No. 73 1/2 (ie 73.2): MITTWOCH-FORMEL (Wednesday Formula) for 3 percussionists (metal, wood and skin) (2004) [23'35"]
No. 73 2/3 (ie 73.3): KLAVIERSTÜCK XVIII (Piano Piece 18) for electronic keyboard (synthesizer) (2004) [12'12"]
|Symbol for MITTWOCH AUS LICHT|
The common theme of this group of chamber works is perhaps "rotation": rotation in space, rotation of timbres, rotation of melodic material, etc... This idea is also expressed in the CAROUSEL section of MICHAELION, the 4th Scene of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT.
The music of the LICHT opera cycle is almost entirely based on a "super-formula", which is a 3-layered melodic-thematic representation of the 3 characters MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER. These formula-themes are together and separately threaded throughout the opera's vocal and instrumental fabric.
Note: The first staff system (above left) only has 4 lines since that part of the Wednesday measure has silent rests for the MICHAEL and LUCIFER layers (only the EVE staff is shown). Also, the first 2 notes heard are from the ending of the Tuesday segment of the EVE formula.
Three Incarnations of the Wednesday Formula
|Start times||Performer movements||Musical texture|
|3:55||0:07||Players enter from the 4 compass points and approach the center of the audience space||Independent, staggered held tones, sometimes with vibrato|
|2:41||Players reach the center, play a brief phrase, and then resume walking past each other going outside the hall||Brief descending harmony phrase, then independent held tones return with lower notes|
|4:50||0:00||While outside, players begin a continuous trill and then return to the hall.
Stationed at each of the 4 cardinal compass points along the wall, they begin to rotate counter-clockwise, changing the trill notes independently at each compass location
|Trills and tremolo figures, changing dynamics and speed, position|
|3:38||After the 3rd rotation, the 4 trumpeters play a unison fanfare together||Brief harmony phrase|
|3:49||Trumpet players play and walk out past the entrance foyer||Independent legato bent notes and isolated accents|
|4:25||Players go outside while playing||Ensemble chord with flutter-tongue|
|4:12||0:00||Players reenter the hall and go up the center aisle in pairs, pausing during the formula phrases and walking during the free sections. They enter the tent.||Long tones, varied bending ("wailing"),
from a distance getting closer
|1:48||3 Nuclear formulas* (EVE, LUCIFER, MICHAEL, 20-24 secs each) separated by independent held trumpet fanfares (20-30 secs)
The section ends in a brief silent pause (fermata)
|3:03||0:00||Players extend their trumpet bells through the tent "portholes" and play with trumpet bells sticking out||The full MITTWOCH super-formula is played by the 4 trumpets in 4 layers|
|2:35||The trumpets retract, the players stick out their heads through the portholes to receive applause, then "evaporate"||Final harmony fanfare|
*Nuclear formulas are the formulas reduced to its pitch row with only duration and dynamics (ornamentation and articulation is left out)
Trumpetent performed by Phillip Chase Hawkins, Jessica Waithe, Natalie Fuller, Aaron Hodgson at the 2013 Chosen Vale Center for Advanced Musical Studies International Trumpet Seminar in Enfield, NH:
|Score cover featuring left to right: (Stuart Gerber) SKIN, (Oleg Dziewanaowski) WOOD, (Michael Pattmann) METAL |
There are 3 iterations ("projections") of the Wednesday Formula, each one faster then the previous, and the assignment of the percussion timbres to the layers is different for each. The "stretched" Wednesday formula segment is played on tubular bells for the 1st Projection, but in the 2nd and 3rd Projections the stretched Wednesday tones are incorporated into the melodic shapes of the other 3 layers (which is why, for example the opening EVE formula fragment in the 2nd and 3rd Projections have a more sudden leap from C to D than normal). During the ending "counting" sections of the super-formula, the words "Wednesday from Light formula - skin, wood, metal percussion" are spoken in the first 2 Projections (in German and then in English). One of the challenges of this work for the percussionists is the production of micro-tonal pitches through normally-pitched percussion instruments. This work was premiered by Stuart Gerber (SKIN), Oleg Dziewanowski (METAL) and Michael Pattmann (WOOD) in 2005 during the Kürten Stockhausen Courses.
On the CD recording, the instrument groups are arranged low to high going from left to right - ie SKIN (left), WOOD (center), METAL (right).
|Score cover with Antonio Pérez Abellán|
In the first iteration, the Wednesday "stretched" layer exists on a 4th staff ("bell-tones"), but in the 2nd and 3rd iterations the long Wednesday tones are incorporated into the other 3 layers (in the same manner, of course, as in the percussion trio version described previously).
One unique aspect of the 3rd iteration of the Wednesday Formula is that Abellán gave each formula its own "organ mixture" - that is, the rotating MICHAEL, EVE and LUCIFER melodies each have a parallel harmony programmed into their timbre. For example, the MICHAEL notes have a slightly softer harmony pitch 19 steps above it, EVE notes have a harmony 26 steps higher, and LUCIFER has a harmony 23 steps higher. Abellán premiered this piece in 2005 during the Kürten Stockhausen Courses using a Kurzweil K 2600 X synth with volume pedals (due to the complexity of the dynamics, 2 layers were played "live", and the remaining layer(s) were pre-sequenced). On the CD recording, the register layers are arranged low to high going from left to right.
"Comprehension of the formula construction is the rational aspect;
being moved by the magic sound layers is the other, mysterious aspect...
...in a performance with electronic piano, one cannot see how the sounds are produced.
It is best to close the eyes and experience a HYPER SUPER FORMULA."
- Stockhausen, from the CD booklet (Stockhausen Edition CD 79)
All three of these works examine the LICHT super-formula through a kind of Rubik's Cube lens. The melodies and sound sequences are all recognizable, but the colors keep changing, or rather "something's different", but it's not always obvious right away what that difference is. I think that might be what Stockhausen means by appreciating these works for their "mysterious aspect" as a "hyper super formula". Even aside from the "familiar/unfamiliar" aspect of these pieces, these arrangements of the LICHT super-formula for trumpet quartet, percussion trio and synthesizer bring new light to the polyphonic fabric of the formulas. The timbral choices for the percussion trio and the synth timbres are especially revealing. Admittedly, some of the timbral details (such as the "mixtures" in KLAVIERSTÜCK XVIII) are a bit hard to discern on a CD recording, at least on my sound system. The bottom line however, is that these are really rich and beautiful-sounding chamber works and show off the melodic aspects of the LICHT super-formula in a very concise and accessible way.
From a theatrical standpoint, TRUMPETENT also has a mysteriously ritualistic atmosphere. The blue symbol for MICHAEL (at top of page) indicates 4 horns pointing in the cardinal directions, which of course, is reflected in the movements of the 4 trumpet players. Despite it's somber beginning, it ends on a fairly funny image. Seeing the audience reactions in the video is amusing in itself!
Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering:
- TRUMPETENT (trumpet quartet)
- MITTWOCH-FORMEL (percussion trio)
- KLAVIERSTÜCK XVIII (synthesizer solo)
MITTWOCH AUS LICHT Wiki