U B U W E B – Film & Video: Iannis Xenakis – NEG-ALE (1960)

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NEG-ALE (1960) (8:08)
for piccolo, horn, cello, and percussion
with the film “Vasarely” 

In 1960, Xenakis composed the music NEG-ALE for P. Kassovitz’s “Vasarely”, an abstract film on the artwork of Op-Art master Victor Vasarely, documenting an exhibition of that painter’s work at the Denise Renée Gallery. Xenakis provided music in the form of a piece entitled NEG-ALE for piccolo, horn, cello and percussion, but later withdrew the work from his catalogue.

Iannis Xenakis – Rebonds B (2004)

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A very short but interesting documentary following the recording of Pedro Carneiro’s interpretation of Xenakis’ Okho, Psappha and Rebonds, three highly demanding pieces for percussion. The first part is a recording of a performance of Rebonds B in a Parisian church. The second section offers a brief insight into the recording process of such pieces, exploring technical and artistic issues surrounding the production of Carneiro’s interpretation. Differences between recording and performing are briefly addressed, centering on the need for the creation of dynamics and contrasts that are unreachable in the performance hall. The figure of the producer, so often neglected outside the field of pop music, is highlighted before turning on to short statements about Xenakis’ music, its mathematical apparatus and its profoundly physical nature. — Eye of Sound

Iannis Xenakis Documents, Writing, Notation & Music

Last FM:

“Iannis Xenakis (Greek: Ιωάννης Ξενάκης) (May 29, 1922 – February 4, 2001) was Romanian-born Greek modernist composer, musical theoretician, and architect. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century. His music theory book, Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition, is regarded as one of the most important theoretical works of 20th century music.”

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Iannis Xenakis – Metastasis (Spectral View)

Iannis Xenakis – Metastasis (Spectral View)

From Wiki:
Iannis Xenakis (Ιωάννης Ιάννης Ξενάκης) (May 29, 1922 – February 4, 2001) was a Greek composer, music theorist and architect. He is commonly recognized as one of the most important post-war avant-garde composers. Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models such as applications of set theory, varied use of stochastic processes, game theory, etc., in music, and was also an important influence on the development of electronic music.

Among his most important works are Metastaseis (1953–4) for orchestra, which introduced independent parts for every musician of the orchestra; percussion works such as Psappha (1975) and Pléïades (1979); compositions that introduced spatialization by dispersing musicians among the audience, such as Terretektorh (1966); electronic works created using Xenakis’ UPIC system; and the massive multimedia performances Xenakis called polytopes. Among the numerous theoretical writings he authored, the book Formalized Music: Thought and Mathematics in Composition (1971) is regarded as one of his most important. As an architect, Xenakis is primarily known for his early work under Le Corbusier: the Sainte Marie de La Tourette, on which the two architects collaborated, and the Philips Pavilion at Expo 58, which Xenakis designed alone.

Iannis Xenakis

Iannis Xenakis – Metastasis

WIKI:Iannis Xenakis (Ιωάννης Ιάννης Ξενάκης) (May 29, 1922 – February 4, 2001) was a Greek composer, music theorist and architect. He is commonly recognized as one of the most important post-war avant-garde composers.[1][2] Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models such as applications of set theory, varied use of stochastic processes, game theory, etc., in music, and was also an important influence on the development of electronic music.

Metastasis, also Metastaseis, is an orchestral work for 61 musicians by Iannis Xenakis. His first major work, it was written in 1953-54 after his studies with Olivier Messiaen and is 8 minutes in length. The work was premiered at the 1955 Donaueschingen Festival with Hans Rosbaud conducting.

Metastasis was inspired by the combination of an Einsteinian view of time and Xenakis’ memory of the sounds of warfare, and structured on mathematical ideas by Le Corbusier. Music usually consists of a set of sounds ordered in time; music played backwards is hardly recognizable. Messiaen’s similar observations led to his noted uses of non-retrogradable rhythms; Xenakis wished to reconcile the linear perception of music with a relativistic view of time. In warfare, as Xenakis knew it through his musical ear, no individual bullet being fired could be distinguished among the cacophony, but taken as a whole the sound of “gunfire” was clearly identifiable. The particular sequence of shots was unimportant: the individual guns could have fired in a completely different pattern from the way they actually did, but the sound produced would still have been the same. These ideas combined to form the basis of Metastasis.

The work requires an orchestra of 61 players (12 winds, 3 percussionists playing 7 instruments, 46 strings) with no two performers playing the same part. It was written using a sound mass technique in which each player is responsible for completing glissandi at different pitch levels and times. The piece is dominated by the strings, which open the piece in unison before their split into 46 separate parts.

As Newtonian views of time show it flowing linearly, Einsteinian views show it as a function of matter and energy; change one of those quantities and time too is changed. Xenakis attempted to make this distinction in his music. While most traditional compositions depend on strictly measured time for the progress of the line, using an unvarying tempo, time signature, or phrase length, Metastasis changes intensity, register, and density of scoring, as the musical analogues of mass and energy. It is by these changes that the piece propels itself forward: the first and third movements of the work do not have even a melodic theme or motive to hold them together, but rather depend on the strength of this conceptualization of time.

The second movement does have some sort of melodic element. A fragment of a twelve-tone row is used, with durations based on the Fibonacci sequence. (This integer sequence is nothing new to music: it was used often by Bartók, among others.) One interesting property of the Fibonacci sequence is that the further into the infinite sequence one looks, the closer the ratio of a term to its preceding term comes to the Golden Section; it doesn’t take long before the result is correct to several significant figures. This idea of the Golden Section and the Fibonacci Sequence was also a favorite of Xenakis in his architectural works; the Convent de La Tourette was built on this principle.

Xenakis, an accomplished architect, saw the chief difference between music and architecture as that while space is viewable from all directions, music can only be experienced from one. The preliminary sketch for Metastasis was in graphic notation looking more like a blueprint than a musical score, showing graphs of mass motion and glissandi like structural beams of the piece, with pitch on one axis and time on the other. In fact, this design ended up being the basis for the Philips Pavilion, which had no flat surfaces but rather the hyperbolic paraboloids of his musical masses and swells. Yet unlike many avant-garde composers of this century who would take such a thing as the completed score, Xenakis notated every event in traditional notation, leaving nothing to the performers’ discretion alone.

A ballet was choreographed to Xenakis’ Metastasis and Pithoprakta by George Balanchine (see Metastaseis and Pithoprakta); the work was premiered on January 18, 1968 by the New York City Ballet with Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell.