:35

Isolated descending semitone intervals from F (MICHAEL pitch), bending using embouchure Pause 8 0:42 27 0:41

Ascending/descending scalar figures of different size steps, using toneless blowing, flutter-tongue, glissandi  |. . O O O O|

(E.V.:2nd rising fundamental,
also "rushing noise"
(as narrow band white noise)
9 1:05 28 1:07

5th Tone:
Slow melodic figure centered on Bb, modulated with SUNG semi-parallel glissando figures |. O . . . .|
10 0:31 29 0:30
6th Tone:
Slow melodic figure centered on Gb, modulated with SUNG semi-unison glissando figures |. O O O O O|
11 0:53 30 0:50

Variation of Exercise 9
(Slow melodic figure centered on Bb, modulated with SUNG semi-parallel glissando figures)
|O . . . . .|
12 0:34 31 0:33

Variation of Exercise 10 with accents (Slow melodic figure centered on Gb, modulated with SUNG semi-unison glissando figures) |O O O O O O|
13 0:23 32 0:39

The Exchange of the Senses
Witches' Laughter
After the MICHAEL high F signal figure (in descending pairs), KATHINKA leaves her flute floating in the air (on invisible strings), then... -> KATHINKA gives a new pitched sound plate to Percussionist 3, and switches sound plates among the other percussionists. 
Meanwhile the percussionists freely play their whistles quietly, but also once very loudly.
(After this exchange, the previous LUCIFER Nuclear notes (in E) are now the EVE Nuclear notes (in F) - (from Jerome Kohl)).
(E.V.:"Witches' Laughter" Tape)
14 1:56 33 0:35

Variation of Exercise 9 and 10.  Vocal glissandi and wider flute intervals around Bb, followed by lower register dyad figure  |O O O O O O|

(E.V.:Descending fundamental tone)
15 1:18 34 1:15
  Energetic toneless blowing with wide interval tremolos and glissandi (and a sung note) |. . O . . .|

(E.V.:rushing noise)
16 0:37 35 0:37

Voiceless plosive tones, followed by A based melody with sung pedal tones on low A (bent)
|O O . O O O|

(E.V.:2nd descending fundamental,
also rushing noise)
17 0:39 36 0:39

Variation of Exercise 15 (energetic toneless blowing with wide interval tremolos and glissandi) |O . . . . .|

(E.V.:slight bending,
rushing noise)
18 0:18 37 0:18

7th Tone:
Modulated dynamics and rhythm with micro-tonal movement around E and F, slightly rising in the middle with singing, finishing with sung A with flutter-tongue accents |. O . O O O|
19 0:59 38 1:00

5 note ascending figure with toneless blowing and intermittent sung pedal tones on A |. . . O . .|

(E.V.:rising fundamental,
rushing noise)
20 0:28 39 0:26

8th Tone:
3 note descending scale, then repeated an octave higher |. O . . O O|
21 0:19 40 0:18

9th Tone:
Broad variations on a 3-note descending figure similar to Exercise 20 (sometimes calls to mind the Sunday limb of the MICHAEL formula) |. . . . . O|
22 0:43 41 0:42

10th Tone:
Rising scalar figures (3-note figure from Ex. 21 appears once) from high A to C# to Ab with tempo and dynamic modulation, harmonics |. O . . O .|
23 0:55 42 0:57

11th Tone:
Rapid, oscillating, ascending and descending interval scales, separated by held sung tones of the retrograded (backwards) LUCIFER Nuclear formula, each with an A pedal on the flute.  At the end, KATHINKA and the 6 MORTAL SENSES engage in a brief call and response. |. . . . O .|

(E.V.: PAUSE instead of response)
24 4:35 43 4:39

Rapid, oscillating, ascending and descending interval scales with toneless blowing and flutter-tongue, separated by harmonics |. O . . . .|

fundamental tones,
rushing noise)
25 2:56 44 2:58
The Release of the Senses Cadenza-like recap of all 24 preceding Exercises, but in Eb (1 semitone lower).  A high F separates the 6 segments (phrases) of the LUCIFER formula:
1-2/3-6/7/8-13/14-17/18-24.  Throughout, KATHINKA dances in a spiral (pausing to RELEASE each of the SENSES) and finally kneels and bows beside LUCIFER's piano grave.

(In addition to 2 large LUCIFER mandalas on stage, LUCIFER's grave is represented by an upended piano with only 13 large keys.)
The percussionists each strike 1 of their sound plates to make a repeating combined melody (the descending final measure of the LUCIFER formula), along with whistling, humming and 7 MAGIC SOUNDS.  1 by 1, at each high F signal from KATHINKA, they are RELEASED and move to LUCIFER's piano grave.  At the end they drop their sound plates into it and then fly away (or walk).
(E.V.:Witches' Laughter Tape,
All 6 channels play 12 fundamentals based on the simplified LUCIFER formula 1 semitone lower.)
26 3:01 45 3:25
Exit Fast, toneless, oscillating legato figures alternating with jagged sung figures (becoming "shrill expiring laughter").

(KATHINKA slowly climbs into the grave while playing.)
(E.V.:Tone complexes fade on Eb,
Witches' Laughter)
27 1:50 46 1:49
11 Trombone Tones
Unseen in the grave, KATHINKA sounds the 11 LUCIFER Nuclear tones ("trumpeting" into the flute body), which is followed by a brief toneless phrase (as "witches' laughter").

(As the 11 Trombone Tones are sounded, the corresponding "key" on the piano grave becomes depressed and stays down.)
(E.V.:Witches' Laughter fades out)

28 1:14 47 2:22
The Scream After a shrill scream, 4 figures in LUCIFER colors (black, white, red) cover the piano grave.
29 0:06

KATHINKAs GESANG (with electronics) score page
     In this page from the version for flute and electronic music, the speakers are indicated by Roman numerals, a [K] indicates a full overtone note with a synthesized instrumental tone.  The numbers in ovals are the number of contiguous overtones portioned to that speaker, and the number ranges are the overtone numbers.  The speaker with the double oval labels the lowest overtone partial group (also the most prominent).  The box to the right is the spatial orientation visualized.  In the version for percussionists, the numbers in ovals are the number of magic sounds for that Exercise.  [K] indicates which percussionist(s) play their sound plates.

Sound Impressions
     KATHINKA's GESANG has been one of my favorite scenes from LICHT ever since I can remember first hearing it.  The unconventional yet virtuosic flute part, coupled with the mysterious sounds from the homemade percussive devices, draws the listener into a ritualistic web of different temporal layers and textures.  This piece brilliantly adheres to the framework set out by the LICHT super-formula, but at the same time, through Kathinka Pasveer's vibrant interpretations, it's probably one of the most skillfully exploratory works for flute - especially on a timbral and rhythmic level.  The use of vocalization in Exercise 10 displays some really wonderful frequency beating as well, an idea Stockhausen would go on to develop further in other works for wind.  In the percussion version of KATHINKA's GESANG, due to the spare arrangement of flute and "magic sounds", a "Japanese Noh theatre" feeling frequently comes through, and at times the microtonal stylings of the flute also add to that flavor.  The slow, drawn out nature of the sound plates' LUCIFER tones also brings to mind the slower layers present in MUSIK IM BAUCH.

     The version with electronics takes a bit more time to absorb, since the phase cycles can be very subtle to the unfamiliar ear.  On first listening it may not seem like much is going on, but after repeated sessions, several individual rotation cycles can be heard at the same time, and due to the interference patterns created by the phasing, many "sub-cycles" result.  The synthetic instrumental tones on the other hand, are hard for me to pick out.  The score may indicate different synthetic tones for different speakers, but at this point in time they all kind of sound "the same".  As Stockhausen indicates above, the stereo mixdown is not the ideal listening arrangement unfortunately.

     Finally, the 5 + 1 piano version has not yet been recorded, so there's definitely something to look forward to in the future!

Sound samples, CD ordering:
Scores of KATHINKAs GESANG (highly recommended, loads of photographs)
Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses (1 lecture on KATHINKAs GESANG,Toop) 
Electronic Music for Kathinka's Chant as Lucifer's Requiem (Stockhausen article)
KATHINKAs GESANG (Flute & Percussion) Youtube clip 
SAMSTAG AUS LICHT Staging 2013 (photos)

1 comment:

  1. The six-channel version was created by multiple 'synchronized' recordings on to multi-channel tape. There are time variances in the starts from tens to many tens of milliseconds. This is a technical flaw that has surprisingly serious implications on the 'coherence' of the de-phased partials. When heard in six-channels, with the timing errors corrected, the sound is extremely rich and robust. Perhaps some day someone will produce a version with the start-times exactly synchronized.