Karlheinz Stockhausen – “Prozession” (1967) / “Ceylon” (1970) Prozession is one of a series of works dating from the 1960s which Stockhausen designated as "process" compositions. These works in effect separate the "form" from the "content" by presenting the performers with a series of transformation signs which are to be applied to material that may vary considerably from one performance to the next "Prozession is an ensemble piece that Stockhausen wrote for his ensemble of the time, but it is not a regular down to earth, down home piece for an assorted number of players, who can just easily go about their affairs, playing what’s in the score, and just try to stay as faithful as possible to it and play as good as they can, from numerous rehearsals of the exact same event, the way many classical ensembles, and even modern ensembles with sternly notated events in unchangeable scores, have a habit of doing; no no! When working through a score by Stockhausen the musicians always have to go the extra mile, learn new things, and climb to the highest summits of their abilities – and then a little higher still; and remain there throughout the piece. Well, haven’t you heard about levitation? Haven’t you been to the highlands of spiritual Tibet? Well, spiritually, artistically, anybody who dwells an extended period in the vicinity of Stockhausen and his music has to change a little for the better, become truer to his own nature and more aware of the possibilities and talents that are inherent in a human, ready to be sprung out of a sometimes dormant state, or just sharpened a bit, moved into a focus of intense attention.
Stockhausen is a great teacher through his music and his writings. This is in no way limited to his own realm of composition, but applies anywhere in life. I have come to realize and appreciate this through my intense study of his musical works and his writings. I don’t believe – and I have never believed it either – that anything in life happens out of pure chance, randomly. Maybe we get to experience certain things when we’re ready for them. Before then it would be pointless to dwell on certain aspects of life. Many critics have found it hard to accept – much less like or salute – the spiritual claims of Stockhausen. However, without this side of his many facetted personality there would not be a Stockhausen oeuvre for us to marvel at. This strong force in his life is a foundation for the richness of composition that he pours out, and the way many critics react just tells us that they’re not yet ready, but when they are they’ll be welcomed into a fascinating world of many splendors! There’s more to existence than the nitty-gritty of critics’ quarrels, household chores and material gain! A few weeks ago I found a book in the police station basement in my rural Swedish hometown.
The book – “Life after Life” (1975) by Dr. Raymonda Moody Jr. - deals with near death experiences, and urges the reader to go on to other writings dealing with related subjects, such as the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and “the Tibetan Book of the Dead”, and as I was ready to get a copy of the latter, Stockhausen mentioned in a letter that I ought to read “the Tibetan Book of the Dead”. No coincident, I think, but guidance in a certain direction, as I get ready for new experiences. (I have the book by my bedside now…) We’re here to gather experience and knowledge, and this is just a phase in a greater process. I’m amazed at the way existence pours experiences into our lives, if we’re open-minded and show some respect for the unthought of, the unheard of, the unexpected." (Excerpt from Ingvar Nordin / Sonoloco extensive review)