A Mouthpiece (1970) , for 6 vocalists und electronics

From March until September 1970, I lived in Japan as a member of Stockhausen’s ensemble which performed in the German Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Osaka. Among other tasks, I participated in more than half of the 70 performances as sound director in Stockhausen’s composition Stimmung, interpreted by the Collegium Vocale Cologne. A Mouthpiece was written during this period. The piece is the result of my constant musical contact with the members of the vocal ensemble on the one side, on the other, of the investigation of the technical posibilities not used in Stimmung. Three basic acoustic materials are used in A Mouthpiece:

1. Amplified vocal sounds: harmonic spectrums (vocal, nasal and labial consonants), coloured noise (fricatives) and impulses (plosives) are produced closely to the microphones;

2. Modulated vocal sounds: vocal sounds are modulated by rather simple mechanical means, e.g.: through singing into a pitch pipe the performers can create very complex sounds.

3. Acoustic feedback: the amplifier can also be used to generate acoustic feedback, the pitch of which depends on the resonant conditions around the microphones. The performers are able to produce different pitches by changing the resonant spaces around their microphones, e.g. by enclosing the microphone with the hand or oral cavity and changing them at will.

A Mouthpiece is formally built up of a sequence of processes formulated as solos, duos, trios etc. The processes are notated verbally; unlike conventional notation, this type of notation allows various possibilities of realization of the same instructions. A Mouthpiece is dedicated to the Collegium Vocale Köln.

Commissioned by: Collegium Vocale Köln

Premiere: Musik der Zeit, Cologne