A to Z: Xenakis

I know, I missed yesterday, so we’ll do a make-up post today. ‘X’ is a tough letter anyway, obviously, and it pretty much led me inexporably to Iannis Xenakis, a Greek composer of highly mathematical, avant-garde music. When I say “highly mathematical”, I mean just that: Xanakis applied a lot of advanced mathematical concepts to the creation of his music. From Wikipedia:

Xenakis pioneered the use of mathematical models in music such as applications of set theory, stochastic processes and game theory and was also an important influence on the development of electronic and computer music. He integrated music with architecture, designing music for pre-existing spaces, and designing spaces to be integrated with specific music compositions and performances.

The work below, Metastaseis, is…you know, I honestly don’t know how to grasp this kind of music on any kind of intellectual way. This sort of thing takes music so far into pure abstraction that I find words utterly inadequate. Even after reading on its composition, I find it terribly difficult to understand the work, and I find myself confronting the philosophical problem of how the genesis of a given effect is somehow identical with that effect. I don’t know.

I don’t understand music like this. That’s not to say that I don’t like it — although this type of listening is really only possible for me in small doses — but that liking or disliking it just seems almost irrelevant. It’s like walking along a dirt road and saying, “I don’t like that pebble.” What the hell does the pebble care?

Here’s Metastaseis.

Tomorrow: Don’t know yet!

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