INORI rehearsal in Athens, Greece at the foot of the Acropolis, 1978 (from CD booklet)
No. 38: INORI
Adorations for 1 or 2 Soloists (dancer/mimes) and orchestra (w piano, Indian bells and chromatic Japanese Rin)
1973-1975 [72']

     INORI is a further development of the "formula" concept Stockhausen first began exploring in MANTRA, and would eventually be fully explored to its ultimate realization in the 29-hour long LICHT opera cycle (and even make a guest appearance in DIENSTAG's 1st Act, JAHRESLAUF).  A 1-minute long, 5-measure theme is basically stretched out to an hour and twelve minutes (approximately), with each note and it's properties given corresponding durational expansions, as well as "prayer gestures" which 1 or 2 mime soloists enact on a raised platform above the conductor.  In a way, the role of these "Prayer Soloists" can be appreciated as a kind of synchronized conduction of the music.  In a typical classical concert the conductor's gestures are usually a beat ahead of the music, but in this case the gestures of the Prayer soloists match, which for me at least, makes it much more enjoyable to watch.
     INORI has multiple global inferences.  In fact, its title is the Japanese word for prayer, invocation, or adoration, and was originally commissioned by a Japanese patron.  The prayer gestures are evocative of poses from Tibet, India and North America.  Additionally Stockhausen takes this passage (from Hazrat Inayat Khan's "The Sufi Message"):

“HU is the most sacred of all sounds.
The sound HU is the beginning and end of all sounds, be they from man, bird, beast or thing.
The word HU is the hidden spirit in all sounds and words, just like the spirit in the the body.

HU belongs to no language, but every language belongs to it.
HU is the name of the Most High, the only true name of God; a name that no people and no religion can claim as its own.

HU means spirit – MAN or MANA means mind.
A HUMAN is a man conscious of God, realized in God.
Human (German) – Human (English) – Humain (French).

HU, God, is in all things and beings, but it is Man by whom HE is known”

and uses it's key word "HU" as the ritualistic flashpoint during the "SPIRAL" climax.

     From a practical standpoint, INORI was difficult to prepare for its premiere at Donaueschingen due to the complexity of the score and Stockhausen's idiosyncratic shorthand for the dynamic levels (see below score excerpt).  The fortunate end result was that Stockhausen began employing James Ingram, Stockhausen's primary copyist from 1974 to 2000.  Ingram describes these circumstances in more (sordid?) detail at his own website.

Prayer Gestures
The 15 Prayer Gestures, drawing by Nancy Wyle
     The INORI formula contains 13 pitches, and these are each assigned a prayer gesture, with 2 additional closing gestures and 2 gestures for "Silence" and "Echo".  These gestures are inspired from ancient cultural poses such as those from Indian yoga, Tibetan prayer, the Catholic Mass, African Earth rituals, American Indian sculpture and prayer images from Angkor in Cambodia.

     Each pitch has an associated prayer gesture/stance, and these are modified by movements representing note register, duration and dynamics.  In effect, each Prayer soloist rises, sits and kneels with gestures opening and closing, depending on the music.

Form Scheme
     The INORI formula (as seen in the "Melodie" section in the top of Stockhausen's form scheme graphic below) is made of 5 segments/phrases separated by "echoes" (harmonics or whispered notes) and rests (silences).  These 5 segments are translated into INORI's structural framework and are labelled RHYTHM, DYNAMICS, MELODY, HARMONY and POLYPHONY.  Stockhausen here represents the evolution of music from its most primitive form to its most complex.

     The melody is made of a 15 pitch row from middle C to high C# (2 notes are repeated).  The 13 unique pitches are translated into 13 tempi (47.5 to 101) and 13 orchestral timbres (below).  The central pitch (G) is given the name "HU", and its tempo is 71, the tempo of a human heartbeat, appropriately enough.  These tempos are made clear in the music by regular "pulsations", and as the music progresses they become more and more pronounced and dynamic.

The 13 chromatic timbres reflecting the 13 notes of the INORI scale
(from "Formula-composition modernism in music made audible", Asbjorn Schaathun)
     Additionally, Stockhausen uses a new method of orchestration to create 60 degrees of loudness.  Instead of the orchestra players blowing or bowing harder/softer as in a typical symphony, Stockhausen varies the numbers of players playing to fine-tune the dynamic level.  At dynamic level 1 (the quietest), only 1 flute plays, pianissimo.  At dynamic level 60 (loudest), the full orchestra plays fortissimo.  This kind of orchestration also enables Stockhausen to create a kind of "spatial" loudness curve without the use of electronics or player movement (which would be used again in a more refined sense all the way up to LICHTER-WASSER in 1999).  Because the 1st desk players are situated at the back, away from the conductor, a crescendo travels from the back edges of the orchestra to the front.  There is however quite alot of leeway of orchestration at a specific dynamic level since Stockhausen also uses INORI's chromatic timbre scale to modify the instrumental colors.

Below is the graphic Form Scheme of INORI.

From the top section "Formel":
  • Tempo - derived from the INORI tempo-scale and matching the INORI formula notes
  • Prayer Gesture - matching the notes in the INORI formula
  • INORI formula melody
  • Dynamic level - matching the notes in the INORI formula
  • Timbre - matching the notes in the INORI formula
  • Duration of Sections - matching the note durations of the INORI formula with each second expanded to 1 minute.
     In most of the 5 sections there is usually a "Genesis" phase (exposition), "Evolution" (development), "Echo" (reflecting the harmonic (or "whispered") notes in the melody) and an "Orchestra Pause" (the formula rests).  Measure 7 of the formula also has a rising scale figure which is represented in the Echo phases by an "Echo Scale", a quietly rising or falling scalar piano figure indicated by the dashed lines.
(from CD Booklet cover)
SECTION 1 - RHYTHM - INORI rhythm on G pitch only with constant dynamic
1 Genesis 7:25  - 6 iterations of the 5-part formula using G pitch only, separated by rests w. slightly increasing rhythmic subdivisions in each repetition
 - formula notes are translated into "pulsations" to impart the different chromatic tempi
 - piano and rin tap tempo betw. some sections (usually 4/5)
 - expanding intervals from central G pitch in bass during tutti passages, with some figuration from INORI melody
2 Evolution 3:17  - subdivided bass pulses play INORI
 - dancer gives visual rebuke to tuba outcry
 - more evolved accents, independent of tutti passages
 - expansions/contractions of ranges of tempo and durations on 2 time layers based on INORI's chromatic tempo scale
3 Echo 1:46  - 1 iteration of INORI rhythm in soft aleatory string chords (soloist pauses)
 - piano plays ascending echo scale
4 Orchestra Pause 1:40  - sparse short chords
 - Prayer soloist resumes
 - piano plays echo scale cont'd

SECTION 2 - DYNAMIC - increasing/decreasing dynamic figures
5 Genesis 1 2:50  - 3 iterations of INORI rhythm w. increasing subdivision of formula rhythm
 - 13 degrees of dynamic are generated in succession , ie - louder and quieter each time
 - expanding intervals on G in the higher register through line, morphing towards INORI melody
6 Genesis 2 3:33  - 3 more iterations, developing from above
7 Evolution 6:09  - begins w 7th iteration of fully developed INORI formula in bass and highs, then 2 layers of dynamic envelope curve derivations (< >,  > <)
 - tonality hovers around G pitch
 - ends with 2 decr./cresc curves, 55 and 15 secs long but with different timbres
 - horns and trombones play tempo pulsations
8 Echo 2:58  - 1 INORI rhythm iteration with fast, soft, aleatory harmonics
 - "softly flickering fire" played by trumpets on tritone
 - descending piano echo scale
9 Orchestra Pause 0:33  - sparse short chords
 - Prayer soloist solo
 - piano echo scale cont'd

SECTION 3 - MELODY - increasing available notes approaching INORI row
10 Genesis 1 0:58  - 1st iteration: 2 pitches added, above and below G each iteration, in sequence of expanding register
11 Genesis 2 2:03  - 2nd & 3rd iteration: 4 pitches added,
 - lower dynamic range (quieter)
12 Genesis 3 2:50  - 4th thru 6th iteration: more pitches added
 - lowest dynamic
 - INORI melody is completed in 6th iteration
13 Orchestra Pause 1:03  - sparse, short INORI fragment

SECTION 4 - HARMONY - INORI melody with stacked polychords
14 Presence 1:16  - harmonized INORI melody in at least 2 tonalities, about 7 pitches each chord
15 Orchestra Pause 2:19  - sparse short INORI fragments w long pauses
16 Echo 6:47  - full tutti chord, then irregularly spaced soft chords from formula w. aleatory muted string figures
 - rin and flute/clarinet chords ("flying rubati")
 - piano plays ascending/descending echo scales

SECTION 5 - POLYPHONY - INORI melody in different tempo layers
17 Evolution 1 4:48  - 3 polyphonic layers of different rhythmic variations/tempos
 - lower register pulsates regularly
 - evolution of melody by central pitch transposition from G to G#, F, E and A
 - duration of each tutti transposition matches INORI segment bar 11
18 Evolution 2 3:23  - 3 polyphonic layers
 - lower & middle registers pulsate regularly
 - evolution of melody with expanding interval ranges
 - duration of each tutti section matches INORI segment bar 12
19 Spiral 5:20  - based on symbol from the work SPIRAL: "expansion of melody and rhythm beyond one's instrument and technique"
 - tuba solos against high, tense sustaining chord
 - Prayer soloist stamps 2x to tuba
 - Increasingly dramatic polyphonic evolution
 - Prayer soloist bounces 3x on springboard, then shouts HU during unmeasured transcendental moment 
(this springboard action is probably inspired by Stockhausen's viewing of an Omizutori Ceremony in Nara, Japan, as discussed in the Jonathan Cott's book, pg 167)
20 Adoration 4:27  - 3 polyphonic layers:
  1. middle register: formula in basic form for flutes
  2. low register: pulsates chordally 2x (w slight expansion) in bass instruments
  3. high register: formula in 4 periods of decreasing expansion to basic formula
 - string harmonics, piano, crotales
 - accompanied by Melody of Prayer Gestures (prayer gestures reflecting ancient cultural poses)
21 Orchestra Pause 7:12  - Indian bells solo
 - departure, greeting, farewell, ascension
 - piano and soft chords ascends with long pauses

     As seen in this page from the end of the chordal "Presence" phase of the HARMONY section (bars 612-622), the dynamic scale of 1-60 is indicated by a graphic grid at top for the strings.  In the middle of the page is the shorthand score for the Prayer soloist, labeled "Be" (Beterstimme/Prayer song).

(from Lecture on HU score)
     This page from the Prayer soloist's score shows the beginning of the SPIRAL phase of the POLYPHONY section.  At the bottom is the tuba solo, which is interrupted by the stamping feet of the Prayer soloist.

Live Performance
(from CD booklet)
Stage schematic drawn by Stockhausen

Sound Impressions
     The form structure of INORI was a major step forward in Stockhausen's path to incorporate form with content, and feels to me somewhat more organic than the poly-thematic math-based layering of MANTRA.  However the real beauty as always lies in how Stockhausen realizes the actual music once the framework has been created.
     When looking at the form scheme it at first appears that during the RHYTHM and DYNAMIC phases the only thing really happening is drone masses being intermittently interrupted by pauses, but actually Stockhausen doesn't waste much time before he incorporates a multitude of timbral tricks to keep things unpredictable and interesting.  In fact the best way to listen to the first half is to more or less forget the form scheme and just listen to the various orchestral layers of metals, strings, brass and winds come into and out of the sound masses, as well as the subtle pulsations of various speeds.  One signal that Stockhausen throws at the listener is the episode in the first section where the tuba and cello suddenly "act out".  Things are generally much more subtle than those outbursts, but if one listens carefully, there are many things happening on the micro-level, much of which is not prescribed by the form scheme at all.  It is necessary to dig deep at times, but multiple listenings certainly bear fruit (which is true for almost all of Stockhausen's works actually).
     By the time INORI gets to the POLYPHONY section it's all out in the open however and this section has some of Stockhausen's most passionate and dramatic writing since MOMENTE.

     Of course the ideal is to see INORI live with a Prayer soloist, since just hearing it on CD leaves out the actual "soloist".  On the other hand, this missing dimension gives one an opportunity to hone in on the subtleties of the orchestration.  Stockhausen's site does have a link to allow one to purchase a live DVD with the Prayer soloist if one wishes.

     INORI also has the distinctive honor of having its own analysis listed as a Stockhausen "work", complete with score text and stage direction, called "VORTRAG ÜBER HU (LECTURE ON HU)".  Much of the above analysis (especially the Form Scheme explanations) was derived from this lecture.

INORI samples, track listings and CD ordering
Purchase the Score
Buy DVDs including live INORI
Albrecht Moritz Review
Sonoloco Review
Interview with Stockhausen about INORI (French)
INORI clip w Stockhausen conducting, talking, 2 soloists (Bayerische Rundfunk - Munich 1998)
INORI clip w Live slideshow with Ensemble Intercontemporain
Youtube clip
Lecture on HU clip (Kathinka Pasveer sings the INORI melody formula)
Stockhausen : Conversations with the Composer (Cott, 1974)