h.19 Oktophonie: A War for Space between Michael and Luzifer (free admission lesson with Massimiliano Viel)
h.21 Concert, Auditorium San Fedele
Acousmatic Space I
Motion-émotion 1985 (22’)
for magnetic tape
Oktophonie 1990-1991 (69’)
Electronic Music for 8 channles
Act II from Dienstag aus Licht (Invasion-Explosion mit Abschied)
Music assitant: Filippo Berbenni
In coproduction with Festival Milano Musica
The event co-produced with the 28th Milan Music Festival proposed two historical works of electronic music that present two opposing musical conceptions, testimony of a well-known conflict that took place in the European musical context of the post-war period and which lasted until to the nineties.
On the one hand, Oktophonie by Karlheinz Stockhausen, who, in the course of his long artistic journey, despite a constant evolution and the parenthesis of the intuitive music of 1968, has maintained the principles of a rigorous organization of parameters (pitches, timbre, durations, dynamics) and shape (in the different levels of the micro-sections and macrostructure). On the other hand, Motion-émotion by François Bayle, one of the major representatives of French electronic music, a musical current born with Pierre Schaeffer, inventor of musique concrète in the late 1940s. An aesthetic approach, this one, more attentive to musical objects, to the sound that machines produce, tools in different situations of daily life, and subsequently the integration of sampling of multiple sound sources and also the use of synthesizers and other electronic equipment , a music – as Schaeffer wrote in 1952 – in which we experience how things speak for themselves, as if they were proposing the message of a world that is unknown to us.
The two proposed works are representative of two distinct ways of building a musical continuum. That of François Bayle, lasting 22 minutes, is characterized by an evocative, poetic, symbolic conception of movement through the use of very refined sound textures borrowed mainly from samples of sequences from different orchestral families. Bayle’s stylistic code consists in the art of superimposing different sound layers, masterfully contrasting the dynamics, in the effervescence of the figures and in the virtuosity of the acousmatic spatialization starting from a simple stereo track.
Stockhausen’s work, on the other hand, is large in size, almost 70 minutes, with massive sounds, well connoted in terms of timbre: drone, synthesis sounds, with the constant presence of drones and pedal sounds, with very slow evolutions. The spatialization is complex, octophonic, it projects the sound in all directions of the diffusion space. It is a large fresco on the theme of the struggle between Michael (medium high register) and Luzifer (low sounds) and marks a decisive turning point in the production of the German master’s electronic music, in the direction of immersive listening, in advance of so much ambient production of the last thirty years.
In composing Motion-émotion, François Bayle wonders if it is possible to hear the pure movement that can arise from an image of sound, if it is possible to perceive this movement in its purity.
First, it is necessary to feel this being in its essence. A virtual immobility, a passive state, a simple dissipation; a smooth irrational evaporation. Secondly, the work has as its starting point the sudden emergence of a fragile and disoriented idea, immediately recognizable thanks to its trembling movement, its pulsating irregularity, its excited and fiery state. The irregularity produced by its gentle convolutions communicates to the listener a constant pungent sensation that awakens the flow of attention, like a tension. The inner propulsion of the being of the sound image is perceptible only on certain precise and well-proportioned conditions of disappearance and reappearance and of interaction that involve rapid, small and unconscious physiological rhythms like the blink of an eye. The intention that inspires the movement begins to become legible in the scrolls of calligraphy to note the flow. How can we say more? Being sonic becomes a phenomenon. It becomes the fear I feel, the hunger I feel. I would like to understand its forms of love (F. Bayle).
The initial idea, which generates the whole work, sometimes grows in panic, beyond the right proportions, or it can simply drown again in the sound tissues, merging with the basic elements of this timbral universe, disappearing into the weft, in the tapestry, in the ground, from where individual ideas can be reborn again, in an ever-increasing succession of impulses – for 22 minutes. A work in which the dimension of the acousmatic space becomes a game of perceptive virtuosity, thanks to the dynamic chiaroscuro differences that range from full timbral presence to the meager effects of sound skeletons.
The author mainly uses samples of sounds from sequences of different instrumental families: flutes, brass, percussion with determined and indeterminate sound, prepared piano, pizzicato violin.
Oktophonie (1990-1991, Invasion-Explosion mit Abschied)
Oktophonie is an electronic music composition that formed the sound substrate of the 2nd act Invasion – Explosion mit ABSCHIED of the opera Dienstag aus Licht. This piece can be broadcast in concert, regardless of the original context of origin. We should remember the dramaturgy of Dienstag aus Licht which revolves around the struggle between Michael and Luzifer, who face each other for a life with or without God. In the second act, mutual broadcasts of music are followed by the armies of Michael and Luzifer.
It is a composition of about 70 minutes with eight monophonic tracks created by K. Stockhausen in collaboration with his son Simon, using different synthesizers (Yamaha DX 7, Casio FZ-1, Roland D-50, Oberheim) whose sounds characterize the astral and dark timbral color of the entire piece. The base material has been reworked and enriched with modulation curves and effects such as reverbs, delays and phase shifts.
In an interview, speaking of the preparation of Oktophonie, Simon Stockhausen specified that he had had a certain margin of creative freedom in interpreting the indications of his father’s score. Instead of producing sounds in the traditional sense, he used micro-composition techniques, cataloging a series of sound aggregates that were integrated into the different sections of the work with some variations. Since it is a long piece, emphasizes Simon Stockhausen, the challenge was to achieve a sound articulation that always retained an adequate tonal richness. For this reason, sustained sounds have been augmented with stereo phase shift or filters by controlling the filter curves manually.
Of particular importance is the spatialization of the work. Stockhausen left precise indications in the score on how the sound should move and rotate in three-dimensional space in the shape of a cube, starting from eight sound sources placed in the corners of the cube.