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‘Structure Formation’: An Analysis of Electronic Superimpositions in Stockhausen’s Solo

Mark Nerenberg

Mark Nerenberg, University of Toronto, 563 Spadina Crescent, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J7 Canada


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In his work Solo für Melodieinstrument mit Rückkopplung, n 19 (Solo for Melody Instrument with Feedback), Karlheinz Stockhausen employs a variable length tape delay and feedback system to record and play back the material of the soloist live, creating layers of superimposed electronic sound. It is this structure of electronic superimpositions which will be the focus of analysis. I will begin by examining and creating a nomenclature for electronic superimpositions, which form patterns and manifest techniques that evolve across complete and partial cycles (sections). In an attempt to prove an overall structure of electronic form, I will present a topology of these patterns and techniques that demonstrates a systematic organization of elements. Although Solo appears to be an open-form work, electronic superimpositions manifest structures which function at a macro-formal level, whereas content (and a number of other parameters) shape form at a micro-formal level. Thus, Solo has a definite fixed form: a structure of electronic superimpositions which Stockhausen systematically conceives and distributes across the six Versions of the work.

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