Syllabi [selected]

Course number G71.2198
Special Topics: Xenakis, Fall 2004, E.Hoffman

Some themes of this course:
— Xenakis’s major technical constructs, especially sieves, screens, group theory, and
musically mapped probability distributions, as implemented in the music

— X’s views, and his musical developments, regarding pitch, rhythm, meter, timbre,
and density

— The relation of Xenakis’s mathematically driven and “reasoned” thought to his
intuitive thought

— His motivations for using complex and systematic procedures to generate musical
irregularities and mass events

In sum, we’ll explore Xenakis’s use of elements from mathematics, probability, and architecture;
his rethinking of elements from Western music; his attempts to evoke new aural
and social listening experiences, and his efforts to manifest philosophic thought in sonic form.

Baltensperger, Andre. 1987. “Im Atelier von Le Corbusier” and “Xenakis als Architekt
im Atelier von Le Corbusier” from Xenakis und die Stochastiche Musik.
(Bern: Verlag Paul Haupt).

Bois, Mario. 1967. Iannis Xenakis: the Man and His Music. A conversation with the
composer and a description of his works. (London: Boosey and Hawkes).
English edition.

Boettinger, Peter. 1987. “Zeitgestaltung: Die kompositorische Bewaltigung rhythmischer
und formaler Probleme im Werk von Iannis Xenakis.”
Musik-Konzepte. Vol. 54/55: 43-70.

Matossian, Nouritza. 1986. Xenakis. (London: Kahn & Averill).

Squibbs, Ronald. 1996. “An Analytical Approach to the Music of Iannis Xenakis.”
Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University. (Ann Arbor: UMI).

_____. 2003. “Xenakis in Miniature: Style and Structure in à r. (Hommage à Ravel) for
Piano (1987).” Perspectives of New Music. 41/1 (Winter): 120-153.

Varga, Balint Andras. 1996. Conversations with Iannis Xenakis. (London: Faber and

Vriend, Jan. 1981. “Nomos Alpha: Analysis and Comments.” Interface, vol 10: 15-8.

Toop, Richard. 1981. Stockhausen’s Electronic Works: Sketches and Work-Sheets
1952-1967. Interface, vol 10: 149-157.

Xenakis, Iannis. 1992. Formalized Music. (New York: Pendragon Press).
Revised edition. Edited by Sharon Kanach. Chapters 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10

_____. 1976. Musique, Architecture. (Tournai, Belgium: Casterman).
“Formalisation et axiomatisation de la composition musicale” (ch. 3)
“Les trois Paraboles” (ch. 2)


Beltrami, Edward J. 1999. What is Random? Chance and Order in Mathematics and
Life. (New York: Springer-Verlag). Chapters 1 and 2.

Chung, Kai Lai. 1979. Elementary Probability Theory with Stochastic Processes.
(New York: Springer-Verlag). Third Edition. Chapter 7.

Clarke, A. Bruce. 1985. Probability and Random Processes. (New York:
John Wiley & Sons):
ch. 7 “Special Distributions”

Isaac, Richard. 1999. The Pleasures of Probability. (New York: Springer-Verlag).
Chapters 9-12.

Stewart, Ian. 1989. Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos. (Cambridge,
MA: Basil Blackwell), especially chapters 3, 4, 8, 9

Ariza, Christopher. 2000-2004. Algorithmic and analytic tools utilizing X. sieve models.

______. 2004. Onomato. 2004. Musical composition utilizing sieve processes applied to

______. 2004. An Object-Oriented Model of the Xenakis Sieve for Algorithmic Pitch,
Rhythm, and Parameter Generation. Computer Music Journal, 2005.

Borges, Jorge Luis. 1964. “The Library of Babel” in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and
Other Writings. (New York: New Directions). Edited by Donald Yates.
Augmented edition.

DeLio, Thomas. 1980. “Iannis Xenakis’s Nomos Alpha: the Dialectics of Structure and
Materials.” Journal of Music Theory 24/1: 63-95.

Gallop, David. 1984. Parmenides of Elea: fragments. (Toronto: Toronto University

Johnson, Robert Sherlaw. 1975. Messiaen. (Berkeley : University of California Press.)

Kaletha, Holger. 2004. “Decomposition of the Sound Continuum.” Perspectives of New
Music. 42/1 (Winter 2004): 84-128. Translated by Jerome Kohl.

Taran, Leonardo. 1965. Parmenides. A Text with Translation, Commentary, and
Critical Essays. (Princeton: Princeton University Press).

Lacroix, Marie-Hortense Pléiades (Paris: Michel de Maule, 2001).


Metastaseis 1953-54 orchestra (61) : serialism, sound masses,
glissandi, geometric ratios
Pithoprakta 1955-56 orchestra (50) : stochastics
Concret PH 1958 4-channel tape (stereo version)
Nomos Alpha 1966 solo cello : sieves, group theory
Antihkthon 1971 (ballet music) orchestra (88)
Mikka 1971 solo violin : random walks using glissandi
Pleiades 1978 six percussion : time formations, sieves
Mists 1980 solo piano : random walks+ stochastics
à r. 1987 solo piano : random walks + simultaneities
Tracees 1987 orchestra (94)


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[Note: 5/08: INCOMPLETE. Please contact me for revised final syllabus.]

Honors Seminar – Spectral music: a chord or an attitude? –

V71.0901.002 MW 12:30 – 1:45 room 318

Prof. Elizabeth Hoffman

In this course we will consider 1) what spectral music is 2) how it is made 3) what it sounds like 4) what its composers have tried to achieve 5) how spectral music, as a movement, may or may not have been related to the time and place in which it arose 6) what assumptions spectral music may lead us to deconstruct, about formalism, interval, structure, time, and space. As an upper level honors course, this class will include a challenging amount of reading; careful listening; writing assignments that are graded on their form as well as on their content; and class presentations. In addition, there will be ongoing small assignments involving composition and psychoacoustic research.

Readings on cultural politics and history:

Drott, Eric. 2005. “Timbre and the Cultural Politics of French Spectralism” in Proceedings of the Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM05). on blackboard. Jameson, Fredric. 1981. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. (Ithaca: Cornell U. Press). electronic access. Hirsh, Arthur. 1981. The French New Left : an intellectual history from Sartre to Gorz / (Boston : South End Press). HX263 .H57 1981 [excerpts] Musical organicism and its alternatives / by Nadine Marie Hubbs. 1990. PhD dissertion, U. Michigan. ON ORDER. [On] Benjamin, Walter? Paddison, Max? on Adorno? Mahnkopf, Morphology? Capitalism, socialism, ecology / André Gorz ; translated by Chris Turner. London ; New York : Verso, c1994. HD6957.F8 G6713 1994 LISTENING AND SCORE STUDY: Gerard Grisey XCD 41066 Garth Konx, viola ; Asko Ensemble ; WDR Sinfonieorchestra Köln ; Stefan Asbury, conductor. Prologue : pour alto seul (1976) (15:28) – Périodes : pour 7 musiciens (1974) (15:28) – Partiels : pour 18 musiciens (1975) (22:02) – score Modulations : pour 33 musiciens (1976-77) (16:10) Transitoires : pour grand orchestre (1980-81) (19:54) Epilogue : pour 4 cors soli et grand orchestre (1985) (8:03) Tristan Murail Memoires/erosion – score Gondwanda ethers – score la barque mystique treize couleurs Hugues Dufourt Antiphysis / Hugues Dufourt XCD 15348, disc 5 Surgir, for orchestra M1045.D84 S9 1985 – order recording? Schoenberg “Farben” [see Slawson excerpt] —Philippe Hurel M175.X6 H963 no.2 2002 Loops II : pour vibraphone / Philippe Hurel (8:34) in processing —Michael Levinas Trois études per pf. / Michaël Lèvinas (6:50 XCD 12341 La conference des oiseaux [sound recording] / Michaël Levinas. XCD 15072 Froissements d’ailes : pour flûte / Michaël Levinas M62.L665 F7 1975 recording only: XCD 48307 In Processing Ouverture pour une fête étrange (16:20) — Les rires du Gilles (7:05) — Concerto pour un piano-espace no 2 (12:30) — Clov et Hamm (7:27) — Contrepoints irréels-rencontres (4:55). —Horatio Radulescu – TBA Readings on spectral music’s compositional techniques, and philosophies: Anderson, Julian. 2000. “A Provisional History of Spectral Music.” Contemporary Music Review, vol 19/2, 7-22. Teodorescu-Ciocanea. 2003. “Timbre Versus Spectralism.” Contemporary Music Review, vol. 22, nos. 1/2, 87-104. Rose, Francois. 1996. “Introduction to the Pitch Organization of French Spectral Music,” Perspectives of New Music, vol. 34/2, 6-39. Moscovich, Viviana. 1997. “French Spectral Music: An Introduction.” Tempo, New Ser., No. 200, 21-27. Murail, Tristan. 2000. “Afterthoughts.” Contemporary Music Review, vol 19/2, [6]-9. [article excerpt.] 1984. “Spectra and Pixies.” Contemporary Music Review, vol 11/1, 157-170. Ledoux, Claude. 2000. “From the Philosophical to the Practical.” Contemporary Music Review, vol 19/2, [45]-65. [article excerpt.] Fineberg, Joshua. 2000. “Guide to the Basic Concepts and Techniques of Spectral Music.” Contemporary Music Review, vol 19/2, 81-113. Grisey. 1996. Interview with David Bundler. 20th-Century Music, March 1996. Accessed 1/15/08 at In French: Dalbavie…? from Le Timbre Readings on musical acoustics and psychoacoustics: Slawson, Wayne. 1985. Sound Color. chapters 3 and 4: “Evidence from Auditory Physiology”;“Evidence from Psychoacoustics” (Berkeley: U. Calif. Press). Cogan, Robert. Sonic Design. [“The Color of Sound” chapter excerpt, pp. 365-427]. Readings on computer assisted composition: Computer software used: AS, PW, MAX/MSP Some other composers tangentially involved, or associated with this movement through aesthetic and philosophical congruences: maiguashca, fritsch, barlow; vivier, scelsi, dalbavie, hurel, harvey, radulescu.

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