|SONNTAG AUS LICHT|
|The 7 SIGNS of LICHT, Score cover to DÜFTE - ZEICHEN.(© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)|
for 7 vocalists, boy’s voice, synthesizer
DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Scents - Signs) is the 4th Scene of Stockhausen's dramatic music work SONNTAG AUS LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT), which was the last-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (Light). LICHT is a work of cathedral-like proportions 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).
SONNTAG (Sunday) is the Day of Mystical Union, specifically between MICHAEL and EVE. The scenes in SONNTAG do not have a dramatic arc connecting them, instead the actual theme of union between the 2 characters is achieved through musical, visual, spatial and even olfactory means. In DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Scents - Signs), Stockhausen celebrates each of the 7 Days of the Week with it's own Scent and an explanation of its Sign. The main body of this Scene features six vocalists singing as solos, duets and trios, each of which corresponding to the basic theme of each Day of the Week. At the end are 2 additional songs where a youth from the audience is taken into the sky on a flying horse:
- MONDAY SOLO: EVE's day (CUCHULAINN)
- TUESDAY DUET: Day of Conflict between MICHAEL & LUCIFER (KYPHI)
- WEDNESDAY TRIO: Cooperation between MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER (MASTIX)
- THURSDAY SOLO: MICHAEL's Day (ROSA MYSTICA)
- FRIDAY DUET: Day of LUCIFER's Temptation of EVE (TATE YUNANAKA)
- SATURDAY SOLO: LUCIFER's Day (UD)
- SUNDAY DUET: Day of Mystical Union between MICHAEL & EVE (WEIHRAUCH)
- BOY'S SCENT (KNABEN-DUFT)
- HEAVEN'S SCENT (HIMMELS-DUFT)
(Photo: Klaus Lefebvre)
Like MANTRA and ZYKLUS, the architectural aspects of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN are very interesting, but knowing them I think is not essential in order to enjoy the music. But it does give alot of insight into how Stockhausen is able to grow an entire scene from just a few measures of melodic material. In following the next paragraphs it's probably helpful to have my super-formula page handy...
Stockhausen temporally stretched (increased the note durations of) the 3 SONNTAG day measures of the LICHT super-formula (m.17-19) to match the length of the entire LICHT super-formula (ie - the 3 measures were expanded to 19 measures through rhythmic augmentation). The LICHT super-formula measures (m.12-14) corresponding to the augmented DÜFTE - ZEICHEN fragment (from the 3 SONNTAG measures) make up part of the melodic material of the ENTRANCE (a similar technique is used to generate melodies for LICHT-BILDER's introductory section). I refer to this expanded 3 measure fragment as the "DÜFTE - ZEICHEN from SONNTAG" excerpt (DZS), and perhaps the 3rd letter S could be used as a mnemonic device to think of "short" notes.
Stockhausen also compressed all 29 hours of LICHT on top of the super-formula and then selected the fragment corresponding to the DÜFTE - ZEICHEN scene. This is, of course, a very small excerpt from the LICHT super-formula (just the first half-note from m. 18), and when it is stretched out to match the 3 measures of the DZS, it essentially results in long single tones. I label this the "DÜFTE - ZEICHEN from LICHT" excerpt (DZL) and the 3rd letter "L" could be used as a mnemonic device to think of "long" notes. To summarize:
- DZS = DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from SONNTAG, m. 12-14 of the LICHT super-formula
- DZL = DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from LICHT, m. 18 (1st half-note) of the LICHT super-formula
|(from pg. 12 of the 2004 Stockhausen Courses Composition Book, click to enlarge)|
|1.||M DZL||: MICHAEL DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from LICHT|
|2.||E DZL||: EVE DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from LICHT|
|3.||M DZS||: MICHAEL DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from SONNTAG|
|4.||E DZS||: EVE DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from SONNTAG|
|5.||MNF||: MICHAEL Nuclear Formula|
|6.||ENF||: EVE Nuclear Formula|
For the first 4 layers above, the beginnings of the MICHAEL and EVE layers of the DZS and DZL are stretched out to 7 measures, each referring to a Day of the Week. For the DZS, only m. 12 of the LICHT super-formula is used here, since the Alto and Boy sections use measures 13 and 14. For the DZL, only m. 18's initial quarter-note is used, since the Alto and Boy sections use m.18's 2nd quarter-note pitches. Anyways, this is a fairly involved process of mapping and reallocation of melodic material from the LICHT super-formula and is really too hard to clearly explain in a short space. To read more explanations of this process it's recommended that the brave reader consult the 2004 Composition Course book on DÜFTE - ZEICHEN).
|LICHT Nuclear formulas: MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER|
(from "Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's LICHT" - Jerome Kohl)
Each of the 7 Day phases from DÜFTE-ZEICHEN is assembled from it's corresponding Day in the form scheme. The featured soloist(s) mostly use only the bottom 2 staffs (again, the MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear Formulas). For example, MONDAY SOLO is based on the 1st column's bottom 2 staff measures (MNF & ENF Monday limb) and TUESDAY DUET is based on the 2nd column's bottom 2 staff measures (MNF & ENF Tuesday limb), etc... The E DZS 4th staff is also used in the Wednesday Trio and Thursday Solo (periodic falling/rising "noise" accents). The other vocalists sing their polyphonic aleatory layer using the pitches from that Day's column (sometimes with additional pitches from the corresponding LUCIFER DZS/DZL layer, not shown in this form scheme).
Marked in red are the initial number of variations for each melodic fragment. At top, "D(uft)" and "Z(eichen)" indicate whether the text at that point refers to that Day's Scent or Sign. Basically, Monday starts with Scent, then becomes Sign in the second half, etc...until Wednesday. On Thursday the Scent and Sign text order is simultaneous, and from Friday to Sunday the text is on the Sign and then the Scent.
Each section has a background sustained synthesizer chord which is made up of the initial notes of the aleatory vocal layers. Additionally, isolated elements are interspersed to punctuate the vocal phrases, and as the sections progress, the synthesizer embellishments become more and more diverse. In the 11 phases of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN, the accumulating "accessories" are as follows:
- Points with short Glissandi
- Irregular staccato lines
- Quick melodic points
- Short tremoli
- Chordal Glissandi
- Longer trills (high)
- Unison with the soloists
(A & Boy, only at the end)
Gold & White
|Tenor 1||Soprano 2
During each Day's Scent-Sign (aleatory ensemble prelude), a soloist lights an aromatic bowl and unrolls the SIGN above his/her podium. The soloists each make various hand gestures related to that Day's sign (tracing in rhythm, etc...). Each Day also has specific hand gestures for the background singers.
The stage production of DÜFTE – ZEICHEN is very elaborate, and a text synopsis really can't do justice to all of the many rich visual (and olfactory!) elements. The CD recording is an excellent studio representation of the opera's musical elements and so here I will mainly concentrate on that. The booklet (book, actually) that comes with the DÜFTE – ZEICHEN CD 69 has much more detailed descriptions, photographs, libretto and score excerpts.
The complete transcription of the entire libretto text is included in the DÜFTE – ZEICHEN score. The libretto text "distilled to their essences" is included in Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 69 and the SONNTAG AUS LICHT libretto book. A further condensed version of the text is included in CD 70. Below I picked out a few relevant excerpts which hopefully impart some of the message. The timings below are from the Complete Stockhausen Edition CD 69.
6 soloists (with lit scent bowls) enter from different directions and proceed
to their podiums.
They then position their scent bowls on stands.
|ENSEMBLE:||Folks, today there's
something to smell/sniff -
kyphi - incense - seven scents - signs.
|Each vocal independently sings a repeating 7 measure phrase
(each starting from a different measure):
|ENSEMBLE:||Seven Scents of the 7 Days of the Week|
|Harmonized melody using pitches from:
|At the beginning of each Day phase, the non-featured soloists begin singing their aleatory layer,
and the synthesizer plays a chord made up of the notes used in the Day's aleatory vocal layers.
Soprano 1 lights Cuchulainn and unrolls the MONDAY sign.
|ENSEMBLE Aleatory Layer:
Rhythmically independent cycles of leaping grace notes, glissandi, whispered/percussive consonants, slow low syllables
|Monday scents signs scene of Sunday from LIGHT: cuchulainn…|
|Monday SCENT -
CUCHULAINN - white pine, mistletoe…
Monday Eve SIGN - blue and black green heart and womb…
LUCIFER MICHAEL united through EVE…
basic melody is repeated 14 times with variations (added glissandi, rhythmic augmentation, etc...). The melody ascends by gradually shifting notes upwards by octaves.
In the middle is a wordless vocal "insert" with a climactic trill and falling-rising staccato ending (0:56-1:40). Afterwards, the melody begins descending in a mirror procedure of the first half.
MNF (MICHAEL Nuclear Formula) Monday limb blended with ENF (EVE Nuclear Formula) Monday limb: 5-note melody with a rest in the middle
High isolated synth tones signal each melody phrase iteration. Synth also plays a sustained chord of all 5 pitches from the Monday NFs and the initial aleatory pitches from Monday SCENT-SIGN.
|Tenor 2 ignites Kyphi, as Bass goes to join him. The
Bass unrolls the TUESDAY sign.
During their duet, they compete, shoving and interrupting each other, etc…
Cycles of slow 1 or 2-note syllables, Tenor sings single note tremolo syllable with changing tempi
Tenor 2 & Bass
|Tuesday SCENT - KYPHI
- fragrant waves of glowing liberation…a pleasant feeling in the soul
Tuesday SIGN - Michael sign 3 blue circles with cross of iris tips, Lucifer sign red circle, black dot - Lucifer's red circle breaks into Michael's second blue circle, grabbing it and clinging to it - Tuesday conflict sign - Michael's lower arrow pierces, sticks into Lucifer's black heart, red circle...
|The 2 voices sing their melodies in groups of rising variations (pitch range top note rising, then bottom note, etc...) marked by 4 short breaks (1:03, 1:46, 2:48, 3:24). The duet is roughly synchronous (phrase-wise), but polyphonic, reflecting the conflict between MICHAEL & LUCIFER. In the 2nd half, parts are freely exchanged/inverted in combinations.||MELODY FORMULA:
Tenor 1 - MNF Tuesday limb: 3-note rising fragment, repeated and expanding pitch register upwards
Bass - ENF Tuesday limb with MNF Tuesday limb inverted (symbolizes DIENSTAG's conflict): 4-note rising/falling fragment, repeated and rising
A slow synthesizer glissando rises and falls twice, stretched out over the entire duet.
|Soprano 2 and Tenor 2 join Baritone at the Wednesday
Soprano 2 unrolls the WEDNESDAY sign.
The Baritone ignites the Mastic scent.
The Tenor conducts the trio.
Cycles of slow irreg tremoli, microtonal held notes/buzzing, voiceless tones, 4-note melody fragment ("Duft Ma-sti-x", ENF Wed limb)
|mastix…scent…Pistazia…lenticus - etheric - aroma…etc…|
Soprano 2, Tenor 2, Baritone
|Wednesday SCENT -
mastic aromatic waft pistachia, etc…
Wednesday SIGN - Michael's lance…pierces Lucifer's black center…Eve's bosom holds them tight, etc...
Wednesday Peace Love
|The 3 vocalist start in unison harmony, but soon break into combinations of solos, duos and trios. The melodic groups are semi-harmonized and used in different permutations by the soloists, with some additional fast passages. This reflects the cooperative spirit between MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER in MITTWOCH AUS LICHT.||MELODY FORMULA:
ENF Wed limb: jagged 4-note motif (w 4 inserts)
MNF Wed limb: colored silence (or breathing glissando)
E DZS Wed limb: descending rushing noises
Synth: add trills (and some arpeggios)
|Tenor 1 lights Rosa Mystica and unrolls the THURSDAY sign.
Cycles of 5 whispered rising tones, slow falling "piu" buzzing with staccato tail, whispered tremolo, microtonal held notes, 2-note leaping interval
|Rosa Mystica - Rose scent for harmony - Sign of love - Sign of the Earth, etc…|
scents and signs are blended)
Rosa Mystica - Thursday SCENT - 3 blue circles, 4 iris buds, Michael's Thursday SIGN - rose scent for harmony, beauty, labdanum, etc…
alternatingly with whispered tones, permutating cycles of material from the 3
formula Thursday limbs.
The middle section is dominated by an excursion ("insert") which alternates between the limbs of the full Michael and Eve NFs (1:41-4:33/m. 139-171). After this insert the 1st part is revisited but in inverted form.
MNF Thur limb: jagged 4-note falling motif, expands downwards and then returns to original interval range
ENF Thur limb: 1 accent note and rest, interrupted by colored noises
E DZS Thur limb: rising rushing noise
Synth: add (points with) fast glissandi
joins Soprano 2 at the Friday podium and unrolls the FRIDAY sign,
as Soprano 2 lights Tate Yunanaka.
Cycles of slow whispered irregular rising/falling/normal tremoli, crying/laughing tones, rising "piu", rapid, low chant
|Caino - Frigga - Eve's circle and Eve's heart are displaced, red lance of Lucifer, etc…|
Soprano 2 & Baritone
|Friday's SIGN - EVE's
circle and EVE's heart are displaced.
LUCIFER's temptation separates...LUCIFER's black circle is split,
Friday SCENT - Tate Yunanaka - Indian sage, desert mugwort, juniper tips, etc…
vocalists mix melodic material from the formulas with lively glissandi and
tremoli. The beginning section is
layered polyphonically, followed by a synchronous harmony/dialogue section (which reflects the Temptation and Union between EVE & LUCIFER (as CAINO). The preceding repeats once with the voices
1:53: Polyphonic (in English)
2:50: Harmony/Dialogue (in English)
MNF Fri limb w borrowed note from Sat limb: rest and 1 high note
ENF Fri limb w borrowed note from Sat limb: 3-note rising falling motif
These limbs use melodic articulation from the LICHT super-formula (E DZS & M DZS, m. 13, 14).
Synth: add irregular staccato glissandi
lights Ud Wood, unrolls SATURDAY sign.
Cycles with different glissandi endings, rhythmic and wide melodic leaps with 2 contrasting tempo curves (accel./rit.), whistling, Bar. sings buzzy phrases with glissandi
|Saturday picture red circle black spot, Lucifer's Earth sign, etc…|
|Red circle: Saturday,
Lucifer sign rut - dud…wheel of this Earth, blood - fervour, anger…In the red
circle we are red dead…Black center - prison planet Earth - Lucicircus of
rebirth , yes!
SIGN Saturday - snoring shoot, hoot, toot, Saturday Azmael devil!
Saturday SCENT - eaglewood tree, Aquilaria Agallocha Aloe, etc...
|Referred to as a "mandelaria" ("tonsil aria", due to the guttural snorting sounds Stockhausen was only capable of making while recovering from throat surgery). Also, high notes progressively become high-pitched calls "Rot, Rut, Dud, Red, etc", which are reminders of Sicilian mule sounds he heard in 1962 (also appearing in MICHAELION as LUCICAMEL)||MELODY FORMULA:
MNF Sat limb: 1 high note and rest
ENF Sat limb: 2-note rising fragment, with snoring noises
Synth: add wide melodic fragments, ends in falling and swelling accents
1 and Tenor 1 meet at the Sunday podium,
Soprano 1 lights the Frankincense, as Tenor 1 unrolls the SUNDAY sign.
Cycles of wide melodic phrases, irregular/regular tremolo
|Sunday sign Michael EVE mystical marriage 3 blue rings cross and green heart…EVA…MARIA…MICHAEL..etc…|
Soprano 1 & Tenor 1
|Sunday SIGN - Michael
and Eve sign mystical marriage…3 blue rings, cross with iris blossoms, Golden
tips, Cross and circle, Empty circle in the middle, etc…Michael and Eve
mystically united in the Sunday sign, marriage.
Sunday SCENT - incense, Boswellia, scent of resin...Somalia...holy essence for the consecration of the spirit, etc...
variations with extended rhythmic subdivision, rising-falling middle tones,
exchanging parts (register), like a "real dialogue", with 6 harmony
sections, reflecting the Mystical Union of MICHAEL & EVE.
0:00: polyphonic (alternating and exchanging phrases)
1:07: harmony section
5:12: polyphonic (Eng.)
5:41: harmony (Eng.)
MNF Sun limb: rising falling fragment, fast
ENF Sun limb with extra repeated note/octave: slow 3-note rising fragment
Synth: add short tremoli
|The soloists individually raise their scent bowls,
Tenor 1 conducts.
Scents - Signs
|ENSEMBLE||Cuchulainn, Eva heart, Kyphi, 3 rings, cross, Mastic, Rosa Mystica, Heart green, red arrow, Tate Yunanaka, Black Spot, red circle, Ud wood, incense, Cross, circles, heart|
|Alternation of 2 trios singing in harmony, synth plays all chords||MELODY FORMULA:
T1, T2, B: MNF (full, harmonized)
S1, S2, Ba: ENF (full, harmonized)
Synth: add chords
|An ALTO voice sounds from outside (behind the audience).
The six soloists quickly run out to meet her.
|Men, hearken to the
You were born of mothers.
I was first,
Eve is eternal,
forming - through you -
ever more beautiful, more musical children.
|Slow phrases with large interval leaps.
No aleatory vocal accompaniment, but phrases are punctuated by synth chords, and followed by:
Harmonized section with ENF on top-most layer and MNF on bottom most layer, forming 12 chords, becoming faster, then slower, ("EVE, come!")
Combination of ENF and the "yodel" event in the E DZS (leaping intervals)
Eva Eva Eva Eva Komm! Eva viens! Eve, oh come!
Exalted calling/rejoicing/singing (heard "outside")
The Alto voice suddenly shrieks "MICHAEL!"
(with synth accent)
|Greetings - Michael's
bride - Eva - Maria - Virgin - Sunday child - Santa Madonna - Wooman -
Lichtuld - Musa - Isis - Queen - Emivachel, etc…
|The ALTO is carried to the Sunday podium by the six soloists
(overtone chanting) in a handbarrow (or simply escorted).
More grains are added to the incense bowls so the room is very fragrant with a mixture of scents.
|ALTO & ENSEMBLE:
Slow overtone vowels in a somewhat lighter texture (triad harmony), as Alto resumes solo: centering on low middle register, ending in high register
|Boy scent in
cuchulainn, boy smell in kyphi, etc…
Eva Maria in SCENTS-SIGNS (DUFTE-ZEICHEN) calls MICHAEL as boy: May he bless all seven scents and signs from LIGHT!
Synth: add chordal glissandi
Alto calls out to the audience, and a boy vocalist joins her at the podium,
as they sing a dialogue/duet.
The other vocalists encircle them near the end. The boy sings the last phrase walking to the exit behind the Sunday podium (alternatively, a white horse comes flying in, and after mounting it, the alto and boy fly away on it),
and the other vocalists leave in the way that they entered the hall, holding their smoking incense bowls.
ALT und KNABE
Duet Alto & Boy
Alto & Boy
|A: Come Michael,
Boy: Here I am among the people, I hear you EVA-Maria
A: SCENTS-SIGNS of SUNDAY from LIGHT for you.
B: Scents - signs…
A: For the 7 days of every week
B: 7 scents, who has 7 scents for all the days of the week?
A: We have them. You are Micha, whatever you want will come to pass in your world here.
B: What I want: every scent like a melody...
A & B: Scents, signs, Music of Sunday from LIGHT, mystical union of God, EVA-MARIA MICHAEL.
using alternating melodic fragments (and a brief harmony by the other
vocalists). After coming to a harmony
phrase and a fermata rest (2:53), the previous section is repeated with the parts exchanged.
Other vocalists sing long, even syllables
ENF and MNF fragments, using super-imposed rhythms and articulations from the LICHT super-formula
Synth: add longer trills, harmony with soloists
|(Photo: Fulvio Zanettini)|
|Costume design by Johannes Cohen, featuring singers:|
Isolde Siebert, Ksenija Lukic, Susanne Otto, Hubert Mayer, Bernhard Gartner,
Jonathan de la Paz Zaens, Nicholas Isherwood, Sebastian Kunz.
DÜFTE - ZEICHEN is kind of a vocal review of all 7 operas in the LICHT cycle, giving each Day it's own song (MONTAG AUS LICHT also gave each Day it's own signature song, but here the songs also include duos and trios). It's interesting to compare this work with the second part of ATMEN GIBT DAS LEBEN, which also uses aleatory tutti sections to separate solos, duos and trios, though the inner details and text are quite different. Here, the themes of each of the 7 Days of LICHT are poetically described and their symbols explained. Actually the libretto text of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN is probably one of my favorites in the entire LICHT cycle. For the most part, I personally am not a huge fan of "abstract" wordplay (especially in a foreign language), but here the wordplay seems much more agreeable to me - or maybe after so many previous operas with strange-sounding words I am finally "getting in to it" (also there is a somewhat greater mixture of German and English text in SONNTAG AUS LICHT than in the other operas). The way that Stockhausen designed the Signs to match the themes of each Day are very clever, and I never really appreciated them until studying these texts.
The 3 layers (synthesizer, background aleatory layer and vocal soloists) work wonderfully together, but it's also great that the Day songs are on a separate CD without the aleatory layer, to be enjoyed purely as a "song cycle". The way that Stockhausen has structured the songs to reflect the concepts, story arcs and sign shapes of each of the Days of the Week is very fascinating, and gives each Day phase its own identity. The "Overtone Chant" accompanying the Alto solo also stands out as being a very beautiful and transparent choral piece, one that I wish could have been even longer.
Though it's hard to appreciate without having seen these works live, I imagine that these scents, signs and hand/body gestures work together wonderfully in a very organic way (no pun intended). The idea of using scents as another layer to the Days of the Week is pretty fantastic. I've never heard of this being used in other works (though Stockhausen had "floated" this idea as early as when he was writing the first LICHT opera). I would have liked to see this concept expanded to include the Foods of the Days of the Week and the Wines of the Days of the Week (which the audience could consume during each Day phase), but Stockhausen sadly never included "tastes".
Sound samples, online CD ordering:
- DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Complete scene with background vocal layers)
- 9 DÜFTE DER WOCHE (solos, duets and trios without background vocal layers)
Ordering the Scores
Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2004 with sketches and explanations of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN
2011 Musikfabric/Oper Köln SONNTAG Production
2011 SONNTAG AUS LICHT Production Dance Company Page
SONNTAG AUS LICHT 2011 Review (Deutche Welle)