Monday, May 11, 2015


Score Cover
(© Universal Edition)
Nr. 18: STOP, for Orchestra (as 6 Groups)
(1965) [approx. 20 minutes]

Other Related Works:
Nr. 18 1/2 (ie - 18.2): STOP (Paris Version), for 19 players as 6 Groups
(1969) [20'36"]
Nr. 18 2/3 (ie - 18.3): STOP und START for 12 players as 6 Groups (6 pairs of synthesizer and bass clarinet/trombone/basset horn/saxophone/trumpet/flute)
(2001) [21'30"]

     Stockhausen composed STOP "on the spot" during a 7-hour composition seminar at the Cologne Courses for New Music 1964-65 (which he had founded in 1963), when the participants asked him to demonstrate "the process of writing a work, with exact details".  This piece eventually became a part of Stockhausen's 1973 London Sinfonietta touring group's program (the other pieces being KREUZSPIEL, ZEITMASZE, ADIEU and YLEM, with KONTRA-PUNKTE sometimes substituting for STOP).

     STOP is structured so that connected tremolo-based sections alternate with (or are STOPped by) quiet "noise" sections (sparse, un-pitched sounds). The score is written as 42 Sections, each with specific instructions for instrumental layering (tutti vs.smaller combos), dynamics, articulation and available pitches.  Different techniques for transitioning from one Section to the next are also indicated, and during most Sections there are brief, fully-scored phrases, played as "solos" by different instruments, which act as a kind of "dotted" through-line melody (at least conceptually).

     The orchestra is divided into 6 Groups, each with a unique instrumentation (though pizzicato strings could be in one group, and bowed strings in another, cupped trumpets in one and open trumpets in another, etc...).  The make up of the Groups is selected by the conductor and determined by the ability of the instruments to play the notes assigned to that Group in the score.  STOP is scored as 42 Sections, with durations between 7 seconds and 2.5 minutes, with indications for
  • Group structure (indicating which of the 6 Groups play), 
  • available pitches (sometimes a single "central tone", sometimes with a cluster of pitches)
  • tempo (including ritard/accelerando),
  • dynamics (including crescendi/decrescendi),
  • rhythmic shape (regular tremoli vs. irregular tremoli, independent vs. ensemble accents, etc...) and 
  • articulation (held tones, legato, staccato, etc...).  
    While progressing through the 42 Sections, a held "central tone" descends (with 1 ascending exception), starting from the 2nd B above the treble clef and descending down to the 1st C below the bass clef.  Many Sections have a cluster of "satellite" pitches in addition to the descending central tone, in which case the result sounds closer to "point music" than tremoli, depending on the number of satellite tones and articulation.  Some of the Sections are characterized as "noises", which are generally more quiet and pointillistic, using percussive/toneless articulation, etc...  These Sections "stop" the action (and the process of the descending central tones).
Form Scheme from score (© Universal Edition)
     In the form-scheme above, some of the important aspects of the 42 Sections are shown.  The top row (in squares) is the Section number.  The skipped Sections are the "noise Sections" (for example Sections 3-5, 8, 11, etc...).  Below the Section numbers is the pitch set that is to be used in treble and bass clef.  The 1st of the descending central tones can be seen in Section 1 and 2 (in Section 2, the Central Tone of B is joined by a cluster of 11 pitches below it).  Below that is the indication for which groups (I - VI) are active during a Section (for example, Group VI plays alone in Section 1).  Section 41 has a special solo (viola in the Paris Version, electronium in the London Version) which is characterized as "a secret children's song sound(ing) 'like wind' ". The durations of each Section are calculated from the Fibonacci sequence, and in the score they are indicated as whole numbers (a duration of "1" should be about 1/40 minute, "8" would be 8 times longer).

Notes for the London Version are handwritten on this published score page for the Paris Version.
(© Universal Edition)
     This page from Stockhausen's own conductor score for the London tour shows Sections 1 through 4.  It looks like Stockhausen replaced the durations with seconds (8 has become 12).  The "Paris Version" instrument assignments for each solo are printed in this version, and notes specific for the "London Version" are handwritten.  Ignoring the top right graph for the moment, from top to bottom there are 7 layers of score information:
  • Section number (in squares)
  • Duration (<--->)
  • Group selection (in diamonds)
  • Tempo (fast/slow), rhythm (regular/irregular), tremolo type (1-note/2-notes), articulation (staccato/legato)
  • Available pitches (or NOISES): see form-scheme above
  • Dynamics
  • Solo(s): these are often held tones, slow glissandi or rising/falling chord clusters, with a few more melodic exceptions
The Section divider before Section 3 indicates a specific kind of transition: transition out Groups and transition in individual instruments..  There are 5 kinds of transition types:
  1. jump-cut (normal, immediate), 
  2. transition Group by Group, 
  3. transition instrument by instrument (soft jump-cut),
  4. transition out individual instruments and transition in Groups, 
  5. transition out Groups and transition in individual instruments. 
     Moving from Section 2 to 3, the transition is the 5th type.  In the top right part of the score page, a shorthand graph shows this scheme (6 Groups each stop playing Section 2 individually, as the 3 members of Group VI individually start playing Section 3).

(based on the recording of the "London Version" on Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 4)
     In the descriptions below, all tremolos are based on 1 note and in regular periodic rhythm, unless marked 2-note tremolo and/or IRR (irregular rhythm).  The "melodic" solos are indicated, but other solos of held tones, accents and slow glissandi actually occur throughout.  All of the NOISE Sections are basically quiet, and represent a STOP ("colored pause") to the harmonic progression.  Electronium replaces viola in the London recording.  In the 4th column, by multiplying the number of Groups with the number of pitches in the available pitch set, one can get an idea of the harmonic density of a Section.  All of the NOISE Sections only feature 1 Group, except for Sections 18 and 38 (each with 2 Groups).  All transitions between Sections are "jump-cut" or "soft jump-cut" unless indicated as "soft transition".  Stockhausen CD 4's recording of STOP has a track break before each "start", but CD 64 (STOP und START) has a track for each of the 42 Sections.
CD 4 Dur CD 4 Trk Textures, Central tones, melodic solos, etc... Nr. of
(NOISE Sections have 1 Group)
(add 10 to get CD 64 trk)
3:15 12 START: 
tremolo on high B becoming IRR, 
Central Tone = B
1 x 1 1
IRR 2-note tremolos on all 12 Central Tones, becoming regular, mixed dynamics (longest section, with soft transition to next Section)
Oboe solo
6 x 12 2
STOP: NOISE: slow quiet 

NOISE: 1 long noise/player, 1 falling gliss

NOISE: fast quiet, 1 loud accent

0:39 13 START: slow 2-note IRR tremolo, swell, soft transition 2 x 2 6
fast IRR tremolo, fade out
Central Tone = Bb
2 x 1 7
STOP: NOISE: slow, quiet 

1:36 14 START: held tones, soft transition
Electronium solo (very quiet)
6 x 6 9
fast 2-note IRR tremolo, staccato, soft transition 4 x 2 10
STOP: NOISE: slow, long 

0:41 15 START: fast IRR tremolo
Central Tone =  G
Electronium solo
1 x 1 12
STOP: NOISE: fast, soft transition

1:47 16 START: layered entrance of fast 2-note IRR tremolo, legato, soft transition 6 x 4 14
STOP: NOISE: slow 

1:43 17 START: IRR legato tremolo (alternating fingerings) becomes staccato, fade, soft transition
Central Tone = A
3 x 1 16
slow IRR tremolo, swell 3 x 3 17
STOP: NOISE: slow point noises and quiet held tones, soft transition
(2 Groups)
4:11 18 START: 5 Group chord, then 1 Group microtonal,
then IRR tremolo, soft transition
Central Tone = G#
5 x 3
1 x 1
tremolo accents, swelling 6 x 2 20
2-note tremolo becomes held tones, pizz. becomes arco
Central Tones D# & E
5 x 3 21
2 Groups have held tones (Central Tone = D#)
1 Group has IRR tremolo, changing tempo (Central Tone = E)
soft transition
3 x 2 22
fast 2-note tremolo, soft transition 4 x 2 23
held swelling note
Central Tone = D
6 x 1 24
STOP: NOISE: slow held points, soft transition
Bass clarinet solo

1:42 19 START: tremolos on 3 notes, 2 tempo layers 4 x 3 26
slow 2-note IRR tremolos on 4 notes, legato, soft transition
Central Tone = F
1 x 4 27
fast IRR tremolos on 3 notes, mixed dynamics
Central Tone = F
3 x 3 28
STOP: NOISE: sparse points, soft transition

1:12 20 START: slow IRR tremolos on 4 notes, staccato, fade 2 x 4 30
fortissimo with slow fade, slow IRR tremolo on low C#, legato, soft transition
Central Tone = C#
4 x 1 31
STOP: NOISE: slow, held

NOISE: slow staccato 

1:09 21 START: slow 2-note IRR tremolo, legato, fade 1 x 2 34
held 4-note chord, individual pitch changes, soft transition
Bassoon drone solo through Section 38
4 x 4 35
tremolo accents on low F#, changing tempo and dynamics, soft transition
Central Tone = F#
1 x 1 36
STOP: NOISE: fast 

NOISE: slow, loud, soft transition
(2 Groups)
3:06 22 START: fast IRR tremolo, soft transition 1 x 3 39
slow 2-note IRR tremolo, legato 2 x 3 40
slow IRR tremolo on 6 notes, with descending bass accents and viola solo (or electronium as in the London recording) ("a secret children's song (which) sounds 'like wind' ")
followed by fast IRR 2-note tremolo, soft transition
Central Tone = C
3 x 6
1 x 2
slow IRR tremolo, swell, fade, with low accents
Central Tone = C
2 x 1 42

Live Performance
     Before a performance, the conductor works out the groupings and who the solos are assigned to.  During the actual performance, the conductor acts as a timekeeper by moving his arms like a clock-hand, while at the same time conducting the solo statements.  He also cues the entrances/exits of each "soft transition" from one Section to the next, as well as several ensemble accent events.  The 6 Groups are spaced as far apart on the stage as possible. 

Related Works
STOP, "Paris Version": Nr. 18 1/2
     This version of STOP specifies the actual instruments for each Group, as well as the instruments for each solo.  The Groups in this version are reduced so that it can be performed by a 19-member chamber orchestra.  It is this version (actually recorded in London as the "London Version") that was originally released on LP, and now available on Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 4.  The instrumentation for each Group in the Paris Version is described in the Paris Version Stockhausen Notes.  The instrumentation for each Group in the London Version (as recorded) is described below:
    1. oboe, piano, electric organ
    2. electronium, trumpet, cello
    3. vibraphone/tam-tam, bass clarinet, electric cello
    4. English horn, synthesizer, bassoon
    5. clarinet, violin, harp, trombone
    6. flute, electric bassoon & alto saxophone, synthesizer, horn.
      STOP and START: Nr. 18 2/3
           This version of STOP also specifies the instruments for each Group, in this case with each Group having 1 synthesizer and 1 acoustic instrument (12 players).  The score is notated quite differently, but is essentially a working out of the original score for STOP with detailed instructions for the instrumentation below:
      1. synthesizer & bass clarinet 
      2. synthesizer & trombone 
      3. synthesizer & basset-horn 
      4. synthesizer & saxophone 
      5. synthesizer & trumpet
      6. synthesizer & flute (the premiere recording substitutes percussion & sampler for synthesizer)
      Sound Impressions
           The original title of STOP is a little bit misleading, since the music never actually "stops", it just becomes quiet noises.  However "Quiet Noises" probably wouldn't have as much of a dramatic impact as a STOP!  In any case, the journey through the 12 note tone sequence is a fascinating meditation on different kinds of tremolo articulations, punctuated by stretches of sparse un-pitched textures and isolated melodic statements.  I like that the 1st Section is a single pitch, followed by an "explosion" of all 12 Central Tones in Section 2.  This acts almost like an "overture", before fading out to the first "stop" (Section 3).  A falling tone signals the beginning of Section 4, and a chord accent signals the onset of Section 5.  Despite the basic concept of tremolo-based combinations alternating with un-pitched quiet events, Stockhausen invests a constant sense of drama to the proceedings.  The 7-hour composition class which birthed this work must have been great fun to see.

           Harmonically, the idea of parceling out a tone row to extreme durations would much later be developed further in the LICHT operas.  The tremolo-based nature of the work gives the whole piece a tense, vibratory atmosphere, but when the "song" surfaces in Section 41, it also provides a ray of light into a progressively darker (lower register) harmonic fabric. It may be interesting to observe that the first 2 Sections somewhat echo point textures explored in KONTRA-PUNKTE, and the following more-controlled tremolo sections sound like a pre-echo to the "intuitive music" structures in AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN, specifically AUFWÄRTS (among a few others).  Part of AUFWÄRTS' text includes "play all the rhythms that you can distinguish today between the rhythm of your smallest particles and the rhythm of the universe", which is often interpreted as different kinds of tremoli.  Of course quiet, un-pitched noise Sections are pretty common in AUS DEN SIEBEN TAGEN as well.

           The London Version displays the layers of the harmonic structure very effectively, and the electroacoustic STOP and START gives an even more varied timbre palette to the work, but with a more concentrated collection of forces.  I would really like to hear a full orchestral version someday, I think that could be very dramatic, and due to the aleatory nature of the pitch attacks, it could result in some fascinating "colored noise" bandwidths, so to speak.

      Sound Samples, Online CD ordering:
      Ordering Scores:
      Orchestral Version Stockhausen Notes
      Paris Version Stockhausen Notes
      STOP and START Stockhausen Notes
      Wiki Entry

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