Clocks and Clouds

Clocks and Clouds
for 12 voice female choir and orchestra
Choir and Orchestra
Number of performers
38 + choir
4 soprano · 4 mezzosoprano · 4 alto (ad lib. 12 solos) · orchestra: 5 (1st also afl. · 3rd, 4th, 5th also pic.) · 3 · 5 (5th also bcl.) · 4 (4th also cbn.) – 0 · 2 · 0 · 0 – glock. · vib. – cel. · 2 hp. – str. (0 · 0 · 4 · 6 · 4)
Composition year(s)
World premiere

Graz · ORF Symphony Orchestra and ORF Choir · conductor: Friedrich Cerha

musikprotokoll Graz ORF Studio Steiermark

György Ligeti: The Ligeti Project © 2016 Warner Classics 0825646028580

Comment of the composer on the work

Clocks and Clouds for twelve female voices and orchestra (five flutes, three doubling piccolos; three oboes; five clarinets, the fifth doubling bass clarinet; four bassoons; two trumpets; glockenspiel; vibraphone; celesta; two harps; four violas; six cellos; four double basses) was composed in 1973. In this piece the language is no longer chromatic as it uses diatonic melody and harmony, coloured with micro-intervals. (I am always looking for new structural devices.)

The title stems (slightly altered) from an essay by Karl Popper on the philosophy of science. Popper writes about exactly determined (“clocks”) versus global, statistically measurable (“clouds”) occurrences of nature. In my piece, however, the clocks and clouds are poetic images. The periodic, polyrhythmic sound-complexes melt into diffuse, liquid states and vice versa. The abstract “text” of the piece is notated in the International Phonetic Alphabet and serves the rhythmic articulation and the transformation of timbre.

© 2001–2003 Teldec Classics & 2004 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd | Translation: Louise Duchesnea