Stockhausen-Verlag Gérard Patris : Momente -DVDR- (F,rec.1965)***°' Stockhausen-Verlag Stockhausen : Momente -2cd- (D,rec.1972 & 1965)****°
A double review which includes also a first introduction to Stockhausen..
First of all I need to mention that Stockhausen’s music is not really Avant-garde. While Avant-garde is breaking free its borders with improvisation, to come to (unexpected) challenges, Stockhausen came to his ideas, technically speaking, by having developed them in balance with the processes which developed through a classical music heritage from which he understood well all its aspects and just added new ideas eventually coming from occasional ethnical sources of inspiration, but also from thought processes itself that find its often technical and practical translation directly into music. Because this process has a related technical process in balance with a practical and deeper content of understanding it is not avant-garde, rather it fits like a ‘new’ classical method with an additional spiritual aspect.
Humour and an invitation
Further on, I also realised and noticed some humour within all seriousness. In ‘Momente’ is also added a strange contrast of real-life dialogue, which starts from the mind of the composer with the public which, instead of making Stockhausen’s work esoteric and the listener unreachable or even backward, has found a way to invite the listener in, instead of keeping him at a distance. The piece has besides its difficult or demanding moments that ask a deeper concentration into the piece itself, besides an expressive and playful theatrical or operatic side, also its invitations towards the public within the random processes of experience and thoughts or events, structures and elements. The public’s real-time (just like that of the composer or musicians) and some expected and previous reactions are equally important coincidental moments as are the accidental meeting points that created the compositions and ideas that were in the composer’s mind around that time (perhaps also the public and musicians state of openness with their senses could have had its share of influence in the total process of the inserts). The piece also included Stockhausen personal experiences during this period of composing, his interests for making connections with literature and religion, and a reworking of meeting points with people related with a feeling of love for someone which he personally would like to find a place. Included are some letters he wrote around that time. The religious text is from Salome, an erotic interplay with the playful aspect of the meeting points. Some semi-improvisational method of interactions was created inhabiting for instance clapping or some other direct responses from the public. The whole process is one of recognition (public) and memory (events, irregularity) and structure (composer, the esoteric and abstract).
A discovery process: no religious quest
When Stockhausen talks about his music his thoughts often can be divided into ideas coming forward from a spiritual discovery and awareness from a deeper context of any his chosen background ideas and secondly, the pure musical thinking process, a very specialised, rather abstract and technical part. Unfortunately, the spiritual connexion in the book “Holy Seriousness of the play” the first part is confused with “a search for God”, which gives a false context that misinterprets his findings. Stockhausen never is on a quest, like in ‘Momente’ he has very directed ideas, then is becoming or just IS that process of creation, open to include realisations and experiences during the thought and creative process, an awareness which more can be described as if he is more like a theosophist in practice, than someone partaking in a religious quest. There are no real quests for Stockhausen. In his discovery process the intellect helps him to divide the findings into certain fitting balanced contrasts, while during the practical creation is discovering and dealing with new ‘natural’ aspects discovered or developed through this.
a multiple scientist...
Stockhausen also somehow continues the tradition of likeminded multiple-scientists/investigators like Goethe and Newton and the traditions of thinking this way before them (a tradition just slightly comparable to how the alchemists also searched for an equal spiritual balance to be able to find the ideas that fitted with their inner perspectives), but in a different and more modern setting of possibilities. These previous multi-scientists developed a whole area of interests and did not even mind finding its wider even more cosmological context, like the macrocosmic reflection of their microcosmic realisations. Those scientists were also artists who even developed a religious context for their works. Also Stockhausen could have been a philosopher, a musicologist, who already works like a scientist for his calculation of measurements and evolutions (of sound or of objects, even when following images like star signs or planets) in quality, time and space evolution, or when grouping notes in clusters like molecules, or into ‘moments’ like in ‘Momente’, or more simple even, as a sound engineer*, a poet and a writer, an investigator of languages and syllables (like his cooperation with physicist Werner Meyer-Epler), an investigator of dialectics, and even an experimenter searching for the balance between statistics and spontaneity, and the whole dialectic processes around this.
*(- On the scales of space acoustics investigation, Stockhausen is a mastering teacher in his own right-).
Following spiritual traditions in music
His improvisation techniques can be compared for investigation to ethnical classical music from India and the Middle East which are for instance restricted by rhythmic themes and chord themes, in India related with a certain timing when to play such or such combinations to improvise upon (daytime, yeartime), where Stockhausen reinvents a similar concept with many different parameters, like a frame for his sort of improvisations, with even more than just having a musical compositional or musically expressive goal, have a much wider reaching point or wider perspective by dealing with the human being who is performing and at times also with the coincidental reactions and abilities on that moment. Certain parameters could deal with certain aspects that are in relationship with the world, the body or eventually could turn the performer into a semi-composer who thanks to Stockhausen’s restrictions, (or guide-lines rather than restrictions)-, who is working like a teacher with a commissioned determination- is able to find a certain vision and liberation through music. This does not make Stockhausen a ‘guru’ (in the Indian sense) for the performer, but for the work itself as a result, where the personalities are only used for its own divine purpose. The reason why later the whole improvisational techniques were written down instead of found in confrontation and the creative process alone, is because people often depend too much on environmental or personal or conditional changes to make this always work out into a unique moment.
Beyond pure ratio & bodily experiences..
I found Stockhausen’s ideas about consciousness rather interesting. Stockhausen was aware of the restriction that pure ratio could only offer restrictions between the personal known worlds, no matter if wider perspectives of reality, and therefore, with his creative mind developed certain guide lines to open up this mind differently. An example are his compositions based upon guide lines on what and how to concentrate the mind. Dealing and stimulating the condition of the performer and his spiritual openness for the first time in western traditions were put into compositions. With Stockhausen’s guidelines this luckily worked well.
Stockhausen was very aware of how the daily ratio restricted itself to only a few centres of possible experiences, often falling back on vital and bodily functions but rarely opening itself to wider perspectives, rhythms or processes beyond someone’s personal sphere of direct experiences and desires. Dedicating some pieces to this widened purpose, added to mentally and creatively conceived findings, took care that the performances at least dealt with notions of these perspectives so that the energy of conscious processes can flow more easily and lead to the unique experiences and moment of the performance and listening experience itself.
Stockhausen also talked in an interview about the development of a sort of yoga technique to move the consciousness into parts of the body or a person or to give it several other directions making participants able to be involved into different processes of consciousness. All these sort of concerns of involvements alone makes Stockhausen a completely different composer compared to almost any or perhaps any Western composer.
Thanks to the few extra guide lines outside the technical directions, in individual performances especially under the development by dedicated participants something new and interesting could happen with unexpected results.
The formula of ‘Momente’
On “Momente”, like in many other works he used one foundation of some sort of abstract (,almost mathematical) formula that would develop certain possible aspects in its range of dialoguing and transmutating possibilities. Each such formula finds its way through equal portions of musical, personal, spiritual and in here also some real-time significances. For ‘Momente’, this formula (in one sort of explanation) includes ‘K’ as ‘sound’, which also stands for the Karlheinz (the composer’s) aspect. In some interview he has also mentioned that this part presents ‘a mystical person in theosophy’ (I wonder who this might be??), while the ‘I’ stands for irregularity, or I think also the impulses, improvisations of interactions, methods of reactions that could break things apart, but (especially when dealt with) that give new life as well. On the other side are the two women, the ‘D’, for Dora his wife, and the ‘M’ for Maria, or melody, a heart energy that finds its imagination and should find a place in between the rest, in fact it is also just like the religious inspiring context that in every case of Stockhausen’s work finds its way and structure automatically (through i.e. dedication).
Restriction versus openness
Compared to Boulez which defines definitions of restrictions, for Stockhausen the whole range of reality counts, with all its measurements. There is no distinction of choices within the different presentation forms of the measurements of any sort of reality for what is more useful or not. All becomes useful in the hands of Stockhausen who finds the natural balances by experience. All distinctions possible are part of the same process, making different contexts of the same basic principles from which they were divided into its aspects. Together they form a reality that finds a balanced unity in the movements created into a compositional creation.
For Stockhausen the restrictions in any compositions are also in balance within the process of the breathing space of the performed music within itself, which consciously evolve to something outside the pure theoretical restriction. This means that the restriction (mind) finds its heart (openness and natural reactions) which makes Stockhausens work better than a purely theoretical approach of more mathematical composers, but also adds something extra compared to the most brilliant free music which has dealt already with some preparations of ideas, because in the case of Stockhausen there are added more details and varied time-perspectives thanks to the additional constructive ideas which works in many directions in time, adding many more parameters that it deals with.
Stockhausen always used any form of determination or restriction in his composition to be taken into contrast with what he called ‘intuition’, an openness to the real-moment of realisation (which in case of ‘Momente’ are the inserts or like the ‘i’-aspect). This dual-creative aspect (-a factor of additional metamorphosis to serialism-) is dealt with in most compositions (?). Experience, just like intuition, adds a new outwards compositional aspect against the inwards determination of his theoretical approach. It is this kind of balance which finds a certain freedom of unity with a higher structure.
Within an incredible range of possibilities, each separate composition is another idea of this kind and thus also has again and again a new world of experiences within itself, perhaps only united into the much bigger context of the 7-fold semi-operatic work of grandeur, called “Licht”.
The 'imaginable' versus 'spiritual significance'
Some deeper concept that says much of Stockhausen’s spiritual thinking process in nearly each piece, especially for his huge 7-fold work “Licht” is the concept of the “Geist/Geistliche” principle. “Geist” means something like the imaginable, like a spirit/product of the mind, which stands versus the “Geistliche” or the spiritual. This means : ‘what can be thought or imagined should better evolve to something with a spiritual significance’. That is also how first of all his abstract thinking processes finds his own structure, balance and contrast in nature and in higher natural balances and processes.
Once he explained the concept (in the sense of Aurobindo) just like the way vibrations become rhythm at some point, especially in the perspective of an observer, like in the piece ‘Mantra’, Stockhausen then takes this one step further : he always shows both sides of observation and reality : from the tiniest elements to the biggest structure, how they are so much related, like in a rhythmic cycle (and in an active relation). During the evolution from the smallest stage to the biggest, just like the evolution from the slowest vibration which is almost just ‘sound’ to the semi-rhythmic fast vibration (experienced as ‘rhythm’), he shows all variations and divided moments that are possible as different aspects in evolution as being aspects of the same vibration. The same happens in his piece ‘Momente’. All sorts of moments that came to him from each quality or level are from equal importance, to be adapted into the bigger context of the performance.
Momente, the movie
In the black and white documentary, Stockhausen spoke French fluently and clearly (I heard him speak Italian, German and English in interviews fluently). There is shown a rehearsal of ‘Momente’ (Moments), while some aspects and elements and some of its “moments” are explained by Stockhausen. What is worthy of mention is the great performance by the black soloist. Never the less it is not an easy piece, but knowing its content beforehand could be a good guiding hand and helps to understand and experience pieces like this much better. I was moved by the story where Karlheinz told the film maker how when his father returned from the war, ill and dying he had said to the ten year old boy that he did not need him (if I understood the French well, because they must have had a good relationship). Since then, he told us, he realised he should be independent, which he became with his work ever since. Thanks to this he developed visions that are not dependent on any theory, fashion or time perspective, because they only deal with eternal values that stand on its own, with a self inclosing but to the outward transmission also open context, not limited by personal preferences.
Momente, the double CD
I was told that the new, 1972 version of ‘Momente’ is much more developed, and perhaps it is. To an extend it turned itself more into an opera, with each detail of equal importance. Stockhausen also took care that the visual aspects of the theatrical and descriptive aspect are overcome so that more and different experiences follow so that this new piece really demands all your/one's attention, even so much over such a long version I get the impression the open idea towards a future and further evolution within the piece or in its time span of experiences is all filled up, to an extend the content is becoming more saturating than surprising. I could not yet distinguish the different formulas of changes, as if they were thoroughly mixed with a new sort of complexity, even when all the old elements were also reused.
Almost 30 minutes of the 1962 version are added as a bonus track. On the older version, the singer much more sounds like a lead voice, just like a story teller where the band responds and reacts, it sounds like an individual and personal story in the midst of an active and reactive environment, vivid and like a real event, much more than a complex mode of associative moments.
In the 1972 version of the piece however, the whole personal story behind it is no longer like the story told by the individual, the first essence of inspiration before the creation of the piece, with the increased complex dynamics, and each element having become to an equal place the original purpose in the experience seems to be lost a bit while the new additional ideas don’t unfold its purpose and spontaneity so much anymore, for its length of expressions this is more demanding. And for it includes two inspirational time schedules for it as well, also the combination of all this will demand more than one listen to grab the total of moments, which now are doubled in extent. This new piece seems to have become something different, a new sort of synthesis, with something extra of technicality, impossible to grasp in one listen. I guess it must have been influenced by working on the opera cycle of synthesis, and the period of his life where a synthesis of all mattered more than ever, so that must have affected this new version.
Gerald Johan Van Waes © 2009
PS. Part of what is told here are some of the prepared ideas that might be used in a future lecture on Stockhausen I will give called “Stockhausen and theosophy”, later this year. This lecture will take place early next year, 2010.
* So far I still think ‘Stimmung’ in the second version (Hyperion) remains one of the best starters, for the most inner-harmony-driven aspects of it, -a piece which easily leads to the quadraphonic “Sternklang”, a piece showing and dealing with even more aspects-. (Never the less, I hope one day to have heard the whole repertoire).
PS2. I have no doubts (I said this already 22 years ago) that Stockhausen will some day, if not already, be regarded as the most important composer of the last century. But perhaps only once the technical possibilities are investigated with its spiritual-philosophical viewpoint before the analysis of his work will become really overwhelming, and fruitfully inspiring for many years to come.
Notice and realise also how Stockhausen has influenced many of his colleagues who took out ideas from him into their personal workouts (Ligeti, M.Feldman,...) but even Krautrock knew its influence from Stockhausen for he was a teacher in Köln (just investigate the first album from Amon Düül II or just notice Klaus Schulze’s musical notations on the back of Blackdance). (More known is perhaps the inspiration of “Hymnen” for “Revolution n°9” from The Beatles).
The only work that I know which as a technical result which grasps the spirit of Stockhausen’s method of composing is Nurse With Wound’s “Soliloquy For Lilith” (1988), with a process of composing which is just like the essence in some of Stockhausen’s works (sometimes it is his personality that makes certain works in open progress too) absolutely unique in its own.
Other inspirations for this article are the following books and writings :
* "Holy Seriousness In The Play" by Günter Peters and
* "Stockhausen, Conversations with the composer" by Jonathan Scott
* "Towards a Cosmic Music" compiled by Tim Nevill
* and some interviews assembled on Stockhausen Verlag's website
An additional study based upon ‘Momente’,
in the light of ‘consciousness’ on ‘Moments’...,
and in the light of the meanings of vowels and consonants.
I could analyse “Momente”’s theories from two more visions, like from a new-theosophical study as I would prefer to see it being analysed and being inspired from, as an investigation and a means to develop consciousness, as a generalised method (being open to developing an ability to analyse distinctive measurements and to understand better and to experience more deeply), about what is the signification of “moments” in general, and secondly, as seen from my study on the meaning of vowels and consonants, comparing its characteristics with how Stockhausen intended it.
A. The signification of sounds M-I-D-K...(-a bit more specialised-)
While the “M”-parts are used to express all harmony seeking elements including melody and polyphony, a human form with a certain random direction, the characteristics of M (as a sound) is also being very adaptive in its full range of harmonic waves. The “K” parts are masculine and sound-based and are interrupting with different directions of harshness against the linear process, which is a quality which could indeed be from the sound of “K”. Stockhausen also describes it as a breaking vision, like from the composer, like centred points of orientation, occurring also in the centre of the work ; this quality however is like the next level of the not yet directed, but only working against/diagonal “K” sound, like under the form of (the signification of the meaning of) “C”. In this case, explained from the significations of vowels and consonants, “K”-arlheinz Stoc-“k”-hausen can be seen as the “c”-omposer who adds the quality of “C” to ‘K’. According to Stockhausen’s visions again, the K sounds come all from all sorts of percussive instruments ; D is a more feminine energy, while “I” are like neutralisers, opening things up like with new intuitive energy. The (meaning of the) sound “I” could be any sort of peak-point, which in combination with N, it is change of impulses through an insert, like it used by Stockhausen.
The 4 sounds are used with some variations of evolutions into one another, as if one moment leads to the next, but with no real interruption, but with a realistic contemporary connection between them. It is funny to realise how some vowels and consonants are often used to express certain words. Just read and take M-I-D-K as an example (“Am I decay?”or “..D.K”, while D.K. is also Dora/Karlheinz). It is as if there is included a danger of falling apart, in different pieces, while by using all sorts of combinations and transforming this into a method of dealing with coincidence in a creative manner, this in fact never will (happen) : this remains a challenging contrast, a vision of K/C into a balance of M with D and with a stop to randomness through closing points (K) and neutralising points (I). Yes, there is a lot of consciousness involved in this compositional work, and there is much more to say than just a musical analysis....
B. Stockhausen and the development of Consciousness..
Because much consciousness is involved with Stockhausen’s works it is useful to have a few guiding lines in preparation for the public, but not too rational ones, only such ones to stimulate the openness for the consciousness involved, to stimulate experience towards a wider view on other levels of existence which can be generalised with consciousness itself. For instance, in Momente, these could be questions like : “what are moments for you, which kind of perspectives on moments do you know, and how do these moments interact on you as a remembering and structuring being, like a composer (like Stockhausen in a composition like this) is even much more like an example in this process, with a compositional level that deals with all sorts of confrontations and memories and ordering of ideas. How are you able to organise such a stimulating process of perception, and can you feel in this perspective, how it is done here ?
Former generations were very much culturally developed by books. The new generation hardly reads. It could be an advantage to develop different sort of consciousnesses but unfortunately I am afraid that the lack of the developments of varied perspectives and context-development could make them victim of islands of only a social process of understanding, conditions which are mostly ruled by a street level chains of reactions. Culturalised banality in that case will have more chance to generalise as a form of so called freedom, than different sorts of expressions with depth and availability of all senses. In the end certain banal forms will even dominate others, while pollution of any kind will have become normal. Survival on the moment will be the energy most developed, something which beforehand we didn’t even have to care for much. In that way Stockhausen could only be curiositised for such a public as a sort of new hip, this still leaves us levels of development, different developments over time when studying the whole theory behind.
Stockhausen’s music is not made for entertaining or aesthetics, but on the other hand it provides steps for wider perspectives, showing wider ranges of reality, of understanding, never flattering and never challenging for the effect of it, it only shows (a sometimes very concentrated and therefore still demanding) balanced order. It is a sort of wider ranged consciousness over reality, consciousness in practice, making understanding of it and experiencing it possible.
The inspirations for this extra article were written down after having read some more
* interviews assembled on Stockhausen Verlag's website, and
* "Stockhausen on music" compiled by Robin Maconie.
This extra article also used the ideas behind my own unpublished book on 'words into forms'. *
* This study is like a cracked code on how to understand the orientations expressed in vowels and consonants and which proves that words are named with incredible significance. This code by the way works in different directions and also is able to trace the meaning of unknown words by methodically translating the combinations of vowels and consonants into a different universal form-based language, by which results can be analysed more easily, first of all because it visualises its underlying naming process and the specific orientation which is used in this word. Simultaneously you can also analyse it's interactive process of changing qualities, a method which is relatively easily to learn as a creative language of expression, and which you could also learn more intuitively but which need a lot of practice and talent for combinations of other than words with vowels and consonants of similar or confirming qualities, mostly for very physical descriptions. Only a practiced creative mind is able to learn how to combine into one form such contradictory combinations of qualities, mostly used in words that express more abstract ideas. If the word expresses something very physical the result will be the object's form. If the word expresses a description of moving qualities also these qualities will become visible. If it is something even more abstract also this will become very clear. It also explains why certain, exactly the same or slightly differently pronounced words with complete different meanings still use a comparable sort of orientation, and that the way it is written down or the context in whichit is used often makes the final clue and distinction very clear. The method is also able to show advantages and disadvantages of using certain languages and how this influences the orientation on things. All such matters become analysable.
-I am still working on the finalized method so that the translation into forms could be done by a computer instead of a talent that can grasp and play and combine all possible combinations, a much more mathematical method, but myself I could not yet go beyond the vowels and consonants that can be expressed in three dimensions (9 vowels and consonants were easy to express within a 3-dimensional scheme, but the others needed extra dimensions if I want to prove it's total of possibilities). I have theories ready on how to express the existing mathematical methods differently and in a much more practical way of how to visualize these higher dimensions (because these higher dimensions should not be expressed with extra vectors but with circular and changing and finishing shapes in certain directions according to its content and orientation in lower dimensions. Thanks to this method it is also possible to split higher dimensions and make its combination of results into a lower form of dimensions (like into a three-or two dimensional shape) but I still haven't found the time and courage yet to finish this final and most practical proof of my methods. It is hard to work alone on things like this, and still have a life and a need to find a way to earn your living all at the same time.
If anyone wants more information about any of this feel free to mail me.-