Stockhausen Edition no. 36
Part 2/8 of the review

Stockhausen holding a seminar at the Courses in Kürten 2001,
looking like an Angel of Light in this photograph!
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)



The three sopranos are now appearing on the shoulder of the EVE-statue. The women look away across the beach, shouting “Hu-hu!” An exchange of typhoon-horn calls is expedited, as a reply from afar resounds, and vocal utterances are also exchanged, in exclamations.
The black figure draws near the little ones, but suddenly the whole crowd of women turns towards it and shout-whispers: “
LUCIFER!” The dark shape exclaims: “Repulsive!” whereupon it recedes hastily.

The full moon – which has stood still – continues its course with a jolt, like it is breaking loose from a spell, as the sopranos on the EVE-statue’s shoulder begin a
Birth-Aria; the first of two.
The three sopranos sing simultaneously, but they are placed away from each other in the sounding space - left, middle and right - which makes it quite reasonable to be able to follow the texts, if you have it in front of you. It is reprinted in the CD booklet, which, as I said before, in reality is a book. (I’m even contemplating bringing all the booklets in
the Stockhausen Edition of this considerable thickness to a bookbinder, to equip them with hard covers, to preserve them better.)

(Photo: Henning Lohner)

The first BIRTH-ARIA has a subtitle or a motto or an introduction, saying:

Celebration of birth
Ceremony of the love for the heavenly mother
Ceremony of the love for the mother

A few randomly chosen samples from the texts:

1st soprano (placed in the center of the sound space):

Thanks to EVE for
Two times seven boys
(Engl.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
(Ital.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
(Germ.) 1 2 3 4 5 6 sie-ben
8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Horse… No!
Parrot ot budgerigar wau!
Curr wauwau! (clicks)
Horse-lad prrr prrr prrr
prrr -----------------------
(whisperingly whistle:)
seven in number
Mock Dick Mick Dock
Frick Sack Sock

Monday’s Tuesday’s Heinzelmännchen
Wednesday’s Mick Mercretic Mercurik
jovistelpits mikele Heinzelmichelman

2nd soprano (at left in the sound space):

(laughing) hahahahahahahaha
bo-hohohoho hoho ho-hoys




Horse-lad Riding-man
ta ta ta -----------
tuta tita ta
ta ta ta ----------E-


(with a lot of wind)
jö – i – ü – e – ö
i – o – i – o i – e – ö – ä – ö – i – ö – i – e – ä

i - o

3rd soprano (at right in the sound space):

A –ha-kkarr

Musical celebration in memory
of the painful birth of man,
the monstrosity before rebirth,
the bastards before the angels,
(humorously: lion-boy)
the dullness before the truth,
the monstrous before the beauty,
the deafness before the musicality.

(whisperingly call:)
one two three

four five six seven one

Centaurr rr
(wind-noise tremolo)

pji-u pji-u pji-u

little Monday’s Man
little Tuesday’s Man
little Wednesday’s Man
little Thursday’s Man
little Friday’s Man
little Saturday’s Man
little Sunday’s Man

Again, the above randomly chosen phrases are submitted here purely as examples for the reader. The complete text is published in the CD booklet in three columns, making listening really rewarding, since it is to be remembered that the three sopranos sing simultaneously at different placements in space in a left-to-right dispersement, making this a wonderfully enjoyable piece to hear, booklet in hand, spatially as well as linguistically and musically.

There are many preparations for a Stockhausen concert!
Bryan Wolf and a technician Igor Kavulek at work in the Sülztalhalle
in Kürten 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

As the sopranos sing this first BIRTH-ARIA, the seven newly-borns roll to the terrace. The women put colored hats on the seven Heinzelmännchen. They now all have beards and pointed hats. The sixth and seventh of the Heinzelmännchen are grown together from shoulder to foot and have two arms and three legs in common. The seven beings are clothed in coats, all with differing colors: “permanent blue, cinnabar green, ultramarine violet, permanent violet, purple-violet, magenta and scarlet”. The Heinzelmännchen are in addition equipped with seven gardening tools.
The EVE sopranos thank Heaven for the birth of the 14 boys, now chronologically seated with reference to the order in which they were born, the Heinzelmännchen sitting together some ways off. The center soprano gives all the newly-borns their names. It is early morning with a slight overcast sky, and the sopranos sing movingly, kneeling around the little ones, as the sea recedes and the moon sets.

The rustling of the sea and a shimmering drone (longer on the recording than at a staging because of the switch-over to CD 2) opens the scene, in a gradual fade-in, soon embracing the full width and depth of the sound space.
The soprano voices sometimes hang suspended in the air in the timelessness of the moment above the dark, lurking drone-like sound base, while otherwise hovering like skylarks (Alauda arvensis), rising and sinking in intensity.
There are mysteries in the recording unexplained by the booklet, though, like the sudden introduction of a clear and loud child’s voice at 0:53 into track 6 of CD 2, inside
the first BIRTH-ARIA. The one voice is then joined by some other voices, and when these clear-cut voices are heard, the surrounding soundscape seems to rest, to stop, to hold its breath, whereas everything continues again as before when the children’s voices fall back into silence. Perhaps the explanation is found in the score proper.

(Photo: Lelli & Masotti, Archivio Fotografico, Teatro alla Scala)


The atmosphere is joyous, as the women tease the boys, laugh and jubilate. At that point three sailors approach the beach in a sailboat. The sailors move in a hurry up to the EVE-statue, while the women sing chords in large waves, changing the vowels as they sing. The sailors bow in front of the EVE-figure:

Hail to thee:
Sarakka-EVE, Juksakka-EVE, Uksakka-EVE!

In a Southern Pacific fashion the sailors return to their boat to unload fruit, drinks, flowers and a goose in a basket. They hand out the nourishments, with a song directed to the three sopranos:

Lachesis Klotho
Lachesis Saraka Luceva Akka Klotho
Lachesis EVA Klotho Atropos

The sailors get assistance from the helpful women, who return the sailors’ song:

Susu muschel
Suhusu muschel

The sailors pick up, gargling:

a_________ ö ä u a a ö o ä a oa ua

They then sing again, to the sopranos:

Urd uru
urturu Geburt uru
urukete tukete lachetu tukete lachetu
Urd Werdani ninini

ruketu Urt Werdani ruketu
tukete tukete take teke tike toke tuke tu ketu
Urrt jeketu urt Werdani

Skult Skult
tubedube skuld tubedup
Atropos Uksakka
acqua acqua Samudra

(gargling with water) a_________

The sailors, who are spitting water omni-directionally, are accompanied by the sopranos and all the women:

Akkas Samudras
Acqua EVA
Ocean Acqua
Akkas EVA
hana jana esa efa

The sailors show their benign civility and respect with yet another bow, as they offer up more fruit and drinks, laughing and singing:

Akka Aditi Asura
inana (10x) nana ja!
jaketa taketa (6x) inana na
tiketi taketa ta inana ina
na tiketi taketi ta inana

The women sing simultaneously:

a – sura
su – o – a
su – o – a

su – a

a – su
a – su
a – su – ra

The sailors then sing a longer part to the sopranos and to the women:

Lutsifefa lutsihifefa lutsefa efa
lutsefa lutsefa lutsefalu tsefalu (6x)
mon mondefa efa
mondeva mondeva jokete tukete
jokete tukete lutsefa mondefa
mont-e-fa mont
mondeva mondeva mont

micha mi-che-va ha ha ha ha mi-che-fa mi-micheva
tigedi tegede tägede
tagede tägede tegede
tiketi tiketi ti

lutseva mondeva micheva miche-e-fa
michefa micheva michevami
cheva miche-vami cheva

The sailors let the goose they brought in the basket loose, and take farewell of the sopranos. The sopranos wave at the sailors, and the sailors throw kisses to the three sopranos, until they sail away.

During this farewell moment there is an exchange of singing between the sopranos and the sailors, in a simultaneous outpour. A short sample of this exchange:

The sopranos:




Meal companions
Sailors asea!

Sailors to sea a-
Dieu, Mattenoots Matenots,
Matelots Matrosade.

The sailors:


EVA Juksakka-EVA

Ade, ye women!
Adefa Adefa
Moonefa Michefa Micheva

Sea-efa Mondeva Micheva

To me it seems like a rather sad parting, which none of the parties really wish, but which is necessary because of a higher scheme of things, in which this meeting and parting perhaps is an important ingredient.

Stockhausen projecting a moon in the Sülztalhalle
in Kürten during the Stockhausen Courses 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

If one studies an etymological dictionary, one soon finds that words change drastically over the centuries, and of course even more over the millennia. There may be surprising jumps from one strand of meaning to another, or the meaning may be transferred in surprising manners, whereas the findings of a tracing backwards in time usually retain some recognizable property making the road the word has traveled through decades, centuries and millennia conceivable, but always etymologically adventurous. Stockhausen’s way of twisting his words around, having them reveal new properties, somehow works this same way, also having them take on some of the riches and patina of age that our common words do have, when studied through the means of etymology, not least when Stockhausen alludes on the three Greek Fates or the three German [or Nordic] Norns. This furthers also the feeling of magic through the ages that Stockhausen’s works convey. It may be that his operas have been written lately, but the contents of them are loaded and charged with the magic of ages long-gone; of force fields which play like searchlights through the mist of millennia of human spiritual amnesia.

The opening of the scene, with the joyous festivity of the playful women on the beach, sound like a Californian hippie colony gathering on the shores of the Pacific at Big Sur in the early 1970s. The water rustles and rushes as the swell of the mighty ocean prudently threads on the sand, and the women’s voices arise in a mimicry of the motion of the waves, arriving from out on the windy expanses like chevaliers of secret orders with white feathers in their hats.
At one instance the sounds of farm animals are heard, such as a cackling hen and a mooing cow.

At long last a male sonic layer is introduced; a male property in this abundance of femininity, through the arrival of three sailors from under the horizon, gallantly riding the waves in their sailing boat.
The sailors sing in vibrant voices, vibrant pitches, in a vocal rainbow expression, in tight synchronousy, but a little apart pitch-wise, like the rainbow which stretches in a tight and coherent arch across the sky, displaying its richness of individual colors in a unified and stylized gesture, which in the Hebrew Scriptures of
the Bible was to represent the covenant between Jehovah and the Creation (Genesis 9:13 - 17):

My rainbow I do give in the cloud, and it must serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. And it shall occur that when I bring a cloud over the earth, then the rainbow will certainly appear in the cloud. And I shall certainly remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living soul among all flesh; and no more will the waters become a deluge to bring all flesh to ruin. And the rainbow must occur in the cloud, and I shall certainly see it to remember the covenant to time indefinite between God and every living soul among all flesh that is upon the earth.” And God repeated to Noah: This is the sign of the covenant that I do establish between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”
(New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures – Rendered from the Original Languages by the New World Bible Translation Committee; revised 1970 C.E., Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania).

Stockhausen in Kürten August 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

The sailors arrive like jolly seafarers, nonetheless carrying out an important act of worship, emerging from the sea like life out of the water.
The female singing arises as out of a tribe of an autochthonous population, visited by these male travelers from afar – but the tribe at hand is in fact the tribe of women, the tribe of effeminacy, femalehood, motherhood.

The three sailors’ singing performance of Stockhausen’s made-up words really comes across as the enactment of a vocal rite; a sound-poetic rite wherein words and vocal expressions are arrived at intuitively (vision: a child of three years sitting in the sand, playing with a bucket and a spade, making up a song of the holy words of the moment), like the speaking in tongues of Whitsuntide.
The feeling through all these different occurrences; the over-arching, pre-conscious prerequisite, is that of a lofty, higher meaning, a higher purpose, a higher context which we cannot readily define – like the mystery of life itself and its categorical imperative of living.

The musical composition per se displays a brilliant fluency of contrasting properties, which come across in a stilt-walk of perfectly balanced delicacy. The passage in which the sailors spit water accompanied by the sympathetic singing of the three sopranos and the other women is downright hilarious, albeit in full musical and artistic coherence. This is edge-walking music with humor and seriousness in one incredulous expression! Who could arrive at such musical circumstances – and pull it off with flying colors! – but Karlheinz Stockhausen?!

In one section the sailors perform – vocally – an exorcist Ketjak ceremony (
the Ramayana Monkey Chant of Bali), repeating sharp syllables in fast, spitting staccato spurts, hypnotically transcendent (Index 14 CD 2 at 0:09 and especially at 0:14).
Considering Stockhausen’s wealth of extra-European cultural experiences it wouldn’t seem farfetched at all that he could have been inspired by the Ketjak ceremony in this sequence.

At the farewell, when the sailors recede to the sea and leave in their sailing-boat, the waves of the ocean can be heard clearly, gently rolling in before the first “
Ade” (a German word for “adieu” [farewell]).
While the whole world seems to hang in the balance, the voices, suspended across a breathless void, appear in a tender bitter-sweet beauty of the moment of parting; the individual vocal utterances arriving in pointillist droplets, like the shrill, short calls of small birds dispersed on the branches of trees in a whispering forest: an exceedingly beautiful passage!
The vocal expressions in this section – exclamation-like – become more and more sparse, like hesitant drops of dew falling into a forest pond from branches of the surrounding trees; a trickle here, a trickle there, while the forest remains silent and misty - and the horizon-like electronic drone of the music intensifies, as if to draw our attention to the distant, to the far-off, perhaps to the past, perhaps to the future… perhaps to gentle recollections of childhood, perhaps to crumpling years of old age…

The Driver's Seat; Stockhausen's Mischpult in
the Sülztalhalle in Kürten 2001
(Photo: Ingvar Loco Nordin)

to part 3 of the review