Inori: Adorations for One or Two Soloists with Orchestra is a composition by Karlheinz Stockhausen, written in 1973–74.
Inori is a meditative work. The word inori in Japanese means "prayer, invocation, adoration" (Stockhausen 1978a, 215). “It is like an opera with only one character and no singing, only thoughts visible as gesture and audible as reciprocally modulated sound" (Maconie 1976, 310). "The solo part is composed as a melody and is theoretically performable by a melody instrument; however the relationship between solo gesture and orchestra response is so complete that the solo melody is invariably interpreted in silence by a dancer-mime, employing a vocabulary of gestures drawn from a variety of religious practices" (Maconie 2005, 352).
"Inori is indeed, as the composer insists, a mystical work, but only because there is absolutely no mystification" (Josipovici 1975, 16). "Stockhausen recomposed the sign-language of praying, on the basis of chromatic scales of prayer gestures, into a highly differentiated bodily music" (Peters 1999, 101). Although the score specifies that the soloist part may be performed in any number of ways, including any kind of melodic instrument, to date this has always been performed by mimes, using a set of prayer gestures. Because audiences at early performances were mistakenly perceiving the soloist as improvising to the music, Stockhausen decided to use two parallel soloists in order to make it obvious that the gestures are fully composed (Maconie 1990, 236).
Stockhausen composed Inori using an Urgestalt or formula, which is “a melodic-rhythmic structure from which the principal characteristics of the work are derived” (Leonardi 1998, 66). This melodic formula is divided into five segments, forming a sequence “leading from pure rhythm . . . via dynamics, melody, and harmony, to polyphony:—hence, a progression from the primitive origin of music to a condition of pure intellect. The entire work is a projection of this formula onto a duration of about 70 minutes” (Maconie 2005, 353–54). The formula consists of 15 notes, which are
divided into 5 phrases with 5, 3, 2, 1 and 4 pitches respectively. Transferred to the large scale form, these 5 phrases yield the 5 major sections of the work. Each phrase consists . . . of three parts: melody, echo and pause; in the large scale form these become genesis+evolution (=exposition + development)—echo—pause, the echoes being very soft statistical passages, and the 'pauses minimally accompanied solos for the mime. The durations of the melody, measured in crotchets, are converted into minutes to give the lengths of formal divisions and subdivisions. (Toop 1976, 90–91)In addition to these five sections, there is “an unmeasured, transcendental moment” (Stockhausen 1978a, 215).