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Xenakis-essay

Xenakis-essay

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Published by: Nikola Kyosev on Mar 16, 2011
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Discuss Iannis Xenakis` use of kinetic gas theory and other scientific observations of the natural world.

Why did he use such theories and what is the musical result?

the scholar A. and Jon Cage s Silence is inspired by the white painting of Robert Rauschenberg. using the interference of light. Newton is noticeably influenced by the antique and middle-ages principles for the harmony of the spheres . vibrating by sound. seen as totality. to freeze in the crystal cage of one now . Kircher writes in his work usurgia universalis : If during a concert we could only see the air. does not seem to surprise anybody. but situated in a strange context images in the pictures of Henri Rousseau with the pleasant. like music. But it looks as if the research on the bond between sound and picture goes beyond our imagination for elegance and it starts to be interesting only after the technology kicks in. Again in 19c. or the song of cicadas in a summer field. but being a scientist. noticed already by Isaac Newton. The struggle in the pursuit of the dream to be able to see the sound and listen to the painting reminds a lot for the seeking of the alchemy.³The collision of hail or rain with hard surfaces. but transparent shades in the pictures of Monet.´ Iannis Xenakis We could easily compare the deliberately undetermined. which is vibrating simultaneously with the different voices and instruments. relying on the false analogy between the seven musical tones of the scale and the seven colours of the spectre. without any doubt that Schoenberg s Klangfarbenmelodie is a reaction to the Theory of colours of Kandinski. is a new sonic event. the Frenchman Kastner writes about the singing flame and he constructs so called singing chandelier . but in this case it leads to a real results ways of visualisation of the sound. In 19c. and not a monk. the rough spots of paint on Gottlieb s canvases with the drastic texturalism of Varese. the distinguishing. through all the pipes a flaming gas is leaking under precise pressure. the strength of which determines the pitch of the tone. During 17c. which is made by a composition of pipes operated by a keyboard. Max Ernst with Benjamin Britten. These sonic events are made out of thousands of isolated sounds. this multitude of sounds. As a result. later he declares that analogies like this one are not empty of any sense. balanced and at the same time disturbing music of Satie. blessed from the faithful criticism. etc. the German scientist August Toepler manages to make visible the almost imperceptible heterogeneity in the air. no matter even if it is limited in the two dimensional space or on a sonogram. we could then see with an amazement shades of colours wchich are perfectly ordered. subject to objective natural laws. The way of making something so momentum. another scholar Castel (1688 1757) decides to fulfil the dream of Kircher for visualisation of music . This way of translating the musical work to the language of fine arts and vice versa looks like the most possible way to stay away from humbug an occupation full of sense. We could also. But where the aesthetic starts and where the mathematics finishes? This question immediately launches our imagination in Schoenberg s space . with the tender tonalities in the music of Debussy. where the measurements such as .

but he has no classical musical education. as a result of hyperboloids and fatnesses. he is interested by music in its monolithic entirety. tangented to these surfaces. In France Xenakis is a student of Le Corbusier. Iannis Xenakis is considered to be a French composer. The suffering in its real moment . His death penalty is removed only in 1974. While being musician. This start results in the outrage of the conservatives.. Actually. ranging on the 118 2001 I I I I P 0 1 3 9 P 11 0 2 8 P 9 10 0 6 P 3 4 6 0 P 10 11 1 7 P 1 2 4 10 P 8 9 11 5 P 2 3 5 11 P 5 6 8 2 P 4 5 7 1 P 7 8 10 4 P 6 7 9 3 RI RI RI RI RI RI RI RI RI RI RI RI I 2 1 1 5 0 3 10 4 7 6 9 8 I 11 10 8 2 9 0 7 1 4 3 6 5 I 4 3 1 7 2 5 0 6 9 8 11 10 I 10 9 7 1 8 11 6 0 3 2 5 4 7 6 4 10 5 8 3 9 0 11 2 1 I 8 7 5 11 6 9 4 10 1 0 3 2 I 5 4 2 8 3 6 1 7 10 9 0 11 I 6 5 3 9 4 7 2 8 11 10 1 0 I R R R R R R R R R R R R Music. Xenakis dies on 4 February 2001. built in 1958 for the World convention in Brussels is considered a masterpiece of Le Corbusier. in Xenakis works. the young engineer Xenakis is fighting in a partisan squad with the fascists. but of the leaders of the European vanguard. or not. without talking about Iannis Xenakis . a fruit of a sick mind another might call it. A mathematical system that is so complicated. in the sense of a psychoanalysis s protocols. He is declared a national criminal and sentenced to death. articulation. His first serious work is Metastases(1954). because it is inspired by the visual analogies. Without any classical musical education. Xenakis writes music during the 60s of 20th c. During the Second World War. dynamics and register are integrated by one thing horizontal and vertical line of a simple two-dimensional table: pitch. Space. Xenakis is interested in buildings without any walls and roofs. and then with the Englishmen. when he is 78 in Paris. Romania in 1922. is made by the surfaces. He is visiting lectures o f Messiaen in the Paris conservatoire. No matter how crazy it might sound. but in fact it is entirely projected and wi red for sound by Xenakis.. born in Braila.. 1 . which starts with a strange glissando in the strings. While being engineer. music that loses its expression. but in his origin he is Greek. this architecture of dodecaphony. (Adorno). But he writes music like no one before. too.. As a result o f a heavy wounding he loses one of his eyes. The famous pavilion of Phillips . Musical protocol. a lot of his ambitious projects fails despite of the national finance that he receives by IRCAM. this is the way Adorno describes it in his work Philosophy of New Music. it is umpossible to 1 talk about it and its followers like Boulez and Stockhausen. where Xenakis is a director. compressed to a moment.rhythm. but he manages to escape to France.

as Xenakis describes. which is why some critics argue that "Pithoprakta" is Xenakis' first truly mature musical composition in a style that acquires all its musical elements through mathematical theories and principles. which dictates the sparse textures late in the work. the more the average outcome approaches 'a determinate end'. such as pitch. such as the theory of gases and Poisson's law of sparse events. however the musical materials were undertaken purely by using Probability theory ("Pithoprakta" literally means 'actions through probabilities'). but the shape of the sound mass they generate is clear. Xenakis would still apply other theories and principles in creating the music. that occur in "Metastaseis" and later in "Pithoprakta" relate to the kinetic theory of gases. the materials themselves.(the opening glissando in Xenakis Metastases) The score of Metastases reminds a lot to the scheme of metal scaffolding of the same buildings that Xenakis is projecting during that period. There he says: The massed moving formations of string glissandi and 'brass in total disorder'." Xenakis drew an analogy between the movement of a gas molecule through space and that of a string instrument through its pitch range. In the case of "Pithoprakta. pizzicati) remain similar in "Pithoprakta". The concept of 'sound masses' and the textural use of the orchestra (for example glissandi. were acquired via a dodecaphonic row set with time (at the opening) ordered by the Fibonacci series (both common sources for organization amongst European composers at the time). he governed the 'molecules' according to a coherent sequence of imaginary temperatures and pressures. This theory states that "the temperature of a gas derives from the independent movement of its molecules." this relates to Jacque Bernoulli's law of large numbers which states that as the number of occurrences of a chance event increases. The result is a music in which separate 'voices' cannot be determined. Markos Zografos describes perfectly the use of the kinetic gas theory in his work Iannis Xenakis:the aesthetics of his early works. according to . but the importance of Probability theory was. To construct the seething movement of the piece. While in "Metastaseis" Xenakis applied the kinetic theory of gases to organize musical materials.

In 1960 Xenakis suggests one interesting mathematical model presenting of the periodical fluctuations in a sum of granules miniature acoustic explosions. with a graphical device called UPIC. situated on the knots of a grid. In 1970s he is in charge of the development of a special computer. The crowd is moving as one. In the beginning of 1960s Xenakis. does not seems so shocking. moves. the analogy for a living organism. their voices are blending together. Butchers wrote that "Xenakis is. if we produce (quickly enough) acoustic frames . The combination of perfectly identical microscopic electric chains. This idea came as a result after rough analogies (but apparently correct) with the visual arts. Could you make music without thinking of every different tone and every single instrument? Could you project complete musical masses with predetermined characteristic? Xenakis asks. When if for origination of a 1s.. in that we have moved from the belief that science consists of an ever more exact measurement of ever more precise entities to the belief that knowledge is as valid and comprehensive when it embraces an appreciation of the general characteristics of entities on a macrocosmic plane. which breaths. using programs written in the language Fortran IV. really tries to generate such sound masses. then the effect will probably be the same (or similar). to my knowledge. mutual body. After everything said so far."This application of chance to 'modern logic' that Butchers assigns comes from a statement made earlier in the article that: it is the central importance of probability which principally differentiates the science of the twentieth century from that of the past. or better said with the living nerve cells of an organism.Christopher Butchers. of vast importance in the blending of science and art.. a technology well known nowadays. 52-60 bars) Lets imagine that music is like a crowd of people. grows. the precise properties of those micro-components being irrelevant. the first in any artistic field both to invoke the notion of chance and to use it in a way which is acceptable rigorously to modern logic. this is how Xenakis formulate his ideas. are interacting between themselves the . (Xenakis glissandi in Pithoprakta . but at some moments particular exclamations and shouts could be distinguished. This model is tested on practice in 1974 when the computers are capable of doing it. but this time with the cinema. situated on the notes of a matrix and with that. he lays the theoretical bases of the so called granule synthesis. With it you could literally draw music. moving image we need 24 frames.

to create image and for AL experiments. one modern technology could be used to generate sound. even by the vanguard. Of course. . we can argue about whether that is an art and whether that is transcendental. moving through the three possible Actually. The thing that we cannot argue about is the courage with which the creator is always withstanding the attacks of the generally accepted.same was the nerve cells are using a stream of electrons states of rest. hesitation and agitation.

co. 1959 Xenakis: his life in music (New York: Routledge 2004) 3.com/perfect/xenakis. 1992 Conversations with Iannis Xenakis (London: Faber and Faber 1996) 2.co.accessed on 3 May.org/archive/2009/05/03/this_poeme_electronique_was_brought_to_ you_by_philips. 2010 .jpg > . < http://www. < http://images.accessed on 2 May.html > ZOGRAFOS.accessed on 4 May.furious. Markos.google.uk/sysimages/Arts/Arts_/Pictures/2009/2/18/1234969294457/Iannis -Xenakis-001. HARVEY. < http://static.html&usg=__jueb1TKuBoZJ_H5yy3krjzIPfk=&h=360&w=500&sz=83&hl=en&start=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=y4L2 QzvRsje1JM:&tbnh=94&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dxenakis%2Bmetastasis%2Bscore %26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbs%3Disch:1 > .BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. 2010 5.org/archive/xenakis_metastasis. 2010 4. James. Iannis.jpg& imgrefurl=http://greg. XENAKIS. Iannis Xenakis: the aesthetics of his early works Perfect Sound Forever.guim.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://greg.

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