STOCKHAUSEN"Metamorphosis needs new training in music..."
Venue: National Theatre, London
Date: Thursday, 14th January 1982. 6 pm.
Lecture-Demonstration: Karlheinz Stockhausen, assisted by Markus Stockhausen.
For the first time in five years, Karlheinz Stockhausen made a brief appearance in London at the National Theatre where he gave a lecture-demonstration to a packed audience for just over an hour. The subject was 'Musical Metamorphosis', with examples taken from Aries (Spring), a section of his 96-minute long composition 'Sirius' for electronic music, trumpet, soprano, bass clarinet and bass, composed between 1975-77.
With Karlheinz was his son Markus, who played the demanding trumpet part for Aries, which has now become a solo in itself for trumpet and electronic music. The latter was performed from a 2-track tape version which was controlled by the composer sitting at a Revox B77 tape desk and small stereo mixer. During the playing of the tape, Karlheinz made adjustments to volume and panning between the large (but not over-powerful) monitors on the stage. (The piece is normally performed using 8-channel tape 'in the round', with eight speakers in a circle around the audience.) The theme of the lecture, Metamorphosis, focused on the very important changes that have taken place during the last ten years in the process of composing and realising music. Stockhausen pointed out that "new means have become available which not only, as in all traditional music, include variations and developments, but real transformations and different kinds of metamorphosis".
"Traditional music was in its structural aspect mainly based on one theme, sometimes two, but I have never studied anywhere a transformation from one precisely given form into another precisely defined form in one given composition."
Stockhausen related metamorphosis to nature's change of a caterpillar into a butterfly and introduced his concept of 'formulae' which have occupied his work in the last few years. Transformations in nature, of course, relate to the seasons of the year, and his interest resulted in him composing a whole cycle of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, where each formula represents one month or a human type.
The lecture presented fascinating new concepts for all composers
to consider, from zero melodies, timbre melody, to formula composition. Markus Stockhausen performed his examples and Aries immaculately, despite the tremendous demands imposed by the (written) music which he had memorised and which utilised the full trumpet range, mutes, long sustains and flutter-tongueing. Stockhausen concluded that "metamorphosis presents a new era not only for composers, but also for listeners as well".
[See Stockhausen 'Sirius' and 'Sternklang' record reviews in E&MM May 1981].