Sound Spatialization with the Halaphon in Cristóbal Halffter’s Works: Plaint for the Victims of Tyranny and Variations on the Resonance of a Cry
Planto por las víctimas de la violencia (1970/71), for chamber ensemble (3 fl, 3ob, 3 cl, 4 perc, pno, 2 vl, vla, vc) and live-electronics, is the debut work of the Experimentalstudio of the Heinrich-Strobel-Stiftung (UA 17.10.71). In this piece the spatial arrangement is delimited by two quadrilateral sets of loudspeakers occupying perpendicular planes and four large percussion sets positioned around the audience. For the original production of Planto a sophisticated rig of electronic sound transformation prototypes was developed by Hans Peter Haller and Peter Lawo. Their flagship invention was the Halaphon 406, an instrument designed to control the spatial trajectories of the electronically expanded ensemble during the performance.
This paper will place an inquiry into the origin of Planto and the spatial strategies adopted by Halffter in this piece. The functionality of the Halaphon 406 will be elucidated on the basis of a cross-examination of the musical text and a series of present-day benchmark measurements. These observations will lead to delve into the details of a performance practice. Finally, the spatial realization of Planto will be contrasted with that of Halffter’s Variaciones sobre la resonancia de un grito (1976/77), a further work produced at the Experimentalstudio in the 1970s.
(preliminary abstract of the talk that I will be giving at the TU, Berlin in July next year)