Thursday, March 26, 2015

KLANG: Hours 14-21, An Overview

CD Covers (©
Work No. 94 - KLANG - 14th Hour: HAVONA (Bass, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 1-3)
Work No. 95 - KLANG - 15th Hour: ORVONTON (Baritone, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 4-6)
Work No. 96 - KLANG - 16th Hour: UVERSA (Basset Horn, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 7-9)
Work No. 97 - KLANG - 17th Hour: NEBADON (Horn, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 10-12)
Work No. 98 - KLANG - 18th Hour: JERUSEM (Tenor, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 13-15)
Work No. 99 - KLANG - 19th Hour: URANTIA (Soprano, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 16-18)
Work No. 100 - KLANG - 20th Hour: EDENTIA (Soprano Sax, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 19-21)
Work No. 101 - KLANG - 21st Hour: PARADIES (Paradise) (Flute, w. Cosmic Pulses Layers 22-24) (2007) 

Introduction and COSMIC PULSES
     Before talking about the compositions listed as Hours 14 through 21 of Stockhausen's KLANG cycle,  a brief description of their electronic layers is important, since these works are basically solo chamber works with accompanying electronic music.  This electronic element is derived from COSMIC PULSES, the 13th Hour of Stockhausen's originally-planned 24-part cycle KLANG ("SOUND") which is based on the 24 hours of the day.  COSMIC PULSES is composed of 24 "Layers" of synthesizer-generated melodic material, with each Layer having a different speed and pitch register.  The Layers enter one by one, starting from the lowest/slowest Layer, and go up in sequence to the highest/fastest Layer.  After a period of several minutes where all 24 Layers are active, the Layers begin to individually drop out, again starting from the lowest Layers and moving upwards (gradually leaving just the higher/faster Layers).  This "draw down" is about twice as fast as in the "build-up".  The 8 compositions written as Hours 14-21 in the KLANG cycle each use different sets of 3 consecutive Layers as "background material" (such as was done with OKTOPHONIE, UNSICHTBARE CHÖRE, etc...) for solo compositions (4 for voice and the remaining for basset horn, flute, horn and soprano sax).  ORVONTON, the 15th Hour, for example, is a work for solo baritone, accompanied by Layers 19, 20 and 21 from COSMIC PULSES.

 The KLANG 24-note pitch row.
The numbers above the staff indicate the chromatic scale value starting from middle C.
The numbers under the staff indicate the steps from one note to the next.
The 1st bar is an "ascending" figure. The 2nd bar is in retrograde (backwards) of the 1st bar and transposed higher.
The 3rd bar is a tritone higher from the 2nd bar (with some octave shifts). The 4th bar is a tritone lower from the 1st bar (with some octave shifts).
Form Structure
     The soloist's part of each of these 8 works is divided into roughly 24 sections named "Moments" (an independent functional section, used as a compositional technique in many Stockhausen works like CARRÉ, MIXTUR, MOMENTE, etc...).  Each of these 24 Moments uses a different note from the 24-note KLANG pitch row (above) as a "central" pitch (sometimes described by Stockhausen as a tone on which the vocalist "halts for a while") which is expressed in different ways.  In general, the assigned KLANG central pitch acts as a kind of "tonic note" (or "key") for that Moment, and often dominates the beginning (or ending) of a Moment.  In some Moments, the KLANG note is expressed as a drone note and/or as a center-line pitch surrounded by different kinds of ornamentation.  In other Moments the KLANG note may be expressed as a lowest-note "ground bass" element, such as in PARADIES (Paradise).  The remainder of the melodic material of the soloist's part is created from variations of parts of the 24-note KLANG pitch row.  In some of these works where there are more than 24 Moments, the last KLANG note(s) may be repeated as single held tones.

Moment Transitions
Artistic images of the planets in the
Urantia belief system (Gary.Tonge).
Stockhausen used many concepts and
proper names taken from the Urantia Book
to create his vocal texts.
     The transitions between consecutive Moments are marked in one of two ways, depending on if the featured soloist is a vocalist or an instrumentalist.  For the 4 works which feature a vocal soloist, a new Moment is signaled by "accent" events.  These accent events are basically 1 to 6 rapid volume fluctuations (about 1 second for each "push") in the electronic music (the last accent of each accent event marks the beginning of the new Moment).  For the 4 works which feature an instrumental soloist, a sung-spoken soprano vocal part (included as part of the electronic layers) marks the end of one Moment and the beginning of the next, and in this case, the last syllable of each soprano phrase generally marks the beginning of the new Moment.  There are many exceptions though, so these are perhaps not as "cut-and-dry" for the listener (unless one knows the "cue" syllables).  The soprano vocal phrases leading into the end of a Moment are sometimes substantial, and in these cases they are spoken in tandem with the held, "halted tones" of the instrumental solo part.  A pause in the instrumental or vocal soloist's part also usually marks the end of a Moment.

Subgroups and Tone Forms
     For many of these works, a Moment is often made up of several different size "groups" (phrases with 1 to 8 notes), followed by articulated held tones.  The groups are generally made up of widely-spaced melodic pitches, but rhythmically and dynamically they are aleatory (freely interpreted by the soloist).  The score usually indicates that they "should not be sung/played too fast, but rather irregularly, with rubato".  The groups are separated from each other by brief pauses (with varying durations), which more or less makes them act as "phrases".  Oftentimes, after a sequence of these melodic groups, the remainder of a Moment consists of that Moment's KLANG central tone (the "halted" tone) which is articulated and scored in different ways using graphic notation and verbal imagery (such as irregular pauses ("morsing"), microtonal bending, sprechgesang, grace-note "yodelling", "psalmodically", etc...).  Some Moments have none of these melodic groups, but are basically a few held tones based on the assigned KLANG pitch row notes.  Because the ornamentation and melodic groups are substantially aleatory (free both rhythmically and dynamically), Stockhausen indicates that "the interpretation should always be full of surprises: by differentiated timbres, by imaginative shaping and above all, by beauty in every detail." 

     These excerpts from the sung text of Orvonton basically explain how the music works:

    "Layer 19 has 23 tones as sound loop…but in 9 sequences the tempo 
is varied manually with accelerandi and ritardandi according to patterns… 
Loops 19, 20, 21 are transposed upwards or downwards 
with glissandi according to the patterns.

"In 24 Moments I sing these explanations…  
Each Moment closes with a different pitch, has its own number of tones in groups, 
and on the last tone of each group I halt for awhile.  
The pitches of my melodies all originate from the 24-tone row of the work KLANG; 
but every moment begins with a different tone…
 "Art music is not honky-tonk, 
its number games need moments every now and then for the soul,
that touch, astonish: time stands still." 

     For some of these works, the Moments are not strictly groups and halted tones.  On many occasions the Moment structure is based on different coloration or melodic shapes.  In the summary table below, some of these differences in the Moments of each work are highlighted in the "Moment Structure" row.  Additionally, on the CD recordings the sound of soloists often also move around spatially (in stereo with reverb), sometimes as a representation of the sung text ("rotation...").

      Below is a summary of the individual works with some general descriptions for each of their structures. In the timings for the Moments on the CDs, each time marker indicates the final electronic accent (of the previous Moment) for vocal solos, or on the final syllable of a soprano phrase for instrumental solos. In the future, I'll probably add pages examining each work in more detail.

14th Hr.
15th Hr.
16th Hr.
17th Hr.
18th Hr.
19th Hr.
20th Hr.
21st Hr.
Electronic Music Layers 1-3 4-6 7-9 10-12 13-15 16-18 19-21 22-24
Bass Baritone Basset-Horn Horn Tenor Soprano Soprano Sax Flute
dela Paz Zaens
Length [25'12"] [24'17"] [22'52"] [21'50"] [21'12"] [19'55"] [18'53"] [18'11"]


Groups with Halted Central Tones of various ornamentation

Accent Events
with Halted Central Tones, sometimes featuring isolated octave leaps 

Accent Events   
Groups with intermittent wide interval leaps, tremoli, various degrees of vibrato, crescendi

  Soprano Accompaniment
Not every Moment has groups, but each articulates different "tone-forms": gliss., tremoli, muting, etc…
Soprano Accompaniment
Wide melodic groups, Halted central tones, some with grace notes

Accent Events 
with repeated final syllables (central tones) with free durations, pauses and reverb
Accent Events
Not every Moment has groups, each articulates texture/image described in the vocal text

(see notes below this table)


Urantian text using the names of the 14th - 21st hours of KLANG

Describes the musical structure of ORVONTON

Urantian text describing UVERSA's role in the universe

Proper names from Urantian texts, astronomical terms

GOD's schools
without end
joy to learn
"Rotations everywhere
Urantia in the cosmos
Father, Son and Holy Ghost
(see below) Describes the musical structure of PARADIES

CD Timings of the Moments of each work on the Stockhausen Complete Edition
1 0:07 0:07 0:07 0:07 0:07 0:07 0:07 Soprano
Entry of soloist 0:37 0:47 0:47 0:47 0:47 0:47 0:47 EDENTIA 0:47
2 1:07 1:27 2:07 1:27 1:27 2:07 3:27 constellation 1:27
3 2:07 2:07 3:07 2:07 2:07 3:37 4:07 in NEBADON 2:07
4 3:07 3:27 3:47 2:47 2:47 5:07 4:47 gardens of GOD 2:47
5 4:07 4:07 4:27 3:27 3:27 6:07 5:27 THOUSANDS OF LAKES 3:27
6 5:07 5:27 5:27 4:07 4:07 7:07 6:07 resurrection halls 4:07
7 6:07 6:07 5:47 4:47 4:52 8:07 6:47 SERAPHIM 4:47
8 7:07 7:07 6:27 5:27 5:37 8:52 7:27 The celestial musicians Morse… 5:27
9 8:07 8:07 7:07 6:07 6:22 9:37 8:07 play steep glissandi 6:07
10 9:07 9:27 8:07 7:07 7:07 10:22 8:47 red points 6:47
11 10:07 10:07 9:07 8:07 8:07 11:07 9:27 in EDENTIA triangles 7:27
12 11:07 11:27 10:07 9:07 9:07 11:43 10:07 circles circles 8:07
13 12:07 12:07 11:07 10:07 10:07 12:19 10:47 Edentic crossescrosses 8:47
14 13:07 13:07 12:07 11:07 11:37 12:55 11:27 limbs limbs 9:27
15 14:07 14:07 13:07 12:07 13:07 13:31 12:07 trillsrills 10:07
16 15:07 15:27 14:07 13:07 16:07 14:07 12:47 repetitions 11:07
17 16:07 16:07 15:07 14:07 16:37 14:47 13:27 concaves 11:47
18 17:07 17:27 16:07 15:07 17:07 15:07 14:07 tremoli 12:27
19 18:07 18:07 17:07 16:07 17:37 15:37 14:37 aleatoric 13:07
20 19:07 19:07 18:07 17:07 18:07 16:07 15:07 explosion 13:47
21 20:07 20:07 19:07 18:07 18:37 16:37 15:37 micro-intervals 14:27
22 21:07 21:07 20:07 19:07 19:07 17:07 16:07 groups of groups 15:07
23 22:07 22:07 20:47 19:47 19:37 17:37 16:43 sine-spirits 15:47
24 23:07 23:07 21:27 20:15 20:07 18:07 17:07 familyten 16:27
25 24:07 23:27 22:00
20:43 19:07 17:35 Edentians 16:57


     The Moment structure for PARADIES is especially interesting, since it adds some additional aleatory elements to the structure itself.  Each Moment is generally made up of 1 ritornelli (loop) section in repeat brackets, and 1 unbracketed non-looped section. In each Moment, the player mainly plays the ritornelli loop, but may at any time insert the non-looped section, either during or in between loops (in this, Stockhausen's last original work, he still uses his signature "insert" technique!).  Melodically, a KLANG central tone is found in each ritornelli, dropped down an octave or two and often played as a brief, held fermata. 

Live Performance
EDENTIA (excerpts): Giovanni Nardi (soprano saxophone) with Francesco Giomi (sound projection)

Sound Impressions
     These last works of Stockhausen before his death are a fine capstone to his compositional body of work.  They include almost all of the concepts he explored, pioneered and developed over his entire career: serial sequencing, moment form, aleatory rhythmic and melodic articulation, spatial movement, insert technique, electronic and instrumental timbre modulation, etc... (the only major form not included is the formula technique, but with the 29-hour long LICHT opera cycle being based on a formula, I think it's acceptable!). These 8 works each navigate through the 24-note KLANG row in a way that could be considered Stockhausen's "Well Tempered Clavier" (with some poetic license).  In any case, when listening these works, I find it helpful to listen for the Moment transition signals (accents or soprano text) and treat each Moment kind of as a verse in a new key.  Of course, in the cases where the soprano vocal text describes a particular design, then those are more easily appreciated that way.  Kathinka Pasveer's interpretations of the texts are a very appreciated common thread through the instrumental solo works, since her vocal inflections give a welcome sense of playfulness to the dense 3-layered polyphony of the COSMIC PULSES loops.

     Because there is such substantial aleatory leeway in the rhythmic and timbral articulations of the soloists' melodic groups, many different interpretations are possible.  For the vocal pieces recorded so far, the performances are lively, yet respectful.  I can imagine other performances which might take greater chances (such as incorporating some vocal timbres used in MIKROPHONIE II or LUZIFERs ZORN).  The instrumental works are performed equally brilliantly in the established language of Stockhausen's wind and brass writing, but the great thing about the free nature of the notation is that it allows newly-developed timbres of the future to be incorporated into these works.  In this way, Stockhausen's works continue to live on well past his lifetime in the hands of future generations.  In fact, had Stockhausen lived longer, I would not have been surprised if he wrote adaptations for some of these works for other instruments, such as trumpet, trombone, or even double bass.

Stockhausen Complete Edition CDs
     One of the nice additions to the official CDs (besides the premiere recordings themselves), is that they include tracks for the electronic part without the soloist, presumably for personal rehearsals of the work.  One of the benefits of this is that one can hear 3 Layers of COSMIC PULSES outside of the COSMIC PULSES' full 24-Layer structure.  Due to the form design of COSMIC PULSES (slow accumulation of stacked Layers, and then after a period of maximum density, unstacking), the Layers becomes very hard to follow after a certain amount of time, and the entries of the individual Layers is hard to hear when there are so many previous Layers swirling around.  With the isolated sets of Layers, one can more easily appreciate the middle and higher register layers.  This is also true, of course, of the regular version with the soloist, but it's nice to have this as a "bonus".  The CD booklets also include the full sung text, just like almost all of the Stockhausen Complete Edition CDs.

Artistic images of the planets in the Urantia belief system (Gary.Tonge).

No comments:

Post a Comment