10. October 2008

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Karlheinz Stockhausen Cosmic Pulses

2007 Austrian premiere
Electronic music – 13th hour from KLANG (SOUND), The 24 hours of the day

Bryan Wolf: sound direction

With COSMIC PULSES, one of his last works, Karlheinz Stockhausen, who died in December 2007 shortly before his 80th birthday, once more entered new territories of composition of which he had not known where they would take him. In some respect, this is the one and only “noise music” Stockhausen ever created.

This ultra-polyphonic work of 32:58 minutes lays one voice above the other and by this overlay of constantly faster and higher voices creates a buzzing, acoustically solid, chaotic network with excitingly, even disturbingly powerful and compact sounds we may never have heard before, at least not from Stockhausen—a pulsating musical image of never-ending and complex cosmic fields of force. COSMIC PULSES represents the 13th hour of the planned, yet incomplete 24-hour cycle KLANG (SOUND) that Stockhausen started in 2004 after having completed the monumental cycle LICHT (LIGHT; 1977-2003).

“24 melodic loops of a changing number of pitches between one and 24 rotate with 24 tempi and in 24 registers of around 7 octaves. The tempi 240-1.17 stand for the sequences of 8 impulses. Thus, tempo #24 means 240 x 8 = 1920 impulses per minute, and tempo #1 1.17 x 8 = 9.36 impulses per minute. From the lowest to the highest and from the slowest to the fastest one, the loops are laid above each other, and then one after the other stops following the same order.

What is completely new for me is the way of creating space: each part of the 24 layers follows its own movement in space between 8 speakers, in a way that I had to compose 241 different tracks in space. This may sound very technical—and it is. For the first time I tried an overlay of 24 sound layers, as if I had to compose the rotation of 24 moons or 24 planets (the planet Saturn, for instance, is surrounded by 48 moons). If you can actually hear all that I don’t know yet; depends on how many times one can experience an 8-channel performance. Anyway, the experiment is quite an exciting one!”

COSMIC PULSES is a work commissioned by Dissonanze (Roma) and the Italian concert association Angelica’s art director Massimo Simonini. The premiere took place on May 7, 2007 at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.”

Karlheinz Stockhausen

© Karlheinz Stockhausen

© Karlheinz Stockhausen