Karlheinz Stockhausen's Set Sail for the Sun

by Salt Lake Electric Ensemble



released April 9, 2015

Be aware that the music begins very quietly and gradually becomes loud.

This piece was inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen's score "Set Sail For the Sun," which comes from his collection titled "From the Seven Days."

It reads:

Play a tone for so long
until you hear its individual vibrations
hold the tone
and listen to the tones of the others
-to all of them together, not to individual ones-
and slowly move your tone
until you arrive at complete harmony
and the whole sound turns to gold
to pure, gently shimmering fire

Album notes:

The cycle of fifteen pieces that make up "Aus den Sieben Tagen" (1968), including the work on this recording "Setz die Segel zur Sonne" (Set Sail For the Sun), form an interesting contrast to a large number of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s works.

Written in a year of personal and social turbulence (the same year Pink Floyd set the controls for the heart of the sun), it represents for some an immense departure in his oeuvre. For indeed it is the scientific, even pedantic level of detailed notation (however novel many of the new symbols he invented) both in subsequent and earlier works that lead critics to align his music with the post-war atomic age; a new faith in technology and progress perceived to be reflected in the complexity of his written scores and new reliance on machines to realize precise measurements of sub-atomic time and articulation.

Containing only a short text, these pieces ask the performer(s) to use intuition to realize a composition with no written pitches, rhythms, dynamics, or instrumentation; to listen to both inner projections and often the sound production of the ensemble as a whole. Asking the players to “…play a tone for so long until you hear its individual vibrations…” may in essence not be so far removed from the monistic examinations of sine tones and their combinations present in more famous electronic works such as Kontakte or Gesang der Jünglinge.

The Salt Lake Electric Ensemble approached Set Sail For the Sun with significant discussion of just what “pure, gently shimmering fire” would really sound like, and the types of timbres both acoustic and electronic that would permit the ensemble to “listen to the tones of others…and slowly move…until you arrive at complete harmony”.

Recorded live, this music asks the listener to transcend form and analysis, and use a similar inner instinct to navigate the ocean of sound.



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Matt Starling Salt Lake City, Utah

Matt Starling founded the Salt Lake Electric Ensemble in 2009. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Utah, and a Master of Music
Technology degree from IUPUI in Indianapolis, IN. He is active as a performer, composer, multimedia artist, music journalist, music educator, and audio engineer.


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