Saturday, June 6, 2015


Scene 1

Scene 2
Scene 3
Scene 4


Stockhausen Edition CD 66 CD cover
The boxes show examples of the spatial mapping notations (as if seeing the room from above).
Nr. 65: MITTWOCHS-GRUSS (Monday Greeting)
8-Channel Electronic Music
(1998)  [54']

     MITTWOCHS-GRUSS (Monday Greeting) is the electronic "entrance music" portion of Stockhausen's dramatic music work MITTWOCH AUS LICHT (MONDAY from LIGHT), which was the 6th-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).

     MITTWOCH (Wednesday) is the Day of Cooperation and Reconciliation.  The scenes in MITTWOCH do not have a dramatic arc connecting them, instead the theme of Cooperation and Reconciliation between the characters is achieved through musical, visual, and spatial means.  The main element connected with MITTWOCH is air.  The 4 Scenes in MITTWOCH AUS LICHT are preceded and followed by "entrance" and "exit" works: MITTWOCHS-GRUSS (Wednesday Greeting) and MITTWOCHS-ABSCHIED (Wednesday Farewell).   In a staged production, MITTWOCHS-GRUSS is projected in the foyer and auditorium as the audience arrives, and MITTWOCHS-ABSCHIED is projected as the audience exits.   The Wednesday Greeting is also played live by a synthesizer player as one of the electronic background layers to Scene 4, MICHAELION, while the concrète-based "multi-environmental" tape of Wednesday Farewell is played in the background of Scene 2, ORCHESTER FINALISTEN.

Formula Layers to Drone Pitches
The form structure for the first 3 Scenes of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT.  The bottom 3 staffs are the LICHT super-formula with the "rotations" of the layers indicated (M/E/L).  Above the 3 super-formula staffs are the stretched out Wednesday measures.
The form structure (continued from left box) showing the 4th Scene of MITTWOCH AUS LICHT, MICHAELION.  Unlike the previous 3 Scenes, this Scene has a layer rotation in the middle (at subscene OPERATOR).
     When Stockhausen mapped out the 7 operas of LICHT, he divided the 19-measure LICHT super-formula into 7 "day sections", starting from Monday.  Wednesday is the 3rd day of the week, so it is mapped to measures 6 and 7 (the somewhat middle measures).  In the version of the LICHT superformula above, the bottom 3 staff lines are the full LICHT super-formula, with the major difference being that the 3 staff layers are "rotated" into different orders a few times (with the timing matching the Scene changes mostly).  The staff lines above the bottom 3 lines are a "stretched" version of the 2 Wednesday measures over the full 19 measures of the LICHT superformula below them.  This layering of an extremely slowed-down fragment over the full super-formula is a technique Stockhausen uses in all 7 of the LICHT operas, and notes and durations of the stretched-out fragment are sometimes used to determine pitch transpositions, scene durations, background drone textures, etc...  The MITTWOCH-FORMEL (Wednesday Formula) shown above is performed 3 times at 3 different tempos in the piece KLAVIERSTÜCK XVIII, with each iteration also reassigning the voice timbre for each character.

(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.)

     The pitches employed in the long, held tones of MITTWOCHs-GRUSS are from the form structure measures in the top right picture (which could be considered to be the "MICHAELION form-scheme").  Appropriately enough, the form structure of MITTWOCHs-ABSCHIED is based on the top left picture.  In any case, the MICHAELION form-scheme's seven (and change) 6-staff measures are temporally-stretched out through extreme rhythmic augmentation to last over the 54 minutes of MITTWOCHs-GRUSS.  The only real alteration to this portion of the original MITTWOCH-FORMEL is that in the "LUZICAMEL" portion of the formula (from middle of measure 3 to end of 5), the two G-flat "tongue-click" notes in the top EVE staff are replaced by the inverted EVE Nuclear formula (a simplified pitch row version of the EVE formula).  In the bottom staff of the graphic (labeled "OPERATOR", middle of measure 6), the single G-flat tongue click is replaced by the non-inverted EVE Nuclear formula.  These note sequences are expressed in the EVE electronic layer by 20 different "Points" (some repeating), which are basically sound events made of irregular pulse tones or soprano vocal sounds.

Timbres and Moments
     There are basically 3 electronic layers in MITTWOCHS-GRUSS, one for each of the 3 LICHT characters, and divided into 77 "Moments", with some Moments having subsections.  The durations of each Moment match a proportionate note/attack in the MICHAELION form scheme.  The EVE layer frequencies are usually in the high register, the MICHAEL frequencies are in the mid-range, and the LUCIFER frequencies are in the lower range. The EVE layer, as mentioned earlier, makes use of 20 different "Points", which are basically pulses of relatively pure tones or female voice.  The MICHAEL and LUCIFER layers employ more "grainy" or "rushing" timbres, and in a few times contain male vocal elements (usually distorted in a similar way to what was done in PAARE vom FREITAG).  The one important exception is that Stockhausen himself announces the "Wednesday Greeting" (bilingually!) without any electronic modulation at all, just after Moment 69.  The 77 Moments are distributed according to the 7 MICHAELION form-scheme measures (again, top right graphic) as follows:

Measure Moments
1 1-9
2 10-19
3 20-28
4 30-44
5 45-50
6 51-62
7 63-77

     The table below is a "timbre-map" of the Wednesday Greeting.  Each time marking and horizontal line below marks a timbre change and usually a change in pitch for 1 or more of the 3 synth layers.  All told there are about 161 different sound elements distributed over the 3 layers (49+56+56).  The change in timbre sometimes fades in or fades out past the actual time marking (or is intermittent).  In any case, the changes in sound coloration are sometimes changes in "shade" rather than changes in the color itself, though they are still recognizably different.  EVE's 20 "Point" elements are enclosed in diamonds (<P1>, etc...., starting from Moment 25).
fade in (39s)

1 0:00
2 0:21
3 0:42
4 1:03

5 1:24
6 1:45 (intermittent tinkling)
7 2:06

8 2:27
9 2:48 noise pulsations
10a 3:10

10b 3:48 (synth choir)
11a 4:00 (synth choir)
11b 4:38 rushing

12 4:51
13 5:16
14 5:37

15 5:41

16 6:28
17 6:31

18 7:17
19 7:22 "Operator..."
20 8:13

21 8:33
22 8:46
23 8:53 high swarms
"plucked" bass" melody
24 9:13
25 9:33 <P1>
high pulses
26 9:49 short "whirring"
noise glisses
(from M29 (10:27) the
noises have
27 9:53
28 10:14 <P2>

2nd strain of
high pulses (on 2 notes)
29 10:27
30 10:58 oscillating

31 11:11 <P3>
3rd strain of
high pulses
32 11:22 <P4>
33 11:35
34 12:13 <P5>
35 12:39
36 12:53
37 13:29 <P6> 
(w. <P5> in M37 only)
2 layers of female voice, bells, whistling sound

38 14:08 modulated male voice reciting colors in Spanish: "azul, negro, verde, rojo...(etc)"
39 14:23 <P7>
2 layers of echoing high pulses
40 14:34
41 14:46 <P8>
(P8 is P7 w. gliss.)
1 of the 2 layers changes pitch

42 15:24 middle
"wobbly" tone
43 15:37 <P9>
44 15:58

"wobbly" tone 
45 16:03 <P10>
"Lu-zi-ka-mel...", wobbly 
pulses (cont.)

16:38 (ambient metallic noises?)
46 17:13 gong/
metal sound
47 17:17 <P11>
layers of
"telegraph" or "morse-code"
signal noises

48 18:28
49 18:32 <P12>
rushing noise melody organ-like, ends with some volume spikes
50 19:09 <P13>
female laughing
50x 19:50
"tolling", ending w.
unison tolls
ending w.
unison tolls

22:51 8
unison tolls
(continued next column over)
Top of page 1 of score (my colors) showing Moments 1-3.  The Moment is indicated by the number in the hexagon, and the spatial mapping is shown in the square boxes below each staff. (Click to enlarge.) 
51a 23:00 tacet slow
2-note tremolo

51b 23:15
51c 23:29 FM distortion
51d 23:46
52a 23:59 Bass melody with upper overtone layer
52b 24:06
from M53:
2-note tremolo
53 24:30
54 25:00
55 25:30 modulating wind tone
56a 26:00
56b 26:13
56c 26:11 ""
57 27:28 <P13>

58 28:01
59a 28:16 <P12>
with overtones, adding vibrato

59b 28:32

60a 29:02
60b 29:19
61a 29:34 <P14>
metallic morse-code ringing

61b 30:04
62a 30:45 <P11>
"telegraph" signal noises
with big glissandi tails

62b 31:35 <P15>
parrots and other fowl

63 32:20 <P10>
high wobbly pulses

64a 32:29 fade in
high oscillation
64b 33:20
65a 33:49 <P16>

2-note oscillation
65b 34:22 <P16>
(new pitch)
66a 34:33 <P9>
wobbly pulses return
66b 34:47 high
66c 34:59 modulated whispers:
67a 35:17 <P17>

67b 35:45 vibrato
68a 36:01 "zehn"
68b 36:13 soft chord
69a 36:29 synth
69b 36:45 tacet tacet "neun" 

70 40:01 <P17>
synth choir "acht" 
(modulation somewhat like helicopter 
sounds begin)
71a 40:23 2-note
71b 40:40
72 41:08 <P17/P18>
73a 41:33 2-note
low timbre
73b 41:50

42:10 tacet 1-note w.
oscillating harmonics
74a 42:40 <P19>
"vibreleste"(vibraphone-celeste) sound

mod. cont.)
74b 42:49 synth choir
74c 42:57
74d 43:16 "funf - vier"
(4, 5)

43:35 <P5>
tacet tacet
75a 44:01 <P4>
melody phrase

75b 44:20 <P4/P13>
shifted ("mi..", laughter, etc...)
75c 44:41

44:55 <P7/P8>
bell pulses
76a 45:25 <P4>

76b 46:02 "zwei"

46:30 (rich
chord melody from 47:09)
76c 46:42 <P7>
bell pulses
77 48:22 <P20>

Spatial Movement and Electronic Realization
     At the 1998 premiere of MICHAELION in Munich, the 3 synthesizer layers (EVE, MICHAEL, LUCIFER) were performed live by Antonio Pérez Abellán, and the signals from each of these 3 layers were sent to 3 individual joysticks which were "played" by Stockhausen to distribute the sound around the room (quadrophonically).  At the premiere, Stockhausen improvised the spatial movements live, but in 2003 he notated the spatial movements in the score using 29 different kinds of bird's-eye box diagrams, and these movements were recorded onto a master tape (the box diagrams are displayed on the CD cover of MITTWOCHs-GRUSS, seen at the top of this page).  The movements were realized in the studio using a graphic tablet pen and touch screen, which Stockhausen used to "draw" the motions of the layers.

     The compositions of the movements themselves were more or less intuitive and not based on a Fibonacci series or anything like that.  One unusual spatial Moment happens in Moment 50x.  Each layer has gong-like booming timbres, both in unison and in counterpoint.  After about 3 minutes (22:51), they line up in unison, and each attack sounds as isolated points surfacing around the room (as opposed to the usually "sweeping" motions of the other sounds).  In the CD cover at the top of the page, the spatial mapping boxes overlaid with "R" and "EE" (part of "GREETING") have the mappings for the MICHAEL and LUCIFER layers respectively in this 8 beat event.  On Stockhausen Edition CD 66,  the surround-sound element is expressed as well as possible in stereo, but it's a little like seeing one of those 360-degree panorama photographs - everything is there, but you are not there.  Ideally one should experience this work in its intended form with an 8-channel surround system.

     The timbres themselves were created in collaboration with Antonio Pérez Abellán, using a Kurzweil K2500X synthesizer and an Akai S2000 sampler.  Some sounds were created by making field recordings of bells, etc..., and the female and male voices heard in the recording are of Kathinka Pasveer, Stockhausen, and Abellán.

Sound Impressions
     MICHAELION is described by Stockhausen as "a galactic headquarters for delegates of the universe."  With this in mind, the synthetic tones of MITTWOCHS-GRUSS serve quite well to portray the background hum of a futuristic alien cosmopolis.  On the surface it seems like a relatively sedate "ambient" piece, but on further examination there's actually quite alot happening, both in the timbres themselves (modulation, aleatory rhythmic shapes, overtone cycling, etc...) and in the way that the timbres change on average every 20 seconds (this is an eyeball-average, based on just looking over the timings).  This work also acts as a kind of "rosetta stone" for the character-specific timbre vocabularies of the MICHAEL, EVE, and LUCIFER formulas, here newly-developed between Stockhausen and Antonio Pérez Abellán, and which would be employed for the remainder of the electronic elements of LICHT.

     It's interesting to compare MITTWOCHS-GRUSS with the other two long-form, electronically-synthesized music works of LICHT: OKTOPHONIE and FREITAGS-GRUSS/FREITAGS-ABSCHIED (WELTRAUM), since those works are also electronic elongations of specific Days of the LICHT super-formula (but with Simon Stockhausen's collaborative contribution instead of Abellán's).  Besides the differences in Simon and Antonio's sound vocabulary, all three works have differing structural shapes.  MITTWOCHS-GRUSS has the fastest-moving "timbre progression" in all of its layers, whereas WELTRAUM is much slower in some layers . OKTOPHONIE could be considered to have more "point-like" textures (shots, bombs, etc...), whereas the other two works are based more on sound "masses".  MITTWOCHS-GRUSS' timbres have more "hard" timbre changes, while OKTOPHONIE and WELTRAUM take a more developmental, modulating approach.  However, MITTWOCHS-GRUSS' frequent "moment-form" timbre changes could be considered a natural outgrowth of the constant timbre changes of the "bass pattern" in WELTRAUM's second half.  This "electronic fantasy trilogy" is probably one of my favorite aspects of the LICHT opera cycle, and each of the three delivers something new every time I listen to them.

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