Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5


The 7 SIGNS of LICHT, Score cover to DÜFTE - ZEICHEN.(© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
Nr. 78, DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Scents - Signs)
for 7 vocalists, boy’s voice, synthesizer
(2002) ['57]

     DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Scents - Signs) is the 4th Scene of Stockhausen's dramatic music work SONNTAG AUS LICHT (SUNDAY from LIGHT), which was the last-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).

     SONNTAG (Sunday) is the Day of Mystical Union, specifically between MICHAEL and EVE.  The scenes in SONNTAG do not have a dramatic arc connecting them, instead the actual theme of union between the 2 characters is achieved through musical, visual, spatial and even olfactory means.  In DÜFTE - ZEICHEN (Scents - Signs), Stockhausen celebrates each of the 7 Days of the Week with it's own Scent and an explanation of its Sign.  The main body of this Scene features six vocalists singing as solos, duets and trios, each of which corresponding to the basic theme of each Day of the Week.  At the end are 2 additional songs where a youth from the audience is taken into the sky on a flying horse:
     In each "song" the designated vocal group gathers at one of seven podiums (one for each Day of the Week), lights that Day's incense Scent and unrolls a banner displaying that Day's Sign.  The soloists then sing and make gestures relevant to the Day, tracing out the form of each Day's Sign.  Each song is also preceded (and accompanied) by the remaining ensemble members, vocalizing different repeated refrains sung in a rhythmically semi-free manner (as an "aleatory layer").  At the end, a seventh singer (Alto vocalist) appears from behind the audience and is escorted to the central podium (Sunday).   Finally, a Boy from the audience joins the Alto for a final duet.
(Photo: Klaus Lefebvre)
Composition and Structure
     Like MANTRA and ZYKLUS, the architectural aspects of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN are very interesting, but knowing them I think is not essential in order to enjoy the music.  But it does give alot of insight into how Stockhausen is able to grow an entire scene from just a few measures of melodic material.  In following the next paragraphs it's probably helpful to have my super-formula page handy... 

      Stockhausen temporally stretched (increased the note durations of) the 3 SONNTAG day measures of the LICHT super-formula (m.17-19) to match the length of the entire LICHT super-formula (ie - the 3 measures were expanded to 19 measures through rhythmic augmentation).  The LICHT super-formula measures (m.12-14) corresponding to the augmented DÜFTE - ZEICHEN fragment (from the 3 SONNTAG measures) make up part of the melodic material of the ENTRANCE (a similar technique is used to generate melodies for LICHT-BILDER's introductory section).  I refer to this expanded 3 measure fragment as  the "DÜFTE - ZEICHEN from SONNTAG" excerpt (DZS), and perhaps the 3rd letter S could be used as a mnemonic device to think of "short" notes.

     Stockhausen also compressed all 29 hours of LICHT on top of the super-formula and then selected the fragment corresponding to the DÜFTE - ZEICHEN scene.  This is, of course, a very small excerpt from the LICHT super-formula (just the first half-note from m. 18), and when it is stretched out to match the 3 measures of the DZS, it essentially results in long single tones.  I label this the "DÜFTE - ZEICHEN from LICHT" excerpt (DZL) and the 3rd letter "L" could be used as a mnemonic device to think of "long" notes.  To summarize:
  • DZS = DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from SONNTAG, m. 12-14 of the LICHT super-formula
  • DZL = DÜFTE-ZEICHEN layer from LICHT, m. 18 (1st half-note) of the LICHT super-formula
The DZS and DZL fragments were then mapped over 11 "phases", of which the first 7 are the 7 Days of the Week, and the remaining phases are the 4 sections devoted to the Alto and Boy vocalists.

(from pg. 12 of the 2004 Stockhausen Courses Composition Book, click to enlarge)
(© www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)
     The above form scheme shows in 6 layers (staffs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8) the elements used to create the melodic material for the 7 Day songs of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN.  The 6 layers are:
5. MNF : MICHAEL Nuclear Formula
6. ENF : EVE Nuclear Formula

     For the first 4 layers above, the beginnings of the MICHAEL and EVE layers of the DZS and DZL are stretched out to 7 measures, each referring to a Day of the Week.  For the DZS, only m. 12 of the LICHT super-formula is used here, since the Alto and Boy sections use measures 13 and 14.  For the DZL, only m. 18's initial quarter-note is used, since the Alto and Boy sections use m.18's 2nd quarter-note pitches.  Anyways, this is a fairly involved process of mapping and reallocation of melodic material from the LICHT super-formula and is really too hard to clearly explain in a short space.  To read more explanations of this process it's recommended that the brave reader consult the 2004 Composition Course book on DÜFTE - ZEICHEN).

LICHT Nuclear formulas: MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER
(from "Into the Middleground: Formula Syntax in Stockhausen's LICHT" - Jerome Kohl)
     The 5th and 6th layers are slightly easier to describe (I hope).  The MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear Formulas (1st and 2nd staffs above) are greatly simplified versions of the full MICHAEL and EVE formulas from the LICHT super-formula (ie - without the ornamentation and timbral articulations).  As seen in the picture above, it is also divided into 7 Day sections.  The MICHAEL and EVE staffs in the Nuclear formula were slightly adjusted and then placed in the bottom two staffs of the previous form scheme.  Some of the adjustments are basically octave transpositions, but Tuesday has a very interesting one where the EVE layer has an added upside-down and delayed version of the MICHAEL part.  This cleverly represents the "conflict" nature of Tuesday's theme.

     Each of the 7 Day phases from DÜFTE-ZEICHEN is assembled from it's corresponding Day in the form scheme.  The featured soloist(s) mostly use only the bottom 2 staffs (again, the MICHAEL and EVE Nuclear Formulas).  For example, MONDAY SOLO is based on the 1st column's bottom 2 staff measures (MNF & ENF Monday limb) and TUESDAY DUET is based on the 2nd column's bottom 2 staff measures (MNF & ENF Tuesday limb), etc...  The E DZS 4th staff is also used in the Wednesday Trio and Thursday Solo (periodic falling/rising "noise" accents).  The other vocalists sing their polyphonic aleatory layer using the pitches from that Day's column (sometimes with additional pitches from the corresponding LUCIFER DZS/DZL layer, not shown in this form scheme).

     Marked in red are the initial number of variations for each melodic fragment.  At top, "D(uft)" and "Z(eichen)" indicate whether the text at that point refers to that Day's Scent or Sign.  Basically, Monday starts with Scent, then becomes Sign in the second half, etc...until Wednesday.  On Thursday the Scent and Sign text order is simultaneous, and from Friday to Sunday the text is on the Sign and then the Scent.

     Each section has a background sustained synthesizer chord which is made up of the initial notes of the aleatory vocal layers. Additionally, isolated elements are interspersed to punctuate the vocal phrases, and as the sections progress, the synthesizer embellishments become more and more diverse.  In the 11 phases of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN, the accumulating "accessories" are as follows:
  1. Points
  2. Glissandi
  3. Trills
  4. Points with short Glissandi
  5. Irregular staccato lines
  6. Quick melodic points
  7. Short tremoli
  8. Chords
  9. Chordal Glissandi
  10. Longer trills (high)
  11. Unison with the soloists
The synthesizer parts for DÜFTE - ZEICHEN were realized and performed by Antonio Pérez Abellán.

     The above sketch shows the positions of the vocalists for the solos, duos and trios of the 7 Days (the vocalists move from their starting positions to new positions as that Day's arrangement demands).  The center ramp is for the entrance of the Alto and the Boy.  In the table below, the top row shows the initial positions (and clothing color scheme) and the bottom row shows the positions during the songs (as indicated in the above sketch).  The vocalists who have moved return to their original positions after each song if they have moved (for example Tenor 1 never has to move, but for Friday the Baritone moves to the 2nd podium for the Friday Duet with Soprano 2).

Bright Blue


Darker Green

Glossy Black
(A & Boy, only at the end)
 Gold & White

Bright Green




Tenor 1 Soprano 2
Bass Tenor 1
Soprano 1
Soprano 1 Bass
Tenor 2
Tenor 2
Soprano 2

      During each Day's Scent-Sign (aleatory ensemble prelude), a soloist lights an aromatic bowl and unrolls the SIGN above his/her podium. The soloists each make various hand gestures related to that Day's sign (tracing in rhythm, etc...). Each Day also has specific hand gestures for the background singers.

Form Structure
      The stage production of DÜFTE – ZEICHEN is very elaborate, and a text synopsis really can't do justice to all of the many rich visual (and olfactory!) elements. The CD recording is an excellent studio representation of the opera's musical elements and so here I will mainly concentrate on that. The booklet (book, actually) that comes with the DÜFTE – ZEICHEN CD 69 has much more detailed descriptions, photographs, libretto and score excerpts.

     The complete transcription of the entire libretto text is included in the DÜFTE – ZEICHEN score.  The libretto text "distilled to their essences" is included in Stockhausen Complete Edition CD 69 and the SONNTAG AUS LICHT libretto book.  A further condensed version of the text is included in CD 70.  Below I picked out a few relevant excerpts which hopefully impart some of the message. The timings below are from the Complete Stockhausen Edition CD 69.
Trk Dur Title Structure,
Text Excerpts 
(in English)
Melody Formula,
The 6 soloists (with lit scent bowls) enter from different directions and proceed to their podiums.   
They then position their scent bowls on stands.
1 1:39 EINGANG

ENSEMBLE: Folks, today there's something to smell/sniff - 
kyphi - incense - seven scents - signs.
Each vocal independently sings a repeating 7 measure phrase (each starting from a different measure):
  • 1st m. (Sopr. 1 starts with this measure) - M DZL: rising/falling w brief tremolo in middle
  • 2nd (S2 starts with this measure) - M DZS: tremolo slowing down, speeding up
  • 3rd (T1) - E DZS: voiceless falling/rising in regular rhythm
  • 4th (T2) - E DZL: microtonal drone
  • 5th, 6th (Ba) - L DZL: irreg. staccato, then 2 whispered accents 
  • 7th (B) - L DZS: irreg. tremolo, 3 falling buzzing sounds, "Duf-te Zei-chen"
Background synthesizer chord is based on the MICHAEL Formula's initial pitches
2 0:23 TITEL

ENSEMBLE: Seven Scents of the 7 Days of the Week
Harmonized melody using pitches from:
  • S1 - M DZS
  • S2 - EVE Formula beginning (inverted)
  • T1 - EVE Formula beginning
  • T2 - MICHAEL Formula beginning
  • Ba - EVE Formula beginning 
  • B -  LUCIFER Formula beginning
Opening synthesizer chord is from the 1st pitches of all 6 layers
At the beginning of each Day phase, the non-featured soloists begin singing their aleatory layer, 
and the synthesizer plays a chord made up of the notes used in the Day's aleatory vocal layers.

Soprano 1 lights Cuchulainn and unrolls the MONDAY sign.
3 1:24 MONTAG-

Scent, Sign
ENSEMBLE Aleatory Layer:
Rhythmically independent cycles of leaping grace notes, glissandi, whispered/percussive consonants, slow low syllables
Monday scents signs scene of Sunday from LIGHT: cuchulainn…

Monday Solo
Soprano 1

Monday SCENT - CUCHULAINN - white pine, mistletoe…
Monday Eve SIGN - blue and black green heart and womb…
LUCIFER MICHAEL united through EVE…
The basic melody is repeated 14 times with variations (added glissandi,  rhythmic augmentation, etc...).  The melody ascends by gradually shifting notes upwards by octaves.

In the middle is a wordless vocal "insert" with a climactic trill and falling-rising staccato ending (0:56-1:40).  Afterwards, the melody begins descending in a mirror procedure of the first half.
MNF (MICHAEL Nuclear Formula) Monday limb blended with ENF (EVE Nuclear Formula) Monday limb: 5-note melody with a rest in the middle

High isolated synth tones signal each melody phrase iteration.  Synth also plays a sustained chord of all 5 pitches from the Monday NFs and the initial aleatory pitches from Monday SCENT-SIGN. 
Tenor 2 ignites Kyphi, as Bass goes to join him.   The Bass unrolls the TUESDAY sign.
During their duet, they compete, shoving and interrupting each other, etc… 
5 0:33 DIENSTAG-

Scent, Sign
Cycles of slow 1 or 2-note syllables, Tenor sings single note tremolo syllable with changing tempi
kyphi…(mixed syllables)

Tuesday Duet
Tenor 2 & Bass

Tuesday SCENT - KYPHI - fragrant waves of glowing liberation…a pleasant feeling in the soul

Tuesday SIGN - Michael sign 3 blue circles with cross of iris tips, Lucifer sign red circle, black dot - Lucifer's red circle breaks into Michael's second blue circle, grabbing it and clinging to it - Tuesday conflict sign - Michael's lower arrow pierces, sticks into Lucifer's black heart, red circle...
The 2 voices sing their melodies in groups of rising variations (pitch range top note rising, then bottom note, etc...) marked by 4 short breaks (1:03, 1:46, 2:48, 3:24).  The duet is roughly synchronous (phrase-wise), but polyphonic, reflecting the conflict between MICHAEL & LUCIFER.  In the 2nd half, parts are freely exchanged/inverted in combinations.  MELODY FORMULA:
Tenor 1 - MNF Tuesday limb: 3-note rising fragment, repeated and expanding pitch register upwards
Bass - ENF Tuesday limb with MNF Tuesday limb inverted (symbolizes DIENSTAG's conflict): 4-note rising/falling fragment, repeated and rising

A slow synthesizer glissando rises and falls twice, stretched out over the entire duet.
Soprano 2 and Tenor 2 join Baritone at the Wednesday podium.   
Soprano 2 unrolls the WEDNESDAY sign.  
 The Baritone ignites the Mastic scent.  
The Tenor conducts the trio.
7 0:55 MITTWOCH-

Scent, Sign
Cycles of slow irreg tremoli, microtonal held notes/buzzing, voiceless tones, 4-note melody fragment ("Duft Ma-sti-x", ENF Wed limb)
mastix…scent…Pistazia…lenticus - etheric - aroma…etc…

Wednesday Trio
Soprano 2, Tenor 2, Baritone

Wednesday SCENT - mastic aromatic waft pistachia, etc…

Wednesday SIGN - Michael's lance…pierces Lucifer's black center…Eve's bosom holds them tight, etc...
Wednesday Peace Love
The 3 vocalist start in unison harmony, but soon break into combinations of solos, duos and trios.  The melodic groups are semi-harmonized and used in different permutations by the soloists, with some additional fast passages.  This reflects the cooperative spirit between MICHAEL, EVE & LUCIFER in MITTWOCH AUS LICHT. MELODY FORMULA:
ENF Wed limb: jagged 4-note motif (w 4 inserts)
MNF Wed limb: colored silence (or breathing glissando)
E DZS Wed limb: descending rushing noises

Synth: add trills (and some arpeggios)
Tenor 1 lights Rosa Mystica and unrolls the THURSDAY sign.

Scent, Sign
Cycles of 5 whispered rising tones, slow falling "piu" buzzing with staccato tail, whispered tremolo, microtonal held notes, 2-note leaping interval
Rosa Mystica - Rose scent for harmony - Sign of love - Sign of the Earth, etc…

Thursday Solo
Tenor 1

(Descriptions of scents and signs are blended)
Rosa Mystica - Thursday SCENT - 3 blue circles, 4 iris buds, Michael's Thursday SIGN - rose scent for harmony, beauty, labdanum, etc…
Sung alternatingly with whispered tones, permutating cycles of material from the 3 formula Thursday limbs.

The middle section is dominated by an excursion ("insert") which alternates between the limbs of the full Michael and Eve NFs (1:41-4:33/m. 139-171).  After this insert the 1st part is revisited but in inverted form.
MNF Thur limb: jagged 4-note falling motif, expands downwards and then returns to original interval range
ENF Thur limb: 1 accent note and rest, interrupted by colored noises
E DZS Thur limb: rising rushing noise

Synth: add (points with) fast glissandi
Baritone joins Soprano 2 at the Friday podium and unrolls the FRIDAY sign
as Soprano 2 lights Tate Yunanaka.
11 1:25 FREITAG-

Scent, Sign
Cycles of slow whispered irregular rising/falling/normal tremoli, crying/laughing tones, rising "piu", rapid, low chant
Caino - Frigga - Eve's circle and Eve's heart are displaced, red lance of Lucifer, etc…

Friday Duet
Soprano 2 & Baritone

Friday's SIGN - EVE's circle and EVE's heart are displaced.  LUCIFER's temptation separates...LUCIFER's black circle is split, etc…

Friday SCENT - Tate Yunanaka - Indian sage, desert mugwort, juniper tips, etc…
The 2 vocalists mix melodic material from the formulas with lively glissandi and tremoli.  The beginning section is layered polyphonically, followed by a synchronous harmony/dialogue section (which reflects the Temptation and Union between EVE & LUCIFER (as CAINO).  The preceding repeats once with the voices exchanging parts.
0:01: Polyphonic
0:57: Harmony/Dialogue
1:53: Polyphonic (in English)
2:50: Harmony/Dialogue (in English)
MNF Fri limb w borrowed note from Sat limb: rest and 1 high note
ENF Fri limb w borrowed note from Sat limb: 3-note rising falling motif
These limbs use melodic articulation from the LICHT super-formula (E DZS & M DZS, m. 13, 14).  

Synth: add irregular staccato glissandi
Bass lights Ud Wood, unrolls SATURDAY sign.
13 0:48 SAMSTAG-

Scent, Sign
Cycles with different glissandi endings, rhythmic and wide melodic leaps with 2 contrasting tempo curves (accel./rit.), whistling, Bar. sings buzzy phrases with glissandi
Saturday picture red circle black spot, Lucifer's Earth sign, etc…

Saturday Solo

(Wood, Indian)
Red circle: Saturday, Lucifer sign rut - dud…wheel of this Earth, blood - fervour, anger…In the red circle we are red dead…Black center - prison planet Earth - Lucicircus of rebirth , yes!

SIGN Saturday - snoring shoot, hoot, toot, Saturday Azmael devil!
Saturday SCENT - eaglewood tree, Aquilaria Agallocha Aloe, etc...
Referred to as a "mandelaria" ("tonsil aria", due to the guttural snorting sounds Stockhausen was only capable of making while recovering from throat surgery).  Also, high notes progressively become high-pitched calls "Rot, Rut, Dud, Red, etc", which are reminders of Sicilian mule sounds he heard in 1962 (also appearing in MICHAELION as LUCICAMEL) MELODY FORMULA:
MNF Sat limb: 1 high note and rest
ENF Sat limb: 2-note rising fragment, with snoring noises

Synth: add wide melodic fragments, ends in falling and swelling accents
Soprano 1 and Tenor 1 meet at the Sunday podium, 
Soprano 1 lights the Frankincense, as Tenor 1 unrolls the SUNDAY sign.
15 0:58 SONNTAG-

Scent, Sign
Cycles of wide melodic phrases, irregular/regular tremolo
Sunday sign Michael EVE mystical marriage 3 blue rings cross and green heart…EVA…MARIA…MICHAEL..etc…

Sunday Duet
Soprano 1 & Tenor 1

(Frankincense, African/Somalia)
Sunday SIGN - Michael and Eve sign mystical marriage…3 blue rings, cross with iris blossoms, Golden tips, Cross and circle, Empty circle in the middle, etc…Michael and Eve mystically united in the Sunday sign, marriage.

Sunday SCENT - incense, Boswellia, scent of resin...Somalia...holy essence for the consecration of the spirit, etc...
Polyphonic variations with extended rhythmic subdivision, rising-falling middle tones, exchanging parts (register), like a "real dialogue", with 6 harmony sections, reflecting the Mystical Union of MICHAEL & EVE.

0:00: polyphonic (alternating and exchanging  phrases)
1:07: harmony section
1:31: polyphonic
2:00: harmony
2:27: polyphonic
3:04: harmony
3:48: polyphonic
4:45: harmony
5:12: polyphonic (Eng.)
5:41: harmony (Eng.)
6:06: polyphonic
6:46: harmony
MNF Sun limb: rising falling fragment, fast
ENF Sun limb with extra repeated note/octave: slow 3-note rising fragment

Synth: add short tremoli
The soloists individually raise their scent bowls, 
Tenor 1 conducts.
17 0:38 SIEBEN-

Scents - Signs
ENSEMBLE Cuchulainn, Eva heart, Kyphi, 3 rings, cross, Mastic, Rosa Mystica, Heart green, red arrow, Tate Yunanaka, Black Spot, red circle, Ud wood, incense, Cross, circles, heart
Alternation of 2 trios singing in harmony, synth plays all chords MELODY FORMULA:
T1, T2, B: MNF (full, harmonized)
S1, S2, Ba: ENF (full, harmonized)

Synth: add chords
An ALTO voice sounds from outside (behind the audience).
The six soloists quickly run out to meet her.
18 3:12 ALT-SOLO

Alto Solo

(Boy Scent)
Men, hearken to the woman:
You were born of mothers.
I was first,
Eve is eternal,
forming - through you -
ever more beautiful, more musical children.

Slow phrases with large interval leaps.   
No aleatory vocal accompaniment, but phrases are punctuated by synth chords, and followed by:

Harmonized section with ENF on top-most layer and MNF on bottom most layer, forming 12 chords, becoming faster, then slower, ("EVE, come!")
Combination of ENF and the "yodel" event in the E DZS (leaping intervals) 

Eva Eva Eva Eva Komm!  Eva viens!  Eve, oh come!


Exalted calling/rejoicing/singing (heard "outside")

The Alto voice suddenly shrieks "MICHAEL!" 
(with synth accent)
Greetings - Michael's bride - Eva - Maria - Virgin - Sunday child - Santa Madonna - Wooman - Lichtuld - Musa - Isis - Queen - Emivachel, etc…

The ALTO is carried to the Sunday podium by the six soloists (overtone chanting) in a handbarrow (or simply escorted).   
More grains are added to the incense bowls so the room is very fragrant with a mixture of scents.

Overtone Chant
Slow overtone vowels in a somewhat lighter texture (triad harmony), as Alto resumes solo: centering on low middle register, ending in high register
Boy scent in cuchulainn, boy smell in kyphi, etc…
Eva Maria in SCENTS-SIGNS (DUFTE-ZEICHEN) calls MICHAEL as boy: May he bless all seven scents and signs from LIGHT!

Synth: add chordal glissandi
The Alto calls out to the audience, and a boy vocalist joins her at the podium, as they sing a dialogue/duet.   
The other vocalists encircle them near the end.  The boy sings the last phrase walking to the exit behind the Sunday podium (alternatively, a white horse comes flying in, and after mounting it, the alto and boy fly away on it)
and the other vocalists leave in the way that they entered the hall, holding their smoking incense bowls.
21 8:09 DUETT 

Duet Alto & Boy
Alto & Boy

(Heaven Scent)
A: Come Michael, Heaven's boy
Boy: Here I am among the people, I hear you EVA-Maria
A: SCENTS-SIGNS of SUNDAY from LIGHT for you. 
B: Scents - signs…
A: For the 7 days of every week
B: 7 scents, who has 7 scents for all the days of the week?
A: We have them.  You are Micha, whatever you want will come to pass in your world here.
B: What I want: every scent like a melody...
A & B: Scents, signs, Music of Sunday from LIGHT, mystical union of God, EVA-MARIA MICHAEL.
Dialogue using alternating melodic fragments (and a brief harmony by the other vocalists).  After coming to a harmony phrase and a fermata rest (2:53), the previous section is repeated with the parts exchanged.

Other vocalists sing long, even syllables
ENF and MNF fragments, using super-imposed rhythms and articulations from the LICHT super-formula

Synth: add longer trills, harmony with soloists

(Photo: Fulvio Zanettini)
Score Covers of the Individual Songs
Costume design by Johannes Cohen, featuring singers:
Isolde Siebert, Ksenija Lukic, Susanne Otto, Hubert Mayer, Bernhard Gartner, 
Jonathan de la Paz Zaens, Nicholas Isherwood, Sebastian Kunz.
(Stockhausen Verlag)

Sound Impressions
    DÜFTE - ZEICHEN is kind of a vocal review of all 7 operas in the LICHT cycle, giving each Day it's own song (MONTAG AUS LICHT also gave each Day it's own signature song, but here the songs also include duos and trios).  It's interesting to compare this work with the second part of ATMEN GIBT DAS LEBEN, which also uses aleatory tutti sections to separate solos, duos and trios, though the inner details and text are quite different.  Here, the themes of each of the 7 Days of LICHT are poetically described and their symbols explained.  Actually the libretto text of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN is probably one of my favorites in the entire LICHT cycle.  For the most part, I personally am not a huge fan of "abstract" wordplay (especially in a foreign language), but here the wordplay seems much more agreeable to me - or maybe after so many previous operas with strange-sounding words I am finally "getting in to it" (also there is a somewhat greater mixture of German and English text in SONNTAG AUS LICHT than in the other operas).  The way that Stockhausen designed the Signs to match the themes of each Day are very clever, and I never really appreciated them until studying these texts.

     The 3 layers (synthesizer, background aleatory layer and vocal soloists) work wonderfully together, but it's also great that the Day songs are on a separate CD without the aleatory layer, to be enjoyed purely as a "song cycle".  The way that Stockhausen has structured the songs to reflect the concepts, story arcs and sign shapes of each of the Days of the Week is very fascinating, and gives each Day phase its own identity.  The "Overtone Chant" accompanying the Alto solo also stands out as being a very beautiful and transparent choral piece, one that I wish could have been even longer.

     Though it's hard to appreciate without having seen these works live, I imagine that these scents, signs and hand/body gestures work together wonderfully in a very organic way (no pun intended).  The idea of using scents as another layer to the Days of the Week is pretty fantastic.  I've never heard of this being used in other works (though Stockhausen had "floated" this idea as early as when he was writing the first LICHT opera).  I would have liked to see this concept expanded to include the Foods of the Days of the Week and the Wines of the Days of the Week (which the audience could consume during each Day phase), but Stockhausen sadly never included "tastes". 

Sound samples, online CD ordering:
About the CDs, Performer Credits, Ordering the Scents (Stockhausen Page)
Ordering the Scores
Stockhausen Courses Kuerten 2004 with sketches and explanations of DÜFTE - ZEICHEN
Wiki Entry
2011 Musikfabric/Oper Köln SONNTAG Production
2011 SONNTAG AUS LICHT Production Dance Company Page
SONNTAG AUS LICHT 2011 Review (Deutche Welle)