Stockhausen INORI

Overview and detailed guide


for one or two soloists and orchestra

The composer:

"The Japanese word INORI means prayer, invocation, adoration. [...] The dancer-mime performs gestures of prayer synchronous with the music of the orchestra. These prayer gestures are notated in the same way as the parts for the orchestral musicians. [...] The soloist or soloists kneels, sits, stands on a high podium near the front edge of the stage. [...]

"Since the part of the "mute" dancer-mime is also realized in sound in the orchestra, the structure of INORI remains completely clear when one only hears the work. It is, however advisable to experience a performance of INORI with one or two dancer-mimes, because then, the power of the musical prayer is revealed in a special way. [...]

"The entire work evolves from a basic form (formula) which was composed first. [...] In its original form it lasts about one minute. [...]

"In the first section, the rhythm unfolds and develops; in the second section, the dynamics; in the third section, the melody; in the fourth, the harmony; and in the fifth, polyphony.

"Thus the entire work develops like a history of music, from its primeval beginnings until the present."


The beginnings of music are portrayed in the first sections of INORI and indeed, for a long time the sound and flow of the work shows a captivating primeval quality that almost evokes associations with the beginnings of nature on earth. The music is very static at the beginning; later it proceeds in more fluid motion, but for the most part of the work, the music remains slowly moving. Often the flow is marked by disruptions in movement and by pauses, but the music always finds its way due to its incisive, inherently unstoppable power. The sound dwells in colors that are subdued, but shine with a mysterious gleam from within.

Only very late, in the last section polyphony, the music aquires a highly dynamic and agile flow that gradually becomes fast, and already in the previous section harmony a brightening of orchestral colors had occurred which finally will lead into radiance.

The slow motion of the music through most of its length is supportive of its character of prayer. The prayer gestures of the dancer-mimes are gathered from religions all over the world, and also from ancient religious cultures. The prayer gestures (to be experienced on a video from Stockhausen-Verlag, see below) serve the expression of religious contemplation and ecstasy, and also the visualization of musical processes: all aspects of INORI as a musical prayer.

The palette of orchestral sound is stunning. It is amazing which unheard-of colors Stockhausen conjures up from the orchestra. INORI shows in a highly impressive manner that Stockhausen also is a brilliant orchestrator for "traditional", undivided, large orchestra (as opposed to the 3 orchestras in GRUPPEN, for example). The instrumental palette is enhanced somewhat above the usual one, however, with light percussion instruments, most notably with a set of chromatically tuned Japanese rin (metal cups that are used in temple ceremonies). A piano plays an important role in some passages as well. Furthermore, Stockhausen proves with INORI that he is a consummate master in the blending of instrumental colors into entirely new ones, an art which he also shows in other works, for example in LUZIFERs TANZ (Lucifer's Dance, from SAMSTAG aus LICHT).

The gleam of the music from within, the chromaticism in the section harmony and the blending of orchestral colors perhaps are somewhat influenced by the soundworld of Messiaen. However, if there is a remote influence, it cannot detract from the awareness that the sound colors of INORI are completely unique. In fact, the distinctive sound of INORI, in an intimate union with the structural and spiritual qualities, is an important factor why the music is able to draw in the listener so powerfully, time and time again.

As outlined above by the composer, the work is built around a formula which in its original form lasts about one minute. The formula melody sounds particularly beautiful and unfolds in an effortless and natural manner, yet with intervallic functions which clearly distinguish it from tonal sounding melodies. It has a very own, compelling attractiveness. Once the formula melody is intimately known, it is impossible to forget. It is so memorable that its presence immediately struck me after a few seconds (the first few notes) when it appeared completely unexpected to me upon first listening to JAHRESLAUF from DIENSTAG aus LICHT, in the middle of an uninterrupted flow of music. After the fact I looked up that it is played there (by a soprano saxophone) under the humble title "2nd formula".

The formula not only constitutes a melodic form on a small scale, it also provides the musical parameters for the large scale form of the entire work. INORI is an especially telling and vivid formation of a composition as an organic process of growing, with the formula driving it as a kind of genetic code. The process of unfolding is a single one from beginning to end, and there are no pauses between sections.

In fact, to my knowledge INORI is the biggest orchestral process of unfolding of one single musical argument ever written (it lasts 72 min.). Evidently, also other composers have built vast orchestral structures, some even lasting longer. Here immediately come to mind a few of the marvelous symphonies of Bruckner and several of the symphonies of Mahler which are building an encompassing own world in a powerful manner. But as much as Bruckner's and Mahler's symphonies are imbued with majestic breath, these works still are divided into, albeit connected, movements. INORI however unfolds in one single breath, with each section closely and unseparably building on the previous one(s). Also, the movements in Bruckner and Mahler develop several musical arguments, as does the remarkable single-movement 9th symphony by Allan Pettersson (1970) with a length of 70 min. INORI however, through an enormous variety of proceedings, develops one single argument: its formula. Certainly, as generally and deeply the vast musical breath in Bruckner and Mahler is admired and loved (also by this listener), Stockhausen's INORI is as impressive and unforgettable in large-scale proceedings as the best examples of these other great composers.

Slowly unfolding during the time span of the entire work (with the exception of a reversal of the process at the very end), the overall development of the music very gradually goes from static sounds to dynamic motion with an extra boost in the section polyphony , from moderate dynamic levels to fully excited bloom of orchestral sound, and in terms of prayer from inward concentration to absolute ecstasy.

The slow opening up of the music during the work is mirrored in the development of the presentation of the formula. At first, the second part of the formula, with its characteristic very low and very high notes, is presented as compressed in pitch towards the middle of the pitch range. Only quite late, in the section melody, the formula appears in uncompressed form for the first time. It is a compelling idea of the composer to mirror the opening-up of the music, which takes place on the large scale, in the treatment of the melodic line of the formula on a small scale.


INORI is available on Stockhausen-Verlag CD 22. The playing of the orchestra (Symphony Orchestra of the Southwest German Radio in Baden-Baden under the direction of the composer) is magnificent, and so is the recorded sound. The 1978 recording is clear, believable in timbre and features a relatively close-up perspective, allowing for every detail to shine through with ease. It has a remarkably open, uncongested quality which becomes particularly evident when played loudly, at or close to realistic levels, since it keeps that characteristic under those circumstances (if the quality of the playback equipment allows). The incisive, very lively dynamics of the recording, superbly reproducing attacks, enhance the effect.

Also recommended to the interested listener are two videos from Stockhausen-Verlag:

1) LECTURE on HU, a partially sung analysis of the music and the prayer gestures of INORI, in a performance by Kathinka Pasveer who presents the entire 80-minute analysis by heart (!), available in English or in German. I have seen the video performance of the German version, which is admirable, and I assume that the performance of the English version is of similar high quality.

2) A performance for two dancer-mimes and tape (using the same recording as the CD), where the work can be experienced with the prayer gestures. Alain Louafi and Kathinka Pasveer perform the complex and often rapid successions of ever-changing prayer gestures with, in practical terms, absolute synchronicity: An impressive demonstration of their being one with the music.

The following, more detailed description of the musical process in INORI was entirely written before I saw the video, and comments about the dancer-mime performance were only added later. That the reflection of certain comments about the music is found in the prayer gestures only confirms that the music speaks a powerful language on its own. However, seeing a performance adds an enforcing and further enlivening element to the experience of INORI.

Comments by the composer are taken either from the CD booklet or from LECTURE on HU.



The composer:

"In the genesis of rhythm, individual durations from the formula begin one by one to pulsate regularly, and in the process, each duration acquires a tempo of its own. Timbre and prayer gesture change with each tempo; thus, at first they exclusively serve the rhythmic development only very late in the course of the work do they become independent at some points."

This first, long part (7 min.), the genesis of rhythm, must belong to the most unusual music you will ever hear. The music seems to move very little, and hardly to change at all. The orchestra plays the note Hu (a G) as a drawn-out predominant tone which does not change during the whole section, not in its pitch and very little in its sound color. The moderate dynamic level of the music does not change, it is static. The orchestra lays out long-stretched planes of sound on this note Hu, interrupted by short general pauses after which the music restarts practically the same way it ended before them. This combination of drawn-out planes of sound and short pauses apparently defines a rhythm which is an immensely slower moving one than what we normally associate with the term rhythm. The pauses arrive in irregular distances from each other, adding tension to a process which apparently is related to the durations within the formula. At some points the pauses are substituted by ghost-like regular pulses in shimmering percussion.

Things that do change in the music, apart from the varying durations of music between pauses, do so very slowly or subtly. Mostly, light percussion provides carefully timed small subdivisions of durations. The regular pulsations of which the composer speaks above occur very unobtrusively, inviting to listen closely. Although the timbre in the central, dominating G remains almost unchanged, the sound color of the music as a whole often mutates in a delicate way. It does so in chords in lower registers which foreshadow the notes of the formula that will later be heard. The shaping of the music by those chords is fascinating: when they change within the stretched-out planes of sound they are often carried through the following general pause unaltered into the next segment, at times even over several pauses. Sometimes, however, a general pause in the music is the trigger for a chord change once the music resumes. Following the fate of those chords through the music and its pauses can be mesmerizing.

This is a type of music which seems to be written in the spirit of what the composer says about CARRÉ (booklet to CD 5): "It is necessary to take time if one wishes to absorb this music; most of the changes take place very gently INSIDE the sound." Other works by Stockhausen are written in this spirit as well; a few examples are: EVA-GRUSS (Eve's greeting; from MONTAG aus LICHT), certain elements in the music of STIMMUNG, and WELTRAUM (electronic music of FREITAG aus LICHT). With EVA-GRUSS and WELTRAUM the beginning of INORI shares the extreme stretching of the time layers that we normally associate with music.

In terms of the musical prayer which INORI is, the work appears to start from inward concentration, listening to the voice of God inside. This is also reflected in the prayer gestures which are directed more inwards; the dancer-mimes kneel on the floor, resting on their heels. The prayer gestures mark the general pauses of the orchestra and the appearance of the different subtle regular pulsations and chord changes.

At once the music gains somewhat more vibration and undergoes greater speed of change when, after the genesis of rhythm, the part evolution of rhythm enters without interruption (as mentioned before, all parts of the work follow each other without breaks). The prayer gestures of the dancer mimes open up dramatically.

The prominent G is continued, yet now it is not only heard in drawn-out notes, but also in shorter pulses. Just like in the previous section and here, the central G will keep on playing an important role in the work, as the holy tone Hu. It will exhibit a continuous presence (for the first 27 min.) until the melody is generated in the section melody.

Alongside the G other notes are heard. A very slow variant of the formula melody unfolds here in a manner where the individual notes rhythmically pulsate in different tempi. Although now the music moves quicker than before, it is still in slow motion (the formula variant unfolds about 3 times slower than the basic form). The formula melody is hinted at, rather than developed in full. The presentation of the first half of the formula most closely resembles the original melody, whereas the presentation of the second part of the formula compresses the pitches of the formula from its fully developed form as heard later in the work towards the middle of the pitch range. This second part of the formula contains a distinctive repeat of notes on one pitch (the lowest pitch of the formula) and, on the highest pitches of the formula, a characteristic zigzag sequence of notes going up and down in small intervals. The basic traits of these figures are also hinted at in the pitch-compressed form presented here. The slowly moving, each note or phrase gently aproaching treatment of the formula is beautiful and delicate, with marvelous and trembling orchestral sonorities.

In the following echo, the dominant G somewhat recedes towards the background in favor of powerfully striding, carefully and to captivating effect timed figures in the piano, which are mostly ascending. These figures represent the echo sequence in the middle of the formula. In wind instruments, other echo figures are heard as well. The ascending figures in the piano, slow as they are, still accelerate the pitch motion in the music to a dramatic extent; the music moves through the pitch scale much faster and with brighter colors than ever before so far. This gives a clear effect of sudden opening-up of the music, albeit in a limited way.

In this passage the dancer-mimes remain, after initial outward movement of their arms, in one praying position, with arms held towards their bodies. A similar scenario will be repeated in all the echo passages. In this echo, the position of the dancer-mimes on the floor remains the same as it had been throughout since the beginning kneeling on the floor, resting on their heels.

This is followed by an orchestra pause, in which the prayer performer(s) have soli. The orchestra, dominated by the sound of the piano and the resonance of the rin, only plays at moments where it normally would make a pause. As in this and in all the following orchestra pauses, the prayer gestures during the silences of the orchestra are lively and expressive.


After the first section of INORI, which was dedicated to the development of rhythm, the next section is dedicated to the development of dynamics. The composer:

"The development of the dynamic levels and dynamic envelopes of the individual durations is based on scales of dynamics. These scales have 60 degrees between extremely soft and extremely loud. [...] In the genesis of the dynamic section, each pitch of the formula gradually receives its own dynamic and dynamic envelope."

This process in the dynamic genesis mainly takes place in lower-registered sections of the orchestra; the overall timbre gradually brightens. The central G also changes in dynamics, with swelling and deflating, and sometimes with suddenly attacking surges of volume all to powerful effect. The sound of this whole part is remarkable; the process of growth of the musical organism acquires here an exciting visceral palpability. It almost sounds like a big prehistoric animal shedding itself from a cocoon. The nearly primeval, slowly moving physicality of this music is gripping.

The prayer gestures of the dancer-mimes in the entire section dynamics emphasize visually the different dynamic grades of notes by moving the arms further away from the body (louder) or pulling them more towards the body (softer), which adds drama to the music. The dancer-mimes will continue this representation of dynamics throughout the remainder of the work.

At the beginning of the dynamic evolution, the formula melody is played in its entirety (albeit in pitch-compressed form, see above) with the final dynamic values for each note. Hearing the complete formula melody after the fragments from the dynamic genesis gives a clear feeling of a new phase, of release. The unfolding of the formula is accompanied by ostinato-like pulses which give the music a trembling, oscillating quality. The embedding of these pulses into the overall sound envelope is so immaculate that it seems, to extraordinary effect, that the formula itself is trembling.

After the presentation of the formula, the ostinato-like pulses are released into leading their own life, and they become the main part of the musical fabric for quite a while. Now these pulses are heard in intriguing sound textures both in low and high registers pressing and darkly forceful in the low registers, glisteningly soaring in the high registers. Thus, the music moves forward in two streaming sound planes quite distanced from each other in pitch and color, but unified by their rhythmic character. The function of the pulses in high and low registers is that, as the composer says, in two time layers manyfold dynamic curves are deduced from the formula. This can also be seen in the movements of the dancer-mimes.

In between those two sound planes is embedded a third plane: the central, long-drawn G. It undergoes lively mutations in volume and sound color which add sharpness to the texture; however, overall the central G now plays a more supportive role than a prominent one.

The ostinato-like musical motions in both low and high registers undergo changes in speed of propulsion. Furthermore, the degree of presence varies due to dynamic swelling and deflating; also, at times either one of these motions is emphasized by silencing of the other. After some time the central G is fleshed out from the musical texture to become, in fast rhythmic propulsion, the leading voice at the end of the dynamic evolution, where "the through-composed decrescendo-crescendo of the entire orchestra appears twice: once stretched out over 55 seconds and once compressed into 15 seconds" (the composer). This decrescendo-crescendo motion has an impressive visceral quality, for a large part due to the constant, fast rhythmic pulse through the music.

In the following echo, aleatoric string flageolets are heard, as well as soft trumpet figures (as the video LECTURE on HU mentions, they are notated as "softly igniting fire"), and above those, figures in high-pitched rin. The central G remains present. Later echo figures briefly appear in winds, and then the piano plays figures that in phrasing are reminiscent of the echo passage in the section rhythm. In this echo the dancer-mimes change their positioning on the floor for the first time into an upright kneeling position.

The ensuing orchestra pause (with prayer-soli like all orchestra pauses) has a similar character as the first one in the section rhythm, but stretches the pitch contrasts by setting lower pitches on the piano against the high pitches of the rin. The dancer-mimes return to their original positioning on the floor.


In the genesis of melody there are several successive passages through the formula, six in total. As already before, on the occasions where the entire formula was played in the previous two sections rhythm and dynamics, the first passages through the formula are in pitch-compressed form. But more than that: at first, entire motivic figures are either left out or only hinted at in a beautifully subtle way.

Those gentle, cautious approaches to the final form of the formula are mesmerizing in their effect and truly relish the precious moments. Not only are the final shapes of figures at first still concealed by alterations or deletions, also the subtle harmonizations and the illusion-inducing use and change of orchestral colors play a marvelous role in obscuring or "bending" shapes.

During the multiple passages through the formula more and more of the final shapes of figures and of the final pitches is revealed until, during the last presentation, the decisive breakthrough is achieved: the very low and very high pitches in the second part of the formula show themselves, impressively unveiling the gestural power of the figures in that part once the pitch range is expanded. The melodic shape of the final form of the formula, now uncompressed, has been fleshed out.

The prayer gestures change colorfully during each passage through the formula, and become the most expressive during the presentation of the final form of the formula in the last passage, showing the opening-up of the formula at this point.

In the ensuing orchestra pause single chords, separated by long pauses, are played in the orchestra, which builds on the singing sonorities heard in the genesis of melody and in the process largely pushes the piano part into the background, yet uses the supporting resonances of the rin. The rin here play on varying pitches.

(The evolution of the melody will take place later, in the section polyphony.)


The presence of harmony is an event of extraordinary intensity. After a cutting crescendo, the formula is presented once in its entirety; it is played in fully saturated harmonies and, in brightly glowing colors, up to maximum loudness of the entire orchestra. As the composer points out, each tone is harmonized with at least two tonalities; the chords mostly contain 7 notes (LECTURE on HU). Even more so than in the presentation of the formula at the beginning of dynamic evolution, ostinato pulses add a trembling incisiveness to the music (they stand more on their own) and enhance the cutting power of the moment. The formula is indeed made "present" in an unforgettable manner, illuminated by glowing musical force.

The intensity of this moment is reflected by the dancer-mimes who stand up for the first time during the work, after they had been kneeling or sitting on the floor.

In the orchestra pause the lingering resonances of the rin (again playing on varying pitches) fill the silence, while at a few selected moments the orchestra briefly plays saturated chords with those brightly glowing colors just heard in "presence". The power of these chords keeps command over the music even after they have sounded.

A mighty sweep of sound introduces the long echo in this section, which then however remains soft in character. This passage echoes the illumination of the music from within as it had taken place in presence. Softly played chords weave layers of sound through the music, while in muted high-pitched strings figures are heard that circle around small intervals; they provide a nearly static sphere. High-pitched percussion shines, and light woodwind figures (showing remarkable blending of colors) add to the luminescence of the music. Through the bright, soft gleaming of this whole fabric the piano strides with ascending figures which represent the echo sequence in the middle of the formula, just like in the echo of the section rhythm, and contrasts the orchestral texture with more earthy elements of sound. Towards the end, as they are played in the higher registers of the piano, these figures acquire a pearling character. Sporadic standstills of the music enhance the awareness of its static component.

At the beginning of this echo, the dancer mimes again sit on the floor, and as during all the echos, their prayer gestures hardly change over time. Only in a slow, step-wise process their arms open up, while towards the very end they move closer to the body again.


(This section has no genesis since the melodic material already was generated.)

Right at the beginning of this section (Evolution 1), a newly won freedom of musical fluidity becomes clear. This new, in particular melodic, fluidity beautifully goes hand in hand with the splitting of the music into independent lower, middle and high registers, which of course results in polyphony according to the title of the section.

The composer:

"In Evolution 1, the formula is transposed four times, to G sharp, F, E and A melodically and rhythmically. In Evolution 1 in fact there are three polyphonic layers; in the lower register, which is the predominant one and the only one which pulsates rhythmically, in the middle register and in the high register."

Relatively quickly the layer in the lower register (sounding mainly in lower strings), which will dominate the sound picture, becomes evident. It moves in rhythmically vivid staccato figures, whereas the music in higher registers flows more leisurely and smoothly. A unique atmosphere is created by the fact that although rhythmically vivid, the layer in lower registers moves within a relatively restricted pitch range in small intervals.

This layer moves forward with incisiveness, yet not with the common kind of forward-pressing energy but as if it wanted to carve out a path in musical space, with emphasis engraving every note into it. The music in the middle and high registers follows suit, floating on top of the path of energy carved out by the lower registers, but mostly not participating in its generation. Rather, it is the main carrier of fluidity.

The flow of the music, however, is not uniform. A few times it comes to an abrupt standstill, only to gain even more energy thereafter. At several moments the ascending echo sequence in the middle of the formula also leads to an introspection of the music's motion, when the lower strings play alone for its presentation. During the course of Evolution 1, the middle and high registers gradually gain a more commanding presence.

The dancer-mimes sit on the floor, with the prayer gestures in arms and heads at first largely directed towards it. The combination of the direction of the prayer gestures towards the floor with the prominence of lower registers in the music is powerful. The slow shifting of emphasis towards higher registers during the course of Evolution 1 is reflected in the gradual opening up of the prayer gestures towards heaven. Only at the end, they close in again.

A falling figure in the lower strings leads to Evolution 2. The composer:

"Here the formula is expanded rhythmically and melodically, in three layers; this time the bass layer and the middle layer pulsate in polyphonic tempi."

Evolution 2 begins in a dark tone when in lower registers the beginning notes of the formula are played gravely. But soon a moto perpetuo in higher strings is heard which, when it starts to play more freely, helps to quickly raise the music towards a climactic plateau. From there on the musical flow becomes very free, far more even than in Evolution 1, and there is a remarkable opening towards radiance of orchestral colors. This rapid transition towards opening up of the music is a miracle of seamlessness.

The effect is extraordinary: It is as if the music, thus far proceeding in measured movement, suddenly has broken all chains which had prevented it from running through musical space without any limits.

During the opening-up of the music, the dancer-mimes switch from sitting position, with heads and arms directed towards the floor, to kneeling position. Their prayer gestures become more lively and outward-oriented in direct reflection of the music, a process that will continue the further Evolution 2 develops.

The sudden opening-up of the music, after such a long time of measured motion from the very beginning up to this point, seems to me a reflection of what Stockhausen said about the Japanese experience of time upon visiting the country in 1966 and absorbing its culture:

"Whereas people in Europe always lay stress on transitions, on musical bridge-passages, for a Japanese the typical temporal sequence is a sudden leap from one time layer to the other, and indeed to extreme opposites"...

(quoted from the Stockhausen biography by Michael Kurtz, publisher Faber & Faber, p. 144).

Following the opening up of the music, figures in quasi moto perpetuo continue on a more excited, forward-driving level, and after a while a step-wise rising figure in high-registered strings paves the way for the music to reach an even greater level of excitation, supported by a heavier presence of brass and high-pitched percussion. During all this time, low-registered voices drive the counterpoint to the higher ones with mighty energy.

The music suddenly falls into a brief moment of silence, only broken by some softly played figures. From there it reaches yet another level of excitation, when the upper registers are brought to even more prominence in brass. Finally, the music flows into one sustained chord, highly charged with radiant energy, and once more falls into silence. A faint, ethereal string chord soars through the stillness, and with the beginning of Spiral, the music abruptly restarts in the same, full-blown, excited manner as before.

After a few moments into Spiral, the full orchestra recedes in favor of a commanding presence of violins which sustain in fortissimo a very high-pitched chord. It is dramatically charged by the concomitant presence of "tremolo" patterns in light percussion, impressively blending with the string tone into a mixture of searing energy. Against that high-pitch drama the tuba plays an incisive variation of the formula with well-timed pauses between notes, loaded with tension. As a response to this, one of the prayer soloists (in the video both soloists) stomps with his feet, playing into the drama of the moment. Then full brass sets in, and the violins leave the sustained chord and play figures, yet still on high pitches.

Now, starting from the considerable excitation built up in Evolution 2 and at the beginning of this part Spiral, the music, lead by those high-pitched violins which find considerable support in other high-registered orchestral sections and which are energetically responded to by counterpoint of low-registered voices, more and more reaches absolute ecstasy. It continues for an impressive amount of time on that level in a masterful tour de force of high-voltage musical energy. The music spirals itself up to more and more charge, and at one stage (at 3'20" of the track), there even is a quasi-literal spiral movement heard in dramatic pitch motion this part indeed deserves in an emphatic way the name "Spiral". The spiral movement of pitch is exactly translated into the representation of a spiral by the movements of the dancer-mimes.

But "Spiral" also refers to Stockhausen's composition SPIRAL for a soloist. According to the composer, it is meant that the rhythmic and melodic spreading in a spiral-like climaxing becomes so extreme that, as it is written at a certain marking in the score SPIRAL, an event transcends the limits of the technique thus far and also the instrumental limits. Indeed, again according to the composer, at the end of this section of INORI all limits of tempo, instrumental range and energy are reached and are transcended by the event "HU" (see below).

Finally, the music suddenly breaks off, only continued in the playing of Indian bells. At this culmination of the section, the male soloist descends the steps of the podium and throws himself down three times on a springboard, which each time tosses him back up. He then reascends the podium and, synchronously with the female soloist, shouts the syllable HU.

At the begining of Spiral, the dancer-mimes have moved, in emphasis of the development of ecstasy in the music, from kneeling to standing position, and their prayer gestures show the most dramatic opening up in the whole work: with both arms fully directed towards heaven. During the entire Spiral they will stay in a standing position, and will continue to do so during most of the remainder of the work. The succession of different prayer gestures and/or positions becomes extremely rapid and lively.

At the beginning of the next part Adoration, as it had occurred at the beginning of Spiral, the music restarts in full-blown orchestra but quickly calms down, only to now assume a steady flow in the moderate middle of the dynamic scale. This flow is built on a musical palette which appears as a synthesis of the characters of the previous parts of Polyphony. On one hand the palette is reminiscent of the pushing notes in low registers of Evolution 1, on the other hand in the higher registers it holds on to the ecstasy of Spiral, even though it is a reminder of the ecstatic character of that part more in sound than in viscerality of presentation. This is a perfectly seamless tune-down from the ecstasy of Spiral while keeping its character strongly present.

The composer:

"Adoration has three polyphonic layers. In the middle register one hears the formula in its basic form as a monody for fortissimo flutes, spread out over four minutes. In the low register it pulsates chordally twice in succession, with slight expansion, slowly and forcefully, in all the bass instruments. In the upper register, the formula is heard in four successive periods with decreasing degrees of expansion, as mixtures of chords of string harmonics, piano and antique cymbals. The fourth period is unexpanded, thus in its basic form."

In Adoration for the first time "connected melodies of prayer gestures occur in which also links to cycles of adoration of diverse old cultures become clear" (the composer).

The lasting attainment of a state of prayer that shows a strong outward gesture towards God is represented by the continuing standing of the dancer-mimes (which keep on performing vivid prayer gestures), even though the ecstasy in the music is tuning down. Only at one point the dancer-mimes briefly lay on the floor (for the first and only time during the work) and at another moment they are in a squatting position.

The orchestra pause is dominated by one very high pitch of the rin, struck in irregular intervals, and by the continuous sound of the Indian bells. The rin sounds magical, and the decay of its sound, which can be enjoyed by itself since it mostly stands relatively alone, is captivating. The decay seems to slowly oscillate between two pitches. Like in almost all orchestra pauses, the piano is dominant whenever the orchestra plays chords. Here these chords have a special presence, yet with a mellifluous character.

The dancer-mimes stand at the beginning and then slowly walk towards the exit, pausing at some points while performing their variations of prayer gesture. Finally they exit during the prolonged closure by the lingering on of the Indian bells alone.

© Albrecht Moritz 2001, text edited 2005


Additional links:

Inori (Stockhausen) - Wikipedia

Stockhausen: Sounds in Space: INORI