(Interview with Richard Dufallo on April 8th 1987 in Kürten; published in the book Trackings: composers speak with Richard Dufallo, New York 1989, pp. 203220.)
Dufallo: So we are here, finally, and it's an enormous pleasure to see you and be here at your place here in Kürten. I want to begin by saying that, in this project of talking to, by now, 24 composers, Americans and Europeans, I don't have to tell you who they are I revealed them once in a letter but it doesn't matter you seem to be somebody who is referential. The Darmstadt initiatives, the Darmstadt accomplishments, along with, I suppose, Boulez, if we would like to include another composer I don't know are usually referred to as those of Boulez-Stockhausen. Or Stockhausen-Boulez. And it's produced a shock wave, in terms of composers of your generation and slightly younger. I think there's a myth, and I think we should talk about that myth; and there's a reality. The myth first: your idea of total organisation and one way to do things seems to be the stop-sign that people mostly react against. Is that true?
Stockhausen: No. In 1959 for example, I gave one of my yearly composition courses at Darmstadt. And in this course, there were so many different composers who composed in their own style, and I supported their individuality. Like Bussotti, La Monte Young, Aldo Clementi, Friederich Cerha, Gilbert Amy, etc.
Dufallo: That's quite a lot
Stockhausen: There were about 20 composers in my course. They're all written up in the archives of the International Music Institute in Darmstadt. Lots of Americans, by the way. I have always said to my students that every composition should be original, and composers should try not to repeat themselves. And the meaning of the multiplicity of composers is just that everyone is a different source. For 21 years I taught in Darmstadt; and I really fought for the invitation of Cage, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, to Darmstadt. The former directors Steinecke and Thomas didn't want at all to accept them. I said, "If you do not invite (for example) Cage, then I will not come again." And as a matter of fact, it was the only year that I didn't go, because of this problem. After that, John Cage and David Tudor were invited.
I had worked since 1955 regularly with David Tudor. He lived in my house. Also Cage lived in Cologne. I found him a place to live and we were good friends. In 1958 he translated the first lectures which I gave in America into English. And I arranged the first performances of Cage's work in Cologne at the radio. His CONCERTO for Piano was first performed there with David Tudor as soloist, together with several other of his works.
For the Donaueschingen Festival I tried the same. The only time when Heinrich Strobel, the former director of the Donaueschingen Festival performed Cage's music was after I convinced him that he should against the advice of Stravinsky and Boulez, who were very influential at that time in Baden-Baden and Donaueschingen. I have always tried to support the variety of approaches because I think that we live at such an incredible historical moment of opening into all directions, that certainly one man cannot do it all.
Dufallo: I guess it was that way when you faced it post World War II. There was the big bang. Is there another big bang now? Is that what you're saying?
Stockhausen: I'm saying: every composer now has so little time, because there are so many new problems since 1953, that the approach from many different sides to all these open problems is necessary, like in science. That is why I have always supported multiplicity.
Dufallo: Well, let me not lose sight of this. But it is strange, that this reaction borders from affection to hostility.
Dufallo: That's interesting.
Stockhausen: Is it?
Dufallo: I think any figure of your stature would support such feelings. And I think affection, musical affection meaning great respect for the accomplishment of your thought, hostility meaning maybe the idea that, autocratically, you gave the impression that your way, while allowing others, was the only way.
Stockhausen: No, that's a misunderstanding. Here in Germany I have supported most of the composers who were not performed. I was the one who fought for Boulez and his performances at the West German Radio; I also found him a place in Cologne to make the first version of MARTEAU SANS MAÎTRE. Then he found out during the rehearsals in Cologne that it didn't work, and he had to rewrite it. He started working on it again and wrote the new version in Cologne. The same is true for Nono. We were friends for years, and I arranged the performances of his music at the WDR in Cologne. I also helped Kagel to work at the radio in Cologne and to get performances. With Ligeti, it was the same.
Dufallo: Ligeti I have talked to.
Stockhausen: He lived six weeks in my house.
Dufallo: He told me that.
Stockhausen: And I always supported him. He got his first performances through me. I still think the same way. That just this multiplicity, which in Germany has been the product of my influence for years and years, is so fruitful. Russian composers who came for the first time to the West were here in this house visiting me. I gave courses in Darmstadt for 21 years from 1952 until 1974 analysing also the compositions of other composers.
Dufallo: I mean only to say that there is the myth that your impact, by virtue of your composition and your teaching, was overly dominant. And along with this, the publication of DIE REIHE seemed to underscore this dominance. That is what was coming across.
Stockhausen: But that's long ago! The anecdotic aspects will diminish in importance, because all that counts is the works. I mean, who thinks today about the competitive feelings during the time of Schoenberg? There are a few documents, and many people resented the existence of Schoenberg's works and his influence. But nevertheless, the gossip has become unimportant. What remains are the works, and very soon one will see that probably there is something deeper in the feeling that is expressed through hostility. Perhaps several colleagues do not want to accept my works as they are. I think the personal things are not so important after a while.
Dufallo: No, the personal things are not important. But there might be other things, and they have to do with origins. For example, you let people know that the texturally composed cluster, moving in glissando, and the phenomena in general was of your origin and not Xenakis, not Ligeti, or Penderecki. Was that important to you? These discoveries of sound?
Stockhausen: Yes. And they still are.
Dufallo: Do you claim them as yours? Or do you need to?
Stockhausen: Sometimes I write texts like last year for the programme of the world première of my composition EVAs ZAUBER in Metz, describing what I have discovered. Then such a text becomes an objective document. For example, I described the research which I have done in 1985 and in particular throughout the year 1986, for three new compositions: the programming for new synthesizers, that I have learned a new method of programming for different types of synthesizers (though I had worked for over 30 years in the field of electronic music, this was new to me). I also described in the programme book how challenging it is to feel like a student again, and that there were five comparable revolutions in my life. Each time I discovered a whole new world of sound and of new methods to compose the sound.
Dufallo: You mean live and electronic, or just electronic?
Stockhausen: Both, because I have described how the influence can be shown between the discoveries in the field of electronically produced sound and traditional instrumental playing. For example, in 1985 and in 1986 I have written several works for basset-horn and for alto flute, and the musicians who performed these works had to re-learn their fingerings. Suzanne Stephens is working since about two months on a new piece, called Xi, which I wrote in December 1986.
Dufallo: How is that spelled?
Stockhausen: X-i. It is the Greek letter "xi", which means unknown quantity. "Unbestimmte Größe" is the German meaning. Suzanne is practising the fingerings of these microtones every day for several hours. And for the flutist Kathinka Pasveer it is also a new technique which she has studied last year for two months.
Dufallo: Well, I am a former clarinettist too, and I know about that instrument. What is your interest in the idea to break the scale into quarter-tones or smaller intervals is it philosophical, is it technical what?
Stockhausen: It sounds marvellous.
Dufallo: It's just lovely to your ear.
Stockhausen: More than that, because the microtones allow me to transpose chromatic figures (I call them formulas) into larger or smaller frames. And this is an extraordinary experience, to hear a melody which you have heard several times in a composition, suddenly compressed or expanded. I have done this with an electronic synthesizer for years, but I never knew how to achieve it with traditional instruments.
Sometimes now, in Xi, a minor second gives me the impression of a major sixth, because there are at moments up to 9 steps in a minor second. And it is fascinating to hear intervallic movements within a small interval. Our whole perspective of listening changes through this experience.
And then, every fingering produces a different timbre. It sounds very clear if you place a microphone above the keys of such an instrument, and then play these compressed melodies and hear all of a sudden the most beautiful changes of timbres, which are the result of these "wrong" fingerings.
Dufallo: I know those. Those were wonderful to discover!
Stockhausen: Especially if they are amplified. So, I have written many different combinations for alto flute and basset-horn in a composition called AVE. When the pitches of the two instruments come close to each other, they produce all the interferences the combinatoric vibrations not only difference tones, but also "beats" which you can count in ritardandos and accelerandos.
Dufallo: if done right
Stockhausen: just by the fingerings.
Dufallo: Really! That's sensational.
Stockhausen: The rhythm slows down when two pitches come close to each other and speeds up when they separate. And then, when they play a very small interval together, it's such a delicate sensation! So the music becomes extremely refined.
Dufallo: Xenakis also has examples of two instruments "beating" when playing close intervals. There's only one other composer who has a similar, it's not the same, but similar idea today, and that's Ligeti with his illusory rhythm. In the sense that rhythms can pile up.
Stockhausen: I do the same.
Dufallo: You do the same?
Stockhausen: I started composing what you call "illusory rhythms" in CARRÉ, which is a key work for that.
Dufallo: CARRÉ? Which I did.
Stockhausen: I know.
Dufallo: How is that?
Stockhausen: There are a lot of string sections where every string player has a different kind of ritornello. And I have carefully measured the lengths of these ritornellos which are regularly repeated. When they are superimposed, they produce a combinatoric rhythm with its undefinable micro-rhythm which gives this beautiful feeling of polymetric superimpositions. But because of the fact that the players play the same pitches, you do not hear this as usual like different voices. You hear it as the inner life of a time spectrum. And when you calculate very carefully the different lengths of these ritornellos, they produce accelerandi and ritardandi during longer time spans. These phenomena are new, you see. This is all the result of THE SONG OF THE YOUTHS, composed from 1955 to 1956, where I started with such ideas
Dufallo: Ah, yes, the GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE, of course
Stockhausen: where I started all these micro-compositional processes by using many, many tiny elements, superimposed, in order to create just one timbre with an inner life. So, this was a new concept of the com-position of sound. The "inside" of a sound. It's like an organism.
Dufallo: Something beyond the original material itself.
Stockhausen: It's not the timbre that you find or that you make, but you compose it really like a living being. And this has steadily increased, and now I'm doing it every day.
Dufallo: In 1971, in Paris, at Gilbert Amy's after CARRÉ in the Salle Wagram, when you were there and we did CARRÉ, we had a talk. I remember several things about that talk. You were waxing philosophically about intuition and I've seen it in your articles still, but you were telling me in 1971 at that place, you wanted intuition in your hands 24 hours a day, if possible.
Stockhausen: Yes. More methodically yes! A challenge!
Dufallo: That's one, and we'll talk about that. Two: you said at that time that evening, that you wanted to travel to space with your mind alone. And three: you said that you had been through a suicidal tendency. I have it in my diary for 6 or 7 years before that.
Stockhausen: Yes, but it happened in '68.
Dufallo: Yes. This talk was '71 that doesn't matter. Those were the three things I remember in my diary. Taking one at a time, what about this idea of intuition?
Stockhausen: Well, at that time it became very urgent for me to find a method as reliable as a mental method to compose intuitive music. And what I mean is the following: usually one collects ideas by scribbling into a sketch book, describing the inner meaning with words, with little diagrams, and then brings all these different intuitive bits together at the moment of composing. But in 1968, I found a way to change my mind before and sometimes while I compose. By this I mean, taking very few elements of the skeleton of a new composition which I have worked out mentally, and then sit down and clean the mind completely, make the mind void and literally wait until I innerly hear longer stretches of music. Until I was about forty years old, these intuitive moments were rather short.
Traditionally, a composer has worked at the piano, like I composed my very first works; and then he collected small bits of intuitive music and brought them all together in the process of composing. But if one finds a way to open oneself for the ever-present music which is supra-personal, then it becomes possible to imagine not imagine to hear longer stretches of music and develop completely new mental processes which are the result of these intuitive sound visions or music visions. And it needs a special way of living, which I didn't have before. One has to learn special methods of meditation, special ways of emptying the mind. One has also to learn to perform together with a few others in such a way that one does not read the music, but can close the eyes in order to concentrate fully on the nature of sound, which is developing in the air while one is playing with other musicians. Then, one can develop an instant reaction to the sound which is in the air, and shape this sound like a sculpture of vibrations, together with several players. Therefore it is necessary to find friends who are on the same wave-length and who have not only the gift of improvisation, but also the gift of intuiting music by listening to a musical organism which is shaped at the moment of the performance.
Dufallo: That's a very big demand though, Karlheinz, having about three people doing that at once. Because I am a former improvisor myself, and I know. And at best one reflects sort of the background of what you knew about Berg and that sort of thing. But to really put then something that has not been done and that is related to what you're saying, the centre of thought, is a big demand.
Stockhausen: Yes. But that is what has to come.
Dufallo: You think it has to come?
Stockhausen: Because the result is a kind of music which cannot be written. It's different.
Dufallo: Has it anything to do with the Eastern thought at all?
Stockhausen: No. I have been in India last year, together with my son Markus, the trumpeter, my daughter Majella, the pianist, with Suzanne Stephens, the clarinettist, and Kathinka Pasveer, the flutist.
Unfortunately the art of improvisation of the Indians they are the only musicians who really impovise is overestimated, because it's very academic.
Dufallo: Well, I never really understood your interest in all that.
Stockhausen: It's very fixed.
Dufallo: You were very fascinated by that whole Eastern
Stockhausen: Not by the Indian music, this is a misunderstanding. I was fascinated and I'm still fascinated by the timing of Japanese music, in particular of Gagaku music and of Nôh music. My fascination with Eastern music has never had anything to do with improvisation, but with timing, which you can also find in sumo fighting or in the tea ceremony. It is the wide scale between the extremely fast and the extremely slow, and in addition there is the concept of instant change without transition. This is so important in the Japanese way of living and in particular, in their best music. I mean the extremes of almost no change and then instant change; and then again no change for awhile. So there is the sudden changing of direction, which is different from the speeding up and slowing down like in all European languages. European rhythm is based on our way of speaking. But the Japanese have, in certain disciplines, a way of timing which is extra-lingual. It is something else. It has nothing to do with the way of speaking. I have described this in a text, "Memories of Japan". These experiences remain important forever as an enlargement of the musical time scale and of the concept of form.
Dufallo: Yes, the concept of form. Let's see I don't want to just jump we were talking about our conversation in Paris, and you did explain intuition. The second point I made was that you had told me that you wanted to travel in space with your brain alone. Is that still something? You said that.
Stockhausen: Can you remember if I gave an example?
Dufallo: Well, to a star, to a place, with your brain only. You said
Stockhausen: It's not my brain.
Dufallo: Maybe it's frivolous
Stockhausen: No. I think the word is wrong. But the rest is right. It's not my brain which can travel.
Dufallo: Or thought
Stockhausen: It's my spirit!
Dufallo: Yes, spirit. All right, that's it.
Stockhausen: That's something different. I think we all will do it in deep sleep.
Dufallo: Well, have you how far along are you in that department? Your spirit I mean, obviously you've thought a lot about it. I don't know anybody that
Stockhausen: I move a lot in space.
Dufallo: Do you?
Stockhausen: I do.
Stockhausen: In deep sleep. And then I experience places which are extraterrestrial. They have a totally different environment and allow a different way of moving.
Dufallo: In sleep or conscious?
Stockhausen: As I said, in deep sleep. I can remember them. And whenever I close my eyes, I can move with any speed. I can be in New York within no time.
Dufallo: You mean right now you're in New York?
Stockhausen: Well, if I close my eyes yes I am standing at the corner of 42nd Street right. There is the gallery Bonito at the left side.
Dufallo: And you feel you were there. And now you're back.
Dufallo: Mm. Not just a blink of remembrance.
Stockhausen: I see it.
Dufallo: You were there.
Stockhausen: I see it, I feel it, and I am aware of it.
Dufallo: I can do that too. That's not very extraordinary.
Stockhausen: That's what I mean.
Dufallo: I mean, I can say, "Well, now I'm in Schiphol Airport. I am in Ramp 32."
Stockhausen: Very good.
Dufallo: But what's significant about that?
Stockhausen: Once you know that, then you know that you are not fixed to your body.
Dufallo: But don't you think most people do things like this?
Stockhausen: Clear! But they don't take it seriously. They think it is only an illusion. They don't take it as a reality.
Dufallo: What application do you want to make of this for your own personal work? What do you want to do with it?
Stockhausen: Well, it simply shows that all my aims, my goals, are not related to my body to the time of my body, to the length it lasts. Everything I decide, I do in a way that I can gradually become independent of my body.
Dufallo: So, this opens up this whole spiritual aspect of your work, your life. Was it a reaction to over-organisation, or was it organisation that produced this?
Stockhausen: This is also a misunderstanding. Already the very first works which I composed, like KREUZSPIEL or SPIEL for Orchestra or PUNKTE for Orchestra, were at their origin purely spiritual concepts. I wanted to make "star" music; I wanted to make an outer space music. And the organisation was simply a process to realise this. So, the mental process came always second. There was, at the beginning of every new composition, an inner vision to discover a world which I had never experienced before. And it needed the kind of supra-personal state in which I was for a moment
Dufallo: not technical
Stockhausen: before I dived back into this planetarian situation, where I thought, "How can I ever, with the means and with the notation and with the technique of this planet, realise this?" And then it became a translation. So I think, all my works are more or less translations into the possibilities of what I have learned here and what is available. Most of the time I have invented new notations, and I have always gathered new instruments or I built new instruments, to approach at least to some extent what I had innerly experienced.
Dufallo: Well there's no doubt that the stunning quality of how your music goes from moment to moment MOMENTE if you wish has been a revelation. There's no doubt about it. How it just simply progresses. And to hear you speak about it in terms of that word "spiritual" and having conducted your works, I find some of that same quality even in CARRÉ. I find that it is not just a matter of keeping administration. There are moments in there I have a very favourite moment, but there are moments in there that transcend technique. And they take you to an area that is not in the obvious sentimentality or emotions that are 19th century but they are certainly transporting. That's what they are.
Stockhausen: Mmm. [affirmative]
Dufallo: They are very transporting and yet you have an enormous resistance in some of the world about your sincerity in these areas. What do you have to say to that?
Stockhausen: You have said "in some of the world." On this planet, a religious approach to art is now considered by most of the artists to be naive. And I'm reproached by most of my colleagues and by those who write about music, that I am naive. I have, since I was born, the same feeling as is described for composers like Schütz or Bach, naturally also for Mozart, who was a very religious person, and in a free spiritual way for Beethoven, also to some extent for Brahms, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and for many other composers.
So, there is this tradition that one is, as a composer, rather content with oneself if one has added to the multiplicity of compositions a few small models of the universe; and to feel that one is a collaborator of the greatest of all composers, who has composed the universe of universes. This is perhaps what today most of my colleagues don't want to accept.
I remember from discussions dating back to the early 50s (and they continue until today with some of my colleagues who I like, and who seem to like me too) that they always say to me, "Well let's not talk about this." With interpreters who are atheists and nihilists, it is the same.
Dufallo: I see.
Stockhausen: The atheist and nihilist spirit is predominating. It was very fashionable after the war when I studied for a year in Paris, but every morning from 6 to 7 o'clock I attended the early morning Mass. I lived there in a student house.
Dufallo: Are you Catholic?
Stockhausen: No longer.
Dufallo: Were you then?
Stockhausen: Yes, I was a Catholic. I left the Catholic Church in the early 60s. This has a particular reason, not because I'm opposed to Catholicism, but because I was not able to follow the rules. That is another chapter.
What I am trying to say: already during the discussions with my colleagues then, it became very clear that the general fashion was a kind of Sartrian nihilism. Also in our country, the general philosophy was what they call neo-existentialism and nihilism, atheism.
Dufallo: And you oppose that.
Stockhausen: I have told you what I experience, and how I am most happy when I compose.
When I don't know where to go next this has happened even today several times, sitting at this desk before you arrived when I don't know what to do, I close my eyes and pray for a moment. Or I just think nothing, and I say silently, "Help me." And then I wait until I have something that I can agree with, which makes me think, "This is new and this is good."
So I have this attitude, and my whole life has been guided like that.
Dufallo: Do you think this is unique, or do you think others really have experienced that? I mean, can you imagine a Mozart, a Brahms
Stockhausen: I have mentioned them, yes. That's the same.
Dufallo: I mean, don't you think that they
Stockhausen: That's a long tradition, I said, but in our time this has faded away.
Dufallo: I think you're right.
Stockhausen: Most of my colleagues don't accept this spiritual attitude. They don't accept that a composer can function like a receiver, like a radio receiver, and transmit music; because most of the composers think that the music is theirs their own music. And most of the interpreters even think nowadays that the written music is only something they can use to express themselves. Because they think they are most important. But I think the highest ideal for an artist is to be a vessel.
Dufallo: Well, those are Stravinsky's words. He was, he said, the vessel for
Stockhausen: And to transmit, to translate. But this then, is an entirely different approach, because you know that the mental is a machine for translation. It should be very precise; it should be trained every day, hour after hour. And one should study all the signs of sound and of sound organisms. But, nevertheless, one should consider only as being valid what has come from the spiritual world into oneself. And this can very well be noticed if one sharpens this conscience.
Dufallo: It takes enormous discipline, doesn't it, to realise that?
Stockhausen: It takes a different approach, not "discipline" it's a different approach. I have practised this my whole life.
I was a child, who lost its parents very early and had nobody. But I had something else: whenever I didn't know where to go, I closed my eyes and stood somewhere in the road or on the street or, during the war, in a field where bombs were falling and I wouldn't move until I heard a message. And then I did what I heard, and I did not doubt it. I have taught my six children the same. Some can do it, some others more or less, because they are constantly under the influence of people who laugh about these things.
That's the essence of my composition. So, there's nothing mystic about this. It is a technique, to wait until one hears; and if one hears, then translate it, find a way to notate it and then try to be moved oneself. And if one is not moved, one should wait.
Dufallo: I see. Is that in the tradition of Western thought, though? Or is it more Eastern thought in your mind?
Stockhausen: I have no idea. I think in the East there are no composers.
Dufallo: I see. Well, then how about now the last big work DONNERSTAG. Is this a prevailing attitude toward that big piece?
Stockhausen: You mean LICHT yes, since I began composing LICHT, it has increased because it needs a lot of courage, to trust. Most of the time, for a composer the mental fabric is a kind of safety belt. He wants to have a system; and the system should guarantee that one doesn't make too many faults and that one is original. So, most of the composers define themselves by negating something else. They say, "I do not want this, I do not want that." And then what remains is what they are. Finally you end up with a composer who is only blue like Yves Klein and who composes only in one style. Most of my colleagues do this. They are stylists. Or they are mannerists, because they are basically afraid of destroying a style which they have established by their previous composition, and to start anew, start fresh and not be afraid of dealing with entirely different processes, different materials.
Dufallo: Well, that's always been your premise
Stockhausen: I think the essential is the spiritual message. The spiritual materialisation of what is the essence of a work. And it's not the facet, it's not the style. But many composers, like painters, are stylists. They keep to their style, so that they can be identified. You hear three bars of Stravinsky on the radio and you say, "Aha! That's Stravinsky." I think, this is a traditional concept of the artist and of the art altogether.
Dufallo: Well, if you hear three bars of Mozart, you know it is Mozart
Stockhausen: No. That's not true.
Dufallo: Really? Three bars of Mozart?
Stockhausen: No. It could be Dittersdorf, it could be Salieri as well. I have conducted in the last two years several Mozart works, and recorded them. Most of what is called "Mozart" are clichés. There are very few characteristic details which are typical Mozart, which make it become Mozart.
Dufallo: That's interesting. But you do maintain that Stravinsky in three bars would be noticed?
Stockhausen: Yes. He changed the style towards the end, and again it became his style. He was a stylist. I don't think that he was a really original composer in the sense that he would consider every work as an extraordinary challenge to create a new world.
Dufallo: So your interpretation of originality is that you start afresh each time.
Stockhausen: Yes, you should be a source. Because in a lifetime of a composer, there is very little time. And one should not get caught by this feeling, "I want to be recognisable. I want to express myself." Because if one expresses oneself, then this is a closed system. "Oneself" is so very little.
Dufallo: But you have this idea that your life is to be a part of your composition?
Stockhausen: Yes. I have said this several times.
Dufallo: How is this manifested in your mind; I mean, why do you need that concept?
Stockhausen: I was reproached in the 50s that my works lasted three times longer than anybody else's work. Then, when I composed KONTAKTE lasting 34! minutes, they said, "This is ridiculous. It is much too long." This was printed in articles and said by colleagues who came to me GRUPPEN for 3 Orchestras lasts about 25 minutes in one movement. Boulez had composed 9 movements to make his MARTEAU, and so I asked, "Why do we need these movements, sections within a section of life, within a composition?" I was already very early opposed to the concept of "movements" and "pieces". The word "piece" shows that it is a bit of something else, of an entity.
Dufallo: Except MOMENTE has a kind of shuffling that
Stockhausen: No, MOMENTE simply says that musical events can exist on their own and don't always need to be developed in order to make the listener understand from where they come and where they go to. Moment-forming is a lyrical concept which conceives individual events as being self-sufficient. This is a concept different from the Beethovenian development concept.
Dufallo: Is it discontinuous-continuity?
Stockhausen: What? MOMENTE? No.
Dufallo: It is not. Well, that's another misconception.
Stockhausen: Yes. In MOMENTE it simply says that only certain moments influence the present moment. These may be one or several from the past or from the future, or both. There exist certain moments which are so much filled with memory and expectation that one can hardly identify them as individual moments. Only a few moments have nothing in common with other moments. This is all happening in MOMENTE.
Dufallo: Yes, but looking, really, above it all, can't you allow the idea that discontinuous-continuity is really what it is?
Stockhausen: Yes, but there is a lot of developing continuity within certain long moments.
Dufallo: I mean continuity but the discontinuous quality
Stockhausen: It's both together.
Dufallo: I mean, it's something that came out of Darmstadt. I remember the phrase
Stockhausen: It is discontinuity and continuity, depending on where you are.
Dufallo: Yes exactly.
Stockhausen: This is no longer a one-dimensional concept of composition.
Dufallo: Well, that's what was fascinating to me about it
Stockhausen: It happened already early that my works became increasingly longer and unbroken processes, long spans of bridges in time. MOMENTE lasts 113 minutes, HYMNEN 2 hours and 10 minutes as an unbroken process. Then KURZWELLEN with a duration of about 55 minutes, STIMMUNG 72 minutes, MANTRA about 65 minutes, STERNKLANG about 2! hours, FRESCO 5 hours, INORI 70 minutes, and SIRIUS with the duration of 96 minutes (it took me about 3 years to write and realise it).
In STERNKLANG I translated star constellations into pitches, rhythms, and dynamics. In SIRIUS, I composed The Year with the 12 months and the 12 human types of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Then I came to the concept to compose The Week. So, it does not seem strange to me that it will take about 25 years to compose The Week. The individual compositions have simply taken larger and larger dimensions through the years; and I can now say that maybe in the next generation of composers, one can consider this as a model: LICHT, LIGHT. After LIGHT, I would like to compose The Day the 24 hours of the day, giving musically a new meaning to each hour of the day. And after that I want to compose The Hour; and then I want to compose The Minute, then, as the last work, The Second.
Dufallo: Down to the second!
Stockhausen: Yes. I want to superimpose time. The tendency in my work is, on one side, to stretch the time beyond the European concept of the duration of "a movement" (which was as an average, about a quarter of an hour), of "a piece", "a work", "a composition". (Traditional compositions of longer durations like the B Minor MASS of Bach or the PASSIONS are basically suites of more or less short pieces, based on the concept of the suite, change of mood, change of character, of orchestration.)
On the other side, I want to compress time, suspend it.
Dufallo: But what could be interesting about a second of time?
Stockhausen: The verticalisation of time. To compose 600 layers recorded with a six hundred channel tape machine, and then let every listener choose a combination of layers within one second. One would understand that everything which seems to be meaningless in a too dense superimposition within a second of time, can be studied carefully by listening to innumerable combinations of layers. So, one can listen again and again to the inner life of the second which will be an extraordinarily complex organism, like a human being, like a cosmos.
Dufallo: But that's really getting to a very responsible area you are going to decide a second? You know, you decide a week, you decide a day there's enough seeming space in between. But to decide a second!
Stockhausen: I will just treat the time as being vertical instead of horizontal. Because time as a horizontal concept is an illusion. Therefore I want to end up with the smallest referential time unit, which is like one heartbeat. Within this I want to have a whole universe of music which is composed more vertically than horizontally.
Dufallo: I see. It takes very quick listening!
Stockhausen: No. You can listen for hours, choosing always different combinations of layers within this second.
Dufallo: I see!
Stockhausen: The second may have 600 layers, and you combine layers as many and as often as you like.
Dufallo: And when it moves horizontally, what do you have?
Stockhausen: Each layer has a different Gestalt. You can listen over and over again to these different Gestalten. It's like analysing, with a microscope, cells or molecules within an organism.
Do you know my composition for choir and orchestra BREATHING GIVES LIFE? In the fifth solo I have written the following text for the bass singer:
"When the mesons,
the putty which holds the atoms together, decompose,
are born the muons
with a life span of two millionths of a second,
before they can conceive an electron.
And during this life
can a muon make a distant journey."
Dufallo: That brings us to one more question, and it may be the last: if you were to define your musical genetic code, what would it be?
Stockhausen: Formula. I have found, as the next step after many years of working with series (sets of proportions which determine the organism of a musical composition), the principle of composing with a formula.
The formula is something very complex. Since 1970, I have used formulas for different compositions. But now I work already since ten years with one triple formula which I also call a super-formula. It has three formulas superimposed as time layers, and each formula has different characteristics.
The triple formula is like the genetic code of the music for LICHT. It has helped me to compose already 12 hours of music. And I want to compose with it approximately 21 hours of music.
Dufallo: So you refer to it, and it is always there.
Dufallo: So that your genetic code has nothing to do with past individuals or past times.
Stockhausen: No. It's the super-formula, which I conceived in 1977 in Japan, in a temple. And since then I use it for LICHT.
Dufallo: Is it called Formel?
Dufallo: It's referred to, and I read it.
Stockhausen: My composition with the title FORMEL from 1951 has already a kind of a nuclear formula.
Dufallo: That's right.
Stockhausen: In 1970 I have picked up this term again; it has a significance like in mathematics. We use the word Formel for a mathematical formula. But we also use in fairy tales the word formula as a magic formula; when you say, "Zauberformel", it's the same word "formula". For example, in some fairy tales a person might speak or sing a magic formula and as a result, a mountain opens up, or a frog transforms into a human being, a human being into a bird. We call such a magic formula a Zauberformel. I use the word Zauberformel also in my text in LICHT. Formula therefore has this double meaning: to evoke magic, and at the same time to function like a mathematical formula which can engender a whole world of figures, Gestalten, forms.
Dufallo: So your DNA is sitting there for you
Dufallo: and you have created it
Stockhausen: yes. And I interpret it every day, every minute. I have used it all day today!
Dufallo: Well, is it endless in possibility?
Stockhausen: Up to now I didn't find it to be too limiting. I don't need anything else, though sometimes I need to become a magician myself, to discover a secret application mode for my formula.
Dufallo: I see.
Stockhausen: It is quite compact, I must say.
Dufallo: Well, is this a step beyond Schoenberg?
Stockhausen: Oh yes. A Reihe (series) of Schoenberg had only pitches, intervals. A formula instead has everything: lights and shadows, sounds and noises, speeds, tempi, improvisations, scales, echoes, ante-echoes, modulations, degrees of variation. It has all these different characteristics; and it contains pure silences, coloured silences, a typical character for every note, and many more qualities.
Dufallo: Well, this brings us really to a recapitulation. In other words, these are your mediating factors that you use. And going back to the original, this I guess what you've just said, this total compactness, total organisation on your part I think, either represents an envy on the part of other composers or it represents a kind of world of lack of feeling.
Stockhausen: Never mind. Such psychological interpretations will disappear. What will remain, are the works. I have now written over 180 individually performable works.
The work list begins with number -11 (minus eleven) because in the beginning I did not number the first eleven works, and I have arrived now (1987) at work number 60. Many of these contain sub-works, which I have published separately and which can be performed individually as self-sufficient units. These works will remain, and what we have said, will be less important in the future.
I didn't finish my development of the concept of unity. The next generation of composers might envisage that a composer creates from the first day on, because of this spiritual concept of unity, one work during his whole life. And everything he composes is a limb of this spiritual body.
Dufallo: It's an extraordinary idea.
Stockhausen: One might even try to live like that, and never to excuse oneself for what one has done before; never try to eliminate something one has done earlier; relate everything one is doing now to what one has done before and to what one might do next. It is a spiritual concept of one life.
Dufallo: You think it would allow much other life itself?
Stockhausen: Oh, yes!
Dufallo: Would it?
Stockhausen: Oh, my God, yes! We are so limited by our body. And by our mind. And by our time. And by the means of our time. We can only do what we can imagine now. Even if I sometimes dream about the future, I feel extremely limited. I have written a lot of texts, last year and also this year, about what kind of auditorium I would like to have built, what kind of instruments, compared to the ones which are available now, what kind of performance practices I would like, which performance techniques I would like to develop, etc. But all this might only happen within 100 years, or later.
It's impossible to imagine now what I would like to do if I would come back to this planet again. Or if I arrive at another planet which is more developed. Then the conditions will be entirely different.
Dufallo: Do you have notions of reincarnation?
Stockhausen: I have lived several times on this planet before.
Dufallo: Oh you have?
Stockhausen: Yes. I have recognised places.
Stockhausen: I walked there feeling completely familiar with everything without ever having been there in this life. I could go to certain corners and places knowing where I was.
Dufallo: And you recognised them?
Stockhausen: I went there
Dufallo: and nobody told you
Stockhausen: No, I was alone. Or I sometimes wanted to go to places and I didn't know why. And when I came there I said, "Ah! I see! How interesting my country!"
Dufallo: Well, anyway, you left off talking about
Stockhausen: my latest discoveries in the field of harmonic composition, deriving chords from a series of pitches. MANTRA, INORI, SIRIUS, JUBILEE were preliminary examples of how to compose new types of chains of harmonic progression, with tendencies of intervallic quality within the different chords.
Another method I discovered today. I had at my disposal a high note a D-natural which was a very long sustained note of an extraordinarily large projection of the super-formula, and two octaves plus a major second lower a C-natural. Starting in a slightly faster speed, the notes C and E, E-flat and then D, F, F-sharp, etc., of the EVE-formula, were superimposed onto the two sustained ones.
I composed chords, starting with the C and combining under this C the following three notes of the EVE-formula, (E, which is the second note of the EVE-formula, and the E-flat, and the D-natural) in a chord, spread over two octaves. In addition, there was this high D. After this, I had the second note of the EVE-formula as the highest note, which was an E-natural, and I combined the next 3 notes of the EVE-melody with this E-natural; but at the same time I descended with the high D half a tone to the C-sharp. That gave me a different and quite easily analysable chord. Because I decided to descend now from the sustained high D steadily with a special scale, which is another aspect of the EVE-formula [singing the scale], with irregular steps going down. Finally I reached, after 12 chords for the EVE-formula, the last pitch of this formula by descending. The descending scale shaped, coloured harmonically, all the chords derived from the EVE-formula.
One has to listen horizontally, and at the same time the horizontal line has a decisive influence on the structure of the chords which are verticalisations of groupings of horizontal sequences of pitches which we generally call a melody.
Dufallo: That's complicated. Spell that a little bit better
Stockhausen: You will transcribe our conversation, therefore you will see it written. It's logical.
Dufallo: Can you say it just once again? Go over it one again?
Stockhausen: Yes. I said, a combination of a descending scale with the verticalisation of certain groups of the horizontal sequence of pitches, which we generally call a melody. This produces new types of chords. It is a combination of progressing in a sequence of chords, which is derived from a melody, and therefore has certain structures of intervals, and reflecting this sequence like in a mirror through another line, which is passing through the entire register, and which is coming from a different layer (in fact, from the MICHAEL-formula). This produces, clearly audible, new harmonic sequences and new harmonic progressions which have an aim, after a certain number of chords, and which have a direction. And this possibility was new to me.
Dufallo: Are you going to systemise those? Are you going to let them be?
Stockhausen: This is different every day. It doesn't help to make a system of it. What I'm trying now is, to multiply the methods of deriving chords from the superimposition of different horizontal developments. Verticalisation of sections, or limbs, of horizontal sequences and their reflections: this engenders a new system for a given composition.
It's a wonderful discovery!
Dufallo: Do you have any conscious awareness of your intuition and your desire to systemise things? There's some play there that seems to be in great working order. Does your intuition feed your system or does your system feed your intuition? It's interesting.
Stockhausen: Both. Whenever I come, in the daily work, to a point where the mental constructing doesn't find a solution, I stop (as I told you before). And then I wait for something that sounds quite unusual to me, and which puts me in a situation where I don't know a solution. And then I search until I find a solution.
So, intuition is always something that demands something more than what I know and what I have experienced before in my previous work, or what I can do. So far, both influence each other.
Sometimes I wake up in the night and I have a sound vision and I don't know how I ever could realise it. And then the next morning I start working to materialise it. Then, approaching the reality of my musical world of the instruments which I know, or of the possible timbres which I might make with a synthesizer, I sit down at the synthesizer for hours programming new sounds in order to approach what I had heard innerly. So, there is a stimulus for the practical work of the metier, through intuition, through sound vision.
And if I come to spots where I don't know a solution, then I have to go back to the Nothing and say, "Now, what next please? I'm stuck." And then I go away into the woods and cut a few branches, or I lay on the bed until I hear something or until I see something that forces me to change my method. It's a very slow process and constantly a dialectic vibrato between intuition and mental work.
Dufallo: But you're very aware of it working or not working.
Stockhausen: Yes, and one has to add even the following: whenever I have written a score, and begin to work with the interpreters, then the score fills with red, blue, green, yellow markings. Sometimes I have to rewrite parts of the score, copy them again. For three and a half months I have worked now correcting in the original manuscript all the changes which I made last year during the rehearsals and performances of two large works. One is called EVE'S SONG, for three basset-horns, soprano voice, seven solo voices of a children's choir, 6 synthesizers, percussionist and tape. The other work is called EVE'S MAGIC, for basset-horn, alto flute and piccolo flute, children's choir, mixed choir, 6 synthesizers, percussionist and tape.
So, there are 110 minutes of music which I composed last year.
Many corrections had to be made, particularly for the synthesizers, because once these instruments and voices sound together, one discovers a lot of errors, impossibilities, etc. Mainly, I made changes of dynamics. These improvements are a third process of composition, after I'm ready with the score. Having experimented already, during the time of composing, together with the soloists individually, and with the synthesizers, and coming to the rehearsals, I have to adjust the balance, the timbres, the timing again.
After many rehearsals, finally the score doesn't change anymore, the process of perfecting becomes quiet, and finally I can print the score. So it might need 20 performances before I have checked everything and before I can be sure that every detail will remain final.
Last year in August, we rehearsed EVE'S SONG an entire month up to 8 hours per day, in the radio in Cologne preparing the first performance, which took place in Berlin in September. And every day I found details to correct, spots where I had to specify the performance instructions and make them more precise.
Dufallo: Was that a misjudgement initially on your part?
Stockhausen: No. It's just that I cannot foresee all the dynamics, the space projections, the mixtures of timbres it's so complex. Just the spacing of six sound sources around the public changes the proportions of dynamics. I cannot foresee totally what happens, though I have a lot of experience. I just can't know everything about the balance between basset-horns and the sound mixtures of the six synthesizers when they play together. I have programmed the individual timbres, during weeks and weeks working with each synthesizer player, before we came all together. But once they came together, then all of a sudden, I heard that certain sounds cancelled each other out, covered each other, and so on.
Dufallo: But are you, ideally, listening from a centre or just anywhere?
Stockhausen: In the centre of the hall.
Dufallo: Because I remember in CARRÉ for instance, you sat in the middle of the hall, as the ideal place to listen.
Stockhausen: Yes. As a matter of fact, I did this again last year during the rehearsals of CARRÉ in Berlin.
Dufallo: I wondered I wanted to ask you how did that go?
Stockhausen: Well, the performance was about 5 minutes too long.
Dufallo: Five minutes too long! Why?
Stockhausen: Because the conductors didn't work enough together.
Dufallo: Ah, the time oh boy! I know that problem!
Stockhausen: Yes. It took 41 minutes instead of 36.
Dufallo: Really! Did you slap their wrists?
Stockhausen: No. I just realised that they hadn't worked enough with stop-watches. And then there were lots of problems oh, this was a whole adventure. The hall was so over-acoustic that I asked for very large curtains to be brought from a theatre in Berlin to the National Gallery where CARRÉ was performed. And they brought these curtains something like 45 feet high and 60 feet wide. And four of them had to be suspended behind the conductors so that the hall became acoustically acceptable. It sounded at first like in a bathroom! And then I found myself in the middle and listened for two and a half days at rehearsals, and constantly made corrections.
And I became aware, having listened for such a long time to tutti rehearsals of CARRÉ, how wrong the percussion can be, how wrongly it can be used, because the conductors were not aware of how the cowbells and the drums and the tam-tams sometimes just destroyed the whole harmonic composition.
Something similar has happened two years ago with GRUPPEN for 3 Orchestras in Stuttgart, until I could balance the percussion with the rest of the instruments. Usually the percussion is so vulgar, so rough, so loud, and so poorly muted. In particular the drums are often not well-muted. The players just let them sound. It was acoustical garbage what I heard very bad!
Dufallo: Well, what about CARRÉ? Could you speak about it now?
Stockhausen: Its performance practice is developing. It will soon be performed again in Torino.
Dufallo: Let's say, you know, the idea of you travelling across the United States that's the propaganda we get, that you had this vision travelling across the U.S.
Stockhausen: Ah, yes!
Dufallo: And now you are older and the piece is older. What has that got to do with the piece, the idea of travelling across.
Dufallo: I know, space, but why across the United States did it just happen to be?
Stockhausen: You misunderstand. I have travelled, in 1958, from city to city, to give 32 lectures within one month in the United States. And I have described that I spent more time flying in the air, than staying on the ground. At that time they still used propeller planes, and I was always leaning my head against the wall of the airplane, and I had the overtone spectrum in my ear and resonating in my head. I always tried to get a seat at the left side, because my left ear is better than my right ear and I heard. like in my composition TUNING (STIMMUNG) these wonderful overtone changes of timbres. And I saw underneath sometimes just the white
Stockhausen: fluffy cotton bed from horizon to horizon these white clouds or just the blue sky. And I experienced for the first time such a slow time of change, that I dared to compose unusually long time spans in CARRÉ. I have made this reference to flying over the United States, only because the flying time was sometimes very long while I was listening into the sound spectrum.
And I made the sketches for CARRÉ in the airplanes. For certain musical moments I allowed 90 seconds or even longer durations. 90 seconds seemed like a whole piece for me in those days! I would have worked in the Electronic Music Studio for months to realise 90 seconds! And every now and then in CARRÉ slow changes of timbre occur in one of the four orchestras within 90 seconds or even longer durations.
Dufallo: Well I must say, I have to tell you, Karlheinz, I enjoyed preparing CARRÉ with Gilbert and Michel and Lucas, and we had fun doing it. And fortunately, we got along, as I think you found out; and then the result I think was
Stockhausen: very good!
Dufallo: And there was a spirit, we loved the piece we loved it!
Stockhausen: It came across.
Dufallo: We really did. And I still love that piece very much.
Stockhausen: The performance of CARRÉ in Berlin last year was musically rather good. Except, there were a few mistakes Some of the cowbells were two octaves wrong, tam-tams were used instead of gongs.
Dufallo: Well, I think you published that.
Stockhausen: How do you know it?
Dufallo: There's something you recently published.
Stockhausen: Yes, about corrections of CARRÉ performance practice.
Dufallo: I have that.
Stockhausen: So you see, the works are not yet well-performed, because there is not enough rehearsal time, and nobody prepares all the percussion instruments, and then the organisers don't search in time for the right brass players. For example, for the high piccolo-trumpet, my son Markus was called in the last minute to fly to Berlin and play the part, and all of a sudden I see him laying on the floor, then another player helping him to get back on his chair and continue playing his piccolo-trumpet. He told me later that the collar of his tuxedo was too narrow for such long notes like in CARRÉ at some point he did not have enough blood in the brain. There you are: by some players, CARRÉ must be even rehearsed in tuxedo
Dufallo: How old is Markus?
Dufallo: Is he going to just do Papa's music?
Stockhausen: No, about one third of his time. At the moment he is making a jazz record in Milan. He will come back in a few days.
Dufallo: You wrote some cadenzas for Mozart and Haydn Concerti, didn't you?
Stockhausen: Yes, thirteen. For the Haydn Trumpet Concerto and the Leopold Mozart Trumpet Concerto I wrote the cadenzas for my son Markus, and for Suzanne Stephens the cadenzas for the Mozart Clarinet Concerto; for Kathinka Pasveer I wrote cadenzas for the two Mozart Flute Concertos.
Dufallo: What possessed you to write cadenzas?
Stockhausen: My friends! I asked, "What cadenzas are you playing?" And Markus and Kathinka answered, "Oh, please, don't ask me!" And then Markus continued, "Could you please write me a cadenza?"
Dufallo: Would Wolfgang object, or not?
Stockhausen: He would be pleased to be pulled into the 20th century. My cadenzas did this. Nobody could have written these cadenzas twenty years earlier.
Dufallo: Why do you want to pull them into the 20th century?
Stockhausen: To clarify our perspective of this music. I have used some of the original structure, yet it becomes clear that the performer is a performer of 1987.
Dufallo: That's interesting!
Dufallo: Well, I don't know there's no way to wrap up our conversation, because it sprawled, it grew, it died, it grew, etc., we could go on and on. But of your colleagues I didn't ask you how you felt about Boulez particularly or about Berio particularly Boulez / Berio / Stockhausen do you acknowledge that trio?
Stockhausen: I have said in a book which has appeared last year in Italian (Stockhausen, Intervista sul genio musicale, with Mia Tannenbaum), having been asked about the friends of my generation, "Certainly Boulez and Berio are the ones who are real musicians and whom I estimate highly because of their accomplishments and their musicianship."