"Drawn Into the Flight Path of the Sounds": Xenakis Listening Thread

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"The listener must be gripped... The sensual shock must be just as forceful as when one hears a clap of thunder or looks into a bottomless abyss."

The plan is to listen to the entire oeuvre chronologically, 45-60m per week, for as long as it takes.

For this week, let's try

Zyia (folk), S, male vv (10 minimum), fl, pf, 1952
Metastaseis, 1953–4
Pithoprakta, 1955–6
Diamorphoses, 2-track, 1957–8
Concret PH, 2-track, 1958
Analogique A & B, 9 str + tape, 1958

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:01 (two weeks ago) link

And I'll recopy the complete list of works (orig source Oxford Music Online). We'll skip any unpublished works.

Orchestral:
Anastenaria: le sacrifice, orch (51 insts), 1953, sketch
Metastaseis, 1953–4; SWF SO, cond. H. Rosbaud, Donaueschingen, 16 Oct 1955
Pithoprakta, 1955–6; Bavarian RSO, cond. H. Scherchen, Munich, 8 March 1957
Achorripsis, 21 insts, 1956–7; Colón cond. Scherchen, Buenos Aires, 20 July 1958
Duel, 2 small orchs, 1959; Radio Hilversum PO, cond. D. Masson and F. Terby, Hilversum, 18 Oct 1971
Syrmos, 12 vn, 3 vc, 3 db, 1959; Ensemble Instrumental de Musique Contemporaine, cond. Simonović, Paris, 20 May 1969
Stratégie, 2 small orchs, 1959–62; Venice Festival Orchestra, cond. B. Maderna and C. Simonović, 25 April 1963
ST/48, 48 insts, 1959–62; Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF, cond. L. Foss, Paris, 21 Oct 1968
Akrata, 16 wind, 1964–5; cond. Simonović, Paris, 1965
Terretektorh, 1966; Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF, cond. Scherchen, Royan, 3 April 1966
Polytope, 4 orch groups, 1967; Ensemble Instrumental de Musique Contemporaine, cond. Simonović, Montreal, Expo 67, 1967
Nomos gamma, 1967–8; Orchestre Philharmonique de l’ORTF, cond. C. Bruck, Royan, 4 April 1969
Kraanerg (ballet), orch, tape, 1968; Ottawa, June 1969
Synaphaï, pf, orch, 1969; Pludermacher, cond. M. Tabachnik, Royan, 6 April 1971
Antikhthon (ballet), 1971; cond. Tabachnik, Bonn, Festival Xenakis, 21 Sept 1974
Eridanos, 8 brass, str orch, 1973; Ensemble Européen de Musique Contemporaine cond. Tabachnik, La Rochelle, 13 April 1973
Erikhthon, pf, orch, 1974; C. Helffer, Orchestre de l’ORTF, cond. Tabachnik, Paris, 21 May 1974
Noomena, 1974; Orchestre de Paris, cond. G. Solti, Paris, 16 Oct 1974
Empreintes, 1975; Netherlands Radio PO, cond. Tabachnik, La Rochelle, 29 June 1975
Jonchaies, 1977; Orchestre National de France, cond. Tabachnik, Paris, 21 Dec 1977
Aïs, amp Bar, perc, orch, 1980; S. Sakkas, Gualda, Bavarian RSO, cond. Tabachnik, Munich, 13 Feb 1981
Pour les baleines, str, 1982; Orchestre Colonne, cond. D. Masson, Orléans, 2 Dec 1983
Lichens, 1983; Liège PO, cond. Bartholomée, Liège 16 April 1984
Shaar, str, 1983; Jerusalem Sinfonietta, cond. J.- P. Izquierdo, Tel Aviv, 3 Feb 1983
Alax, 3 ens of 10 insts (fl, cl, 2 hn, trbn, hp, perc, vn, 2 vc), 1985; Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Köln, Gruppe Neue Musik Hanns Eisler, cond. E. Bour, Cologne, 15 Sept 1985
Horos, 1986; Japan PO, cond. H. Iwaki, Tokyo, 24 Oct 1986
Keqrops, pf, orch, 1986; R. Woodward, New York PO, cond. Z. Mehta, New York, 13 Nov 1986
Ata, 1987; SWF SO, cond. M. Gielen, Baden-Baden, 3 May 1988
Tracées, 1987; Orchestre National de Lille, cond. J.-C. Casadeus, Paris, 17 Sept 1987
Kyania, 1990; Montpellier PO, cond. Z. Peskó, Montpellier, 7 Dec 1990
Tuorakemsu, 1990; Shinsei Nippon Orchestra, cond. H. Iwaki, Tokyo, 9 Oct 1990
Dox-Orkh, vn, orch, 1991; Arditti, BBC SO, London, cond. A. Tamayo, Strasbourg, 6 Oct 1991
Krinòïdi, 1991; Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Emilia-Romagna ‘Arturo Toscanini’, cond. R. Encinar, Parma, May 1991
Roáï, 1991; Berlin RSO, cond. O. Henzold, Berlin, 24 March 1992
Troorkh, trbn, orch, 1991; C. Lindberg, Swedish RSO, cond. E.-P. Salonen, Stockholm, 26 March 1993
Mosaïques, 1993; Orchestre des Jeunes de la Méditerranée, cond. Tabachnik, Marseilles, 23 July 1993
Dämmerschein, 1993–4; Cologne RSO, cond. Peskó, Lisbon, 9 June 1994
Koïranoï 1994; NDR SO, cond. Peskó, Hamburg, 1 March 1996
Ioolkos, 1995; SWF SO, cond. K. Ryan, Donaueschingen, 20 Oct 1996
Voile, str, 1995; Munich Chamber Orchestra, cond. C. Poppen, Munich, 16 Nov 1995
Sea-Change, 1997; BBC SO, cond. A. Davis, London, 23 July 1997
O-Mega, perc solo, chbr orch, 1997; E. Glennie, London Sinfonietta, cond. M. Stenz, Huddersfield, 30 Nov 1997

Choral:
Zyia (folk), S, male vv (10 minimum), fl, pf, 1952; cond. R. Safir, Evreux, 5 April 1994
Anastenaria: procession aux eaux claires, SATB (30vv), male choir (15vv), orch (62 insts), 1953, sketch
Polla ta dhina (Sophocles: Antigone), children’s vv, wind, perc, 1962; cond. Scherchen, Stuttgart, 25 Oct 1962
Hiketides: les suppliates d’Eschyle, 50 female vv, 10 insts/orch, 1964; cond. Simonović, Paris, 1968
Oresteïa (incid music/concert work, Aeschylus), chorus, 12 insts, 1965–6; cond. Simonović, Ypsilanti, MI, 14 June 1966
Medea (incid music, Seneca), male vv, orch, 1967; cond. Masson, Paris, 29 March 1967
Nuits, 3 S, 3 A, 3 T, 3 B, 1967–8; cond. M. Couraud, Royan, 7 April 1968
Cendrées, chorus, orch, 1973–4; cond. Tabachnik, Lisbon, 20 June 1974
A Colone (Sophocles), male/female vv (20 minimum), 5 hn, 3 trbn, 6 vc, 4 db, 1977; Metz, 19 Nov 1977
A Hélène, Mez, female vv, 2 cl, 1977; Epidavros, July 1977
Anemoessa (phonemic text), SATB (42 minimum), orch, 1979; cond. R. Dufallo, Amsterdam, 21 June 1979
Nekuïa (phonemes and text from J.-P. Richter: Siebenkäs and Xenakis: Ecoute), SATB (54 minimum), orch, 1981; cond. Tabachnik, Cologne, 26 March 1982
Pour la Paix (Xenakis), SATB, 2 female spkrs, 2 male spkrs, tape (UPIC), 1981, version for SATB (32 minimum); cond. M. Tranchant, Paris, 23 April 1982
Serment-Orkos (Hippocrates), SATB (32 minimum), 1981; Greek Radio Choir, Athens, 1981
Chant des Soleils (Xenakis, after P. du Mans), SATB, children’s choir, 18 brass 6 (hn, 6 tpt, 6 trbn) or multiple, perc, 1983; Nord-Pas-de-Calais [simultaneous performance in several towns of the region], 21 June 1983
Idmen A/Idmen B (phonemes from Hesiod: Theogony), SATB (64 minimum), 4/6 perc, 1985; Antifona de Cluj, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, 24 July 1985
Knephas (phonemes by Xenakis), SATB (32 minimum), 1990; cond. J. Wood, London, 24 June 1990
Pu wijnuej we fyp (A. Rimbaud), children’s choir, 1992; cond. D. Dupays, Paris, 5 Dec 1992
Vakchai Evripidou (Les Bacchantes d' Euripide), Bar, female vv (also playing maracas), pic, ob, dbn, hn, tpt, trbn, 3 perc, 1993; J. Dixon, cond. N. Kok, London, 1 Sept 1993
Sea-Nymphs (phonemes from W. Shakespeare: The Tempest), SATB (24 minimum), 1994; cond. S. Joly, London, 16 Sept 1994

Other vocal:
Tripli zyia, 1v, pf, 1952, unpubd
Trois poèmes (F. Villon: Aiés pitié de moy, V. Mayakovsky: Ce soir je donne mon concert d’adieux, Ritsos: Earini Symphonia [Spring Symphony]), 1v, pf, 1952, unpubd
La colombe de la paix, A, 4vv (SATB), 1953, unpubd
Stamatis Katotakis (table song), 1v, male vv, 1953, unpubd
N’shima, 2 Mez/A, 2 hn, 2 trbn, vc, 1975; cond. J.-P. Izquierdo, Jerusalem, Feb 1976
Pour Maurice, Bar, pf, 1982; S. Sakkas, C. Helffer, Brussels, 18 Oct 1982
Kassandra (Aeschylus), Bar + 20str psalterion, perc, 1987; Sakkas, Gualda, Gibellina, 21 Aug 1987 [second part of Oresteïa: see CHORAL]
La déesse Athéna (Aeschylus), Bar, pic, ob, E♭ cl, db cl, dbn, hn, pic tpt, trbn, tuba, perc, vc, 1992; Sakkas, cond. Tabachnik, Athens, 3 May 1992 [scene from Oresteïa: see CHORAL]

Chamber:
Dipli Zyia, vn, vc, 1951, unpubd
ST/4, str qt, 1956–62; Bernède Quartet, Paris, 1962
ST/10, cl, b cl, 2 hn, hp, perc, str qt, 1956–62 cond. Simonović, Paris, May 1962
Morsima-Amorsima, pf, vn, vc, db, 1956–62; cond. Foss, Athens, 16 Dec 1962
Analogique A, 9 str, 1958 [must be performed with tape work Analogique B]; cond. Scherchen, Gravesano, summer 1959
Amorsima-Morsima, cl, b cl, 2 hn, hp, perc, str qt; cond. Foss, Athens, 1962
Atrées, fl, cl, b cl, hn, tpt, trbn, 2 perc, vn, vc, 1962; cond. Simonović, Paris, 1962
Eonta, 2 tpt, 3 trbn, pf, 1963–4; cond. P. Boulez, Paris, 16 Dec 1964
Anaktoria, cl, bn, hn, str qt, db, 1969; Octuor de Paris, Avignon, 3 July 1969
Persephassa, 6 perc, 1969; Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Persepolis, 9 Sept 1969
Aroura, 12 str, 1971; cond. Tabachnik, Lucerne, 24 Aug 1971
Charisma, cl, vc, 1971; Royan, 6 April 1971
Linaia-Agon, hn, trbn, tuba, 1972; cond. Tabachnik, London, 26 April 1972
Phlegra, 11 insts, 1975; cond. Tabachnik, London, 28 Jan 1976
Epeï, eng hn, cl, tpt, 2 trbn, db, 1976; cond. S. Garant, Montréal, 9 Dec 1976
Retours-Windungen, 12 vc, 1976; Berlin PO, Bonn, 20 Feb 1976
Dmaathen, ob, perc, 1976; N. Post, J. Williams, New York, May 1977
Akanthos, 9 insts, 1977; Ensemble Studio 111, Strasburg, 17 June 1977
Ikhoor, str trio, 1978; Trio à Cordes Français, Paris, 2 April 1978
Dikhthas, vn, pf, 1979; S. Accardo, B. Canino, Bonn, 4 June 1980
Palimpsest, eng hn, b cl, bn, hn, perc, pf, str qnt, 1979; cond. S. Gorli, Aquila, 3 March 1979
Pléïades, 6 perc, 1979; Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, 17 May 1979
Komboï, amp hpd, perc, 1981; Chojnacka, Gualda, Metz, 22 Nov 1981
Khal Perr, brass qnt, 2 perc, 1983; Quintette Arban, Alsace Percussions, Beaune, 15 July 1983
Tetras, str qt, 1983; Arditti String Quartet, Lisbon, 8 June 1983
Thalleïn, pic, ob, cl, bn, hn, pic tpt, trbn, perc, pf, str qnt, 1984; cond. E. Howarth, London, 14 Feb 1984
Nyûyô [Setting Sun], shakuhachi, sangen, 2 koto; 1985; Angers, Ensemble Yonin-No Kai (Tokyo), 30 June 1985
Akea, pf, str qt, 1986; Helffer, Arditti String Quartet, Paris, 15 Dec 1986
A l’Ile de Gorée, amp hpd, pic, ob, cl, bn, hn, tpt, str qnt, 1986; cond. Kerstens, Amsterdam, 4 July 1986
Jalons, pic, ob, b cl, db cl, dbn, hn, tpt, trbn, tuba, hp, str qnt, 1986; cond. Boulez, Paris, 26 Jan 1987
XAS, sax qt, 1987; Raschèr Quartet, Lille, 17 Nov 1987
Waarg, pic, ob, cl, bn, hn, tpt, trbn, tuba, str qnt, 1988; cond. Howarth, London, 6 May 1988
Echange, solo b cl, fl, ob, cl, bn, hn, tpt, trbn, tuba, str qnt, 1989; H. Sparnaay, cond. Porcelijn, Amsterdam, 26 April 1989
Epcycle, solo vc, fl, ob, cl, hn, tpt, trbn, tuba, 2 vn, va, db, 1989; R. de Saram, Spectrum Ensemble, cond. G. Protheroe, London, 18 May 1989
Okho, 3 djembés, tall African drum, 1989; Trio Le Cercle, Paris, 20 Oct 1989
Ophaa, hpd, perc, 1989; Chojnacka, Gualda, Warsaw, 17 Sep 1989
Tetora, str qt, 1990; Arditti String Quartet, Witten, 27 Apr 1991
Paille in the wind, vc, pf, 1992; J. Scalfi, Woodward, Milan, 14 Dec 1992
Plektó, fl, cl, perc, pf, vn, vc, 1993; cond. R. Platz, Witten, 24 April 1994
Ergma, str qt, 1994; Mondrian String Quartet, The Hague, 17 Dec 1994
Mnamas Xapin Witoldowi Lutoslavskiemu [In Memory of Witold Lutosławski], 2 hn, 2 tpt, 1994; cond. W. Michniewki, Warsaw, 21 Sept 1994
Kaï, fl, cl, bn, tpt, trbn, vn, va, vc, db, 1995; cond. D. Coleman, Oldenburg, 12 Nov 1995
Kuïlenn, fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, 2 hn, 1995; Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Amsterdam, 10 June 1996
Hunem-Iduhey, vn, vc, 1996; E. Michell, O. Akahoshi, New York, 9 Aug 1996
Ittidra, str sextet, 1996; Arditti String Quartet, T. Kakuska (va), V. Erben (vc), Frankfurt, 4 Oct 1996
Roscobeck, vc, db, 1996; R. de Saram, S. Scordanibbio, Cologne, 6 Dec 1996
Zythos, trbn, 6 perc, 1996; Lindberg, Kroumata Ensemble, Birmingham, 10 April 1997

Solo instrumental:
Seven piano pieces without title, Menuet, Air populaire, Allegro molto, Mélodie, Andante, pf, 1949–50, unpubd
Suite, pf, 1950–51, unpubd
Thème et conséquences, pf, 1951, unpubd
Herma, pf, 1960–61
Nomos alpha, vc, 1965–6; S. Palm, Bremen, 5 May 1966
Mikka, vn, 1971; I. Gitlis, Paris, 27 Oct 1972
Evryali, pf, 1973; C. Helffer, Paris, 1974
Gmeeoorh, org, 1974; C. Holloway, U. of Hartford, CT, 1974
Psappha, perc, 1975; S. Gualda London, 2 May 1976
Theraps, db, 1975–6; F. Grillo, 26 March 1976
Khoaï, hpd, 1976; E. Chojnacka, Cologne, 5 May 1976
Mikka ‘S’, vn, 1976; R. Pasquier, Orléans, 11 March 1976
Kottos, vc, 1977; M. Rostropovich, La Rochelle, 28 June 1977
Embellie, va, 1981; G. Renon-McLaughlin, Paris, 1981
Mists, pf, 1981; Woodward, Edinburgh, 1981
Naama, amp hpd, 1984; Chojnacka, Luxembourg, 20 May 1984
Keren, trbn, 1986; B. Sluchin, Strasbourg, 19 Sept 1986
A r. (Hommage à Ravel), pf, 1987; H. Austbö, Montpellier, 2 Aug 1987
Rebonds, perc, 1988; Gualda, Rome, 1 July 1988

Tape
some works exist in one or more revised realizations

Diamorphoses, 2-track, 1957–8; Brussels, 5 Oct 1958
Concret PH, 2-track, 1958; Brussels, Philips Pavilion, 1958
Analogique B, 2-track, 1958–9 [must be performed with chbr work Analogique A]; cond. Scherchen, Gravesano, summer 1959
Orient-Occident, 2-track, 1960; Cannes, May 1960
The Thessaloniki World Fair (film score), 1-track, 1961
Bohor, 4-track, 1962; Paris, 15 Dec 1962
Hibiki Hana Ma, 12-track, 1969–70; Osaka, Expo 70, 1970
Persépolis, 8-track, 1971; Persepolis, 26 Aug 1971
Polytope de Cluny, 8-track, lighting, 1972; Paris, 17 Oct 1972
Polytope II, tape, lighting, 1974; Paris, 1974
La legénde d'Eer (Diatope), 4- or 8-track, 1977; Paris, 11 Feb 1978
Mycenae alpha, 2-track, UPIC, 1978; Mycenae, 2 Aug 1978
Taurhiphanie, 2-track, UPIC, 1987; Arles, 13 July 1988
Voyage absolu des Unari vers Andromède, 2-track, UPIC; Osaka, 1 April 1989
GENDY3, 2-track, Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis, 1991; Metz, 17 Nov 1991
S 709, 2-track Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis, 1994; Paris, 2 Dec 1994

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:02 (two weeks ago) link

The versions of Zyia that I see on Spotify, Youtube, and a quick look at Naxos all seem to be for solo soprano with flute and piano but that version also seems to date from 1952 so should be fine.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:08 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks for setting this up. I’ll get on it asap.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:14 (two weeks ago) link

Oh wow, you went ahead with it. Awesome. I shall return...

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:27 (two weeks ago) link

Yes pls

J. Sam, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:36 (two weeks ago) link

I listened to two recordings of Zyia: the one on Spotify sung by Angelica Cathariou and this one, with Raquel Camarinha singing: https://youtu.be/qLxLx29S2yA ; found a score on Scribd. The one on Youtube made the stronger first impression - and it's a strong one, with pretty (if very complex) melodies juxtaposed against clusters in the piano's low register, sometimes reminiscent in a way of what Vivier would get up to a couple of decades later. Quite different from the stochastic music we typically associate with Xenakis, still very much built around melody and metre. The vocal melody lines often draw on diatonic collections and even suggest tonal goals, although these change frequently and the clusters in the piano part obscure tonality. Metre also changes often, with additive patterns appearing at times.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 03:43 (two weeks ago) link

Metastaseis - opus 1! Just listened to two versions this morning, the Rosbaud-conducted one on this box: https://www.discogs.com/Various-Musique-De-Notre-Temps-Reperes-19451975/release/2583078 and the Tamayo-conducted RAI Symphony one I streamed on Naxos, which I liked so much I listened to it two more times. We're into the real deal now - huge, terrifying sound masses with that stunning first crescendo. Must have been incredible to see in 1955, a half-decade before Ligeti's and Penderecki's sound mass pieces, well before sci fi and horror film directors adopted those sounds. I'm sure it would still be a dazzling live experience. This was actually the first piece I ever heard by Xenakis, in an undergrad music history class. Definitely made an impression.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 13:14 (two weeks ago) link

Just took a look at the score and wow, yeah, 60 different parts, all written out by hand. Sort of incredible that there was a time when a Greek guy in his early 30s could even write something like this as his op. 1 and get it performed.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 13:20 (two weeks ago) link

I've listened to Zyia twice now, several hours apart. I like what the piano and flutes doing a lot, though the presence of vocals (not sure I've heard Xenakis with a solo vocalist before!) makes me slightly anxious about what I'm missing in the absence of a translation. The low clunky piano rhythms around, say, the 5:00 mark bring to mind Messiaen. Though it's fair to say that I'm kinda conditioned to hear Messiaen in things!

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 13:37 (two weeks ago) link

Pithoprakta - just listened to the Tamayo-conducted Luxembourg Orchestra recording. This is probably the Xenakis piece I've listened to most, since I used it when teaching for a couple of years. He kept the 46 strings, two trombones, and wood block from Metastaseis but not the rest of the winds and brass. All playing individual parts again. Doesn't quite have the huge dramatic moments of Metastaseis but I find it a bit more satisfying as an overall composition, I think. The arc-like form is very pleasing and well-constructed and the percussive extended techniques on the strings are great. The composition was inspired by Brownian motion iirc. A great demonstration of this concept:

The collision of hail or rain with hard surfaces, or the song of cicadas in a summer field. These sonic events are made out of thousands of isolated sounds; this multitude of sounds, seen as totality, is a new sonic event.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 13:48 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, tbh, I have no idea where the text for Zyia comes from or what it's saying. If someone has a translation or speaks Greek, would be happy to hear!

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 13:49 (two weeks ago) link

Heroic! Looking forward to this.

Maresn3st, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 14:03 (two weeks ago) link

Hi, is it okay for me to join in with this? I probably won't have much of interest to contribute, but despite having heard about "this guy Xenakis" for much of my music-listening life I've never really investigated the work, so this would be a cool learning experience.

emil.y, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 14:56 (two weeks ago) link

following, this guy is on my list to investigate further

sleeve, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:00 (two weeks ago) link

Same here.

Ilxor in the streets, Scampo in the sheets (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:00 (two weeks ago) link

Everyone is welcome!

pomenitul, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:01 (two weeks ago) link

Xenakis would have definitely wanted it that way. The full quote referenced above, as quoted in Ross, is in fact "The listener must be gripped and—whether he likes it or not—drawn into the flight path of the sounds, without a special training being necessary. The sensual shock must be just as forceful as when one hears a clap of thunder or looks into a bottomless abyss."

He's not a composer I'd say I'm exceptionally well-versed in myself so this is meant to be educational for all involved.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:25 (two weeks ago) link

Ιάννης Ξενάκης otm.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:29 (two weeks ago) link

I've got all his stuff and am most familiar with and have a preference for his piano works and have nothing of interest to say beyond oafish inarticulate enthusiasm - so I'll be another lurking observer here. Maybe learn something for once!

calzino, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:48 (two weeks ago) link

Btw, Nagx3, I don't think it's just your conditioning: Xenakis studied with Messiaen. If you can read French, this gets into the relationship between the two, with some discussion of Zyia: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/file/index/docid/770144/filename/Notes_sur_les_relations_musicales_entre_Xenakis_et_Messiaen.pdf

It seems like this is a piece Messiaen went over with Xenakis when he was working on it. The quotes from Xenakis's notes show that Messiaen's comments were important to him. He mentions Messiaen's praise and specific comments on various compositional elements, thanked him and said it was thanks to his encouragement and instruction in Indian rhythms as well as Le Corbusier and Greek folk music, and even noted that he felt like "a new man" because of Messiaen's encouragement:


15 novembre 1952. Messiaen a vu la Zyia. Il l’a lue attentivement en en trouvant des fautes de copie. Il m’a dit : « Mais c’est formidable le progrès que vous avez fait depuis les harmonisations. Vous avez maintenant une langue, un style. C’est très très bien. Comment avez-vous fait ? Vous vous rendez compte ? ». J’ai dit que c’était grâce à lui, à son encouragement, à ses leçons, ensuite à la rythmique hindoue, à Le Corbusier et ?? à la musique populaire grecque.
Il m’a répété son étonnement [41] à plusieurs reprises.
Il m’a dit qu’il voudrait bien entendre la partie centrale, ?? [soprano], flûte et piano, qu’il trouve exceptionnelle à cause de la combinaison des timbres, mélodies et rythmes.
Il a eu un doute quant au raccord de la strette avec les doubles croches de Bartók, mais, a-t-il dit, ce sera très bien quand même.
...
Il a trouvé la partie du piano solo avec la variante du refrain très bien et pas du tout longue et statique, à cause des accidents rythmiques (changements de mesures).
Il m’a proposé de montrer la Zyia de sa part à Marcel Couraud pour qu’il la mette dans ses
...
[42] Je commence à me sentir à nouveau un homme parce que les paroles de Messiaen sont très encourageantes et parce que je ?? ?? ?? {suis d’accord avec lui}. C’est le début de la fin du Moyen âge ?22 »

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 15:56 (two weeks ago) link

He recalled the composer Iannis Xenakis saying that it would take him six months to figure out a 30-minute Cecil Taylor piece. Xenakis is “my favorite European composer,” Taylor continued

Cecil was obv a big fan.

calzino, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 16:01 (two weeks ago) link

The few things I'd heard from him were very abstract and cacophonous, so the relative accessibility and simplicity of Zyia is a nice start. Looking forward to following this.

octobeard, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 16:38 (two weeks ago) link

now listening to Metastaseis. Yeah this guy is the Autechre of orchestral music

octobeard, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 16:48 (two weeks ago) link

thanks so much for this, Sund4r. will check in later tonight when i get a chance to listen to this first set of compositions.

budo jeru, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 22:46 (two weeks ago) link

Diamorphoses: I always preferred Xenakis's instrumental music to his electronic music so it's good to be able to revisit and reconsider these pieces I haven't listened to in ages. This was his first electronic work, done at Pierre Schaeffer's GRM studio, again, while he was Messiaen's student. A musique concrète work in ternary form based on white noise as well as aiui samples including bells, trains, and jet engines. On the first couple of listens, I listened for the form, which seems clear enough, with the low-end white noise largely dropping out or becoming less consistent in the second section. The glissandi derived from the bell samples are v cool. Obv people have done much more complex and elaborate things with electronic processing since then but the creativity and vision here still come through and the form is very well-balanced and pleasing. (And noise artists still do LESS complex and elaborate things as well!) Has a similar dark, intense character as some of his instrumental music from around the same time, and certainly when compared to other early musique concrète.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 22:56 (two weeks ago) link

Concret PH: next piece on the CD. This short work is derived from 1s samples of crackling embers, layered in different densities, similar to the sound mass processes he was working with in his instrumental music. Written for the Philips pavillion at the World Fair, to be played between playings of Varèse's Poème électronique. It doesn't have as much dramatic impact but the sounds are pleasant.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 23:05 (two weeks ago) link

I want in but I didn't see this thread until right now. I assume we do 5 pieces a week so if you miss one, you can catch up later?

Let's put the X in 100 gecs (Tom Violence), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 23:45 (two weeks ago) link

45-60m of music a week and we're still in the middle of the first week.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 23:50 (two weeks ago) link

Is anyone doing a Spotify playlist? Should I?

Let's put the X in 100 gecs (Tom Violence), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 23:54 (two weeks ago) link

That would be great if you want to do that, thanks!

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 14 October 2020 23:59 (two weeks ago) link

A few of the more prominent recordings on Youtube:

Metastaseis - Orchestre National de l'O.R.T.F./Maurice Le Roux
Metastaseis - Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra/Arturo Tamayo

Pithoprakta - Orchestre National de l'O.R.T.F./Maurice Le Roux
Pithoprakta - Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra/Arturo Tamayo

Diamorphoses - magnetic tape

Concret PH - magnetic tape

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:00 (two weeks ago) link

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1J3dBKMAwe0ttB13rMogfX?si=IlhgenD_S1e5M0Wkv3nqFQ if anyone needs it. Open to suggestions ofc

Let's put the X in 100 gecs (Tom Violence), Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:00 (two weeks ago) link

Haha, freaky timing.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:01 (two weeks ago) link

Analogique A+B: well, this is definitely different. A piece for 9 strings (Analogique A) and 4-track tape (Analogique B), where the ensemble and the tape alternate in a call and response fashion. From what I gather from here: https://www.iannis-xenakis.org/fxe/catalog/oeuvre_15.html , the A part was composed by stochastically generating material in arbitrary ranges of pitch (frequency?), volume, and density, and these ranges change according to probabilities determined by a Markov chain, resulting in eight 'sonic states'. The tape part is an early (the first?) granular synthesis composition, based on similar processes. Unlike the other pieces so far, these structural ideas are not apparent on listening, at least to me in two distracted listens. Feels comparatively static. Some interesting sounds for certain. I might give it another try.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:09 (two weeks ago) link

Spotify link for this one: https://open.spotify.com/album/6DqkaXUhKsbnshFkzhnfOG?si=GXgMPYPmSceXKtcafUxRQQ

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:10 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks, Tom!

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:10 (two weeks ago) link

Running late on this... I’ll get there before the week’s through.

pomenitul, Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:11 (two weeks ago) link

I'm familiar with Concret PH and Diamorphoses from an LP called Electro-Acoustic Music that I got out of the library as a teenager. Those versions are apparently revisions from 1968, although I don't know if that simply means that was when a stereo mixdown was made. The liner notes to that record describe Diamorphoses as having four parts, with the two inner sections having less sonic density than the other ones.

I wonder if the relative homogeneity of the sound sources that he uses makes his work easier to parse for "rock" based listeners than composers who used a very eclectic variety of sounds. There is more of an atmosphere and mood here than in some electronic music of the era where the composer is changing directions every 15 seconds.

I probably won't be able to listen to everything week by week, but threads like these are a great resource to go back to at a later date!

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:33 (two weeks ago) link

Interesting. The liner notes to the 1997 Xenakis - Electronic Music CD describe Diamorphoses as a ternary form, which is audible to me and is a standard classical form, but I can see how you could subdivide the middle section into two subsections for a four-part form.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:52 (two weeks ago) link

Analogique sounds pretty cool on first listen. Definitely never heard that before. Though I've tended to get more mileage out of his chamber stuff and his tapes/electronic stuff than the vast-clouds-of-sound stuff and he's neatly catering for that niche market here. :)

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Thursday, 15 October 2020 00:59 (two weeks ago) link

Catching up. Zyia is indeed Messiaen-esque, occasionally even Bartókian in its writing for the piano (maybe because Xenakis was born in Brăila?), with a dash of André Jolivet in its conception of neo-classicism as a return to pre-Christian Greek sources. I also hear echoes of Ravel's Cinq mélodies populaires grecques, which leads me to speculate that Xenakis perhaps subsequently felt the need to break with the 'exotisant' gaze of the French scene through a more forceful idiom of his own. Anyhow, I very much agree with Sund4r that the vocal melodies in particular look ahead to Claude Vivier (himself a quasi student of Messiaen via Gilles Tremblay), although to my knowledge Xenakis doesn't seem to have explored this avenue much further in his later compositions.

Even with the benefit of experience, I was expecting Metastaseis to come as a shock after Zyia, but the nifty thing about these listening threads is that they help you re-contextualize and re-historicize that which might otherwise seem sui generis. When listening to them back-to-back, both come across as constructs made of space, which to my mind implies a move away from narrative (a chiefly temporal art) and makes me wonder what Metastaseis in particular would sound like if it were played backwards or cut up and stitched back together in a different order. After all, the title really just means 'change' (including political change, which is not irrelevant here), as though to mark not only a break with his juvenilia but also to indicate that the work itself is by no means set in stone, a music of constant becoming rather than of being, quite unlike the fantasies of a return to European civilization's Greek 'roots' some of the aforementioned French composers peddled in their own compositions.

Pithoprakta is where Big Brain Xenakis really comes to the fore. Glissandos conceived as the thermodynamic movement of gas molecules, underlying scientific laws promulgated by German and British dudes whose names I'm too much of a philistine to remember, probability theory as the basis of aesthetics… I imagine this is all a musicologist's wet dream, and I am in no position to intelligently comment on any of it, but I will say that the application of theorems drawn from other disciplines to notated music remains an incredibly fecund compositional approach and – as much as I value it in its own right – it does put the comparative narrow-mindedness of integral serialism to shame. I will also say that it also sounds great (tbf I'm a sucker for string orchestras, here augmented by two discreet trombones, xylophone and a wood block), and the coexistence of pointillistic pizzicatos and nearly smeared glissandos foreshadows Ligeti's beloved 'clocks & clouds'.

Musique concrète is a blind spot for me more often than not, but I found much to enjoy in Diamorphoses, the second piece of his I had never heard so far (after Zyia). Sund4r summed it up nicely, and helped me get a better grip on what goes on in this piece, which does indeed strike me as more modern (and listenable, frankly) than what many of Xenakis's peers were up to at the time in their own electronic experiments. The link between this and his orchestral works is also quite obvious in terms of their sense of shape, and it gets me thinking about how much of Xenakis's art is one of correlation and translation between different media, almost as though he were guided by a theory of forms, if you'll forgive the lame reference.

Concret PH is considerably glassier and hence more, uh, concrete, but it also evokes a piano, which creates a strange aural illusion whereby the abstract (absolute music) and the figurative (recognizable noises made by everyday objects) coexist. It makes for an eloquent little fragment (or shard).

Analogique is perhaps the toughest nut to crack thus far, although quite interesting in that it spells out what I was just saying about correlation: its stated aim is to seek analogies between the strings and their corresponding tape material, which often requires that the two soundworlds take turns, thereby stressing their distinctness. This dual state greatly serves the piece imo – listening to A and B in isolation wouldn't work quite as well.

pomenitul, Thursday, 15 October 2020 20:54 (two weeks ago) link

As a student of, mainly, the natural sciences it's possible Xenakis' borrowings from extra-musical disciplines are part of the appeal before even hearing a note. I mean, I don't feel like it aids comprehension (the maths, when written out, looks immensely scary) but when one reads about him and finds diagrams of probability distributions and auditory response thresholds, etc, a certain deeply nerdy part of my brain gets all "these are a few of my favourite things". Hehe.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 16 October 2020 01:10 (one week ago) link

Can't find Analogique on youtube and I've forgotten my spotify password as I use it so little, so I guess I'll have to skip it? Bah.

Some scattered thoughts, probably of no use to anyone (I'm also going to try to avoid musicology terms in fear of using them wrong in front of proper musical theorists/classical buffs, so I'm gonna come across as very basic):

Zyia - not what I was expecting but I really like this one. The vocal fixes me, an anchor point in the sea, while the instrumentation roils. Nice, nice.

Metastaesis and Pithoprakta are in line with what I expected Xenakis to sound like, probably b/c the former is the only one I've heard before. The latter almost gave me an anxiety attack tbh. I used to chill out to Stockhausen and sounds like that, I don't think I can do it any more. Doesn't mean I don't like it, it's super cool, but my chest was definitely tightening in places.

Diamorphoses - love this but I want to argue with pomenitul's statement that it's more modern (and listenable, frankly) than what many of Xenakis's peers were up to at the time in their own electronic experiments, I'm just not sure I'm up to the job. Would be interested to know what pieces you were thinking of specifically in your comparison, and maybe we could tease out why we differ in stances?

Concret PH - this is gorgeous and I wish it went on forever. It's obviously the least 'composed' of all the pieces on the list, but the sounds are perfect for me.

emil.y, Friday, 16 October 2020 14:38 (one week ago) link

I was thinking of stuff like Varèse's Poème électronique, Stockhausen's Studie II, Boulez's Etudes I & II, Barraqué's Etude (I see a pattern here!), etc. Luc Ferrari, Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani and other noted musique concrète practitioners from that era are in a different category as far as I'm concerned because they devoted the quasi entirety of their efforts to the genre.

pomenitul, Friday, 16 October 2020 14:49 (one week ago) link

Ah, okay, so that rules out some counterpoints, and I don't know the Boulez or Barraqué. Poème électronique is basically godhead to me, so I've got to disagree about its listenability at least. Do you think that what separates out Diamorphoses is that it's already moved to composition where the examples you mention are still stuck in exploration?

emil.y, Friday, 16 October 2020 15:11 (one week ago) link

If you don't know Vivier's Lonely Child, it might be worth a try if you like Zyia.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Friday, 16 October 2020 15:11 (one week ago) link

I do not, thank you!

emil.y, Friday, 16 October 2020 15:14 (one week ago) link

Do you think that what separates out Diamorphoses is that it's already moved to composition where the examples you mention are still stuck in exploration?

I would say so, yes. Keep in mind that I am generally not very receptive to tape music/musique concrète/sound collage/early electronic experiments/Cageian 'banal noises are also music', so my assessment is bound to be harsh by default – no doubt unfairly so, but we all have our blind spots. Perhaps I'll overcome this one someday.

pomenitul, Friday, 16 October 2020 15:16 (one week ago) link

Check out the studio version with Susan Narucki – you can find it here.

xp

pomenitul, Friday, 16 October 2020 15:18 (one week ago) link

Btw if someone wants to do a series of musique concrète polls at some point, I'd be on board.

pomenitul, Friday, 23 October 2020 12:59 (six days ago) link

All of these things (as well as two fifths not adding up to a tenth but a ninth, etc) I guess stem from the number zero not being an immediate concept to humans, and/or the tendency to think in numbers of objects rather than the space between them. It's not so long ago that it was customary to e.g. consider a Wednesday to come three days after Monday, which seems a convention as useful as any other until you try to add or subtract.
(So an octave ought really to be called a septave, the unison should be a zeroson, the two fourths C-G and G-D would add up to the eighth C-D, and all would work out. I'm not holding my breath.)

Disagree that this would be more logical. I've never heard of that in terms of counting days of the week but I don't think this is the same - ordinal numbers are not the same as cardinal numbers. Interval size isn't labelled based on counting equally sized units (unless you're doing it in terms of tones or semitones). A cello playing C + a violin playing C doesn't add up to zero - it adds up to harmonic unity. A major third is the distance from the first note to the third note of the major scale, not a total of three units of something; the distance between a major third and a perfect fourth is less than the distance between a major second and a major third. Labelling measure numbers after the bar instead of before is unconventional (at least today) but isn't necessarily illogical. Labelling two octaves as a 16th is just madness.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Friday, 23 October 2020 13:45 (six days ago) link

I mean, if we want to actually measure intervals mathematically, we just say that an octave is 12 semitones, which is far more precise than calling it a septave or something.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Friday, 23 October 2020 14:02 (six days ago) link

I've listened to Takahashi's recording of Herma a few times now and have to admit I haven't found a way in yet. Maybe I should read more about it?

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Friday, 23 October 2020 14:14 (six days ago) link

I hadn't read anything about it before listening, but maybe I just have lower standards for 20th century solo piano music? Or I was in a particularly receptive mood. Her recordings of Feldman were my only point of reference, for her playing I mean-- obviously the composers are not much alike.

Iannis Xenakis double fisting Cutty Sark (Tom Violence), Friday, 23 October 2020 21:52 (six days ago) link

No, I don't think it means you have low standards! It's a well-respected piece, I gather. I just didn't really feel like I understood it yet.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Saturday, 24 October 2020 01:23 (five days ago) link

xps

Fair points, Sund4r. I concede that the current terminology works without particular problems in practice, but I cannot help finding it somewhat suboptimal. A minor point: I think how intervals measure in semitones is a red herring, or a separate matter; for tonal music at least, it seems to me that diatonic distance does make sense as a measure in itself, regardless of semitone buildup. In a major-scale metric, for instance, it makes sense in some contexts to say that the distance between a major third and a perfect fourth is the same as between a major second and a major third, even if it is only half the distance in a chromatic or log-frequency metric.

(Btw, the thing with measure numbers was that I found it more logical to label it after the bar.)

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 24 October 2020 12:04 (five days ago) link

I guess the thing with a term like "(perfect) fifth" is that in actual use, it is just a convenient label for a certain relationship, without particular regard to the numeric content of the term. I mean, I would be much more likely to call a C-G interval in a Xenakis piece a "fifth" rather than a "seven-semitone interval", even if the number five has no relevance whatsoever there (as opposed to in a Beethoven sonata).

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 24 October 2020 12:15 (five days ago) link

Fwiw, pcset theory, commonly used for analysing and sometimes writing post-tonal music, IS based on regarding C-G as a distance of seven semitones rather than a tonal relationship of a P5.

("Steps" - distinct from "whole steps/half steps" - are the units that are consistent between tonal intervals. I don't really see a logical inconsistency with saying that a third involves a distance of two steps.)

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Saturday, 24 October 2020 13:50 (five days ago) link

I listened to Marc Ponthus's recording of Herma this morning and it clicked right away. Maybe Takahashi softened me up.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:18 (five days ago) link

Anyway, back to the works. There is quite the difference in tempo in the two recordings of Achorripsis on Spotify – the Luxembourg/Tamayo takes it at the pace specified in the score (approx 7 minutes), but the EIMC Paris/Simonovitch is almost 25% faster, at 5:19!

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:20 (five days ago) link

I don't have anything intelligent to add, but Achorripsis is a favourite of mine – I love how it mimics serialism without resorting to its strictures. Syrmos sounds more typically Xenakis-esque to my ears, and while I like his way with string instruments in general, it doesn't strike me as the most memorable of his compositions. Herma remains a mystery to me – I am much more partial to his later pieces for solo piano. Lastly, Orient-Occident, which I had never heard before, is absolutely incredible: evocative and abstract in equal measure, a kind of precursor to kosmische Musik.

pomenitul, Saturday, 24 October 2020 19:42 (five days ago) link

Special shout-out to YouTube user 'do you have a a eggs for me', who posted the following comment 8 years ago, in response to Orient-Occident:

I just don't understand

pomenitul, Saturday, 24 October 2020 19:44 (five days ago) link

Agree with Sund4r that the Ensemble Resonanz recording of Syrmos sounds massive! The score says that each voice may be doubled, maybe that option has been taken here? Re tuplets: I noticed that both this one and Achorripsis are chock full of 5-to-4-to-3 juxtapositions; I haven't noticed any higher tuplets.

Another random thought after a few works so far: One thing that pretty much doesn't happen within a piece, is change in tempo. Of course a corresponding-ish effect can be written out in changing note values instead, but it does seem to me that while the detailed action may ebb and flow, it feels like this happens against a ground that gives an impression of a measured, but relentless procession.

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:07 (five days ago) link

"Orient-Occident" is very good, but I don't think it or "Diamorphoses" are that different from what else was being produced in various studios in Paris in the late 50s/ early 60s. "Concret PH" was more original and then he really heads for pastures new with "Bohor".

Young Boys of Bernie (Tom D.), Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:11 (five days ago) link

what else was being produced in various studios in Paris in the late 50s/ early 60s

Any similar-sounding pieces you'd recommend in particular?

pomenitul, Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:19 (five days ago) link

Oh, I'd have to think about that!

Young Boys of Bernie (Tom D.), Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:34 (five days ago) link

Actually, I've just listened to it and it's a lot clangier and screechier than I remembered! I can definitely hear Schaeffer in there though.

Young Boys of Bernie (Tom D.), Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:51 (five days ago) link

Made for a documentary film and commissioned by UNESCO, it seems.

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 24 October 2020 21:57 (five days ago) link

Week 3:
ST/48, 48 insts, 1959–62
ST/4, str qt, 1956–62
ST/10, cl, b cl, 2 hn, hp, perc, str qt, 1956–62
Bohor, 4-track, 1962

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 14:57 (three days ago) link

I couldn't find any available recordings of the score for Thessaloniki World Fair.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 14:58 (three days ago) link

*film score

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 15:04 (three days ago) link

James Harley (U of Guelph composer) on the ST series and ST/48 in particular at AMG:

In the period leading up to 1962, Iannis Xenakis was preoccupied with developing a compositional system that would be completely automated. His application of mathematical techniques adapted from probability theory in earlier pieces such as Pithoprakta and Acchorpsis lead to what he termed "stochastic" music. In this approach, as many compositional decisions as possible are made through the application of some probability function, often interlocked to create Markov chains, enabling one event to influence the next in some fashion. By 1962, Xenakis had managed to create a computer program to test his composition algorithm, and on that basis he produced a family of works.

The orchestral ST/48 is the piece of this set that is for the largest forces, but is probably the least known. It was not performed until 1968 and has been little performed since. The algorithm produces music on the basis of pre-defined sections, the durations to be determined by some function. ST/48, which lasts ten minutes, has seven sections, each lasting anywhere from twelve seconds (IV) to well over two minutes (V, VI). Xenakis' trademark glissandi are heard, but the strings are treated somewhat less intricately than in such piecvs as Pithoprakta. Instruments tend to play one note (or glissando) then drop out, creating a statistical, kaleidoscopic texture. The primary distinction between the seven sections is the noticeable shift in overall density. The highest degree of activity is found in sections I, V, and VII. The final one is quite brief and markedly denser than any of the others.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 15:22 (three days ago) link

Bohor was side 1 of the LP I mentioned above. Apparently, the North American pressing of the LP was specifically mastered by Xenakis and Bob Ludwig to increase in volume at the climax? I haven't heard any versions on CD to compare. Three years later, Ludwig was mastering Metal Machine Music.

The liner notes to the LP are correct: "the piece demands total surrender". 20 minutes is about the right length for this kind of experience.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 26 October 2020 15:55 (three days ago) link

Although algorithmic/generative music is not overall my jam most of the time, ST/48 was actually pretty pleasant and unexpectedly placid-feeling on first listen.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 16:01 (three days ago) link

Listening to JACK Quartet's recording of ST/4 on Naxos for the second time and not totally sure what to make of it. I don't really get the sense of form, narrative, and drama that I get from the Xenakis pieces I like most but the sounds are interesting and engaging in an ambient sort of way.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Monday, 26 October 2020 17:17 (three days ago) link

ST/10 isn't on Spotify, anyone have a YouTube link?

Iannis Xenakis double fisting Cutty Sark (Tom Violence), Monday, 26 October 2020 22:17 (three days ago) link

Bohor: I'm not sure if I've listened to this since I was an undergraduate - listening now, it seems like something that should have been way up my alley then. Maybe it was? The notes to the Electronic Music question whether we will ever know anything about how the piece was composed but this is actually quite detailed and informative: http://sites.music.columbia.edu/masterpieces/notes/xenakis/notes.html . I knew none of this!

I'm finding it a little harsh at times but it's also kind of an awesome (in the old meaning of the term) sound. Succeeds at evoking the intended feeling of "being inside a bell". The noise in the last three minutes is fantastic. I feel like the common thread between the pieces in the period we're exploring this week is a move away from dramatic linear sectional forms and more of a 'music as environment' aesthetic?

It just ended - feels like a shock to no longer be in the bell, and feel a little deafened.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 27 October 2020 02:40 (two days ago) link

ST/10 isn't on Spotify, anyone have a YouTube link?

I can find it on Spotify in Norway; might just be hard to search for by title, or licencing may differ between countries. It is on the album "Iannis Xenakis: Atrées, Morsima-Amorsima, Nomos Alpha, ST 4, Achorripsis", disc 2 track 3:

Album: https://open.spotify.com/album/43H1Wm5cYm7TEuMKrAvxEQ?si=jrIIHXJXRqSfBI2B1jaJEA
Track: https://open.spotify.com/track/7yp5MsjkDvvlYsTP9IhaqA?si=K9xb_3N8QImrHPxyztTqRQ

anatol_merklich, Tuesday, 27 October 2020 09:43 (two days ago) link

ST/4 is an adaption of ST/10, by the way (in case it wasn't obvious, the number indicates the number of players):

"The quartet is in essence a transcription of the score for the larger ensemble. ST/10 includes a string quartet as part of its ensemble, so those parts were lifted directly. The next step of the transcription, though, was to add in anything else from the other parts of ST/10 that would be possible for the quartet to play. This includes percussion, where a drum roll would be transcribed as tapping fingers on the body of the string instrument, and harp, where the extended lower range could be played by the cello with judicious adjustment of the tuning peg of the lowest string."

(From https://www.fields.utoronto.ca/programs/scientific/12-13/xenakis/xenakis.html)

IIRC, the tuning-down-the-cello-while-pizzicatoing-trick is also used in the Nomos Alpha solo piece? We'll see when we get there soon enough.

anatol_merklich, Tuesday, 27 October 2020 10:12 (two days ago) link

I am falling behind already, fuck.

emil.y, Tuesday, 27 October 2020 17:23 (two days ago) link

Bohor is legendary

one of the things I have grown to love about Xenakis' electronic works are the radical differences in each commercial release -- the mix is the performance. it used to drive me insane in the same way trying to find the 'best' recording of a symphony but you quickly learn to love the details

my go to listen for the 1957-1962 electronic works is a CDR rip of the Nonesuch 'Electro-acoustic Music' LP, which is far murkier but also has much greater dynamic range. nothing compares to how loud the ending of Bohor gets on those mixes. the EMF 'Electronic Music' CD jacks up the treble in fascinating ways -- tons of detail in the high end, but it's more like reading a score than hearing it. this thread might be an excuse for me to finally buy and burn a CDR of the Recollections GRM edition on bandcamp.

the youtube uploads of the orchestral pieces which sync the listening to the sheet music / graphical scores are kind of revelatory

skipping ahead to mention this, but Chris Marker's TV series 'The Owl's Legacy' spends all of episode 8 on Xenakis circa his development of the UPIC system. you can probably already imagine how much Marker has zooming the camera in on late 80's computer monitors as interns digitize images of owls to play them back as audio waveforms, or interviewing people about using lightpens to directly draw sound vibrations, it's all pretty reassuring

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 27 October 2020 18:58 (two days ago) link

Ha, I didn't realize there were significantly different mixes on the different releases.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Tuesday, 27 October 2020 22:25 (two days ago) link

At least for the Nonesuch release, it is the same mix as the original French LP release but changed in the mastering process, as I mentioned above.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 27 October 2020 22:45 (two days ago) link

What's the story behind the 2019 remastered version on The Wire Recordings that is on Spotify?

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 03:36 (yesterday) link

I'm listening on free Spotify but based on the first few minutes, it seems loud and distorted compared to the version on the Electronic Music CD? Much less pleasant.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 03:40 (yesterday) link

(That said, it's free Spotify so ignore everything I say.)

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 03:47 (yesterday) link

On one listen (while reading) to the Spotify link above, ST/10 didn't seem to reveal much more than the ST/4 adaptation to me but I'll listen again this week. Bohor definitely this week's highlight.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 16:47 (yesterday) link

I'm only dipping in here and there but I've been inside the Bohor bell for ten minutes now and am spinning out a little. You can definitely hear the Iraqi and Hindu jewellery being dragged across something (and around yr head, again and again and again).

Matt DC, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 17:01 (yesterday) link

>What's the story behind the 2019 remastered version on The Wire Recordings that is on Spotify?

That's unlistenable! Clearly remastered from vinyl, clicks left in, sawed off. The modern temptation when mastering drone music that mostly lacks transient peaks is to slam it.

The Erato / Nonesuch LPs include the mix number in the title, while later CDs usually fail to indicate - https://www.discogs.com/Xenakis-Bohor-I-Diamorphoses-II-Orient-Occident-III-Concret-P-H-II/release/12646028

'Bohor I' usually starts with the underlying drone mixed just as loud as the scrapes. The EMF CD I think is just a radically EQ'd version of 'Bohor I' with a less extreme volume curve at the end. The Recollections GRM vinyl is closer to 'Bohor I'. I am taking a wild guess by saying this, but the version which starts by fading in the scraping by itself, and adds the drone around seven minutes in -- might in actuality be 'Bohor II'. I'll leave that to the experts

CD releases of every electronic work after Persepolis is where it really starts getting crazy. So many radically different versions by other composers & engineers. I have the original eight channel multitrack for Persepolis, and you can imagine how utterly raw each channel's sounds are -- there's no pre-printed volume curves or fades between sections, the structure & conducting all comes in the mixdown. The tape is the score & the playback is the performance

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 19:33 (yesterday) link

Ha, I did make it all the way through but it was startling how unpleasant it was compared to the 97 CD.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 19:42 (yesterday) link

I've got the EMF CD, which I bought in New York a couple of months after 9/11.

Young Boys of Bernie (Tom D.), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 19:55 (yesterday) link

ok I was totally wrong. 'Bohor II' was the official title of the tape component for the multimedia work 'Polytope de Cluny'. Every commercial release of that tape has been under the title 'Polytope de Cluny', and all subsequent releases of 'Bohor' omit the numeral, I suppose to keep things less confusing

https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01789708/file/Iannis%20Xenakis,%20La%20musique%20électroacoustique%3A%20The%20elctroacoustic%20Music.pdf

Why Bohor? - Charles Turner (CUNY Graduate Center, USA)

the following article on the different versions of 'Legende d'eer' is fascinating too

going through the Recollections GRM mix of 'Bohor' now & also found a less-badly-remastered version of the less-drony 'Bohor' sund4r found - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DODVNHukY0I

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 21:54 (yesterday) link

Oh geez, emil.y, if this Wire remastering of Concret PH is what you listened to, the CD version is not nearly as harsh.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 22:31 (yesterday) link

Heh, a morsel of gossip from the article preceding the Turner one: <i>Bohor</i> was dedicated to Pierre Schaeffer, who was asked if he liked it: "I detest <i>Bohor</i>, which Xenakis was so kind as to dedicate to me. I could tell it to his face, because he is one of the few with whom that is possible."

anatol_merklich, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 22:45 (yesterday) link

He is quoted in the liner notes to the CD as saying "Bohor was, for the worst (I mean for the best!), the wood fire of his beginnings. No longer the crackling embers of Concret PH, it was an enormous series of explosions, an onslaught of stabs with a lancet in the ear at the highest level on a potentiometer."

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 22:57 (yesterday) link

Anyway, that Youtube clip that Milton shared is much nicer than the remaster on Spotify and actually a v pleasant listen.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 22:58 (yesterday) link

Found out I had a rip of the EMF disc in the file system vaults, and yeah, that is quite different.

Also, all the STs have been really clicking for me today, and have never really done so before. A bunch of repetitions must have helped a lot, even though they haven't been very focused. "Ooh there is that little tune again!" :-D

anatol_merklich, Wednesday, 28 October 2020 23:11 (yesterday) link

Oh, EMF = Electronic Music Foundation. Yeah, that's the same disc I have.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 23:26 (yesterday) link

Liked ST/10 better on second listen.

I guess I'd be lonesome (Sund4r), Thursday, 29 October 2020 02:29 (twenty hours ago) link


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