Pole (Stockhausen)

Last updated
Stockhausen (back, centre) in Shiraz, September 1972, with several of the Expo '70 performers: front: P. Eotvos, D. von Biel, G. Rodens, W. Fromme, H. Albrecht; second row, second from left: H.-A. Billig; far right: C. Caskel Shiraz 36.jpg
Stockhausen (back, centre) in Shiraz, September 1972, with several of the Expo '70 performers: front: P. Eötvös, D. von Biel, G. Rodens, W. Fromme, H. Albrecht; second row, second from left: H.-A. Billig; far right: C. Caskel

Pole (Poles), for two performers with shortwave radio receivers and a sound projectionist, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1970. It is Number 30 in the catalogue of the composer's works.

Contents

Conception

Pole is the last in a series of works dating from the late 1960s which Stockhausen designated as "process" compositions. These works in effect separate the "form" from the "content" by presenting the performers with a series of transformation signs which are to be applied to material that may vary considerably from one performance to the next. In Pole and three companion works ( Kurzwellen for six performers, Spiral for a soloist, and Expo for three), this material is to be drawn spontaneously during the performance from short-wave radio broadcasts. [1] The processes, indicated primarily by plus, minus, and equal signs, constitute the composition and, despite the unpredictability of the materials, these processes can be heard from one performance to another as being "the same". [2]

History

German Pavilion at Expo '70, where Pole was performed in the spherical auditorium (out of view to the right) Osaka Expo'70 Korean Pavilion.jpg
German Pavilion at Expo '70, where Pole was performed in the spherical auditorium (out of view to the right)

Pole was composed in Bali in February 1970, at that time under the working title of Duo. [3] Between 14 March and 14 September 1970, Pole was played and sung over a thousand times at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan, in daily performances by twenty different musicians including the composer. [4] The score is dedicated to Harald Bojé  [ de ] and Péter Eötvös, who played in the majority of the early performances, and who also made a number of radio recordings and two commercially released recordings of the piece. [3]

Structure and technique

Graetz Pagino receiver, 1969 Graetz Pagino.jpg
Graetz Pagino receiver, 1969

Pole consists of a sequence of approximately 200 events, grouped into seven sections divided in the score by wavy barlines. Stockhausen explained that in pieces like this, "the first step is always that of imitating something and the next step is that of transforming what you're able to imitate". [5]

Each plus, minus, or equal sign indicates that, upon repetition of an event, the performer is to increase, decrease, or maintain the same level in one of four musical dimensions (or "parameters"): overall duration of the event, number of internal subdivisions, dynamic level, or pitch register/range. It is up to the performer to decide which of these dimensions is to be affected, except that vertically stacked signs must be applied to different parameters. [6] Despite this indeterminacy, a large number of plus signs (for example) will result in successive events becoming longer, more finely subdivided, louder, and either higher or wider in range; a large number of minus signs will produce the reverse effect. [2] To the signs previously used in Prozession, Kurzwellen, Spiral, and Expo Stockhausen adds some new ones and, for the first time, notated the sound-projectionist part which had been left to improvisation in the earlier pieces. At Expo '70, these movements were accomplished using a "rotation mill"—a small box with a crank on the top, like a small coffee grinder. [7] The spherical auditorium of the German Pavilion literally had poles, one above and the other below the audience platform at the "equator". Boldface plus and minus signs represent the zenith and nadir. The sounds of the two soloists are initially placed at the opposite poles (which may be the front and back of the hall, in ordinary spaces, distributed ovet eight or more channels). At first these sounds occasionally dip toward each other, and then fan out over their respective axes, followed by stairstepping back and forth over independent paths in three dimensions in a breathtaking spatial experience. [8]

Discography

Related Research Articles

Karlheinz Stockhausen German composer

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. A critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music". He is known for his groundbreaking work in electronic music, for introducing controlled chance into serial composition, and for musical spatialization.

David C. Johnson is an American composer, flautist, and performer of live-electronic music.

<i>Aus den sieben Tagen</i>

Aus den sieben Tagen is a collection of 15 text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in May 1968, in reaction to a personal crisis, and characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is Work Number 26 in the composer's catalog of works.

Gruppen for three orchestras (1955–57) is amongst the best-known compositions of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and is Work Number 6 in the composer's catalog of works. Gruppen is "a landmark in 20th-century music. .. probably the first work of the post-war generation of composers in which technique and imagination combine on the highest level to produce an undisputable masterpiece".

Collegium Vocale Köln

Collegium Vocale Köln is a German vocal ensemble, founded in 1966 as a quintet when its members were still students at the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne. It is directed by Wolfgang Fromme, who also sings tenor in the ensemble. They are best known as the group for which Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Stimmung in 1968, a work which they had performed more than three hundred of times throughout the world by 1986. The original impetus for the ensemble's founding, however, was an appearance by Alfred Deller at the Cologne Courses for Early Music, and the group has always performed both early and contemporary works.

<i>Kontakte</i>

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.

<i>Hymnen</i>

Hymnen is an electronic and concrete work, with optional live performers, by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in 1966–67, and elaborated in 1969. In the composer's catalog of works, it is Nr. 22.

<i>In Freundschaft</i>

In Freundschaft is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, number 46 in his catalogue of works, which is playable on a wide variety of solo instruments. It was first performed on a clarinet on 28 July 1977.

<i>Kurzwellen</i>

Kurzwellen, for six players with shortwave radio receivers and live electronics, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968. It is Number 25 in the catalog of the composer’s works.

<i>Dienstag aus Licht</i>

Dienstag aus Licht is an opera by Karlheinz Stockhausen in a greeting and two acts, with a farewell, and was the fourth of seven to be completed for the opera cycle Licht: Die sieben Tage der Woche. It was begun in 1977 and completed from 1988 to 1991, to a libretto by the composer.

Michael Vetter was a German composer, novelist, poet, performer, calligrapher, artist, and teacher.

<i>Spiral</i> (Stockhausen)

Spiral, for a soloist with a shortwave receiver, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968. It is Number 27 in the catalogue of the composer's works.

<i>Mixtur</i>

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. 16​23.

<i>Fresco</i> (Stockhausen)

Fresco is an orchestral composition written in 1969 by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen as foyer music for an evening-long retrospective programme of his music presented simultaneously in three auditoriums of the Beethovenhalle in Bonn. It is Nr. 29 in his catalogue of works, and a performance takes about five hours.

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.

<i>Expo</i> (Stockhausen)

Expo, for three performers with shortwave radio receivers and a sound projectionist, is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1969–70. It is Number 31 in the catalogue of the composer's works.

Schlagtrio is a chamber-music work for piano and two timpanists composed by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1952. It is Nr. ⅓ in his catalogue of works.

<i>Für kommende Zeiten</i>

Für kommende Zeiten is a collection of seventeen text compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed between August 1968 and July 1970. It is a successor to the similar collection titled Aus den sieben Tagen, written in 1968. These compositions are characterized as "Intuitive music"—music produced primarily from the intuition rather than the intellect of the performer(s). It is work number 33 in Stockhausen's catalog of works, and the collection is dedicated to the composer's son Markus.

<i>Ensemble</i> (Stockhausen)

Ensemble is a group-composition project devised by Karlheinz Stockhausen for the 1967 Darmstädter Ferienkurse. Twelve composers and twelve instrumentalists participated, and the resulting performance lasted four hours. It is not assigned a work number in Stockhausen's catalogue of works.

<i>Musik für ein Haus</i>

Musik für ein Haus is a group-composition project devised by Karlheinz Stockhausen for the 1968 Darmstädter Ferienkurse. Fourteen composers and twelve instrumentalists participated, with the resulting performance lasting four hours. It was not regarded by Stockhausen as a composition belonging solely to himself, and therefore was not assigned a number in his catalog of works.

References

  1. Kohl 1981, pp. 192–193.
  2. 1 2 Kohl 2010, p. 137.
  3. 1 2 Stockhausen 1978, p. 152.
  4. Stockhausen 2009, p. 260.
  5. Cott 1973, p. 33.
  6. Stockhausen 1973, pp. 1, 11, 21.
  7. Stockhausen 2009, p. 262.
  8. Kohl 2010, p. 138.

Cited sources

Further reading