Hear Stimmung, probably the most maverick, original and experimental composition of its kind, performed by London Voices.
Commissioned by Collegium Vocale Köln, Stimmung was composed in 1968. Trying to work quietly so that he didn't disturb his young children, Stockhausen hummed instead of singing out loud - this led him to create, from vowel sounds, the overtones and timbral changes used in the piece.
The composer shaped 51 repeatable models, performed by six singers intoning on one perpetual chord, inserting words, names and poems among the intonation. Each new model brings on a different, changed mood, according to its meaning and character.
The title Stimmung can mean many things - tuning, mood, atmosphere, sound - and is derived from the German word 'Stimme': the voice. The different models can be performed in a prearranged order, or the order can be chosen at random.
Ben Parry, co-director of London Voices, has performed Stimmung many times, with the avant-garde vocal group Singcircle, with students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and with his own group Dunedin Consort at the 2002 Edinburgh International Festival. Stockhausen heard that performance, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and personally rang Parry to offer his congratulations.
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