Score Cover (©
No. 41: MUSIK IM BAUCH (Music in the Belly)
for 6 percussionists and music boxes
1975 [38']

Additional Works Generated (1975-2007):
No. 41 1/2: TIERKREIS (Zodiac) 12 Melodies of the Star Signs for a melody and/or a chordal instrument [~24']
No. 41 2/3-6/7: TIERKREIS for for voice (5 editions) and chordal instrument
No. 41 7/8: TIERKREIS Chamber orchestra version (clarinet, horn, bassoon, strings)
No. 41 8/9: TIERKREIS Duo version for clarinet and piano
No. 41 9/10: TIERKREIS Trio version for clarinet, flute and piccolo, trumpet and piano [~29']
No. 41 10/11: TIERKREIS (2003 Version) for tenor/soprano and chordal instrument [~30']

Orchestral and wind versions:
No. 41 11/12: FÜNF STERNZEICHEN (Five Star Signs) for Orchestra [~11']
No. 41 12/13: FÜNF WEITERE STERNZEICHEN (Five More Star Signs) for Orchestra [~20']
No. 41 12/13 ext 1: TAURUS for bassoon [~4']
No. 41 12/13 ext 2: TAURUS-QUINTETT for tuba, trumpet, bassoon, horn, trombone [~4']

     Stockhausen was inspired to write MUSIK IM BAUCH (Music in the Belly) when he joked to his 2-year-old daughter Julika that the noises coming from her stomach (digestive hopefully!) were "music in (her) belly".  7 years later he had a dream vision of the full work based on memories of this joke.  MUSIK IM BAUCH is probably one of Stockhausen's more "ritualistic" works, with movement, costumes and props, but no vocal libretto.  Because the instrumentation is based on pitched percussion sounds (bells and gongs), it could almost be considered a modern form of ancient ritual practice.

     One element of MUSIK IM BAUCH, 12 mechanical wind-up music boxes, was developed into it's own series of works, TIERKREIS.  Each of these 12 music boxes plays a melody Stockhausen composed in tribute to the 12 signs of the astrological zodiac.  These melodies were developed through research as well as Stockhausen's own impressions of people's zodiacal personality traits.  The 12 melodies act in later arrangements as melodic formulae, just as works like MANTRA and INORI had done before, but generally without the expansive manipulations of these earlier works.  In fact, the various recorded arrangements of the 12 TIERKREIS melodies (both official and unofficial) actually exist more like "jazz standards".

     However in MUSIC IM BAUCH (and later, SIRIUS), Stockhausen does use TIERKREIS's melodies in a more "Stockhausen-ian" fashion through temporal expansion and manipulation.  For each performance of MUSIK IM BAUCH,  3 TIERKREIS melodies (out of the 12 available) are selected, after which these 3 melodies are durationally-stretched into different time lengths and assigned to different percussion instruments.  Throughout a performance, these melodies in 3 different tempos (and in fragmentary states) are layered on top of each other.  At the end, the 3 melodies are revealed through their respective music boxes.

     On the center of the stage is MIRON,  a large bird-human mannequin, with bells around its neck.  6 percussionists enter and take their places at their instruments in a "mechanical" manner.

1 The performers play 3 TIERKREIS layers on 3 timbral kinds of percussion instruments:
  • marimbas - 1 melody stretched over the entire performance (CAPRICORN on the recording)
  • klangplatten (gong-like bronze plates) - 3 melodies stretched over the entire performance in sequence, the first being LEO on the recording
  • glockenspiel/crotales - fragments of the 3 chosen melodies (LEO, AQUARIUS and CAPRICORN on the recording) in different tempos, but lively and dense, changing fragments with klangplatten strikes
2 After a tubular bell is struck, the klangplatten players begin playing AQUARIUS.
The glockenspiel/crotale players slowly switch to "switches" (thin wands), which are used to create "swishing" sounds in the air.  The swishing rhythms are from the 3 TIERKREIS melodies. 
3 After 2 tubular bell strikes, the klangplatten players begin playing CAPRICORN.
The wand-wielders eventually move towards MIRON and begin to tap his neck bells, causing them to rattle.
4 The klangplatten players return to playing AQUARIUS again but faster.  
The wand-wielders begin to dance frenetically around MIRON, making more noises with their feet and from striking the bells.
5 After 3 tubular bell strikes, the dancing stops.  One of the wand-wielders retrieves scissors from off-stage and cuts open MIRON's shirt in order to produce a music box from its belly.  He places the music box on a table and winds it up (LEO plays).  After one iteration of the TIERKREIS melody, he briefly accompanies the music box on glockenspiel. 2:48
6 The other 2 wand players in turn retrieve and play TIERKREIS music boxes (AQUARIUS, then CAPRICORN) from inside MIRON and briefly accompanying them on glockenspiel. 4:56
7 The percussionists leave the stage and the 3 TIERKREIS music boxes play alone. 5:44

     Each wooden TIERKREIS music box plays a different TIERKREIS melody.  Due to the nature of music boxes, the 12 melodies are purely pitch and duration (no timbral or dynamic elements).  The 12 tempi and the 12 starting notes are based on a chromatic series.  However each of the 12 melodies were composed in 12 different ways.  For example, LIBRA uses the idea of increasing durations and then shrinking them, in order to impart the concept of "balance", which LIBRA is supposed to represent.  Also, melodically the pitches swing up and down around the central pitch of B, first increasingly and then decreasingly (ignoring passing and scalar notes).

     The lyrics to the vocal version of LIBRA are as follows (I bolded a few telling words):

Libra balance
air winds Venus
friend beloved lover
west evening autumn ripened fruit
lovely harmonious peaceful
dancing swaying in love

     On the other hand, the VIRGO melody uses the Fibonacci series (which use a "golden ratio") as a starting point to organize the pitches and durations. The lyrics to the vocal version of VIRGO are as follows:

Virgo virgin
Mercury clear
late summer mellow
sensible cautious and aloof
conscientious, serving, modest
earthly ordering
beauty of thinking
reason and of symmetry
you golden middle way

Videos of the 12 TIERKREIS Music Boxes (in action) can be seen at the below links: 

MUSIK IM BAUCH Live Performance
Performed by "Clocks in Motion":
  • 4:01 - 3 TIERKREIS melodies begin
  • 9:46 - Transition to switches
  • 16:44 - Miron's bells
  • 22:13 - Signal for scissors
  • 24:42 - Music Box 1 (Pisces)
  • 28:27 - Music Box 2 (Virgo)
  • 32:31 - Music Box 3 (Aries)
  • 35:18 - Music Box 1 & 3
  • 36:00 - Music Box 1, 2 & 3 
TIERKREIS Recordings
     There are many recorded versions of TIERKREIS, some supervised by Stockhausen, but many more not.  Besides the original music box versions, the Stockhausen CD label carries releases for clarinet and piano duo, trio (for clarinet, flute/piccolo, trumpet/piano), the 2003 version for tenor and synthesizer, version for Cologne's Town Hall carillon, and the 2 suites of orchestral arrangements of 10 of the star signs.  Some of the other more "liberated" versions include recordings made by:

     The excellent TIERKREIS fan website has even more links to versions of TIERKREIS.  My personal favorite version however is the recording/arrangement for soprano and piano by Claudia Böttcher & Jovita Zähl

     Included with the score to TIERKREIS is a guide to making original "versions" for unspecified instruments.  Some of the aspects of the basic TIERKREIS melodies which can be explored are as follows:
  • Dynamic shapes (ex.: stable, increasing, decreasing) within the melody, by melodic fragments or from repetition to repetition.
  • Louder dynamics for the occurence of new pitches
  • Changes of articulation (stac., port., segmented, etc…)
  • Different octave registers for each repetition (or measure), possibly w. aux. instruments
  • Duet interpretation (arr. of solos and duets)
  • Melodic variation: leave out certain pitches, or rhythmic variation by playing only the rhythm on a central pitch, or only playing a note when it occurs and leaving the ensuing occurences as silence(s)
  • Clarification of the interval sequence by emphasizing the 1st occurence of each interval, or only play new intervals once (playing rests the 2nd time and afterwards)
  • Dissection of melody: sections may be emphasized by leaving out others.  Bridge sections by holding ending pitches, or playing an exact rest for its duration
  • Adding ritards/acceler. at endings
  • Interweaving of adjacent melodies (ex.: Capricorn becomes quieter, as Aquarius increases in volume)
  • Trills, fluttertongue, etc..
  • Pedal all/none/last note
  • Hold preceding pitch (as a cantus firmus?)
  • etc...

     One of the most "unique" series of reinterpretations of TIERKREIS came about through a contest that Stockhausen himself held in 2002.  Stockhausen provided sound samples to the contestants as well as the score to SAGITTARIUS.  The contestants were invited to use the samples and create a chromatic timbre scale from a selection of these samples and create a multi-layered, multi-tempo version of the melody.  One version available online sounds completely abstract, but still retains a kind of melodic rhythmic atmosphere (or perhaps that's just my imagination...).   The actual winner of this contest however was able to somehow retain the actual melodic elements ("DJ Merkury").  It's quite nice...

Versions for Orchestra, TAURUS:
  • FÜNF STERNZEICHEN (Five Star Signs) for Orchestra
  • FÜNF WEITERE STERNZEICHEN (Five More Star Signs) for Orchestra
  • TAURUS for bassoon
  • TAURUS-QUINTETT for tuba, trumpet, bassoon, horn, trombone
      In 2004 and 2007 (up until the last day of his life, in fact), Stockhausen wrote orchestral arrangements of 10 of the 12 TIERKREIS melodies. The first set (VIRGO, LIBRA, SCORPIO, SAGITTARIUS, CAPRICORN) was published as FÜNF STERNZEICHEN (Five Star Signs) for Orchestra. The second set of 5 (AQUARIUS, PISCES, ARIES, TAURUS, GEMINI) was published as FÜNF WEITERE STERNZEICHEN (Five More Star Signs) for Orchestra. Each of these orchestral arrangements have multiple cycles (refrains) of a Zodiac melody, with varied approaches, structures and interpretations, based on the guidelines discussed earlier. These orchestral versions were recorded for Stockhausen Edition CD 100 (which also includes new arrangements for carillon).

      Each arrangement usually features a different instrument (or sequence of instruments) in the top voice. In general, FÜNF WEITERE STERNZEICHEN is the more complex of the sets, and takes more "liberties" with the TIERKREIS melodies, bending them around to evoke some very contrasting moods. For example, AQUARIUS has a very slow and foreboding beginning, followed by some jagged chromatic figures and then settling into a kind of wistful, rural mode. PISCES has a very complex, almost fugue-like polyphony built around it's main melody. ARIES opens by building miniature structures around each of its melodic figures, and the main theme does not appear in it's normal form until halfway through. At the end, the parts of the theme are passed around the orchestra (LICHTER-WASSER-style). GEMINI uses its first thematic motif to lay out a drone harmony, after which melodic figures derived from the GEMINI theme are dropped in, transposed and permutated in different ways.
     TAURUS consists of a somewhat comic, dialogue-like introduction, 3 TAURUS refrains in different species of variation, and a stuttering coda.  For the refrains, the tuba plays the top TAURUS melody in 2 different registers and then with additional melodic invention in the 3rd refrain.  During this, the supporting wind and brass instruments play a polyphonic, somewhat-jazz-inflected accompaniment with fairly melodic and tonal ornamentation. 

     The orchestral arrangement of TAURUS also received a reduction for wind/brass quintet (TAURUS-QUINTETT, for tuba, bassoon, trumpet, horn and trombone), as well as a version for solo bassoon.  Each of these arrangements has the same structure as the orchestral version.  In the solo version of TAURUS, the bassoon plays all of the melodic parts of the introduction and coda, but during the refrains mostly plays its "jazzy" ornamental accompanying part from the orchestral and quintet versions.  The structure and timings for these 3 versions can be seen in the table below.
Intro 1st Refrain 2nd Refrain 3rd Refrain Coda
TAURUS for Orchestra 
(CD 100)
0:04 1:17 1:51 2:27 3:01
(CD 105)
0:13 1:26 2:00 2:35 3:10
TAURUS for Bassoon
(CD 105)
0:07 1:17 1:50 2:24 2:58

Sound Impressions
     Despite the fact that the 12 zodiac melodies are composed using unique and meticulous theoretical concepts, they still "swing".  They basically come across as ethnic folk melodies from outer space (Sirius, if one needs to be specific!).  Upon first listening they all seem to have a similar "style", but after repeated encounters one realizes that this is Stockhausen's "book" of cosmic "jazz standards", and each one reveals it's own story.  "Music in the Belly" is enjoyable as a listen, but I believe the visual aspect is really necessary to fully appreciate it.  However it's still a fascinating composition in multiple layers of metal and wood percussion, with lots of elements of surprise, tension and fun.
Ictus Percussion, NYC

Sound samples, tracks listings and CD ordering
Purchase the Scores
Stockhausen's page on TIERKREIS (with videos)
About the TIERKREIS music boxes 
TIERKREIS website, excellent presentation, incl. scores samples & unofficial arrangements of Cancer and Leo for orchestra
MUSIK IM BAUCH Iktus Percussion in NYC 2012 (excerpt)
MUSIK IM BAUCH Contemporary Chamber Players of Stony Brook University NY (excerpt)
Sonoloco Review
Albrecht Moritz Review of TIERKREIS for Trio
Michael Svoboda's page on TIERKREIS
Stockhausen's 2002 Contest using the Sagittarius Melody
2002 Contest Rules on ACIDPlanet
TAURUS (version for solo bassoon) Isaac Roles, Live YouTube