[Video] Frank Holger Rothkamm: stockhausenmozartkubrik

“stockhausenmozartkubrik” – Frank Holger Rothkamm re-scores Kubrick’s classic film, “2001: A Space Odyssey” with the music of Stockhausen and Mozart while slowing down the film three and a half times.

[Oct 18 2013] Frank Holger Rothkamm: stockhausenmozartkubrik

Frank Holger Rothkamm
Friday, Oct 10 2013, 7:30pm to 9pm
Admission: FREE

Location: Harvestworks
596 Broadway, #602 | New York, NY 10012 | Phone: 212-431-1130
Subway: F/M/D/B Broadway/Lafayette, R Prince, 6 Bleeker


Unusual and otherworldly circumstances led to the creation of “stockhausenmozartkubrik” It was on the night of February 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. when the apparition of Karlheinz Stockhausen paid a visit to Frank Holger Rothkamm. As Rothkamm noted via social media : “I dreamt that the late composer visited my studio to see if I could materialize one of his works. He looked around the room somewhat critically, but once I pulled out a huge keyboard that resembled the Kurzweil K2500, he seemed convinced. “So, Frank”, he asked, while nodding his head, “how did you pay for all of this?” “I used to be the Senior Systems Analyst for the New York Philharmonic,” I replied proudly. He took a seat and we started to work. I saw all of his diagrams but then I thought, rothkammstockhausen1“I can’t hear any sound” and was worried. He nodded again and I realized that I could synaesthetically see the sound in the diagrams. Then I woke up, staring at a white piece of paper in front of me.” The first thing Rothkamm noticed was that Stockhausen’s diagrams seemed to resemble the operator configurations depicted on a similar looking synthesizer, the Yamaha DX7 (1983). Because Rothkamm used the DX7 engine to materialize his “Ghost of New York” (composed in 2005-2006 and released in 2009), he was quick to recognize the roles of the Father, the Son and his own role as the Ghost. Every night Rothkamm sat down in front the DX7, looked at the twinkling stars in their inky firmament and waited for Stockhausen to guide him. Then, finally, on March 19th, spirit communication arrived: First the title, “Sternenformel”, which is German for “Star Formula”, and then the first track of the music. Over the next 36 days, from March 20th until April 25th, Rothkamm received and recorded all tracks.


The second part of “stockhausenmozartkubrik” is a test of endurance. For reasons unbeknownst, Rothkamm had been practicing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” (early 1780s) for the past two years. Always dissatisfied with his performance and eager – one could say obsessed – for the next iteration, Rothkamm kept recording piano version after rothkammstockhausen2piano version for over a year. His transfiguration interpretation transposes the piece 1 octave down and slows the tempo to fit 33.33 minutes, a significant number for Rothkamm, but as it would soon turn out, not for Mozart. In the spring of 2013, now that he had figured out he could collaborate with dead German composers, Rothkamm asked Stockhausen to poke Mozart for help, to end his endless obsession with the piece. But no Mozart apparition or communication was forthcoming. On one particular evening while giving up all hope, Rothkamm – already finished with his session on the DX7 synthesizer under Stockhausen’s guidance – was about to turn in when he remembered the number 19. As Stockhausen had already departed, Rothkamm decided to use this number on his own and pressed membrane switch number 19 on the DX7 in front of him. It was the sound of a harpsichord, or more specifically, preset No 19 of the 32 famous pre-sets. It was a purely electronic version of a harpsichord made with 3 operator pairs to represent the 3 strings. So Rothkamm commenced to play from memory the Mozart variation, and to his surprise the shorter 5 octave keyboard fit the piece perfectly as did the sound. Rothkamm realized that Mozart communicates via Numbers (at least to him). Because both were brothers of the Masonic Order, some numbers have allegorical dimensions (at least to them). From then on, the harpsichord sound was adjusted to more agreeable numbers and the length of the variation also changed, so that they fit 25 minutes and 25 seconds. Now Rothkamm was finally freed by Mozartean Numbers from his obsessive versioning of the 12 variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.


Both pieces – the 4 part ”Sternenformel” of 49 minutes and the 12 Mozart variations of 25 minutes – add up to 74 minutes, which happens to be the maximum length for a commercial Compact Disc. Rothkamm now sought to play this CD-length pairing of Stockhausen and Mozart live on the DX7 synthesizer in front of an audience, in the form of a séance. Will he be guided when other people pay rothkammstockhausen3witness, or will he forget what to play?  Can he conjure assistance and inspiration while under the skeptical eye of the general public? Searching now for the third element that would tie Stockhausen and Mozart together he turned to Allan Kardec’s  “The Spirit’s Book” (1850), where apparitions are closely tied to memory. Rothkamm remembered his days in San Francisco when he was under the psychoactive influence of the cannabis plant. Then and there, certain movies with the sound muted, and certain music would magically sync up as if they were made for each other, and their symbiosis would yield a synaesthetic experience. These memories came in handy now. Kubrik’s final chapter of the science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey” has no dialogue. It perfectly syncs to the “star music” of Stockhausen and Mozart if the motion picture is slowed down 3 and ½  times.  Thus, on Friday, the 18th of October in the year 2013 in the city of Manhattan, Rothkamm will play with his 10 fingers the synthesizer music of Stockhausen and Mozart to a projection of the final chapter of Kubrik’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” slowed three and a half  times. “stockhausenmozartkubrik” indeed.


Frank Holger Rothkamm is a German-born composer and conceptual artist who is highly influenced by the works of Mozart, Stockhausen and Kubrik. He lives and works at Lodge For Utopian Science in Los Angeles. http://rothkamm.com

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