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Report on Stockhausen's 'Carré'

Author(s): Cornelius Cardew

Source: The Musical Times, Vol. 102, No. 1424 (Oct., 1961), pp. 619-622
Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.
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Accessed: 21-06-2018 04:03 UTC

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cornelius cardew

report on stoekhausen's 'earre'

Stockhausen's 'Carre' for four orchestras was performed in Hamburg on Oct
In this article Cornelius Cardew describes his experiences while collaborating w
on its creation and execution.

The theoretical possibility or impossibility of it is 'dilettante' and entered into with free love and
collaboration in composing a musical score. . . Of acceptance of no matter what eventuality-like
what interest are such theoretical possibilities or abandoning the project, or shooting your col-
impossibilities? Examine the reasons of the parties laborator, or never finishing it ... all of which are
involved in any particular casz of collaboration. impossible when the work in question is acommission.
But how many such cases are there? Well, imagine
When I was actually involved in the collaborationMy collaboration with Karlheinz was, on the one
with Stockhausen on 'his' Carre (for four orchestras,hand, an expression of his altruistic desire to help
four choruses, four conductors, four sides of the me personally, and on the other, his solution of his
problem of having more commitments than he
room) I spent some of the afternoons when work
could accomplish single-handed. Carre was com-
on it seemed pointless, thinking of possible or sensible
forms that a collaboration could take. The idea that
missioned by Radio Hamburg, and was conceived
most took my fancy ran somewhat as follows: one, during Karlheinz's long flights over North America
or each of the composers concerned would write while he was lecturing there. I had spent February
some music of a casual nature (ie not completed orand March at a loose end in England, writing
February 1959 in odd moments, and making my
closed, but with casual indications of dynamics,
instrumentation, notes, phrases, perhaps a few bars final comment on my studies in electronic music in
sketched) and post it-this was an important aspectan article called the unity of musical space; returned
-to his or'her collaborator(s). All verbal comments to Cologne in April with an open mind and a work-
would be avoided, except those usual in the notation hungry spirit; and found a whole heap of more or
less hieroglyphic notes, including 101 snappy items
of musical ideas (eg 'flute', 'crescendo', 'full orchestra
of the same general form as Example 1 (which I
without percussion'-and this last not necessarily
supplemented by a list of the 'full orchestra', or of
the omitted percussion).
On receipt of this material (which I romantically
visualize as a dirty piece of manuscript paper), the
other collaborator proceeds to comment on it,
musically. He may add, change, modify, oppose,
protest, destroy, restrict, embroider, etc. He then 9
sends the whole-the original material together 0 W
- -

with any supplementary sheets-back to'the first

composer. I felt that neither composer should keep
the material for more than a couple of days at a
time, and that the process could continue for as
'T. t v ~,:
The sign'on the right shows the movement between
long as was necessary or desired. An end to the the orchestras. 9 is one of 12 dynamic levels. Dot
means this note staccato or very short, slur sign
process could be formalized as follows: when one very long. Pitch and rhythm are the elements to be
of the composers returns the material without having brought into play during this group.
done anything to it, the other may take this as a
sign that he is to complete the score, ie makehave a freely invented, no longer having access to any
performable score of it. Or they may duplicate the of the material of Carre). These I proceeded to
material and each make a performable score, thus realize, working daily chez Stockhausen from 3 pm
making two, or as many versions of the piece as till dinnertime, aided, irritated, confused, en-
there are collaborators.
couraged, and sometimes even guided by his own
I still find this idea feasible, and would embark on eagle eye, or his voluminous notes, or his random
it with anyone who cared to collaborate with me, narrations as he worked on his experiments for what
though I cannot answer for the results. And it is later became Kontakte (for piano, percussion, and
this which indicates the great merit of the idea, that four-track tape).
At the end of three months or so, during which
CORNELIUS CARDEW was born in 1936, educated at the time I also wrote my Octet 1959 and learnt the guitar
Canterbury Cathedral Choir School and King's School, Canter-
bury (where he was a pupil of Dr Suttle, composer of the newpart of Le Marteau sans Maitre, a rough score had
Wedding March); 1953-7 Royal Academy of Music, composi- come into existence; I had an obscure idea of what
tion with Howard Ferguson; won a grant to Germany, and at
Cologne, where he studied electronic music, got to know Stock- the piece would be like, and Karlheinz's more
hausen. Returned to England this year, now lives in London whimsical notions about the piece had been aban-
and is looking for pupils. Principal compositions: 3 piano
sonatas, 2 string trios, 3 orchestral works, septet and octet. doned, and all seemed set, when, on the eve of my

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return to England, Karlheinz sprang the idea of the music who complain about performances of their
'insertions' (episodes outside the general run of the pieces are often told), and I think Karlheinz does
piece-at this stage they had very little in common want his music to be a certain way, and it is as a
with what they eventually became) which were to result of this that he has constantly exerted his
delay the completion of even the rough score until personality in coaching performances of his works
March 1960, when I finished the last page (contain- (indeed performances in which he has had no hand
ing 3,000-odd notes) of the last insertion (comprising have been exceptions; even the Glasgow performance
ten or so such pages) in a sun-filled library in of Gruppen was modelled on a tape-recording of a
Amsterdam. performance in which Stockhausen was the principal
The 'story' of this piece is longer and more harrow-conductor); thus he has evaded the necessity of
ing than the 'story' of any other piece I have written.finding an adequate formalization of his ideas.
Which says nothing about its value. Like the It is in this role-that of breathing down the
Viennese painter who remarked-very pleased with performer's neck-that you find him exerting his
himself-to a critic, 'Yes, a lot of work went into personality in Carre: his advice to me while working
that picture'. 'Well isn't that just too bad,' was the on the Basic Score, his copious notes and hierogly-
reply, 'because none of it is ever going to come out phics accompanying the Basic Score, his elucidations
again'. of the signs used in the Basic Score, these were the
* strongest manifestations of personality in the
complex process which we loosely term Carre. And
The score of Carre is four scores, one for each
in fact I did work at the score all the time keeping
orchestra. So the score 'Carr6 I' consists of the
his intentions in mind, though my own 'personality'
first orchestra written out in full, and above, reduc-
tended more and more to interfere as the work
tions of the other three orchestras, each on two
progressed. The sections which were finally cut in
staves. Thus none of the scores can give a really
the performance were either ones in which my
detailed impression of the sound, and a total view
personality conflicted with his-or seemed to-or
of the piece is very difficult to achieve at all, except
ones which manifested virtually no personality at
in performance. This was perhaps one of the reasons
all (an unusually ideal state of affairs, and hard to
why the question cropped up as to whether or not
come by, in my opinion), ie some sections near the
the 101 groups like Example 1 could constitute a
beginning where I would not yet have conceived of
sort of score for publication. David Tudor was of
interfering and where he had failed to manifest his
the opinion that they could; so was I; but Karlheinz
intentions in such a way that I could appreciate and
on the other hand would probably oppose the idea
act upon them. But generally our personalities
strongly. This score, if published, would be the
interacted freely, and with much friendly discussion.
score of a piece for four orchestras by Karlheinz
Stockhausen and no mistake about it. For a per- *
formance, someone would have to 'interpret' it
(just as I did, with differences which we will mention Now something about the musical basis of the
collaboration. When we met in April 1959 we
later) into a proper performable score. If there were
several such interpretations and performances, discovered that we had both written cyclic pieces,
comparison of these would enable an earnest critic ie pieces in which you can start anywhere (in his
to distribute his blame between the composer Zyklus for one percussion player, on any page; in
(Stockhausen) and the realizer. my February 1959, with any group) and join the
Let us look for manifestations of personality in end to the beginning. Both pieces present a cyclic
the piece. There are doubtless many in the Basic recurrence of elements: certain sounds or tones
Score (comprising the 101 groups as in Ex 1) which recur at regularly increasing or decreasing intervals,
label it incontrovertibly STOCKHAUSEN, but these and then back-like a simple harmonic curve. In
manifestations are in the Basic Score, and not both pieces a number of these cycles overlap, and
necessarily in the Final Score. That is to say that the form is characterized at any given point by
were the realizer to approach the Basic Score with whatever element is passing through its density peak
sufficient boldness, these manifestations could at that moment. One major difference between the
become insignificant-intentionally concealed, or un-pieces was that his used a notation in which space
intentionally ignored. I, for one, would certainly corresponded to time, and he was thus able to plot
now approach the task in this fearless spirit, and the recurrence of elements as logarithmic series;
allow my imagination to act unconditionally on the whereas I wished to dispense with the measurement
material of the Basic Score. I would hazard the of time in this sense. I used neither a number of
beats nor a number of seconds for measuring the
opinion that it is lack of faith in these manifestations
that would lead Karlheinz to oppose the release of
recurrence of the elements, but a number of musical
such a score. ('Release' is the right word: the events.
score The length of the musical events was
leaves your hands, and anything may happen to it.
determined by the condition of the sounds themselves
But then, you could reserve the right to veto (eg per-a tone would last as long as it took it to decay
formances, if you felt that way about it, andfrom you f to mp, etc), combined with a few relative
indications like long, short, etc. Thus, whereas his
could appoint executors in cases where you, personal-
ly, were not able to do so.) elements would recur after 3, 2, 1, 2, 3 units of
Cage, Wolff, Bussotti-to name but a few who do mine would recur after 3, 2, 1, 2, 3 units of
release basic scores, though of different sorts-do
music, or musical events. I had naively feared this
have this faith. 'But if there is a way you want it
was toa new idea (as it may well have been a new idea
be, write it that way' (as composers of indeterminate
to use it systematically), and so was overjoyed to

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Karlheinz Stockhausen

find the whole of Carre laid out in this manner-

each group like Ex 1 can be considered a musical
event in this sense.
But instead of being cyclic, the recurrence of
elements in Carre was generally straight-line, so that
any element (each sign in Ex 1 can be considered one
of a class of elements) would occur more and more
frequently up to a climax (of this element), and any
climax of this sort heralded a structural shift: a new
element would be introduced and perhaps this new
element would start at its maximum frequency of
occurrence, and thereafter decrease in frequency
until it faded out altogether. (I am giving no
indication of the actual structure of the piece-only
of the type of structure.) So this aspect of the piece
afforded me personally considerable interest, irre-
spective of the shaping of the individual musical
events in themselves.

The instrumentation. The selection and distribution

of the instruments had me slightly worried. First,
it was irritating to have to write for an instrument
that one has never consciously heard, like the penchant for the sounds. In the rough score, I
cymbalum (Hungarian dance music, Stravinsky's sketched their parts vaguely, simply, mechanically
Renard); one has constantly to refer to a diagram- and minimally, assuring myself that Karlheinz
matic picture of the instrument to find out what is would brush them up when he came to correct the
playable and what not. Second, Stockhausen's final score. This he never did, or only in a very few
insistence on equal numbers of brass and wind cases, and so the percussion parts retained their
instruments (four brass and four wind in each simplicity, and were finally completely appropriate
orchestra); I prefer a more conventional balance. and unobtrusive almost all the time (they play
And then the choice of wind instruments; instru- incessantly).
ments like E flat clarinet and double-bassoon were Piano, harp, cymbalum and vibraphone completed
vetoed as unnecessary-and it is true, the whole the orchestras-he referred to them as 'attack instru-
piece does unfold within a space of 4? octaves, with ments', and they were used chiefly to colour the
only occasional excursions, for which Karlheinz was entries of other instruments, and only occasionally
not responsible. But I felt that instruments of achieved independence-and had all else been equal,
extreme timbre and range could have helped to these would have been sufficient to characterize the
rectify the unbalance caused by equal numbers of four sides of the hall, aurally. But all else was not
brass and wind. Later, I came to enjoy the limita- equal; the four orchestras were not identical, but
tions involved in using only instruments with fairly they were not significantly differentiated. And it
centrally placed ranges, especially in their extreme would have been so easy to have made them either
and characteristic registers; but that was after I had the one or the other.
worked off any disappointment on the instrumenta- One word about the clapping, finger-snapping,
tion (piccolo, alto flute, oboe, E flat clarinet, bass tongue-clicking, phonetic-mouthing chorus (2-2-2-2
clarinet, double-bassoon, violin, double-bass) of my in each orchestra) : I wrote their notes and Karlheinz
own Octet 1959. their nonsense, later laboriously copied according
With the brass, Karlheinz was more liberal: a to the rules laid down by the International Phonetics
high F trumpet, bass trumpet, alto trombone and Association. They were one of the liveliest features
tuba were all featured. The strings lacked all of the general sound, and sang beautifully at the
initiative: a 2-2-2-2 combination was used in each performance.
orchestra-no basses, and this was, I think, one of *
the causes of a certain lack of orchestral bulk which
prevented the four conductors from sustaining the The notation. Stockhausen's original idea for the
necessary rapport, so widely separated in such anotation was to have lines of twelve different thick-
large hall; a slight wrongness of scale which kept nesses, representing twelve different loudness levels.
each orchestra distinctly a chamber orchestra, but These lines were to be prolonged in correspondence
to the durations of the sounds, and would wander
within a situation that definitely required a really big
'orchestra'. An orchestra which can provide 16 about over the stave in cases of glissando, and get
brass (6 were horns), 8 percussion players and, thicker and thinner in the event of a dynamic
among the wind, 3 saxophones and 3 clarinets, can change (cresc, dim, etc). Thus, the three essential
surely boast more than 32 strings! The 8 percussion- aspects of any sound-pitch, loudness, duration-
ists were my greatest worry, since I have but little would be welded into a single sign with three

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peace', which last and last and do not change, or
pX4^4p. 2. y^ ^ ^-, change suddenly and briefly-this was the general
idea, or one of them. I enjoyed this general idea very
much, and in actual fact, while composing, I would
often write 'a sound' and gaze out of the window at
the summer afternoon gardens 'listening' to it for 10
to 20 minutes, and not just the 12" or whatever it
might be that was actually audible in the concert
corresponding features-placing on the stave for
pitch, thickness for loudness, length for durations.
Conducting procedure. Each conductor stood with
The weightiest objection to this was the fact that his back to the wall, and where two or more of them
were we to choose twelve appreciable differentiations had a beat in common, they were to agree on this by
of thickness, the staves would have to be so large looking at each other. The musicians received signs
that the height of the total score would come to with which they were perfectly familiar, namely a
something like four yards. And the incredible 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th beat of the bar; and every sign was
labour involved, even were one to develop such long accompanied by an acoustical occurrence-a change
arms: using the Graphos pen-which dries up if you in the sound; so there were no empty beats. A
dream even for two seconds (and it would take you synchronized attack is one of the problems presented
longer than that to walk round to the other end of the
by the absence of a pulse; how can several instru-
score)-constantly changing between twelve dif- ments enter together when they have no reliable and
ferent-sized nibs.
common means of predicting the advent of the next
In the rough score I used the numbers 1-12 for beat? This was easily solved by prefacing each beat
the dynamics, and these were reduced in the final with a short up-beat of a constant length.
score to pp, p, f, ff, much to my relief. (Even after
reaching this decision, the decision to write the four
scores separately was still a forced one.) The pro-
longation of the lines was retained, to accommodate Part 2 of this article, next month, will deal with the
the frequent glissandi. Where fast passages were 'insertions', and with the rehearsals and first per-
required, these were written as quavers, with sundry
commas, dots, and short lines to indicate the
rhythmic profile (Example 2). The rapport between
conductors and players, and the timing (no metrics The Royal Amateur Orchestral Society announce a
and no stopwatches) were laid out generally as silver medal and an invitation to appear at one of
follows: the Society's concerts, to be won this year by an
Most significant changes in the sound were to be amateur or professional singer, violinist, harpist or
woodwind player under 28. Entries by Oct 31. Also
brought about by a sign from the conductor. To
avoid the confusion that would result if all these
a 10-guinea prize for an orchestral work not over 7
minutes, by a composer under 30. Entries by Dec 31.
signs were down-beats, they were grouped in 2, Details
3, 4, from Mrs Pitt, 19 Jireh Court, Haywards
or 5, making up 'bars' with beats of irregular length.
Heath, Sussex.
These irregular beats were written as relative lengths
The Ernest Read Special Choir has its first rehearsal
on the page; thus the first beat could be short (1(for
cm the Christmas Concert on Dec 12) on Oct 25,
and thereafter on succeeding Wednesdays at 6 at
say), the second long (say 8 cm), the third somewhere
the RAM, Marylebone Road. Details from Helen
between the two (say 3i cm), the fourth a little
longer than the second (say 9 cm), and so on. Read, 151 King Henry's Road, NW3, PRI 3020.
The Macnaghten Concerts 30th anniversary season
Each group was thus divided into irregular lengths,
and over the whole group was written a timeopens (say on Oct 20 with a concert of contemporary
music for children at the Mahatma Gandhi Hall,
24") decided on by Karlheinz and myself empirically,
Fitzroy Square, at 7.30-including the first London
by mentally 'hearing' the group a few times, timing
performances of Tippett's cantata Crown of the Year
it each time, and taking the mean time of the various
and Britten's Alpine Suite for recorders. Graham
times we had timed it. The conductor can repeat
Treacher conducts the London Co-op Children's
this process: he can interpret the varying lengths by
eye, and check his time against a stopwatch, and if for the Van Cliburn Quadrennial Interna-
he finds he has taken too long, he can 'correct' his Piano Competition (first prize $10,000, and
timing. But we decided on these numbers (times) Carnegie Hall and symphony engagements), for
after writing the music, so I could never really pianists of either sex, between 17 and 28, must be in
regard them as binding (they were not composed), by 1 May 1962. Barber's Sonata (scherzo and fugue)
and I personally would have liked the conductors andtoa new work by Lee Hoiby are among the pre-
have felt free to ignore them in all cases except liminary
those test pieces. Details from Mrs G. W. Lank-
ford. 2211 West Magnolia Avenue, Fort Worth 10,
where they actually found they had to refer to Texas.
in order to get an idea of what the music was about.
The 1961 issue of The Consort, published by the
I found this sort of notation-anti-beat, with no
Dolmetsch Foundation, contains articles on Bar-
metrical drive-almost ideal for the conceptionsanti
of (W. Bergmann) and Clementi (Joan Davies).
Carre: as we have already mentioned, KarlheinzThere is also available a valuable cumulative index
conceived the piece in the hours spent flying of
overall previous issues, 1929-59. Inquiries to Mrs
the USA during his lecture tour there. Sounds Evans,
'at Greenstead, Beacon Hill, Hindhead, Surrey.

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