Improving the practice and performance of contemporary music

Suggestions on how to tackle rehearsals

  • There is a possibility to make a graphical score with signs like the surrounding Stockhausen pieces of this period (cfr. Microphonie score etc.) if it helps the performer (below you will find a list of pieces and youtube links).
  • “When it sounds like the previous time, stop and start again”
  • “Listen”
  • “Do not rehearse”
  • “Play like there is an infinite amount of time and space”
  • No restrictions whatsoever
  • Action always initiates reaction
  • Play “Now-now-now”
  • “No repeats, always different!”
  • “Leave enough silence” - don’t play all the time
  • Exercise: Play one note every time you realize your thinking is changing. In this way you practice playing the rhythm of your own thinking.
  • If the texts of the score feels too abstract to you, imagine the text very practically: for example being a superhero flying between stars and planets.
  • Possibilty to quote from musical history: constellation images can be translated into Webern, Messiaen,...
  • Sum up suggestions to eachother: “this means that to me, I imagine this,...”
  • Use meditation techniques so you can play when the mind is totally empty.
  • A quite interesting article of one of the original intuitive music performers Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen suggests some strategies to rehearse these pieces:
  • He uses some good expressions to make some of the abstract sentences in the score more playable and comprehensible and categorizes the way Stockhausen asks for musical content into the following list of keywords
  • Fixing (imposing simple ideas)
  • Circumscribing (a way to ask for more abstract musical ideas)
  • Fixed and circumscribed (a combination of the two previous ones)
  • Suggesting (more subtle…)
  • Evoking (for the extreme meditation guru’s)

Suggestions for the performance

  • Possibility to start playing before the audience enters.
  • Possibilty to leave the stage while playing.
  • “The first sign for rubbish it when it starts to sound like something”
  • Best number of players is four or five players. When there are more than five players, we need to have a lot of self-discipline.
  • “It can and may go wrong!”
  • You can think while you are playing and interact with others. Use the the non-thinking from “Es” as a starting point.

Suggestions for personal behaviour

  • There is a need for a high level of personal engagement.
  • Look upon yourself as a higher being/higher self that uses the brain as a personal computer.
  • Try to obtain a “super-consciousness”, this is NOT conscious or subconscient but more something overviewing.
  • “Choose instruments you completely master, so you know the consequence of each action by heart.”
  • Ideally it is necessary to drastically change your life….

Suggestions about musical styles (sometimes highly contradictory)

  • Try not to play in any existing musical style - no references, look for something totally new.
  • No use of stylistic elements or quotations (contradictory cfr. supra)
  • Try not to use idoms you have used before
  • Look for consonance, not in a harmonic way per se, but in all musical parameters, all at once, or seperately.
  • It can sound like Stockhausen because it is linked to his name.
  • Connotations are OK !