Stimmung, for six vocalists and six microphones, is a piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1968 and commissioned by the City of Cologne for the Collegium Vocale Köln. Its average length is seventy-four minutes, and it bears the work number 24 in the composer’s catalog.
It is a tonal, and yet also a serial composition (Toop 2005, 39; Stuppner 1974). It is « the first major Western composition to be based entirely on the production of vocal harmonics » (Pegg 2001, 295), the first « to use overtones as a primary element » (Rose and Emmerson 1979, 20). An additional innovation is « the unique kind of rhythmic polyphony which arises from the gradual transformation/assimilation of rhythmic models » (Toop 2005, 48).
The German word Stimmung [ˈʃtɪmʊŋ] has several meanings, including « tuning » and « mood ». The word is the noun formed from the verb stimmen, which means « to harmonize, to be correct », and related to Stimme (voice). The primary sense of the title « implies not only the outward tuning of voices or instruments, but also the inward tuning of one’s soul » (Hillier 2007, 4). According to the composer, the word
means « tuning, » but it really should be translated with many other words because Stimmung incorporates the meanings of the tuning of a piano, the tuning of the voice, the tuning of a group of people, the tuning of the soul. This is all in the German word. Also, when you say: We’re in a good Stimmung, you mean a good psychological tuning, being well tuned together. (Cott 1973, 162)