When you hear Xenakis’s music – any piece of what we recognise as his mature work, starting with ‘s Metastasis, onwards – you’re.

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Xenakis’s music — and its preternaturally brilliant performers – xenakiis its listeners to witness seismic events close at hand, to be at the middle of a musical happening of cosmic intensity.

He is particularly remembered for the pioneering use of xenakos mathematical techniques in his compositions, including probability Maxwell-Boltzmann kinetic theory of gases, aleatory distribution of points on a plane, minimal constraints, Gaussian distribution, Markov chainsgame theory, group theory, Boolean algebra and Brownian motion.

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Metastaseis was inspired by the combination of an Einsteinian view of time and Xenakis’ memory of the sounds of warfareand structured on mathematical ideas by Le Corbusier.

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A fragment of a tone row is used, with durations based on the Fibonacci sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34… The preliminary sketch for Metastasis was in graphic notation looking more like a blueprint than a musical score, iannks graphs of mass motion and glissandi like structural beams of the piece, with sound frequencies on one axis and time on the other. The second movement does have some sort of melodic element.


His first major work, it was written in —54 after his studies with Olivier Messiaen and is about 8 minutes in length. Do them in your music’. Jonchaies embodies the elemental truth about all of Xenakis’s music. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

Xenakis attempted to make this distinction in his music.

Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. 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.

Iannis Xenakis in his studio in Paris, circa Xenakis resisted the label of being a mere mathematician in music just as surely as he refused the idea of his music’s political or social message, and it was of course how he used those scientific principles outlined in his book, Formalized Music to create pieces of shattering visceral power. The maths underlying its construction, and the shapes it makes, have a direct correlation in the way Xenakis uses the instruments of the orchestra in Metastasis, organising the entries of the instruments, and the pitches they play, according to the working-out of mathematical and statistical formulae, translating the space of architectural planes into musical time.

Listen to it as loud as you can and convert all your neighbours to Xenakis too. Iannis Xenakis, the man and his music: Views Read Edit View history. Loading comments… Trouble loading? 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. You’ll hear clouds of minutely detailed orchestral sonority wrap around the solo part, like flocks of small birds mobbing an avaricious raptor; and you’ll hear a near-continuous rhythmic intensity and textural violence that takes your breath away.

The piece that converted me, though, was Jonchaies for orchestra, composed inand quite simply one of the most exciting experiences you can have in music. As Ben Watson has put it, Xenakis’s work is ” an alien shard, glimmering in the heart of the West “. This site uses cookies.


A guide to Iannis Xenakis’s music | Music | The Guardian

His architectural output offers ways into his music’s imaginative world. You won’t hear vestiges of things like familiar forms, or shapes, or languages. Xenakis uses 10 staves in this piece. Shrapnel from a blast from a British tank causes a horrendous facial injury that means the permanent loss of sight in one eye.

Even the furthest-out reaches of early s serialism sound resolutely conventional next to Xenakis’s works of the same period. The Metastaseis are a hinge between classical music which includes serial music and ‘formalized music’ which the composer was obliged to inculcate into composition”. A Greek man in his early 20s fights netastasis his homeland as part of the Communist resistance at the end of the second world war.

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A guide to Iannis Xenakis’s music

Music usually consists of a set of sounds ordered in time; music played backwards is hardly recognizable. He is sentenced to death after his exile to Paris a sentence that was later commuted to a prison term, with his conviction finally quashed with the end of the junta in The preliminary sketch for Metastaseis 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, xenaki pitch on one axis and time on the other.

It sounds like something out of a film script.