Limit Experiences of Electronic Music in the Context of Iannis Xenakis’ Work
Thu, May 31, 2012 – Sat, June 02, 2012, Festival
Iannis Xenakis’ music cannot be defined through the conventional channels, and is far better characterized by extreme means. This is not only reflected in the kind of construction, but in the effect that this music has. Here, Xenakis’ electronic compositions set themselves apart from the instrumental ones by way of their radical intensity in every sense of the word. Iannis Xenakis’ premier shows which he himself controlled and took to the threshold of pain were legendary.

The possibility of an interpretation emerges when relating this musical experience to Xenakis’ biography: The radicalism of his music may well have emerged from the deep need to be master of the most extreme sensual experiences, to introduce order to chaos, to immerse himself in a primeval broth of acoustic forms so as to be finally reborn. Thus, an experience Xenakis himself was to undergo in his past as a freedom fighter.

In the symposium, the dialectic is to be prepared both by construction and sensation. The manner in which Xenakis works, the aesthetics he evolves and the instruments he constructs, all open up a new horizon of musical design and experience. Among others, contemporary witnesses who worked with Xenakis, or who conducted scholarly research on his legacy in the Centre Iannis Xenakis at the University of Rouen will hold lectures. Furthermore, experts on Xenakis’ life and work will likewise make contributions.

The symposium’s context comprises four concerts and two workshops.

Aspects of limit experiences are articulated in works by, among others, Maryanne Amacher, but also in »Williams Mix« by John Cage, who implements the idea of chaos in a highly unique manner. In addition, performances will be given of works resulting from the UPIC, one of Xenakis’ instrumental developments. The highpoint of the concerts culminates in the European premier of Xenakis’ work »Persepolis« in the Karlsruhe Palace Gardens. This installation of 48 loudspeakers reproduces exactly the arrangement of the very first performance among the ruins of the ancient palace of the Persian king in Persepolis (Iran), which, for Xenakis, constituted more than mere scenery.

With the UPIC (Unité Polyagogique Informatique du CEMAMu), Xenakis was one of the first to develop a graphic instrument for translating drawing into sound. In the workshops, Rodolphe Bourotte will be presenting the participants with a software version of this instrument, before going on to use it for developing strategies on the basis of the drawings.

The two workshops are conceived for youth from twelve years of age upwards. The symposium is linked to those approaches to sound art as were presented in the exhibition »Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art«, in which, among others, a version of the original UPIC, as well as drawings in Xenakis’ work »Mycenae Alpha« may be viewed.


Thurs, May 31, 2012

4 p.m. − 7 p.m.: Symposium on Iannis Xenakis

4 p.m.: opening

4.20 p.m.: Bill Dietz »Interactions with Listening Mind« Maryanne Amacher's Glial Instrumentations

5.05 p.m.: Werner Dafeldecker, Valerio Tricoli »Williams Mix Extended«

5.40 p.m.: Rudolf Frisius »Musik als Formverlauf? Form und Struktur in der instrumentalen und elektroakustischen Musik von Iannis Xenakis«

6.25 p.m.: Roundtable

8.00 p.m.: concert Maryanne Amacher »GLIA«

In 2006, Maryanne Amacher created a new work for the Berlin ensemble »Zwischentöne« [Nuances]. This work, conceived for up to seven or eight instruments and »electronics« represents an exception in her otherwise predominantly installation and electronic oriented oeuvre. The work bearing the title »GLIA« (named after the glial cells in the brain that control the transmission of stimuli between the synapses) was performed once in the Berlin multimedia center TESLA. This first exhibition was (still) instructed and supervised by Amacher herself in collaboration with the former director of the ensemble »Zwischentöne« , Peter Ablinger, as well as with current director Bill Dietz.

In »GLIA« , Amacher imagines the audience as a kind of glial cell representing the interface between the electronic and acoustic-instrumental elements of the work. In a narrower sense, she imagined the »otoacoustic emissions« (the sounds within the ear radiating once again from the electronic devices and instruments as if »by magic« ) emerging in the audience’s ears as precisely this »neural interface« .

This corresponds to the same approach Amacher had previously intended with her piece for the Kronos Quartett in the 1990s which was never performed (and probably never completed). In fact, the material for this string quartet had been partly newly arranged for »GLIA« . After the Berlin premier, Amacher returned to Kingston / New York, and took home with her all the material for the performance of this work. In 2009, the »Zwischentöne« ensemble invited Amacher to return to Berlin to further develop »GLIA« . Unexpectedly, Amacher tragically died shortly before this planned reencounter.

Fri, June 01, 2012

4 p.m. − 7 p.m.: Symposium on Iannis Xenakis

04:00 p.m.: Leopoldo Siano, Tobias Hünermann, Christoph von Blumröder, Matthias Nowakowski »Iannis Xenakis Künstlerische Physiognomie und kompositorisches Umfeld«

05:30 p.m.: Rodolphe Bourotte »Limits and perspectives of the computer-assisted sound drawing experience«

06:20 p.m.: Roundtable

8 p.m.: Concert – John Cages »Williams Mix« by Werner Dafeldecker and Valerio Tricoli

Together with »Cinq études de bruits« (1948), by Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen‘s »Studie II« (1954), »Williams Mix« (1952/53) by John Cage, belongs among the key works of early audiotape music. During these early years, in which the appearance of the synthesizer and sequencer were still a long way off, electro-acoustic music was produced directly on audiotape in what was then the newly-founded studios: by recording existing sounds (environmental noises, voices, music instruments, etc.), the generation of electroacoustic sounds by the simplest of means (vibration and noise generators, beat buzzers, etc.), processing through filtering, transformation of the replay speed and direction and, finally, by the temporal sequence and overlapping of material.

Although John Cage left the score of »Williams Mix« with his publisher C.F. Peters New York, so that other artists could produce new pieces, this opportunity has yet to be exploited. In this sense, Werner Dafeldecker’s and Valerio Tricoli’s project of once again realizing »Williams Mix« represents a premiere. Its significance not only lies in the digital appropriation of analog production methods by contemporary artists, in the sense of a historical practice of performance, but far more in the redemption of John Cage’s demand which was to understand audiotape music as a living part of musical encounter and analytical interpretation, and to accordingly update it by way of the new technologies.

Sat, June 02, 2012

10 a.m. − 3.30 p.m.: Symposium on Iannis Xenakis

10:00 a.m.: Daniel Teige »Dead or alive: Performance and interpretation aspects on Xenakis Polytopes today!«

10:45 a.m.: Makis Solomos »Pour la Paix«

11:30 a.m.: Sharon Kanach »Iannis Xenakis: Construction and Sensation/ A best-case scenario of »boys and their toys«

12:15 a.m.: Thomas Troge »Genie oder Paranoia − Musikdenken bei Xenakis unter dem Aspekt der Kognitions- und Gehirnforschung«

02:00 p.m.: Daniel Teruggi »Did Iannis Xenakis ever compose »Musique concrète«?«

02:45 p.m.: Roundtable

10.30 a.m. − 3.30 p.m.: »Iannis Xenakis’ UPIC Composition System«
Workshop with Rodolphe Bourotte for adults (Workshop for children: Sun June 03rd, 2012, 10 a.m.−2 p.m.)

Componiser Iannis Xenakis counted many talents: Among them was finding a possibility to transform paintings into music. The workshop with Rodolphe Bourotte teaches participants the principles of the computer programm UPIC which Xenakis develloped. Thus participants turn into composers themselves!

4 p.m.: Concert – Works by Iannis Xenakis, Daniel Teruggi, Rodolphe Bourotte, Curtis Roads and others realized with the composition system »UPIC«

This concert presents works by Iannis Xenakis, but also by Xenakis’ students along with other composers, all of which were produced by means of the graphic UPIC compositional tool.

A − UPIC pieces
Iannis Xenakis − Voyage absolu des Unari vers Andromède (1989, 15'30")
Daniel Terrugi − Gestes de l'écrit (1994, 11')
François-Bernard Mâche − Tithon (1989, 10'00")
Brigitte Robindoré − L'autel de la perte et de la transformation (1993, 8'33")

B - GENDYN and related
Curtis Roads − Sonal Atoms (1998, 3'37")
Rodolphe Bourotte − 110110 (2012, 7')
Luc Döbereiner − Piz Argient (2008, 11')
Iannis Xenakis − Gendy3 (1991, 19'00")

8:30 p.m.: Concert – Iannis Xenakis »Persepolis« in the Karlsruhe Palace gardens
with Daniel Teige

On August 26, 1971 the work »Polytope de Persépolis« had a premier showing in the ruins of the Persian Royal Palace from the year 550 BC, at the Schiraz Art Festival founded by Schahbanu Farah Pahlavi.

For this purpose, Xenakis divided the acoustic range into six architectonic spaces corresponding to the spaces in the ruins. The loudspeakers were positioned such that located within each of these spaces was a special acoustic situation between which the visitors were able to move. In spite of the space’s openness (for the most part the ruins comprised fragments of pillars), the sound constitutes a collage culminating in the climax of an infernal, almost frightening collage.

The work is to be presented in its original arrangement in a European premier at the Karlsruhe Palace Gardens.

Daniel Teige is to direct the implementation of the concept and performance.
Organization / Institution