|FREITAG AUS LICHT|
COUPLES vom PAARE
with soprano, bass, electronic instruments (tape)
ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN vom FREITAG aus LICHT: Electronic Music with Sound Scenes from FRIDAY from LIGHT [145']
KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (Piano Piece XVI), Nr. 63 1/2 (ie - 63.2): for tape, stringed piano, electronic keyboards ad lib., (1995) [7']
TWO COUPLES, Nr. 63 2/3 (ie - 62.3): Electronic and Concrete Music, (1992/1999) [21']
Introduction: FRIDAY from LIGHT
PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples of FRIDAY) is the collective title for the "male and female" electroacoustic music comprising the 12 SOUND SCENES (taped interludes) in Stockhausen's opera, FREITAG AUS LICHT (FRIDAY from LIGHT). FREITAG is the 5th-composed entry of his 7-part, 29-hour opera cycle LICHT (LIGHT), which is a massive work of cathedral-like proportions for acoustic and electronic 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).
FREITAG is the Day of Temptation where LUCIFER (here represented by the character LUDON) attempts to tempt EVE into joining his revolution against Heaven and bonding with his progeny, CAINO. Preceded and followed by "entrance" and "exit" works (FREITAGS GRUSS and FREITAGS ABSCHIED), the main body of the opera (entitled FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG, or Friday Temptation) is divided into 2 Acts. These 2 Acts are constructed from 2 layers of taped electronic and electroacoustic music, as well as live stage music. In brief, the 3 layers are as follows:
- 12 SOUND SCENES, collectively known as PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples of Friday): electronic music interludes using electronically-processed male and female voice, coupled with concrete field-recorded elements
- 10 REAL SCENES (FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG): vocal and instrumental music produced by the musicians on stage, and which presents the main dramatic arc
- FREITAGS GRUSS and FREITAGS ABSCHIED (WELTRAUM): background electronic music, which is the same tape used for the audience arrival and departure
Probably the most immediately striking aspect of the COUPLES of FRIDAY are the electronic effects applied to the Soprano and Bass vocals (sung by Kathinka Pasveer and Stockhausen himself), as well as the "sound effects" and field recordings integrated with them. Several electronic processing devices were used, usually in combinations with each other:
- Vocoder - This device takes 2 input signals and uses one to modulate the other. In a typical scenario, a voice input modulates a synthesizer timbre to create a "robotic" voice (the vowel sounds are replaced by synth tones, called a "carrier"). These have various filters and noise elements which can also "flatten" an input signal into a monotone pitch. An internal synth timbre can also be used as the carrier instead of a 2nd input (the concrete sounds in this case).
- Harmonizer - This device takes an input signal and mixes in a parallel pitch-transposed layer (or layers, if a harmonized chord melody is desired). The original signal can also be left out, leaving only the pitch-transposed layer (which is also robotic-sounding).
- Sampler - Typically controlled with a keyboard, a sound (field recording, percussive attack, synth timbre, voice, etc...) is dynamically triggered according to different durations and pitches, and optionally looped. In other words, by playing the keyboard as a trigger, it is possible to create rhythms and melodies using the sampled sounds.
12 Electronic Couples
By applying many different combinations of the above effects to his sound sources, Stockhausen and his son Simon created 12 unique sound Couples. Couples 1-11 each have 13 iterations (1.1, 1.2...1.10, 1.11, 1.12A, 1.12B, 2.1, 2.2...etc...), while Couple 12 has 12 iterations (actually 7, since 12.7-12.12 are contiguous), and each iteration usually has a slightly different combination (or variation) of these effects. Since there are 12 pairs, this naturally results in 24 individual sound entities ("singles", I suppose). With all of these iterations, this results in 300 total sound fragments ((11 x 2 x 13) + (1 x 2 x 7)), equaling over 2 hours of material (or 65 minutes as Couples). In the 12 Sound Scenes, these Couples are carefully layered with staggered entrances and exits, resulting in a total time of about half an hour. Additionally, a synthesizer chord is added to the background of each Couple iteration with it's own signature timbre ("choir", "glassy", oscillating, mixed with cat sounds, etc...) and dynamic envelope curve (fade outs, reverb tails, glissandi tails, etc...).
In Act 2 (from Sound Scene 8), adjacent Couples begin exchanging partners. For example, in Sound Scene 8, Couple 1's Woman changes places with Couple 2's Cat. In Sound Scene 9, Couple 3's Photocopy Machine changes places with Couple 4's Racing Car . Basically, in each Sound Scene starting from SS8, an exchange between two Couples occurs. After some exchanges, the Bass and Soprano parts exchange places (for example, Couple 10 in SS11), but otherwise stay with that Couple (ie - the exchange of partners does not bring over the melodic/text material). Below is a brief listing of the predominant concrete sounds of the 12 Couples (in their initial forms before they begin exchanging partners). The stage character names of the Couples are listed later, but these are what they are heard to sound like:
Rising electronic gliss
(harmonized high, breathy)
|3||Photocopy Machine (high percussive sounds)||Typing
(low percussive sounds)
(low grinding, tremolo)
|Male vocalizing race car sounds
(low harmonized timbre)
|Droplet sounds with vocal buzzing|
(high harmonized breathy timbre)
A more detailed summary of the components of each Couple is below. One thing that I noticed is that oftentimes the first iteration of a Couple has a denser texture (more elaborate concrete sounds), and then the following ones are slightly less dense. This is probably because after a new Couple is introduced, it becomes increasing mixed with the other Couples, so this variation in density might prevent total sensory overload during these multi-layered moments. The texts sung by the Soprano and Bass are scored phonetically using IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) notation, but I converted these to more common English phonetics below. In the Vocal Effects column I indicate whether the Soprano and Bass are harmonized up or down. This effect may be either from the harmonizer or the vocoder modulation (depending on the "carrier" pitch).
|Couple||Partners||Concrete Sounds||Vocal Effects||Sample Text||Synth|
(Becomes Cat in 1.8/
Sound Scene 8)
|a 2nd soprano and 2nd Bass voice sing slow ostinato figures using small intervals, sometimes a Tibetan choir sample is added in the 2nd Bass||Soprano: plate reverb w phasing (subtle)||e-lu-va
|Man||Bass: hall reverb w phasing (subtle)||zi-ave
(fragment from Lucifer & backwards Eva)
(Becomes Woman in 2.8/SS8)
|isolated short and long high caterwauls (modulated by voice pitch), rising/falling (actually sounds more like a small dog whining to me), sometimes with fast-looped high meow||Soprano: often vocoded with cat (harmonized higher)||e-lu-va-zifer
(Elufa & Lucifer fragment)
|Matrix 1000 sometimes with cat/sarengi timbres,
|Dog||single barks (on vocal syllables), low howls (fast rise, slow fall), sometimes vocoded||Bass: sometimes vocoded with dog (harmonized lower)||ave-ve-fer-lu
(backwards Eva, Lucifer reversed syllables)
(Becomes Racing Car in 3.9/SS9)
|switching on noises, high clicks, rushing sound, (actually sounds a little like roller skates to me)||Soprano: sometimes vocoded (sawtooth synth timbre), harmonized high||k-k-kai-no-tsai-hait
|overtones (whistling), synth tail glissandi (sometimes in split directions)|
|Typewriter||rapid typing sounds (w return bell, paper scrolling, etc.)||Bass: sometimes vocoded with grainy timbre, harmonized low||mont-evi-ka-hait-d-eva
(Mond, Eva, keine, Zeit mix)
(Becomes Photocopy Machine in 4.9/SS9)
|race car passing by at high speed, modulated with vocal melody||Soprano: heavy exhalation, growling,
|modulating, with reverb tails|
|Bass voice vocoded w. internal saw-tooth
oscillation (low subtone harmony)
(male voice imitating a race car)
|Bass: asthmatic, hoarse, harmonized low||hait-ca-na-ha-xt
(Becomes Soccer Ball (whizzing) in 5.10/SS10)
|high percussive attack (bumpers), high-pitched note-swarms||Soprano: fast vibr., exalted young lady, with high harmonized tremolo effect||don-kel-ict-hel-
(dunkel, Lichtschein, hell/
dark, gleam of light, bright)
|2nd synth w FM and AM, fast attacks, fade out tails|
|low percussive attacks (flipper "bangs", sounds like a vocoded tom tom drum), with medium-pitched swarms||Bass: sharp consonants, low harmonized tremolo effect||kerr-tsen-fla-me
|6||Soccer Ball (whizzing)
(becomes Pinball Machine in 6.8/SS10)
|whistling/sizzling timbre, pitch shifted rising/falling glissandi||Soprano: very breathy, much wind, sometimes glissandi figures, harmonized high||don-kel-hu-ke-hel
|harmonium and "gong" timbres (Australian bullroarer w glisses) with periodic glissandi|
with Soccer Shoe
|Soccer ball impacts (low resonant percussive attacks, like timpani)||Bass: long notes, some rests, w. vocoded voice (internal synth)||fla-me-he-lae-l, pe-pe-pl|
|7||(Moon with Little)
(Becomes Sighing Woman in 7.10/SS11)
|long owl hooting, long reverb||Soprano: vibrato, periodic accents||tak-naxt-ge-burt
(Tag, Nacht, Geburt/
day, night, birth)
|owl in synth (glassy - metallic), sometimes w.glissandi spikes|
|Rocket||percussive bass with fast rising gliss to high note-swarms on every attack||Bass: long notes (harmonized higher)||don-kel-virt-lict
(Donkel wird Licht/
Darkness will become Light)
(Becomes Owl in 8.8/SS11)
(timbre from vocal)
|Soprano: breathy, sometimes staccato, witch-like, or with vibrato, harmonized high||b-b-b-burt-nai-na-i-ja
(mix of Geburt, nein, Freia)
|harmonium timbre, glassy, reverb tail|
|bee-like buzzing timbre
(score indicates 4 samples: needle piercing potato, slurp, drops, bee swarm with metallic synth, open tap with spraying)
|Bass: harmonized high||biz-biz-biz|
|9||Electric Pencil Sharpener||high grinding, sometimes periodic motor accents||Soprano: stutters along w sharpener rhythm, harmonized high and also 1x low||[:he:]-nsch-schre[:he:]-ke[:he:]-
human, dreadful world)
|soft bell timbre, harmonized|
(Becomes Ice Cream Cone in 9.6/SS12A)
|Bass: modulated by Sharpener, plus synth 1 oct. lower, harmonized high and low, often some tremolo modulation/ rolled vowels||ko[:mer:]-met[:tsain:]-tsaigt-
|Typewriter idling (motor accents)|
(w. Crocus Blossom)
|slurping, sucking sounds||Soprano: singing with inhalation/exhalation, lip smacking||ve-he-lt-virt-hail-ho[:le:]
(Welt vird heil/
world will be healed)
(Becomes Pencil in 10.5/SS12A)
|droplets with echo||Bass: buzzing, harmonized high and low||flaiz-taz-ferz-
|11||Violin||violin timbre (arco)
(Becomes pizz in 11.12B/SS12B)
|Soprano: rapid glissandi, sometimes with pitch shifting, harmonized high or with tritone||e-lu-e||mixed with violin/viola timbre, sometimes rising|
(Becomes Raven in 11.12B/SS12B)
(score indicates arco, but sounds a little pizz. also)
|Bass: glissandi, harmonized low||fr-a-lu|
|12||Nest||small nest pressed/squeezed on each syllable||Soprano: sometimes whispered, harmonized high||frai-ya-tak-nait-frai-ge-schlect-frai-fer-zu-
(Freitag, frei Geschlect/
Friday, free gender)
|fast nightingales 2 & 3 octaves higher w synth modulation (oscillating)|
(Becomes Bow in 12.7/SS12B)
|caw on each syllable||Bass: nasal, cawing, holding one's nose while singing, harmonized low||a-frro-di-te-fri-ga-e-
|The ELUFA Nuclear Formula. I added some colored outlines to Stockhausen's original sketch (reproduced from CD 50's booklet).|
The orange vertical lines delineate the 12 segments, and the red diamonds outline the segment numbers.
The bottom staff is an inversion of the top line with some added variations.
|LICHT Nuclear Formulas: MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER|
(from "Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's LICHT" - Jerome Kohl)
The top melody (treble staff) of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is derived from combining the EVE and LUCIFER Nuclear Formulas and stretching them out (ie - adding and increasing rhythmic note values to the 2nd and 3rd staff measures above). Basically, both of these elaborated Nuclear Formulas are played at the same time by a single melody instrument as the treble layer of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula, often using glissandi to travel from one pitch to the next (when 2 of the original notes fall on the same beat, they are played in quick succession). Opposing this layer as a mirror-melody, the lower, bass clef voice of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is basically an inversion of the upper layer (upside-down), but also with some exceptions and rhythmic variations. The ELUFA NF is also divided into 12 segments, each with a different tempo, and in FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG's Real Scene 1, PROPOSAL, the mirrored 2-layer ELUFA Nuclear Formula is heard in its most basic form. The ELUFA NF and its 12 segments are described in more detail in the page for FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG.
Note: In the booklets of the CDs and the in the score forewords, Stockhausen calls the inverted layer the top layer, and the normal layer the bottom layer. This is referring to the parts in ELUFA (the Real Scene), but not for the actual ELUFA Nuclear Formula. Since the "normal" layer is usually assigned to the treble staff and the inverted layer is assigned to the bass staff, I use those designations.
In PAARE vom FREITAG, each of the 12 segments of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula is assigned to one of the 12 Couples, and in each of the 13 iterations of a Couple (1 through 12B) a progressively-developed version of it's assigned ELUFA segment is sung by the Soprano and Bass (sometimes the Soprano is assigned the top ELUFA layer, and sometimes the lower, and the Bass naturally takes the other remaining layer). The 12 segments of the ELUFA Nuclear Formula slowly surface in the Sound Scenes as new Couples arrive. It's only in Sound Scene 12 that, with the arrival of Couple 12's final segment, the full ELUFA Nuclear Formula is heard.
In his book "Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses Kürten 2002", Richard Toop observes that each Couple's 12-13 held synth chords contains a different major triad, rooted on a note from the EVE Nuclear Formula pitch sequence (they also have a pitch from the LUCIFER Nuclear Formula pitch sequence and the inverted LUCIFER Nuclear Formula pitch sequence). Since each Couple must cycle through all 12 chords, and the variety of Couples is weighted more towards the end, more chord harmonies occur in the later Sound Scenes. Each Couple's 12 chords maintain a pedal bass pitch, however, and this unifies the chord timbre (truth to tell, a Couple's chords all sound the same to me, so this is a very subtle chord progression).
|Sound Scene 4 Synchronization Plan, showing the entrances and layering of Couples 1-4|
(reproduced in the CD 49 booklet and the FREITAG AUS LICHT libretto)
During this slow additive procedure, there are also 3 "inserts" (structures outside of the normal proceedings), where introduced Couples build up to a maximum layer density within a brief period of time, and then subside in the same order. Sound Scene 7 has "Pyramid 1", where the 7 Couples arrive as usual (in mixed order), but after all have arrived, a tutti held chord is played, followed by a rest (except for a reduced chord layer), followed by a layered build-up (1-7 individually re-enter with held notes), and ending with a 5-accent held chord. The 7 layers then continue and drop out individually as normal. Sound Scene 8 has an insert where, after a solo Couple 7 (Rocket, Owl) iteration, all Couples come in at once, before dropping out 1 by 1 starting from Couple 1 going down to Couple 12.
|Sound Scene 12A Synchronization Plan|
(reproduced in the CD 49 booklet and the FREITAG AUS LICHT libretto)
It should be noted that from SS12A's 1st tutti event described above, the synthesizer layers of all 12 Couples disappear for 1 measure. Then, 1 measure follows consisting of only synth layers. After that, the synth layers disappear for good. This brief duo/solo construction makes it easier to hear the timbre elements of the individual Couples as heard isolated on CD 48 (as Couples 1.12B, 2.12B, 3.12B, 4.12B, 5.12B, 6.11B, 7.12B, 8.10B, 9.10A, 10.9A, 11.7 and 12.4B, all of which also continue on to the harmony phrase without the synthesizer layer).
In addition to the 12 Couples, in each Sound Scene where two Couples have exchanged partners (ie - from SS8 forward), Bastard-Paare ("Hybrid Couples") appear (6 in total), which are heard as held male and female vocal pitches, harmonizing with the background electronic layer (EVE and LUCIFER Formula layers). These Hybrids are faded in and out throughout Act 2.
|Couple 1.1 (Woman and Man) does not have any vocoder effect, only reverb
The synthesizer chord uses a "choir" timbre.
The bottom Soprano and Bass act as a kind of timbre "loop",
since there is no concrete sound pair in this Couple.
(from FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG score)
|Couple 2.1 (Cat and Dog) has a "bark" added to each syllable of the Bass
vocal (indicated by "B").|
The synth chord has frequency modulation on its timbre.
The concrete sounds are indicated at the bottom,
with the pitches of the cat and dog samples transcribed graphically.
(from FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG score)
|This page shows the tutti harmony phrase in the middle of Sound
Scene 12A after the build-up event.|
The group of 4 staff lines at the top is the background electronic layer from FREITAGS-ABSCHIED.
(from FREITAG-VERSUCHUNG score)
Spatial Projection and Staging
|Couple 4: Driver and Race Car|
|By Sound Scene 12A most Couples have exchanged partners (left to right): Driver & Photocopy Machine, Typewriter & Race Car, Kicking Leg & Pinball Machine (in globe), Pinball Player inside Soccer Ball, Moon & Hypo Needle, Bare Arm (in globe) & Rocket, Ice Cream & Electric Pencil Sharpener, Mouth and Pencil (right foreground), 5 Hybrid Couples in the center. (Dog-Woman and Cat-Man not shown) - Photos from CD50 Booklet|
|Pinball Machine/Pinball Player (top)|
Soccer Ball/Kicking Leg (bottom)
Preproduction costume art Johannes Cohen, 1995
One of the most striking things about the Couples is their use of the vocoder to produce the effect of human and natural sounds modulating each other. The idea of intermodulation between sound sources was first explored in TELEMUSIK, and here Stockhausen cross-pollinates melodic vocal material with concrete sounds both as a sample loop and as a timbre source, and further processes them in different effects combinations. I'm very glad that the 13 iterations of each PAARE vom FREITAG can be heard in CD 48 as isolated layers, since there is alot of fascinating detail to each one, and each time I listen I hear more things I missed previously. Within the context of ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN or the opera proper, the density of the sounds becomes very difficult to fully absorb at times, especially on a home stereo. Jerome Kohl has suggested that concentrating on the melodic content and the harmonies that are produced from the layering can be productive. In a live performance, the visual element of Couples appearing, dancing and disappearing would most likely make this polyphony much easier to appreciate. However, I still like listening to all 3 versions, since the overall effect of each is quite different, and even the dense parts of the layered Sound Scenes create a sense of environment, or possibly "Sounds from Earth".
Nr. 63 1/2: KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (Piano Piece XVI)
for tape, stringed piano, electronic keyboards ad lib. (1995) [7']
|Antonio Pérez Abellán|
Nr. 63 2/3: TWO COUPLES
Electronic and Concrete Music (1992/1999) [21']
TWO COUPLES was created for use as background score for the 1999 Quay Brother film "IN ABSENTIA". It uses FREITAGS-GRUSS as one layer (starting at the LUCIFER counting event ("eins...") to the end), and permutated sequences of Couples 5 and 6 as another layer. Released on Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 64, the titles are listed as Couple 5's pairings of M1 (pinball player, flipper bangs) with F1 (pinball machine, bumpers), and Couple 6's pairings of M2 (soccer ball kick) with F2 (whizzing). For the first half of TWO COUPLES, Couples 5 and 6 alternate, and then after 2 partner exchanges, the modified Couples continue alternating. The final film with his music moved Stockhausen greatly.
Sound Samples, Online CD ordering
- CD 50: FREITAG AUS LICHT (full opera)
- CD 48: PAARE vom FREITAG (Couples, isolated and not layered)
- CD 49: ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK mit TONSZENEN vom FREITAG aus LICHT (PAARE vom FREITAG layered, with WELTRAUM as background)
- CD 57: KLAVIERSTÜCK XVI (Piano Piece XVI)
- CD 64: TWO COUPLES
Ordering FREITAG AUS LICHT's Libretto (German & English)
FREITAG AUS LICHT Wiki
IN ABSENTIA (Quay Brothers short film on Vimeo)
Six Lectures from the Stockhausen Courses Kürten 2002 (Richard Toop)
Simon Stockhausen Homepage
Stockhausen Edition CD 48 Track Title Corrections:
|11||3.2 + 3.3|
|39||7.3 + 7.4 + 7.5|
|40||5.7 (cont.) + 5.8|
|41||1.8 (c) + 2.8 (c) + 3.8 (c) + 4.8 + 6.5 + 8.2 + 8.3|
|65||4.11 + 3.11(c) + 6.10(c) + 11.3|