Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, June 02, 2011

No, Really,You Will

Imagine a piece of music for six singers (3 male, 3 female) with microphones.

Imagine that each singer is given a set of overtones of a basic note (C in this case) which are the notes they are allowed to use (unless specifically instructed otherwise).

Imagine that the piece progresses by turns like a game: each singer has a number of goes (each man gets 9, each woman 8 - or maybe the other way round, I forget).

As each player takes her/his turn, s/he has to morph whatever the group has been singing up to that point into the shape s/he has been given for that turn. So the piece is constantly evolving in a structured but unrepeatable way. Once the singer has completed his or her turn s/he signals the next player, until everyone has used up all their turns.

Each singer has a collection of words and phrases (names of god from various world religions, days of the week and random phrases in different languages) to be interjected at some point during their turns.

This sounds like a cool sort of musical game, right?

Welcome to the world of Karlheinz Stockhausen (specifically, Stimmung):

Two observations: it was when the first day of the week crept into the mix that I realised that Mr S didn't take himslf over-seriously.

And if you listen to the whole thing, I pretty much guarantee that at some time over the next week you'll catch yourself humming a bit of it. And you'll stop and think "Argh! I'm humming Stockhausen FFS!" And if you listen to it again you'll find more and more bits earworming their way in. Impressive for a piece based on one note!