PERFORMED by HEX: a vocal ensemble under The Resonance Collective
At the First Congressional Church of Los Angeles
“And now for something completely different…”
.cue the Monty Python sketch
Ok, this might get a bit technical, a little bit spiritual, and a whole lotta bit very cool.
For me, Stimmung came in 2 parts. First of which was a lecture hosted by
the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, a long-standing research and education institution
founded by the luminous conduit of esoteric teachings, Manly P Hall in 1934,
and given by the magnetic Artistic Director of The Resonance Collective, Fahad Siadat.
Yes, I understand that was a long, convoluted sentence.
just you wait…
The lecture entitled Sound, Science, and Sacred Harmony with Fahad Siadat
was to serve as preamble to the performance 3 nights later and offer a technical foundation
and understanding for what we would experience, considering the novel nature of such an undertaking.
Please understand that I consider myself fairly intelligent, an enthusiastic student,
and deeply compassionate of all things divine and spiritual, yet I will still mistranslate so very much
of what was offered to us that evening…
.bear with me
Karlheinz Stockhausen, in the late 60’s composed the piece STIMMUNG, or compositional game, rather,
as a fairly time and participant-restricted ceremony to be completed by no more or less than 6 voices
in about 74 minutes.
Stimmung in German translates to ‘mood’, though is meant, for this purpose to portray ‘tuning’
and if we are to understand truly, the etymology and accuracy of the languages we use
and the spells (spelling) we cast with such usage, then we should be able to draw the line
from how our mood is merely our tuning to the relative situation or circumstances
that pluck at our mind and matter so as to create a consonant or dissonantly reactive mood.
Such is the game, as it were: for these 6 voices to act and react while tuning and detuning proactively
whilst given prompts via physical ‘game’ cards with varying words, phrases, and/or actions
with which to invoke change in the resonance achieved in the prior ‘hand played’
and for each consecutive instrument (person), and all as a collective to adapt and realign their vibration
as they explore both the beauty of being out of tune with one another and the harmony created,
equally as well as the resonance achieved when all are once again in harmony.
get all that?
To reiterate that the instruments used are solely amplified voices
with the caveat to this specific and innovative ensemble and performance that the 7th voice
be that of an electronic voice or synthesizer, manned by another participant, providing overtones
or droning sound, if you will, as a baseline or bassline for all to bounce off and with.
still with me?
While I will spare you (really, I’m sparing myself from showcasing my ignorance)
from the highly technical details in music that relate to just Intonation Tuning,
harmonics such as perfect fifths, major thirds, and diminished seconds, and temperaments,
know that Stimmung as a practice and composition is just about as opposite as you can get
from how traditional vocal and operatic performers are taught to work as the goal here
is to purposely wander out of tune with one another though noticeably in tune, ironically,
and then draw in tune as you adjust to your surroundings and vocal debris entering your space.
that said, eh hem, let the game begin…
When dealing with divine music as this could be described, a heavenly setting on earth
should house the performance and its congregation which is likely why I found myself amidst sunset,
ascending glowing steps into the Shatto Chapel of the architecturally magnificent
First Congressional Church of Los Angeles a few blocks east of Metro’s Red (B) Line stop in Koreatown.
Upon entering the cozy space, one would be forgiven
if they were to think they had just crashed a medieval ceremonial séance as the center-lit table,
littered with personal trinkets and totems from red coral, jaded buddhas, and shells, to stuffed animals,
knight’s armor, and a jar of sand…
was then spirally-fringed with chairs for the audience, filling the room from alter to the rear exit
with floor space in the outer rings to sit or lay on pillows and pads in mediation style if one so chose.
Intriguing is hardly a strong enough word so consult a thesaurus to add some girth to this universe
and this is where we are at the moment.
After nearly 100 attendees from seemingly all paths in life, filter in from nether regions
and into this newly discovered universe, our instruments file in from a side door and take their seat,
5 around the centerpiece and the 6th atop the stairs and alter-adjacent
as he operates both the electronic synthesizer and the 360 degree-rotational camera
placed in the middle of the table so to provide added visuals
showcasing each performer on the wall behind the alter, where Christ and the cross rest…
a synchronistic and inclusive touch not to be outdone by each instrument’s makeup and attire
ranging from simple casual wear to flowy, etheric dresses, and a negligee’d camisole
made only of polished black beads and gold connecting chains.
7:06pm strikes and we’re underway…
Immediately, the room is filled with the overtone of the synthesizer billowing in from large speakers
placed about the room very much like the steady but bullying tone you hear subtly in the background
of space travel shows like Star Trek while aboard a vessel.
A constant, reverberating hum, droning throughout the acoustically accurate walls
of this chapel-turned-concert venue. In coordination with said overtone,
various performers sound off solo and in concert not in traditional acapellic style,
but a more hind-tongue in the back of your throat vibratory sound as if you were
for you if I had a decade’s worth of training, yet it felt so welcoming and comforting
when theoretically you’d consider such noises, when described by the likes of me,
annoying or aggravating, though reality offers more accuracy,
as contextual truth directs us to the defining characteristic of GOD.
Cyclical and pulsating sounds like this continue on in harmony and somehow disharmonic harmony
as the camera turns from one instrument to another as each take predetermined turns ‘playing the hand’
given on cards in their possession, having not seen the actions on said card prior to this moment.
Actions are taken in conjunction with reactions of specific other instruments and in tandem
as they jockey their voices to explore the extremes of dissonance and then adjust into consonance.
The cards given to each, offer a unique recipe when prompted by another’s action.
Cryptic instructions such as
“Triangle = Do What James Does”
meaning when the triangle is introduced, this player should mimic James’ actions
“Cowboy Boots = “NEIGH”
Buddha = Wotansdei, Mitvok! Wednesday, Wednesday
directing this card holder to reply thus when Buddha is introduced
Fahad passes sun around, upon receipt: 1x sing Sonntag or Sunday, then pass
and oddly some of Heinrik Stockhausen’s awkward erotic poetry
~“slow semen, my cock is my sword”
Many of these actions and reactions include getting up slowly and with conviction,
passing ritual objects around the table to other instruments, creating chain reaction and transition
into deeper hollers of the game
…and our collective souls, as vibrations emanating from the center core of this system of solar beings
pulsate through our materia facia, enlisting harmonics as guidance for divine geometry
to perform its effective magic in reconnecting the flesh of our earthly bodies to our souls of divinity.
These electrically charged, vibratory emanations weave geometric shapes of healing and power,
known through cymatics, magnetically realigning our beingness to the universal mind network
otherwise named Source Energy or Infinite, Intelligent Energy.
Congruently, powerful words such as the name of GOD in various languages
would be announced by a participant, pronounced slowly and sectionally to then have the name
broken down, dissected, and distorted, then pieced together in what was described by Siadat
as an opportunity to see if these words that are holy, continue to retain their power
when the equation is divided, with the understanding that languages such as Hebrew are mathematical,
as is all things, including music and movement.
“Elohim”. “Odin”, “Buddha” reverberate from the core throughout the spokes,
in symphony with the overtones and others’ tuning actions.
Cackles and cries, screams and grunts, chirps and clicks disrupt solos and duetic-dronings
from this electromagnetic sextet as they mesmerize onlookers
in effortlessly tiring fashion for 77 minutes,
adding another 2 of resounding silence, offering contemplative thought
for all within these hallowed walls…
I’d love to be able to describe to you more accurately what I was a party to,
but I fear any sincere attempt will be in vain
for this sort of spectacle needs your chemical makeup present to mix with the composition first hand,
though I’d bet a solid set of headphones could offer a taste of the sweetness
you’ll find while in attendance at the next performance.
(This was the 1 st performance of its kind in the City of Angels and while there are no listed dates,
performances are planned)
Stimmung, first developed by Karlheinz Stockhausen in the late 60s
deals with tuning 6 vocal harmonics and overtones
in an effort to highlight the beauty of being out of tune, together, and of adapting to the world around us
that causes us so very much disharmony, creates chaos and distortion
with which we as a seemingly single, yet wholly divine instrument must navigate
as we grow into the beings we have and will always be, devoid of time.
Similarly to a Stim Machine that uses electrical charge to stimulate and repair bruised muscles
and bones in athletes, this composition is meant to serve as a symbol for each of us,
separately and as the whole, in an equation comprising pain, stress, fear, and loss…
joy, compassion, detachment, and love…
contrasting characteristics and ideas like consonance and dissonance
to compose and create our words and spells,
carve our own heavenly path through the valley of the shadow of darkness,
and to find unity and wholeness/holiness in the ALL of our collection
so as to sing together as we vibrate higher in Uni-Verse.
What I really wanna know is,
aside from all of us…
Like, do they talk about it backstage after and exchange $20.00,
or do they shit talk beforehand for like, weeks when the game was introduced, for added texture.
Chloè Vaught -soprano
Molly Pease -mezzo
Saunder Choi – tenor
Fahad Siadat -tenor
James Hayden -bass
David Saldaña -live electronics & video
Golden Thread Concert Series:
“Astral Ark” with Sharon Chohi Kim & Sara Sinclair Gomez
Saturday, May 6, 2023 7pm
@ The Philosophical Research Society, Los Angeles, CA
“Ritual of Mundanity” with Jeonghyeon Joo
Sunday, June 11, 2023 5p
@ First Congressional Church of Los Angeles
Follow The Resonance Collection @theresonancecollectivela
Follow Hex @hexvocalensemble
Follow Philosophical Research Society @philosophical_research_society
Follow First Congressional Church of Los Angeles @1stchurchLA
Born city, raised country, west coast to east coast and back again. B.A., M.B.A., then back to LA,
lending to a love of capturing moments given any lens, and the adoration of all music, especially experienced live,
where this moment-capturing poet jives and thrives.
work in progress, y’all
[a part of the Founders Yonder Collective (FYCmoments)]