On Being Invisible



An interview about my work as Stockhausen’s copyist (June 1974 to December 2000) with Paul Roberts,
who was Luciano Berio’s assistant from October 1989 until Berio’s death in May 2003. Paul still produces new Berio scores (where necessary) for Universal Edition. He also does scores by Birtwistle and Feldman etc., as I did in the early 1970s.

This is the April 2009 version of a text which Gisela Gronemeyer translated into German for MusikTexte, Volume 117, May 2008. Additional material includes several new photos and music examples.

I would especially like to thank Universal Edition for kindly letting us include some examples from my early work and Paul's recent scores.



Paul Roberts and I met at Berio’s Institute Centro Tempo Reale in 2001, where I was attending a seminar on digital music publishing. We have not met personally again, but continue to keep in touch with a Christmas card every year. In 2007, just after Stockhausen’s death in December, Paul also sent me an email, asking me about Stockhausen’s music since Harlekin, and suggesting that it might be interesting to compare notes on our different experiences.
I wanted to write something on the occasion of Stockhausen’s death anyway, so it seemed like a good idea to ask Paul to act as my “interviewer”. That helped me to keep the text objective, and to stick to musical and artistic themes, interesting to the outside world. Many thanks Paul, for being a brick. Your contribution has been invaluable.
Many thanks also to Gisela Gronemeyer, for publishing the original version of this text in MusikTexte, and for her patience and help while translating it.



Paul Roberts: Strange coincidence that we are both English...

James Ingram: The English make good butlers!

PR: You parted company with Stockhausen at the end of the year 2000. It can’t have been the best day of your life when you discovered that your services were no longer required. What happened?

JI: That’s a rather complicated question, but one which is well worth trying to answer. I am, myself caught up in this story, so its rather difficult for me to get at the truth – if there is a single truth.
One has to look at the problem from both Stockhausen’s and my perspectives. If one looks at it from his direction, the answer provides a clue to understanding Licht as a whole. In my world, the answer has to do with the end of the era in which artists are heroes.
There is no blame attached to any of this. Events unfolded inevitably, as in a Greek tragedy.
I think Stockhausen must have been identifying me with Lucifer at the time. In Sonntag, at the end of Licht, Lucifer is left behind so that a pure Assumption can take place. Remember that one of the main events associated with Lucifer is that he is thrown out of heaven at some point. This happens in real life, not in any of the operas. For Stockhausen, getting rid of me was a catharsis. (Remember Spiral? Inori?)
Also, on a mundane level in Stockhausen’s private life, he was worried about my self-employed status. He was afraid that the authorities were going to force him to give me a proper contract, which might have been very expensive. I had to go.
My being made redundant was for me (and probably for Stockhausen too) a real life hell. The dragon fight continued in the real world, invisible to the observers of Licht, from 2001-2003.
From my perspective, the dismissal has to do with the coming of the internet. Suddenly, in February 1999 when I published the first version of my web site, I had become visible and able to talk to the outside world. This meant that I could start discussing and developing my ideas on music notation, which had been stagnating since the mid 1980s for lack of any discussion. But my visibility was a problem for the hero Stockhausen. I started training my successor within a couple of months of going online.
The problem was this: In 1983, after pushing the dots around for a decade or so, I had made a real conceptual breakthrough. This demolishes some of the key ideas embodied in standard notation - especially the Avant-garde’s and Stockhausen’s view of standard notation. These ideas were published in an essay The Notation Of Time in 1985. The essay was rejected by the academic press (as is usual in such cases) and published in a small, non-academic magazine for composers. The article subsequently sank without trace, until I put it on my website.
After Stockhausen had read and understood it (1984), he told me he was going to ignore it and continue writing as before. He also quietly gave up pretending that he was interested in influencing the future of music in general. If you compare the program notes for Michael’s Reise (Donaueschingen 1978) with what he writes later, there is a point where his attitude changes. He was simply too old, and too far into Licht to be able to pull up his roots and start again. I dont blame him at all. It was fate. We were locked into the same story, whether we liked it or not.
It remained vital that I should not rock the boat, or disturb his public image. Nobody wanted to listen to me anyway. I had no choice, but to continue as if nothing had happened. Nicola Bernadini invited me to the seminar at Centro Tempo Reale in 2001, as a direct result of his discovering my website. This was exactly the kind of thing Stockhausen did not want to happen.

PR: Let’s go back to the beginning. You once said that you had done some work for UE London, including preparing some of the performance material of Boulez’ éclat-multiples. How did you meet Stockhausen? These kind of jobs are not exactly advertised in the papers...

JI: I studied composition with Birtwistle from 1967-71 at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Heady days for music! At the time, Boulez was conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, bringing a fresh wind to that world. Stockhausen was the other Big Name in New Music.
As students we were all fascinated by the way music was developing. I remember performing Oben und Unten with students from the other London colleges, and attending an electrifying Stockhausen concert at the St Pancras Town Hall. He was there, with two ensembles: Intermodulation (around Roger Smalley) and Gentle Fire (around Hugh Davies). Our ears were wide open.
What we didnt realise at the time, was that the whole scene was about to collapse. It actually collapsed in 1970, but the news didnt reach me until later.
Through Birtwistle, I began working for UE London around 1968. At first it was just copying parts, but they soon began giving me other work. The first printed score I did was Morton Feldman’s On Time and the Instrumental FactorUE1. I subsequently made several other Feldman scores and got to know him personally - he was friends with Birtwistle. Feldman was a great Artist, and for me continues to be a very important composer. I also made scores by Earle Brown and Birtwistle, and was occasionally involved with other composers too: Boulez, as you say, and Maxwell Davies.
My first connection with Stockhausen came when UE Vienna asked me to notaset the D-Momente. That’s how I first met Hugh Davies. A condition was that I had to agree the detailed look of the score with Stockhausen himself. So we were corresponding in early 1974 while the crisis about the Inori orchestra material was brewing. In June, he wrote asking me to go to Kürten to sort that crisis out. I arrived as a professional on 28th June 1974. We were on equal terms. I was never his student.

PR: So it was your own background as a composer that encouraged you to get involved? Composers are the best people for this kind of work.

JI: Yes. To be more precise, I got into copying because I’m interested in written music and wanted to stay close the the problems I thought needed solving. Most people drift off into academic careers, but academics have to be too eclectic. They dont get under the surface of the problem, or give sufficient weight to the fact that music notation is simply blobs of ink on paper - a purely spatial phenomenon. Western music history is the history of written music until the invention of mechanical recordings at the beginning of the 20th century.
Culture is, for me, ultimately inseparable from writing, in spite of the flowering of non-written musics over the past 100 years. I think there is a future for written music, but scores now have to be thought of as software. Scores have always been scripts describing sequences of events...
As a composer, I have always wanted to write music whose notation was free of contradictions or superfluous concepts, so I started by using a very simple set of symbols, and tried to think very carefully before using a new symbol or graphic construct. This means that I have produced very few compositions. My work is more like a research project.
According to a New Music manager’s idea of what a composer is, I’m probably not a composer at all. Composers are people whose prime directive is to create temporal objects. What their notation looks like (if any) is irrelevant. So composers are not the best people to be asking fundamental questions about music notation. No wonder everything collapsed.1

PR: So what happened when you arrived in Kürten?

JI: The Donaueschingen premiere of Inori was in danger of having to be cancelled. As I remember, about 50 of the 145 pages of the full score were complete. The parts were in a complete mess. It took me about a week to discover (and convince Stockhausen) that nothing of what had been done was usable. The material was written by inexperienced copyists, in pencil, far too widely spaced, no account taken of page turns, using too many attempts to shortcut the process by photocopying and pasting existing (illegible) pages.
So we decided to start again from scratch. Stockhausen was far too busy composing the piece, correcting the full score, and working with the soloists, to be able to give his full attention to the problem. So he delegated that responsibility to me. I was free to ask for as many assistant copyists as I wanted.
The background reason for this panic was that he was using a shorthand to write the piece, and had lost sight of the consequences, for the copyists, of what he was writing.
He had set up four Scales, in which orchestration and dynamic are combined to give 60 degrees of ‘loudness’.
Scale A (for the upper instruments in the example on the right) goes from a single flute playing pianissimo, to all 42 upper instruments playing fortissimo.
Scale B (for the lower instruments) goes from a single horn playing pianissimo to all 42 lower instruments playing fortissimo. The piece starts with a single repeated pitch having increasingly different Scale numbers.
So, he would write a note with a number underneath it, leaving Georges Wolff and Janos Darvas to expand that information into an orchestration in the full score. Since the dynamics change a lot, not the pitches, Stockhausen decided to notate the pitches in one or two staves at the top of the score, and each instrument’s dynamic (not the pitch) as space-time notation on the five lines of that instrument’s staff (mezzoforte is the middle line, mezzopiano is not used).

PR: That’s funny – Berio hardly ever used mezzopiano and when I asked him why this was, he replied “Well I don’t know what mezzopiano means, it doesn’t make sense.” (I found one in Un re in ascolto recently).

JI: The parts had to be written conventionally (orchestra musicians are rather conservative like that), so copying the parts also involved an extra bit of work - we had to look in two widely different places to find the rhythm and dynamic of each note.
I lost count of all the people who came and went. Notable was Roger Smalley, who was given the best room in the house, and some of the piano part to copy. I remember him using round (not elliptical) noteheads with centred (not offset) stems, which didnt please me much.
1974GeorgeAndJamesW225.jpg
Kürten 1974. Inori with George Mowat-Brown
And my friend George Mowat-Brown who had worked as my editor for UE. Unfortunately, he smoked a strong pipe at the time - which didnt go down well at all. But even that had to be tolerated in the interests of getting the job done.
I remember at one time running out of score to copy, and reading Kafka’s Shorter Works to pass the time... Keiko Nishimoto and the wet-chemical photocopy machine... Keiko and the bar numbers... That summer was full of hysterical anecdotes, against the background of Stockhausen’s terrible state of mind.
1976Hagemann2W180.jpg
Frau Hagemann
Frau Hagemann, our cook and housekeeper, deserves a special mention. She originally worked in the garden, but was called in to cook for Stockhausen when everyone else had left at the height of his personal and professional crisis after 1970. She had been driven from her homeland at the end of the 2nd World War, and mentioned a couple of times being hunted through Breslau by the Russians. She’d seen a lot, and coped fantastically, providing meals for large numbers of highly stressed people for many weeks.
Stockhausen eventually decided he wanted more peace in the house, and sent us all off to Haus Kuckuck (House Cuckoo), at the bottom of the hill, for lunch every day. The whole production must have cost him a fortune.
Many of those who knew her think that Frau Hagemann was the model for the old woman who interrupts Act III of Donnerstag aus Licht. She was a wonderful lady.

The beginning of page 64 of the full score of Inori
© copyright Stockhausen-Verlag

InoriW425.jpg

The beginning of page 64 of the full score of Inori
© copyright Stockhausen-Verlag


1974InoriW640.jpg Summer 1974, Inori: clockwise round the table: Julika Stockhausen (sitting behind Stockhausen), Suzee Stephens, Simon Stockhausen, Georg Wolff, Elisabeth Clarke, Alain Louafi, Janos Darvas, James Ingram, Keiko Nishimoto, Sophie Bauermeister (daughter of Mary Bauermeister), Mary Bauermeister, student of Bernhard Wosien, probably her friend, Bernhard Wosien, Stockhausen. Stockhausen wanted an older man (Wosien) to learn Inori too, but nothing came of it.

PR: I rather like Inori (or parts of it, especially the Harmony section which I bet he wrote at the piano. I find the Polyphonic section awkward with all the various lines playing simultaneously. To me they simply play together but without any real musical grammar.) What do you think of it?

JI: I like neither the sound nor the aesthetics. The picture of him conducting it in Rome 1975 (printed on the front cover of his Texte Band IV in 1978), shows him trying to rejoin the dying, bourgeois music world we thought he was replacing in the 50s and 60s (he’s pretending to be Karajan). That was, for me, the wrong way to go.
I loathed the Urantia book, which was uppermost in his mind at the time. He was mentally in a very precarious state, susceptible to frequent tantrums. At meals, he would deliver endless monologues on Urantia chapters as if they were literally true. Intergalactic bureaucracy, blue and green people fighting over Africa at the beginning of civilisation. Lucifer’s rebellion. Hierarchies of angels living on Sirius, etc.
On the afternoon I arrived, I was very seriously introduced to the assembled community as
A messenger from the Local Universe”.
A wild book could be written about the creation of Inori during the summer of 1974...

PR: From this period in the 1970’s Stockhausen certainly earned his particular mystic reputation. Can you tell me something about your own beliefs? How did you stay sane?

JI: I was certainly forced to take a stand of some sort. There’s an entry in my diary for 20th August which says “I believe it is necessary to believe only that which it is necessary to believe.” That’s Occam’s Razor. In the late seventies, I got a bit further, and summarised my view in a little poem

that more is
but beyond words
is will be misunderstood


So there’s actually nothing more that I can say in that direction.

PR: There’s too much (and growing?) misunderstanding around. If I really push you – after all, working for Stockhausen can’t have left you without some further thoughts...

JI: For me, “God” is a symbol for something which cannot be symbolised. In this I’m close to the ancient Jews who forbade giving God a name, and the New Testament “The peace of God which passeth all understanding”.
I’m also a child of the 20th century. There’s a famous quote by Wittgenstein “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.” (“One must be silent about that which cannot be said.”)
I also believe that Popper’s and Goedel’s results mean that brains have a “blind spot”, and that this “blind spot” results from the brain’s use of time and symbols to reduce complexity. Jacob Bronowski’s series of television lectures The Ascent of Man impressed me very much during the early 1970s.
On a separate level, I believe (like a true Christian) that all actions should be informed by love.
Theology is just very boring, compared with feeling the frontiers of knowledge expanding. This constant expansion is in itself proof of the incompleteness of our knowledge. So artistic and other explorations are closely connected to my unquestioned beliefs.

After the Donaueschingen premiere of Inori, Stockhausen and I agreed on the arrangement which held for the following 26 years. I became part of his household, working in his house for half of each year. This was an ideal arrangement for both of us, and perfect for creating the scores he wanted. For the other half of the year, he was on tour and I was free to pursue my own projects.
I was paid by the hour, so Stockhausen was free to change things as much as he liked. I enjoyed the hard work, and miss his perfectionism very much. It was my job to do what he wanted as best I could, not to agree or disagree with his decisions.
This was gentleman’s agreement. I never pressed him to give me a written contract. He said a couple of times that it would be better for him if I also worked for other composers, but I was not interested in doing that. For me, the whole point of our cooperation was that I should have time to work on my own long term projects.

George Mowat-Brown: My pipe wasn’t really that bad was it?

JI: Huh?

GM-B: You’re telling us all about Stockhausen’s private life. What about yours?
{
  JI: I’m gay, but in 1974 was still some way from fully coming to terms with the fact. Actually, my homosexuality is quite relevant to this story: Becoming part of Stockhausen’s household was easy for me. I was not planning to have a family of my own and I didn’t disturb the peace. Eunuchs are not rivals.
I’d always tried to avoid the problem by burying myself in my work. It was only after the fruitless publication of The Notation of Time that I attacked the matter directly for the first time. I “came out” in Kürten in April 1985. There was an odd atmosphere in the house for a week or so, as if he was half expecting to be seduced. (Vanity, vanity!) But when he was satisfied that nothing awkward was going to happen, a unique, poetic event occurred, and we dropped the subject.
{
  From the kitchen window, one could on a fine day see a small, white chapel among the rolling hills on the horizon. One evening, Stockhausen suddenly insisted that the four of us (himself, Suzee, Kathinka and I) should get in the car and go off to see if we could find it (not easy without map or compass). It took about three hours, and we nearly gave up because it was getting dark. But there it was, very isolated, but white, neat and tidy as only German churches are. When we got home, Stockhausen said (rather nostalgically) “The mystery is gone, now that I know where it is.
  }
Heinz has been my partner since November 1986, and has saved me in both crises: 1985-86 and after January 2001. His help over the past eight years has been absolutely essential. Thanks to him, I now have even more time to program. “Die Liebe ist stärker als der Tod.” [Stockhausen: Momente]. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you...
 
}

JI: Having a professional attitude, and burying myself in my work, was the way I survived. I could always retreat into a contemplation of the symbols themselves. Stockhausen was a great artist and manager who could create very beautiful musical objects, but great artists and managers can be difficult to live with. German Romantics, in particular, can be outright dangerous. They live in a world defined by their own feelings, bend the rules to suit themselves - and walk over dead bodies when they have to.

PR: How much music did Stockhausen know?

JI: That’s a difficult question to answer. While I was with him, he only ever went to concerts if he happened to be at a festival, and had the time. He rarely listened to other music unless there was some special reason for doing so. I can remember him listening to a recording of a late Beethoven String Quartet, because he had been asked to say something about it, but I never heard him listen to such music otherwise. Listening to his performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Suzee Stephens, one can only conclude that he had very little idea of how Mozart usually sounded. He wanted to make something special of course, but its unlikely he would have done it like that if he had known Mozart better. He may have deliberately not listened to any recordings of the piece, so that his interpretation would be his own. I dont think he really wanted to know any other music. It distracted him. It made him vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism. Remember that he began his career when Germans were trying to forget their history. He made his mark by creating something interesting out of nearly nothing. He was very good at that.

PR: I was very surprised once when Berio told me that he loved Dvorak’s slavonic dance n° 2 in e minor (bk 2). As time passed I discovered that he knew quite a lot of music. He had plenty of scores too. Did Stockhausen have a large library of scores?

JI: No. I cant remember any scores in the house except his own. Of course, there were scores which had been sent to him by young composers hoping for encouragement, but these were usually put in the archive (in another house) after he had answered the post.

PR: Being so close to Berio gave me the chance to see his real personality. He was a very witty person and loved to joke. Everyone seems to think that Stockhausen was so serious, but I’m sure that he was also funny. Do you have any humourous memories? It’s hard to keep a straight face reading Stockhausen’s programme notes for the original CBS recording of the Klavierstücke and Mikrophonie I & II.

JI: Yes, I loved those program notes too. They must have a lot to do with his friendship with Alois Kontarsky, who I only knew slightly, but seems to have been a rather jolly man. The funny vocal passages in Mantra are obviously related to Noh Theatre, but they must also have a lot to do with Kontarsky. Stockhausen often wrote with particular people in mind. But that was all before my time, so I cant be sure of the details.
He had a lot of fun with his own in-jokes, like the old lady in Donnerstag. Sometimes though, his humour can be rather heavy. Its the “fun” of the Cologne Carnival, which is very hard to describe to foriegners. (I usually leave town during Carnival.)
One of my earliest Stockhausen memories is of us dressing up in funny hats and red noses to celebrate the beginning of lent (there are several photographs, taken by Suzee Stephens in 1976). I had no idea at the time what it was all about. Maybe Suzee didnt either, which is why these photos look so strange. Where I grew up, there was no carnival. The Cologne version is gaudy, rustic, backslapping. A revelling in beer and local folklore. There are many passages in his music which are supposed to be funny like that.
But if one doesnt understand, one doesnt understand.
1976Karnaval1_W250.jpg
1976Karnaval2_W640.jpg
Kürten, spring 1976. Karlheinz Stockhausen and James Ingram - in the dark...

PR: Like the majority of composer students of my generation (and earlier), it was hard to keep up with Stockhausen, especially when he embarked upon Licht. It seemed that when he left UE his music completely changed direction. Performances of the music he was then writing began to disappear from ‘normal’ concerts. However, he apparently had everything highly organised for his compositions, even though the complete cycle of 21 Klavierstücke never materialised. Once Donnerstag was premièred, it seemed unlikely to people in the outside world that he would really live to complete the monumental cycle, let alone compose other music. Can you shed any light on that?
1974SuzeeAndJamesW400.jpg Kürten 1974, with Suzee Stephens
JI: As I said, I experienced Stockhausen as being at the end of his tether, on the edge of madness, in 1974. And it was Suzee who saved him.
He promised, while picking me up from the airport in 1975 to start work on Sirius, that we would never again get into that state. The usual panics continued to happen occasionally of course, but nothing on that epic scale. Suzee had arrived a few months before I did, and slowly, devotedly, pulled him back from the brink.
If it was Suzee who solved his private life, it was my presence that solved the enormous problem of what to do about publishing his scores. Working at such a distance, UE had no hope of keeping up with his demands and productivity, and he founded the Stockhausen-Verlag that year, as soon as he could see that having his own publishing house was a practical possibility.
So Suzee and I were the most important people in his life at that time. He sensed that there was a way to avoid all the stress of the years following the 1970 World Fair in Osaka, and that he could settle down to work under ideal conditions for many years.
I think that the Eve, Michael, Lucifer trio has a lot to do with the Suzee, Karlheinz, James triplet.
This may not have been conscious, of course. But I was certainly an unbeliever...
In 1976, I thought that New Music’s problems could be solved just by using intelligence, but that progress currently had to be made underground. Renouncing a public composer’s career obviously gave me an advantage when it came to making real, theoretical progress, so his fear of being overtaken increased.
It is this confrontation with the inevitability of becoming passée at some point, which I think sparked Licht in 1976. Licht is all about time, and Stockhausen’s ambivalence about it. It was his decision to stop moving, his attempt to stop time. But Licht is also about the conflict which Stockhausen saw between intelligence and intuition, and their relation to love.
According to Bronowski in The Ascent of Man,
one of Einstein’s early thoughts was:
If I ride away from a clock at the speed of light,
the clock will stop moving.
In contrast, I believe that both intelligence and intuition are necessary for maintaining a sense of wonder. Intuition finds the problems which intelligence has failed to solve. Intelligence or intuition (including religious belief) are static on their own. For Stockhausen, there was a conflict between the two. Intuition was what enabled him to create. Intelligence made him vulnerable. Profoundly Catholic, his dream was to leave intelligence behind.
The roles in Licht are not consistent portraits of particular people of course. They are abstract principles. But he often found it easier to isolate particular aspects of those principles by thinking of particular people.
In the first piece, Jahreslauf, he modelled both Lucifer and Michael on himself. He is trying to get above the conflict between his own conservative and progressive personae.
In Donnerstag, he obviously modelled Michael on himself throughout (he got a lot of stick for that). In Act I (Michaels Jugend), his father is Lucifer and his mother is Eve, but by the end of the opera he is using himself to feel his way into both male roles again. Michael and Lucifer were now two aspects of one person. But in that case, why weren’t there two Eves?
Kathinka arrived after Donnerstag, and was immediately cast as Eve’s other half. Suzee does not appear in Samstag, Lucifer’s day, at all. That complicated things rather for the Formula. It would have been very different if Kathinka had arrived earlier.
The conception of Licht also has to do with Stockhausen’s dislike of being categorizable. At the time, he had the reputation of being “the chamelion”.
I think he wanted to kill a lot of birds with one stone: It freed him from the expectation everyone had, that each work he produced would be as different as possible from the previous ones; his extreme productivity was leading to a feeling of arbitrariness, which I think he wanted to stop; and he wanted to continue in the direction of rejoining the bourgeois, but still viable, cultural scene. Grand Opera is the opposite of what he was doing in the fifties and sixties, but there was no way back to that world (the notational experiments had collapsed).

PR: A well-produced score is an incredibly difficult undertaking – a mixture of pure complex technical musical details (which must be correct) but that require refined aesthetic attention when converting a manuscript into a printed score. A score very often contains plenty of input and sheer musical know-how and research on the part of the person who is employed to make it. Of course all this remains totally anonymous – naturally to the advantage of the composer.

JI: Yes. That’s part of our aristocratic, Romantic heritage. Heroes have to appear to be above reality, so the mundane details are carefully hidden. This pattern has always been a commercial winner. Heroes are easier to sell. But that is changing. Try being a hero at an online forum, and you will see what I mean. I agree with you entirely about the difficulty of setting scores. I think apprentices in the 19th century had to go through one of the longest training periods of any job at all. I started with pen and ink in the late 60s, and it was a case of learning by doing. Publishers were in a pretty decadent state even then. They must have given up training their own engravers long, long ago. How did you start? Pen and ink? Finale?

PR: Pen and ink. I had always liked well produced scores, and had the fortune of being introduced to this world by Vic Hoyland. He gave me my first pens (and ink) and got me one or two projects for UE London of his music. In fact, whilst at Birmingham University they bought the 1st version of SCORE and I started fiddling with it by myself (there was no one to teach it of course). I was absolutely amazed to find that the possibility of producing ‘real’ scores was seemingly so close. After about a year I had a call out to Florence, but that’s my story, and we are here to talk about yours. I had to change to Finale.

JI: That was 1989, right?

PR: End of September, to be exact.

JI: I’m amazed that you seem to get by using Finale on its own. When the Stockhausen-Verlag started using computers in 1993, Finale was very buggy, and awfully difficult to use.

PR: Finale in the beginnings was terribly hard to learn and use well, at least for me. It was impossible to get a professional result, and it was necessary to spend hours and hours getting simple things right.
The initial Berio scores I worked on were not very complex from the notation point of view (Rendering, Ricorrenze, 8 Romanze). It took weeks to do what now is possible in a single day. By spending so much time at the computer I gradually found the best ways of cheating the programme (there’s not a single default setting that is usable). The most taxing scores I have produced from a notational point of view are Sequenza VII for oboe and Circles. As long as I stick to scores with normal staves I should be o.k. Proportional notation is not easy, but there’s always a way of doing it. PaulWithBerio1992
Luciano Berio and Paul Roberts (1992)
The problems start when a score has a lot of graphics. I’m not a computer programmer so I can’t go any further. Presumably it goes without saying that Stockhausen’s most advanced notation requires things beyond the boundaries of Finale and other notation programmes?

JI: I never really tried to see what could be done by pushing Finale to its limits, so I cant really answer that. Stockhausen always required unlimited control over his scores, and I had to find a way to solve the problem quickly once we started using computers. He wanted to keep both the freedom he had when I was using ink on paper, and the ‘house style’ which we had evolved over the previous 19 years.
For me, that meant treating music notation as pure graphics. FreeHand and Illustrator were the standard programs for doing graphics in the advertising industry, and large amounts of time and money had already been spent making them into good, stable programs. The Finale user-base and budget was tiny in comparison, so the program was correspondingly unripe.
Stockhausen didn’t like digital technologies. He resisted their introduction, both at the WDR Electronic Music Studio and at his own Verlag, as long as possible. At the time, it felt as if he was simply being a drag, but I now understand him better. Its not the technology which produces quality, but the expertise of the person using the technology. He was an expert with analog technology who had to bow to change as it came. There are still people who prefer high-end analog recordings.
Now, whenever a new version of a piece of software comes out, we have to ask ourselves if it is worth re-training to use it or not. Increasingly, for standard software, the answer is no. That’s one of the software industry’s current problems.

PR: I recently had to upgrade Finale from version 2003 to 2008. I had to buy a new computer in order to run it (my 3rd since working with Finale). I am finding the latest version rather disappointing. With 1 gigabyte of RAM it is slower than version 2003, and there is scarcely a single improvement to notational aspects for my needs. In addition, I have to relearn a great deal of the program because they have changed so many of the keyboard shortcut commands and shifted many of the most useful tools I was used to under different menus without actually improving much the capabilities of the notational tools.
I can’t understand why. For me there are no advantages to this new ‘layout’. It’s frustrating having to hunt for things which used to have their own pull-down menu. By the way, you still can’t even rotate text (unless by cheating the programme) which was something you could do in version 1 of SCORE over 20 years ago. (Text rotation is necessary for music printing of all ages, particularly in marginalia of Opera and vocal scores.) Apparently it can play back scores better than it could before, but since it still isn’t even capable of producing an only mildly complex score without the user having to invent ways of making the notation look right, I know that this aspect isn’t suitable for composers yet.

JI: Back in 1993 at the Stockhausen-Verlag, the forewords to the scores were being created by pasting my pen and ink diagrams into text which was set using an IBM Selectric golf-ball typewriter. I was using a Graphos pen (standard for copyists since long before I started), and/or Letraset and Notaset. All these technologies became obsolete as the printing industry switched to computers. Stockhausen scoured Germany for the last golf balls, Graphos nibs and Notaset, but eventually they ran out, and we were forced to join the general trend.
I’d been teaching myself to program since 1981, so I soon decided to do as little as possible with Finale, and export the files to FreeHand via software which I would write myself. (Remember I had ca. six months a year free, and I wasnt making progress with my abstract ideas on music notation. I needed a challenge.) My first solution was to read Finale’s postscript output, change it, and simply send the result to FreeHand. But that solution didnt last long, because Finale’s postscript output changed with the next (slightly less buggy) release. Learning from this mistake, I redesigned my software as a set of FreeHand plugins as soon as that became possible in 1995. I also made a button for converting simple, curved lines into slurs so that I didnt have to draw them at all in Finale.
1994KarlsbadW640.jpg
Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Czech Republic 1994

PR: That leaves me completely speechless. If I had had to be a computer programmer just to get on with Berio’s scores, I would have not lasted more than a week. The most impressive thing I ever did on my own was to create straight flags for the publication of the Sequenza for Flute in 1990. But that’s child’s play compared with what you were up to!

JI: As I said, Stockhausen wanted to keep our ‘house style’, so we also created a new Finale-compatible font to match my handwriting. It has the straight flags and various other special symbols he wanted. Stockhausen was, of course, the final arbiter of how the symbols look, but I was responsible for presenting him with something he could accept, reject or change. For example, I decided to make the free corners of each flag a little more pointy by curving the external vertical slightly inwards, and decided on the exact shape of the serifs on the dynamics. Those are the little details that make all the difference when creating something which has character and is easy to read. Compare, for example, XI: System 3 of Model C (handwriting) with XI (Model A) (FreeHand).

PR: How come you started programming in 1981?

JI: After the performance of my Vectors at Donaueschingen 1978, Nicholas Snowman gave me a commission to write a piece for the Ensemble Intercontemporain. I’m interested in algorithmic composition, and was working on beyond the symbolic when personal computers first came on the market. I could see that this was exactly what I needed to implement and develop the algorithms I was using, so I asked Stockhausen to lend me the money to buy an Apple II.
The piece was performed in Paris in 1982. Boulez, Stockhausen and Birtwistle were in the audience. The conductor was Sylvain Cambreling.
The piece is a single, large, complex data structure - like a protein. But as a result of the notation, the players are forced into a temporal interpretation of the symbols not unlike the performance practice of late Romantic music. It would go nicely in a concert with Verklärte Nacht. The audience booed, Birtwistle said it sounded “very un-French”, Stockhausen was polite - “...like walking through a forest.”, Boulez said nothing. We had had a week of rehearsals, but the performance was the first complete run-through. I think Sylvain Cambreling only began to understand what it was all about half way through. His parting words to me in the foyer afterwards were “I’m so sorry.” But the piece led directly to The Notation of Time.

PR: And so what happened to you after 2000?

JI: I wrote to all the major publishers, looking for work. Peters Edition in Frankfurt eventually gave me Silvestrov's Eschatophonie Symphony and ’Cello Sonata, but then dried up again. Major composers already have their personal copyists, and publishers of other written music now expect composers to be amateur engravers who deliver thier own scores and parts - usually in Finale or Sibelius format. This does not help generate the kind of conceptual expansion in the composers' minds, which for me is the reason for doing Art. Composers whose mind-set is determined by the 19th century conventionalities of standard software are not likely to produce anything very startling.
One nice project I landed was an invitation from Curtis Roads to read an updated version of The Notation of Time to a small group of people at his Create Institute at the University of Santa Barbara in California. He subsequently commissioned me to make a symbolic transcription of his Sonal Atoms (electronic music), leaving me free to use any notation I liked. We corresponded while I was doing it, and the result was conceptually the most advanced score I had ever written - including any of my or Stockhausen’s music.
Through connections made at the Centro Tempo Reale seminar, I eventually met Hartmut Ring, who is the programmer of the capella music notation editor. Hartmut gave me a consultancy agreement and, together with Hans-Ulrich Werner of capella-software, a new Windows laptop. I signed a non-disclosure agreement with them, which is one of the reasons my website went off line in 2005. That consultancy has now ended (very amicably). I learned a lot from Hartmut, and thank him very much for the time we were working together. I am still watching capella closely, and keeping my software compatible with theirs.

PR: May I ask you more about your own current work?

JI: I’m programming (C# and .NET), using the free edition of Microsoft’s Visual Studio programming environment. About a year ago, I started work on Moritz, which is a patch editor with which I want to connect all the threads of my previous work (including algorithmic composition). Among other things, Moritz can currently be configured to be a MIDI device which simultaneously listens to MIDI input and follows a score, outputting MIDI instructions.

PR: I don’t quite understand, but this sounds as if it might be very useful for other composers.

JI: I certainly hope it will, but I’m very isolated at the moment, so who knows if Moritz, or the concepts involved, will ever be used by anyone else. I’m hoping to put my website back up, and rejoin the community, once I’ve tested everything enough. I want to produce some good demonstration files - and a new composition. The “Who needs it?” problem is something we all have to face.

PR: Could you explain what Moritz does?

JI: I’m currently working on “power-performance”. As the score is performed, by a real performer, events are triggered when the score calls for them. To give a simple example: the software can replace the man who pulls the stops for an organist. When the performer gets to a particular point in the score, the registration can be changed automatically because the software knows where the performer is in the score, and can interpret any information which occurs at that point. I’ve nearly finished implementing the whole MIDI specification as a simple language which can be written (as text attachments to chords) into any score. Other kinds of event, such as accompaniments or ornaments are also possible.
In principle, any kind of precomposed event can simply be written into a score so that it happens at a time which is relative to the time of the other symbols (a time determined by the performer). Performers are freed of mechanical time. Detailed timing (phrasing etc.) becomes a matter of learned performance practice and interpretation. I think musical comprehension requires a comparision of a particular interpretation with previously known interpretations.
Symbolic music notation is a far more powerful tool than space-time notation (as still used in sequencers and other post-recording software like ProTools), since it can be used in real-time applications, to develop grammars and to compose large forms. (The development of western harmony and counterpoint would have been impossible without the use of writing.) A score is a purely spatial object which can be read. Time is something a performer does. The complex connection between the image of the graphics in the performer’s mind and what the performer does, is in the performers head not on the page. For me, time and the use of symbols are just brain strategies for reducing complexity. But I’m beginning to repeat myself. What are you doing now?

PR: I’m still working on some Berio scores which have yet to be engraved. I have also been doing some Boulez, BirtwistleUE2 and Feldman. Isn’t it odd, that you should have started off with Birtwistle and Feldman before moving on to Stockhausen, while I started with Berio and moved on to them!
During January (2008), Boulez is conducting a group of 4 short orchestral pieces which I engraved ca. 2 years ago (called Entrata, Fanfara, Festum and Encore) which Berio had written over the years. They never get played because they are for big orchestras and only last ca. 3 minutes each. In a way they are a little like Boulez’s Notations. Normally they are impossible to programme for an orchestra. I had the idea to perform them as a sort of cycle (there are many reasons which link them together) and I even suggested to UE to pass on the idea to Boulez. After a long wait Boulez replied with great enthusiasm and has even given the group a title – Quatre dédicaces. He is presenting them in Chicago and a couple of days later in Carnegie Hall. (Of course I don’t get any credit for this.)

JI: Of course not! You are supposed to be invisible too!

PR: May I pick your brains? Could you recommend a selection of Stockhausen’s later pieces (after Harlekin) which you consider as good as – if not better than – his earlier music. I know the Helicopter Quartet which I think is a very interesting piece (all the intense tremolandi remind me of Berio).

JI: Generally, I prefer the pieces written before I joined him, but that may be because I’m getting older too. Here’s a selection of pieces I like, written after 1969. The list is a bit arbitrary, but the following are well worth knowing.

Mantra (1970): I agree with Robin Maconie, that this piece is a masterpiece. Its a turning point which, for me at least, marks the end of the Avant-Garde period. With this piece, he (like many other composers in 1970), relapsed into 19th century notation. They had no choice, except to give up their careers. Contrary to contemporary Avant-Garde wisdom, it is not possible to create new sounding music just by changing the shapes of the symbols, and the use of unconventional notations means that one needs impractical amounts of rehearsal time. Stockhausen underlines the bourgeois aspects of this piece by insisting that the performers wear tails. The contrast with hippies sitting cross-legged on cushions, listening to Aus den Sieben Tagen at the 1970 Osaka World Fair could not be greater. Incidentally, the last job Stockhausen ever gave me was to make a few minor corrections to the pencil originals. The corrections were so trivial, that I'm sure this was an allusion to our long-term, underlying dispute over music notation. He could just as well have done the corrections himself.2

Trans (1971): Liked the dream and the veiled sound. I notasetted the score 1975-6. Unfortunately, I have never experienced a live performance.

Unsichtbare Chöre (1979): Multitracked choirs. This was created in 1979 as a background tape for Acts I and III of Donnerstag aus Licht, but is available separately on CD. The printed score, like the whole of Donnerstag, is in my handwriting (pen and ink). The production of the original choir material was one of the rare panics we had after Inori. Acccording to my records, I worked 11 hours a day (that’s not including time taken eating) for 31 consecutive days. The WDR Choir had been booked, and they ended up snatching the material off my desk as fast as I could write, rehearsing and recording what I had written the previous day. Stockhausen dedicated the piece to me just before it went to the printers in 1986. (A couple of years after The Notation of Time.) They played it at his funeral. One of the interesting things about the Unsichtbare Chöre is its tuning. The tracks were recorded separately, and later mixed together, so the choir cant always hear itself. As a result, the tuning is sometimes a bit “wrong”. Choirs of angels as in a medieval painting. I like it best when played at a low dynamic. Its better if the angels stay out of sight...

Vision (1980): The final scene from Donnerstag. Classic Licht. Combination of ritual music and gesture. Unfortunately one cant see Vision while listening to the CD.

Montags-Gruss (1986/1988): A multitrack re-mix of Xi for basset-horn. The basset-horn is played back at different speeds and pitches. Underwater music, played in the foyer before a performance of Montag aus Licht. I found the opera itself dreadfully boring, but the Gruss was nice. Xi is an interesting piece in itself, from a notation point of view. Extreme tuplets and microtones etc. Shows how he thought about time and standard notation. Xi was one of my last pen-and-ink scores before the Stockhausen-Verlag got computerised.

Freitag aus Licht (1991-94): My favorite of the operas. Possibly because it is partly about the marriage of people and machines. Its his reaction to the advent of computers (which intelligence uses to seduce us). Possibly also because of its ambiguities and its being sometimes so politically incorrect that one has to laugh (the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate). Also because of Johannes Conen’s fantasic stage realization, and because Freitag-Versuchung is technically the most advanced score I produced for Stockhausen (full use of all my experience and software). Michael Manion did the basic work of creating the initial Finale files, but it was a long way from there to the final score! The score also contains a full photographic record of the production, and is heartily to be recommended. (Buy it! Buy it! Here!)
The piece is a good example of the danger into which his absolute trust in his intuition could lead him. The piece ends with a beautiful “auto-da-fé”, with mixed-race beings (“bastards”) being ceremoniously burned. Kathinka calls “Do you all repent?”, but we are not told why they should repent. Nobody notices what’s happening (if Stockhausen notices, he does not care) because he does his best, as always, to make things as beautiful as possible.

Lichter-Wasser (1998-99): Great piece, great performance at Donaueschingen 1999. Most of the time, the players are standing at isolated points in among the audience. They play single pitches from melodies which thus move around in space. Real Klangfarben- and Raum-Melodien. There are many passages which have the delicacy of the 1950s avant-garde. In practice, this piece can only really be understood in a real performance in real space. As with Vision, the CD cant do it full justice. The instrumental parts posed an interesting problem. In order to link the melodies, the performers not only had to know where in the melody their note came, but they also had to match the linked notes’ dynamics more exactly than can be easily notated... After solving the problem with the parts, the performed dynamics were solved during extensive rehearsals.

Studie II (1954): Great piece. I made a new edition of the score in 2000 (using FreeHand) because the original plates had deteriorated so much by being repeatedly re-photographed since the mid 1950s. There were a couple of mistakes in the original score, which we corrected. Stockhausen prefered his original version of the tape (in which the faders were adjusted by hand) to the computer-generated versions which he heard later. Remember the shock when we first heard Bach played literally? This is an important piece in the history of space-time notation. Funny that I had to distort the time axis – to make space for the numbers...


Appendix 1: Footnotes
1: For me, all music written since 1970 (e.g. the New Complexity or the Minimal Music of Reich, Riley etc.) has to be seen against this background. It is, as it were, the answer to the question
"What can be achieved with standard notation, without calling its 19th century interpretation concepts into question?"
Since the interpretation concepts were left unchallenged in 1970, written music stopped developing. The development of written music depends on getting beyond the 19th century's Newtonian, mechanical paradigm for absolute time. Stockhausen remained embedded in that old tradition, as can be seen from his use of metronome marks (see the Inori example above).
See: The Notation of Time (1985) or Inherited Problems (2002).
2: Antonio Pérez Abellán told me at Stockhausen's funeral, that Momente went to press the day before he died. Remember that Momente was the original reason for my contact with Stockhausen. (I notasetted the D-Momente for UE during the 1970s, but they eventually sold the score back to Stockhausen - sometime during the 1990s, I think. I have not yet seen the printed score, so I dont know if my D-Momente were ultimately used or not.) Remember also, that Momente is exclusively about love.

Appendix 2: Universal Edition music examples (© Universal Edition, used by kind permission)

James Ingram: These examples are from the first two scores I ever made professionally.
Before doing On Time and the Instrumental Factor, Bill Colleran took me to an interview with Dr. Alfred Kalmus – the redoubtable “Dr. K.” – at which I showed him some demonstration pages of Birtwistle’s Medusa. (Birtwistle withdrew Medusa soon after the first performance – for which I had copied some of the instrumental parts.)
feldman.thumb.png Morton Feldman: On Time and the Instrumental Factor for Orchestra
Page 1 of the score: Set by James Ingram (1970) with pen, ink, Letraset and Notasetsmall    middle    large
George Mowat-Brown was the proof-reader/editor for this and all my other UE scores.
Other Feldman scores we did together include: madam press died last week at ninety, i met heine on the rue fürstenberg, the viola in my life (1), the viola in my life (2), the viola in my life (3). We reversed roles for rothko chapel: George did the notasetting, I proof read. For some reason, the viola in my life (4) was done by someone else (I dont know who).
cantata.thumb.png
Harrison Birtwistle: Cantata for Soprano and Instruments
Page 6 of the score: Set by James Ingram (1970) with pen, ink, Letraset and Notaset.  small    middle    large   
Other Birtwistle scores George and I did together include: Nenia: The Death of Orpheus and The Fields of Sorrow. I also “rescued” the score of Verses for Ensembles. The firm which had started the score gave up, so I had to do several missing pages and add all the diagrams showing the positions of the soloists.
Both George and I played in the first performance of The Fields of Sorrow, Dartington, 1971. I played the horn, George the alto flute.

Paul Roberts: The following examples are from two scores I prepared for UE relatively recently.
Birtwistle was commissioned for a new piece for the grand opening of the restored Royal Festival Hall at the South Bank. For several years now he has been published by Boosey and Hawkes, but for this occasion he wanted to revise a beautiful little piece Ritual Fragment which he wrote for the Michael Vyner memorial concert back in May 1990. Luckily for me that was still a UE piece. The deadline for Cortege was pretty tight, and I produced both the score and parts. The score and parts are complex because this is performed without a conductor. I really enjoyed the challenge – it was very like preparing a new score for a Berio première. I received the pages of the score part by part as Birtwistle finished them and as the deadline loomed closer and closer. I met Birtwistle in Milan last September at a performance of Cortege, and he was very pleased with this score.
cortege.thumb.png Harrison Birtwistle: Cortege a ceremony for 14 musicians
Page 3: Set by Paul Roberts (April/May 2007) using Finale 2003.
small    middle    large   

PR: Frontispice. I have always wanted to do something by Boulez. Again, for the challenge and profile. This is an orchestration of a tiny little-known piece by Ravel (originally for 2 pianos, 5 hands). This is the only orchestration by Boulez of another composer’s work, and I like this idea because it gives the possibility to compare his approach with Berio’s. UE wanted, or rather needed this score doing because the original is difficult for conductors to read. Boulez’s orchestration was really for the EIC, which means it uses only solo strings. I like to think that it is thanks to this new score that Boulez then decided to revise a few details in the strings [which he did directly on a provisional copy] so that it can be performed by a full orchestra. In fact, now there are 2 versions: the original for solo strings, and one for full orchestra.
frontispice.thumb.png Pierre Boulez: Orchestration (1987) of Frontispice by Maurice Ravel
Page 1: Set by Paul Roberts (May 2006 / June 2007) using Finale 2003.
small    middle    large   


Appendix 3: Miscellaneous photographs
1976KhAndJamesSnow
Kürten, January 1976.

Stockhausen lent me his house while I was working on my Vectors - eventually performed at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1978. He was originally intending to be in Nicaragua with Suzee for a few weeks, but came back unexpectedly - with the first version of Harlekin.



1976Hagemann1_500.jpg
Kürten, January 1976, with Frau Hagemann and sun-candle.

Stockhausen was working on Sirius (using his Tierkreis melodies). He was a Leo, which has the Sun as its ‘planet’.



1990Moskow
March, 1990. Markus Stockhausen, James Ingram, Mikail Prosniakov.

The Stockhausen Ensemble had been invited to give a series of concerts in Moscow. Having nothing to do officially, I spent a week looking round the city and going to concerts in the evenings. The photo was taken in the bus which picked us up at Moskow airport.



2000TalkingToAWall262.jpg
2000, talking to a wall


Appendix 4: Photographers
(main text)
Kürten 1974. Inori with George Mowat-Brown
Frau Hagemann
Summer 1974, Inori
Kürten, spring 1976. Karlheinz Stockhausen and James Ingram (in the dark)
Kürten 1974, with Suzee Stephens
Luciano Berio and Paul Roberts (1992)
Karlsbad 1994
Suzee Stephens
Suzee Stephens or Karlheinz Stockhausen
Frau Hagemann
Suzee Stephens
Karlheinz Stockhausen
unknown
Heinz Grunst
(appendix)
Kürten, January 1976
Kürten, January 1976, with Frau Hagemann and sun-candle
March, 1990. Markus Stockhausen, James Ingram, Michael Prosniakov
2000, talking to a wall
Suzee Stephens
Suzee Stephens or Karlheinz Stockhausen
unknown
Heinz Grunst