In music, moment form is defined as "a mosaic of moments", and, in turn, a moment is defined as a "self-contained (quasi-)independent section, set off from other sections by discontinuities".
The concept of moment form, and the specific term, originated with the composition Kontakte (1958–60) by Karlheinz Stockhausen.
A "moment", in Stockhausen's terminology, is any "formal unit in a particular composition that is recognizable by a personal and unmistakable character." It can be either an indivisible gestalt , a structure with clear components, or a mixture of the two; and it can be static, or dynamic, or a combination of the two. "Depending on their characteristics, they can be as long or as short as you like".
"Moment forming", on the other hand, is a compositional approach in which a narrative overall line is deliberately avoided. The component moments in such a form are related by a nonlinear principle of proportions. If this system of proportions exhausts a set of possibilities, the form is said to be "closed"; if not, or if the series of proportions is not finite, then the form is "open".
Moment form does not necessarily avoid perceptible goal-directed processes. "They simply refuse to participate in a globally directed narrative curve, which is, naturally, not their purpose".In Stockhausen's words, works with this property
neither aim at the climax, nor at prepared (and consequently expected) multiple climaxes, and the usual introductory, rising, transitional and fading-away stages are not delineated in a development curve encompassing the entire duration of the work. On the contrary, these forms are immediately intense and seek to maintain the level of continued "main points", which are constantly equally present, right up until they stop. In these forms a minimum or a maximum may be expected in every moment, and no developmental direction can be predicted with certainty from the present one; they have always already commenced, and could continue forever; in them either everything present counts, or nothing at all; and each and every Now is not unremittingly regarded as the mere consequence of the one which preceded it and as the upbeat to the coming one—in which one puts one's hope—but rather as something personal, independent and centred, capable of existing on its own. They are forms in which an instant does not have to be just a bit of a temporal line, nor a moment just a particle of a measured duration, but rather in which concentration on the Now—on every Now—makes vertical slices, as it were, that cut through a horizontal temporal conception to a timelessness I call eternity: an eternity that does not begin at the end of time but is attainable in every moment. I am speaking of musical forms in which apparently nothing less is being attempted than to explode (even to overthrow) the temporal concept—or, put more accurately: the concept of duration. ... In works of this kind the start and stop are open and yet they cease after a certain duration.
Besides Kontakte, works cited by Stockhausen as being particularly concerned with moment forming include the earlier Gesang der Jünglinge (1955–56), as well as the subsequent Carré (1960), Momente (1962–64/69), Mixtur (1964), Mikrophonie I (1964), Mikrophonie II (1965), Telemusik (1966), Hymnen (1966–67/69), Stimmung (1968), Samstag aus Licht (1981–83), Michaelion from Mittwoch aus Licht , Himmelfahrt (2004–05), Freude (2005), and Himmels-Tür (2005).The concept of moment form has often been confused with mobile (or, in Stockhausen's nomenclature, "polyvalent") forms, because in four of these compositions (Momente, Mixtur, Mikrophonie I, and Stimmung), the component moments can be ordered in different ways. Several other works by Stockhausen have this "mobile" feature, without falling into his category of moment form, for example, Klavierstück XI (1956), Refrain (1959), Zyklus (1959), and Sirius (1975–77).
Certain works by other composers, both earlier and contemporaneous, such as István Anhalt, Earle Brown, Elliott Carter, Barney Childs, Roberto Gerhard, Michael Gielen, Hans Werner Henze, Charles Ives, Witold Lutosławski, Olivier Messiaen, Morgan Powell, Roger Reynolds, Joseph Schwantner, Roger Sessions, Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Stefan Wolpe, Yehuda Yannay, and Frank Zappa, have also been cited as instances of moment form .
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.
Licht (Light), subtitled "Die sieben Tage der Woche", is a cycle of seven operas composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen between 1977 and 2003. The composer described the work as an "eternal spiral" because "there is neither end nor beginning to the week." Licht consists of 29 hours of music.
The Helikopter-Streichquartett is one of Karlheinz Stockhausen's best-known pieces, and one of the most complex to perform. It involves a string quartet, four helicopters with pilots, as well as audio and video equipment and technicians. It was first performed and recorded in 1995. Although performable as a self-sufficient piece, it also forms the third scene of the opera Mittwoch aus Licht.
Kontakte ("Contacts") is an electronic music work by Karlheinz Stockhausen, realized in 1958–60 at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) electronic-music studio in Cologne with the assistance of Gottfried Michael Koenig. The score is Nr. 12 in the composer's catalogue of works, and is dedicated to Otto Tomek.
The Klavierstücke constitute a series of nineteen compositions by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Telemusik is an electronic composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is number 20 in his catalog of works.
Klang —Die 24 Stunden des Tages is a cycle of compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, on which he worked from 2004 until his death in 2007. It was intended to consist of 24 chamber-music compositions, each representing one hour of the day, with a different colour systematically assigned to every hour. The cycle was unfinished when the composer died, so that the last three "hours" are lacking. The 21 completed pieces include solos, duos, trios, a septet, and Stockhausen's last entirely electronic composition, Cosmic Pulses. The fourth composition is a theatre piece for a solo percussionist, and there are also two auxiliary compositions which are not part of the main cycle. The completed works bear the work (opus) numbers 81–101.
Suzanne Stephens is an American clarinetist, resident in Germany, described as "an outstanding performer and tireless promoter of the clarinet and basset horn".
Kathinka Pasveer is a Dutch flautist.
Carré (Square) for four orchestras and four choirs (1959–60) is a composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 10 in the composer's catalog of works.
Adieufür Wolfgang Sebastian Meyer is a composition for wind quintet by Karlheinz Stockhausen composed in 1966. It is Number 21 in the composer's catalog of works, and the second of Stockhausen's three wind quintets.
Mittwoch aus Licht is an opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen in a greeting, four scenes, and a farewell. It was the sixth of seven to be composed for the opera cycle Licht: die sieben Tage der Woche, and the last to be staged. It was written between 1995 and 1997, and first staged in 2012.
Mixtur, for orchestra, 4 sine-wave generators, and 4 ring modulators, is an orchestral composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1964, and is Nr. 16 in his catalogue of works. It exists in three versions: the original version for full orchestra, a reduced scoring made in 1967, and a re-notated version of the reduced scoring, made in 2003 and titled Mixtur 2003, Nr. 162⁄3.
Studie I is an electronic music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen from the year 1953. It lasts 9 minutes 42 seconds and, together with his Studie II, comprises his work number ("opus") 3.
Prozession (Procession), for tamtam, viola, electronium, piano, microphones, filters, and potentiometers, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1967. It is Number 23 in the catalogue of the composer’s works.
Cosmic Pulses is the last electronic composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and it is number 93 in his catalog of works. Its duration is 32 minutes. The piece has been described as "a sonic roller coaster", "a Copernican asylum", and a "tornado watch".
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Trumpetent is a quartet for four trumpets by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1995. It is Number 73 in his catalogue of works and one of four independent compositions related to his opera, Mittwoch aus Licht. A performance lasts about 16 minutes.