Tierkreis (1974) is an unusual composition in the Stockhausen universe: it takes a decisive step towards a simplicity unknown until then, and directly connected to Stockhausen more visionary and radical ideas: he claimed to be in direct contact with the cosmos, declaring to be an alien.
It is a work to be performed with any melodic instrument or keyboard or combination of the two, where each melody must be performed at least three to four times with variations and improvisations.
Each melody is centered around a different note: 12 is the number of the zodiacal signs as well as 12 is also the number of notes in the octave. The series starts from the A for the Lion (the sign of Stockhausen), A Sharp / B Flat for the Virgin, B for the Libra, C for the Scorpio, and so on.
Furthermore, their metronome speed is linked to the base note by reversing the frequency of the latter in duration, according to the idea of the time/height unit expressed by Karlheinz in his famous essay of 1957 “… Wie die Zeit vergeht …” (… how time flows …). In this speculative article, Stockhausen considers a well-known physical phenomenon: considering the pitch as produced by a cyclic repetition of the sound wave, each note can be correlated with a time duration equal to the inverse of its frequency. As a consequence, every cyclic phenomenon can be seen as a note, even if it is too low to be audible.
In the live performance, Stockhausen indicates the beginning with the zodiacal sign corresponding to the date on which the performance takes place; in our case being a CD, the first track matches with the date when our recording work took place.
Thus Tierkreis becomes a new “Music of the Spheres”, re-proposing a unity that goes from the universe to the note emitted by a musical instrument, seen as a creative act as a metaphor of the primordial vibration that pervades the cosmos.
Interstellar # 1 … 10 are small interludes made with samples of various kinds (electromagnetic waves, magnetic storms, gravitational fields of different planets) that NASA has recorded in space and made available.
The further peculiarity of the program lies in the “timbre” reinterpretation of Stockhausen’s music; we know that the original destination is by its nature “open” (for melodic instrument or keyboard or both) but, in our case, the melodic instrument contains all the possibilities that electronic today offers. Consequently, it is reductive to think of defining which melodic instrument can be. The keyboard pilots a series of tones that will characterize the different constellations.
In combination with the 12 Tierkreis we propose some performances of pieces taken from the collections of Intuitive Musik “Für Kommende Zeiten” and “Aus den Sieben Tagen”, with Mario Mariotti at the trumpet and collect the work experience for the realization of a live performance at the Fondazione Prada in February 2018. Although the versions of the pieces have been made with traditional instruments (piano, trumpet, cello), the electronic component has a certain sway in processing the sound of the instruments themselves in a continuous transfiguration.
(Album Notes by Walter Prati)
(b Burg Mödrath, nr Cologne, 22 Aug 1928; d Kürten, 5 dec 2007). German composer. The leading German composer of his generation, he has been a seminal figure of the post-1945 avant garde. A tireless innovator and influential teacher, he largely redefined notions of serial composition, and was a pioneer in electronic music. His seven-part operatic cycle Licht is possibly the most ambitious project ever undertaken by a major composer.