M antra, for two pianos with ring modulation, was a watershed in Stockhausen's development. Composed in , it was the work that not only signalled his return to composing fully notated music after almost a decade in which "intuitive" techniques, using graphic and verbal scores, became more and more important, but it also introduced the use of a musical formula, the "mantra" of the title, from which every pitch and rhythmic element of the composition is derived by transformation. It was the way that Stockhausen would compose for the rest of his life, and his enormous opera cycle Licht would be based on it. In Mantra, though, he is already using the technique with supreme virtuosity — writing for the two pianos is wonderfully imaginative, and climaxes in an extraordinary section that compresses the hour of music heard to that point into just five frantic minutes. The electronic ring modulation adds another layer, sometimes just subtly enhancing the piano timbres, sometimes adding a much more astringent edge. This is the first recording on which those effects have been achieved digitally, and they seem more prominent than one remembers from earlier versions or from live performances.
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Mantra is a composition by the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. It was composed in and premiered in autumn of the same year at the Donaueschingen Festival. The work is scored for two ring-modulated pianos; each player is also equipped with a chromatic set of crotales antique cymbals and a wood block , and one player is equipped with a short-wave radio producing morse code or a magnetic tape recording of morse code.
In his catalogue of works, the composer designated it as work number On a flight from the Northeastern United States to Los Angeles in September or shortly before, he had sketched "a kind of theater piece for two pianos" titled Vision , and in March began to work out a score, but broke off after just three pages Cott , —23; Toop , , During an automobile trip from Madison, Connecticut to Boston, a melody came to Stockhausen, along with the idea of expanding such a musical figure over a very long period of time—fifty or sixty minutes.
He jotted the melody down on an envelope at that time, but it only occurred to him after having abandoned Vision that this might become the basis for his new two-piano composition. Stockhausen later recalled that this was early in September Cott , —23 , but the sketch is in fact dated 26 February Conen , 59— Later in the year, on 22 September at the Couvent d'Alziprato in southern France, he had composed an intuitive music text composition, Intervall , for two pianists playing "four-hands" on one piano , but it did not appeal to the Kontarsky brothers—especially to Alfons, who lacked the experience his brother Aloys had gained from performing text-pieces from Aus den sieben Tagen , as a member of Stockhausen's ensemble.
After abandoning Vision , Stockhausen took up the melody he had jotted down the previous September and on its basis made a form plan and laid out the new work's skeleton between 1 May and 20 June in Osaka , Japan. The score first appeared in print only in , as one of the first publications of the composer's newly founded Stockhausen-Verlag Conen , This work involves the expansion and contraction of a counterpointed pair of melodies , which the composer calls a "formula" Stockhausen , 3 and 6.
In this particular work the first of a long succession of compositions to use formula technique , Stockhausen chose the term " mantra " in order "to avoid the words theme , row or subject , as in a fugue" Stockhausen , 2 , and "Mantra" also became the title of the entire work. In Mantra , the two-strand formula is stated near the outset of the piece by piano I. According to the composer, the mantra "has thirteen notes, and each cymbal sound occurring once in the piece indicates the large sections—you hear the cymbal whenever a new central sound announces the next section of the work" Cott , — Though this mantra recurs constantly, the structure of the composition is not a theme and variations as found in classical composers such as Beethoven and Bach, because the material is never varied, only expanded and contracted both in duration and in pitch to different degrees; not a single note is ever added, it is never "accompanied" or embellished Stockhausen , Near the end of the composition there is an extremely fast section that is a compression of the entire work into the smallest temporal space; in this section, all of the expansions and transpositions of the mantra formula are summarized as fast as possible and in four layers Stockhausen , The "mantra" melody formula is made of an upper and lower voice; it is divided temporally into 4 segments with rests of 3, 2, 1, and 4 crotchets' duration following the segments.
The 13 notes of the mantra's upper voice form a tone row where the 13th note returns to the first note A. The pitches are shown in the example to the right, and the complete formula can be seen at Nordin [n. Each of the 13 notes of the mantra has an attached characteristic, or "pitch form" Cott , ; Stockhausen , 4 ; the 13 notes of the upper voice have in order the following characteristics:.
In addition to its articulative characteristic, each of the thirteen notes is assigned a particular dynamic, in approximate inverse proportion to its duration—that is, the softer a note's dynamic is, the longer is its duration. The thirteen cycles of the composition are based on the 13 notes of the mantra and the 13 characteristics detailed above.
Each cycle is dominated by its corresponding note and characteristic. In this way, a single statement of the mantra is spread over the length of the entire composition, though the durations of the mantra notes are not incorporated into this overall plan Conen , The sounds of each piano are picked up by microphones and fed into an apparatus at the player's left side.
This is called a Modul 69 B and was specially built for Mantra to the composer's specification by the Lawo company from Rastatt, near Baden-Baden Stockhausen , i, iv, and vii. It consists of a microphone amplifier with three microphone inputs, a compressor, a filter, a ring modulator, a scaled sine-wave generator, and a volume control.
By means of this device, each piano's sounds are ring modulated with a sine tone tuned to the central pitch corresponding to the note of the mantra formula governing each of the thirteen large segments of the composition, and the modulated sound is played over loudspeakers placed behind and above the performers.
The first pianist presents the upper thirteen tones, the second pianist the lower thirteen tones. The other mantra pitches sound "dissonant" to varying degrees, and differ also from a normal piano to varying degrees in their timbre. Category:Compositions by Karlheinz Stockhausen. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
There is an aura around each tone rising out of the doubled keyboards, and the aura flutters and bulges, breaking the waves of the sound into millions of little glistenings, in a magic luster diffusing out of the core tone, three-dimensionally. Some people may get associations to a submerged state, into some kind of fluid; not necessarily water, but into some other kind of fluid, like TIME or what the ancients called the ETHER, or something else that bends the senses like gravity bends light, passing by dense celestial bodies. The shots of light off of he surface of the sound even renders the music an impressionistic quality, however farfetched that notion may seem. To this end, each of the pianists has an apparatus at his left into which a microphone amplifier, a compressor, a filter, a ring modulator, a scaled sine-wave generator and a volume control have been built.
Stockhausen's original sketch of the form plan. The genesis of this work came from a melody which surfaced spontaneously while traveling by car many years before, as well as from his interest in refining ring modulation techniques. It is reported that some of his intuitive music collaborators were feeling unhappy about the open nature of the "free" music they were playing and beginning to contest ownership of the composition rights. On the other hand, Stockhausen has been described as being unhappy with the "dilettantish interpretations" he was getting from his players.
Stockhausen: Mantra CD review – virtuosity and immediacy