Punctualism (commonly also called "pointillism" or "point music") is a style of musical composition prevalent in Europe between 1949 and 1955 "whose structures are predominantly effected from tone to tone, without superordinate formal conceptions coming to bear".In simpler terms: "music that consists of separately formed particles—however complexly these may be composed—[is called] punctual music, as opposed to linear, or group-formed, or mass-formed music", bolding in the source). This was accomplished by assigning to each note in a composition values drawn from scales of pitch, duration, dynamics, and attack characteristics, resulting in a "stronger individualizing of separate tones". Another important factor was maintaining discrete values in all parameters of the music. Punctual dynamics, for example
mean that all dynamic degrees are fixed; one point will be linked directly to another on the chosen scale, without any intervening transition or gesture. Line-dynamics, on the other hand, involve the transitions from one given amplitude to another: crescendo, decrescendo and their combinations. This second category can be defined as a dynamic glissando, comparable to glissandi of pitch and of tempi (accelerando, ritardando).
"The almost analytical focus on individual events, and then the transition between them, brings a stillness to this music far removed from the gestural quality of other pieces".From a purely technical point of view, the term "punctual" has the sense of "a point of intersection of parameters" in serial music.
Retrospectively attributed to the music of Anton Webern, the term was originally coined in German (punktuelle Musik), by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Herbert Eimert (who also used the expression "star music") to describe pieces such as Olivier Messiaen's "Mode de valeurs et d'intensités" (1949).However, it is most commonly associated with serial compositions such as Pierre Boulez's Structures , book 1 (1952), Karel Goeyvaerts's Sonata for Two Pianos and Nummer 2 for thirteen instruments (1951), Luciano Berio's Nones , and Luigi Nono's Polifonica–Monodia–Ritmica, as well as some early compositions of Stockhausen, such as Kreuzspiel . Herman Sabbe, however, argues that "Stockhausen never strictly speaking composed punctually". Eimert foresaw problems "because of the common term of "pointillism" [German Pointillismus] in French painting. It would wrongly be assumed that paintings by Seurat and his contemporaries were being transformed into music". In painting, pointillism (also termed Neoimpressionism) is a late 19th-century method in which small “points” (dots or strokes) of pure color are deposited on the canvas; seen from a distance, they blend and give the effect of a different color and heightened luminosity. The style, a development of impressionist color theories, was originated by the French painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac ("Pointillism," 2018).
The confusion in French was immediate, as Stockhausen relates:
I still remember how, in Paris, I threw around the expression "punctual music" as a term for my KREUZSPIEL, SPIEL for Orchestra, SCHLAGQUARTETT, and so forth. Pierre Boulez corrected me, "Pointilliste, la musique pointilliste!" and I said, "Non, ponctuelle." He replied: “What’s that, then? That’s not French at all, the word is pointilliste." So I explained: "Non, il faut faire attention, or else people might think we are bringing up musical impressionism . . . Seurat painted little dots: dots upon dots, in various colours and sizes, so that a tree would shimmer. . . . In terms of technique there is no connection between musical impressionism and pictorial impressionism. That’s why I am using the term musique ponctuelle." Both musique ponctuelle and musique pointilliste are still seen today.
In fact, as early as 1922 the French word pointillisme, evoking Seurat's painting technique, had been applied to music in this opposite sense of a "mosaic-like method of construction, an infinite accumulation of small and insignificant inorganic details", with reference to Arnold Schoenberg's operas, Erwartung and Die glückliche Hand .
(An alternative translation for punktuelle Musik/musique ponctuelle is "punctile music",but it has not achieved wide currency.)
The concept and its purpose were first articulated in print by Pierre Boulez, in his 1954 article "Recherches maintenant": "Nevertheless, despite an excess of arithmetic, we had achieved a certain ‘punctuality’ of sound—by which I mean, literally, the intersection of various functional possibilities in a given point. What had brought this 'punctual' style about? The justified rejection of thematicism".
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.
In music, serialism is a method of composition using series of pitches, rhythms, dynamics, timbres or other musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though some of his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as a form of post-tonal thinking. Twelve-tone technique orders the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, forming a row or series and providing a unifying basis for a composition's melody, harmony, structural progressions, and variations. Other types of serialism also work with sets, collections of objects, but not necessarily with fixed-order series, and extend the technique to other musical dimensions, such as duration, dynamics, and timbre.
Process music is music that arises from a process. It may make that process audible to the listener, or the process may be concealed.
Gesang der Jünglinge is an electronic music work by Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was realized in 1955–56 at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk studio in Cologne and is Work Number 8 in the composer's catalog of works. The vocal parts were supplied by 12-year-old Josef Protschka. It is exactly 13 minutes, 14 seconds long.
Karel August Goeyvaerts was a Belgian composer.
Nummer 2 for thirteen instruments is a composition written in 1951 by the Belgian composer Karel Goeyvaerts.
Kontra-Punkte is a composition for ten instruments by Karlheinz Stockhausen which resolves contrasts among six instrumental timbres, as well as extremes of note values and dynamic levels, into a homogeneous ending texture. Stockhausen described it: "Counter-Points: a series of the most concealed and also the most conspicuous transformations and renewals—with no predictable end. The same thing is never heard twice. Yet there is a distinct feeling of never falling out of an unmistakable construction of the utmost homogeneity. An underlying force that holds things together—related proportions: a structure. Not the same Gestalten in a changing light. But rather this: various Gestalten in the same light, that permeates everything".
Kreuzspiel is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen written for oboe, bass clarinet, piano and four percussionists in 1951. It is assigned the number 1/7 in the composer's catalogue of works.
Darmstadt School refers to a group of composers who were associated with the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music from the early 1950s to the early 1960s in Darmstadt, Germany, and who shared some aesthetic attitudes. Initially, this included only Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, but others came to be added, in various ways. The term does not refer to an educational institution.
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".
The Klavierstücke constitute a series of nineteen compositions by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Zeitmaße is a chamber-music work for five woodwinds composed in 1955–1956 by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen; it is Number 5 in the composer's catalog. It is the first of three wind quintets written by Stockhausen, followed by Adieu für Wolfgang Sebastian Meyer (1966) and the Rotary Wind Quintet (1997), but is scored with cor anglais instead of the usual French horn of the standard quintet. Its title refers to the different ways that musical time is treated in the composition.
Sonata for Two Pianos (1950–51), also called simply Opus 1 or Nummer 1, is a chamber-music work by Belgian composer Karel Goeyvaerts, and a seminal work in the early history of European serialism.
Studie II is an electronic music composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen from the year 1954 and, together with his Studie I, comprises his work number ("opus") 3. It is serially organized on all musical levels and was the first published score of electronic music.
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.
The Konkrete Etüde is the earliest work of electroacoustic tape music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, composed in 1952 and lasting just three-and-a-quarter minutes. The composer retrospectively gave it the number "1⁄5" in his catalogue of works.
Nummer 5 met zuivere tonen is a musical work by the Belgian composer Karel Goeyvaerts, realized at the WDR Studio for Electronic Music in 1953 and one of the earliest pieces of electronic music.
Formel (Formula) is a composition for chamber orchestra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written while he was still a student in 1951. It is given the number 1⁄6 in his catalog of works, indicating that it is amongst the pieces preceding the composition he recognised as his first mature work, Nr. 1 Kontra-Punkte.
The Studio for Electronic Music of the West German Radio was a facility of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) in Cologne. It was the first of its kind in the world, and its history reflects the development of electronic music in the second half of the twentieth century.
Scambi (Exchanges) is an electronic music composition by the Belgian composer Henri Pousseur, realized in 1957 at the Studio di fonologia musicale di Radio Milano.