Celebrating the Music and Legacy
of Iannis Xenakis
May 24–25, 2013

The Fields Institute, together with the Perimeter Institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo present a two-day festival of contemporary string quartet, percussion, and electroacoustic music, together with lectures and discussion on the impact of Xenakis's work

SATURDAY, MAY 25, 2013

Iannis Xenakis: Mycenae Alpha [9’]
Jim Harley: TBA [12’]
Curtis Roads: Point Line Cloud [excerpt - ca 12’]
Arne Eigenfeldt: Karmetik NotomotoN robotic performers: TBA [3’]
Arne Eigenfeldt - Coming Together: NotomotoN [9’]
(With Richard, Burrows percussion and Karmetik NotomotoN robotic performers)
Jean Piche: Océanes [10’]

Iannis Xenakis: Mycenae Alpha [9’]

Jim Harley: TBA [12’]

Curtis Roads: Point Line Cloud [excerpt - ca 12’] “Beneath the level of the note lies the realm of sound particles. Each particle is a pinpoint of sound. Recent advances let us probe and manipulate this microacoustical world. Sound particles dissolve the rigid bricks of musical composition-the notes and their intervals-into more fluid and supple materials. The sensations of point, pulse (series of points), line (tone), and surface (texture) emerge as the density of particles increases. Sparse emissions produce rhythmic figures. By lining up the particles in rapid succession, one can induce an illusion of tone continuity or pitch. As the particles meander, they flow into liquid-like streams and rivulets. Dense agglomerations of particles form clouds of sound whose shapes evolve over time."

Curtis Roads creates, teaches, and pursues research in the interdisciplinary territory spanning music and sound technology. He studied computer music composition at California Institute of the Arts and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and received a Doctorate from the Université Paris 8. He was Editor and Associate Editor of Computer Music Journal (The MIT Press) from 1978 to 2000, and cofounded the International Computer Music Association (ICMA) in 1979. A researcher in computer music at MIT (1980-1986), he also worked in the software industry for a decade. He taught electronic music composition at Harvard University and sound synthesis techniques at the University of Naples. He was appointed Director of Pedagogy at Les Ateliers UPIC (later CCMIX) and Lecturer in the Music Department of the Université Paris 8. Among his books are the anthologies Foundations of Computer Music (1985, The MIT Press) and The Music Machine (1989, The MIT Press). His textbook The Computer Music Tutorial (1996, The MIT Press) is widely adopted as a standard classroom text and has been published in French (1999, second edition 2007), Japanese (2001), and Chinese (forthcoming) editions. He edited the anthology Musical Signal Processing in 1997. His book, Microsound (2001, The MIT Press) presents the techniques and aesthetics of composition with sound particles. A pioneer in the development of granular synthesis (1974), he also developed (with Alberto de Campo) the program PulsarGenerator (2001), distributed by the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE) at UCSB. Another invention is the Creatovox, an expressive instrument for virtuoso performance that is based on the synthesis of sound grains and other sound particles. The Creatovox, developed in collaboration with Alberto de Campo, was first demonstrated to the public in March 2000. In 2008, CREATE released EmissionControl, a new program for sound granulation written by David Thall in consultation with Curtis Roads. His composition Clang-tint (1994) was commissioned by the Japan Ministry of Culture (Bunka-cho) and the Kunitachi College of Music, Tokyo. His music is available on compact discs produced by the MIT Media Laboratory, Wergo, OR, Mode, and Asphodel. His collection of electronic music compositions POINT LINE CLOUD won the Award of Distinction at the 2002 Ars Electronica in Linz and was released as a CD + DVD on the Asphodel label in 2005. He is keenly interested in the integration of electronic music with visual and spatial media, as well as the visualization and sonification of data. Since 2004, he has been researching a new method of sound analysis that is the analytical counterpart of granular synthesis called dictionary-based pursuit (DBP). This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation in 2007-2009. Roads's new book is Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic(forthcoming) Oxford University Press. A new revised edition of The Computer Music Tutorial by The MIT Press is also in progress.

Arne Eigenfeldt: Roboterstück [3’]
Arne Eigenfeldt - Coming Together: NotomotoN [9’] (With Richard, Burrows percussion and Karmetik NotomotoN robotic performers)

A tongue-in-cheek homage to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s famous total-serialist work Klavierstück XI, in which the performer glances at a sheet of music and randomly chooses to play from 15 notated fragments. In this case, agents negotiate a texture – from 16 possible combinations – based upon the following features: slow/fast; sparse/dense; loud/soft; rhythmic/arhythmic. When the same texture has appeared three times, the performance is complete. Unlike all of my other multi-agents works, Roboterstück makes no attempt at anything human-like, either in conception, or performance, by the NotomotoN.

Coming Together: NotomotoN (with Richard Burrows, percussion)
Coming Together is a series of compositions that can be summed up as “composition by negotiation”: autonomous musical software agents interacting to determine an ever- changing musical environment. Agents converge various musical parameters (such as density, volume, and pitch) towards a mutually agreed upon collection; however, agents can also choose to break away from the group. In this version, the agents control the NotomotoN, an 18-armed percussion robot, and some virtual synthesizers.

Arne Eigenfeldt is a composer of live electroacoustic music, and a researcher into intelligent generative music systems. His music has been performed around the world, and his collaborations range from Persian Tar masters to contemporary dance companies to musical robots. He has presented his research at conferences and festivals such as International Computer Music Conferences (Miami 04, Barcelona 05, New Orleans 06, Copenhagen 07, Belfast 08, Montreal 09, New York 10, Huddersfield 11), Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States (Indiana 05, Iowa 07), New Interfaces for Musical Expression (Genoa 08), ArtTech (Porto 08), EvoMusArt (Tubingen 09, Torino 11, Malaga 12), Generative Art (Milan 09), Computational Creativity (Lisbon 10, Mexico City 11, Dublin 12), Sound and Music Computing (Marseille 06, Barcelona 10, Padova 11, Copenhagen 12), Electronic Music Studies (Leichester 07, Buenos Aires 09, Shanghai 10, New York 11, Stockholm 12), and has received major research support from SSHRC and NSERC/CCA. He teaches music technology at Simon Fraser University, and is the co-director of the MAMAS (Metacreation Agent and Multi-Agent Systems) Lab.

“While the definition of "Generative music" can vary (given that Brian Eno was the first to use the term in popular culture), my own interpretation of it suggests that it is music created by a system that makes autonomous creative decisions, so that each run of the system produces a unique composition. It differs from interactive music, in that there is no interaction with the system by a human; it is also different from algorithmic music in that, while obviously based upon algorithms, the algorithms themselves are not based upon mathematical equations (which is often the case with algorithmic music). Instead, generative music systems, and specifically metacreative systems, uses methods found in evolutionary computing, artificial life, multi-agent systems, and machine learning to make decisions that would be considered creative if made by a human. My systems have created music that cannot be differentiated from human-composed music, a type of Turing test that, in the long run, is not really useful. Instead, my research group (MAMAS - Metacreative Agent and Multi-Agent Systems Lab) is investigating the potential to develop truly creative systems. An ongoing research project is the development of GESMI, a Generative Electronica Statistical Modelling Instrument that analyses a corpus of Electronic Dance Music, and will generate new, original tracks consistent within the selected styles of Breaks, House, Drum and Bass, and Dubstep.” Jean Piche: Océanes [10’]

Océanes is part of a continuing series of videomusic works exploring the aesthetic potential of particle based computer generated imagery. Analogous to granular sound processing, particle synthesis allows for the creation and control of complex materials using an large number of very small components. Sound and image coordination does not explicitely use synchresis as a discursive device but aims for an elevated relation based on metaphor and emotional detachment, as if contemplating a field of images from a distant perspective. The music for Océanes is composed by the author utilizing mostly his own music software (Cecilia). All sounds are derived from formant synthesis (FOF), yielding realistic but highly extended vocal and woodwind timbres. No samples or recordings are used. Formant synthesis is similar to granular synthesis and creates sonic matter by accumulating a succession of formantic grains.

Jean Piché (1951) is a composer who has develloped into a video artist over the past few years. His practice meshes moving images and music in a new hybrid form he calls videomusic. In his beginnings as an electroacoustic composer in the 1970s, he was one of the very first Canadians to employ the then emerging digital audio technologies. He has produced works in every genre of electroacoustics for mixed and acousmatic to live-electronics. His work aims for poetic expression beyond any sort of formalism. The work has been alternately described as confounding, colorful and virtuosistic. He has contributed to the presence and development of Canadian music here and abroad while working at the Canada Council where he defended the legitimacy of many alternative contemporary music practices. This inclusivist approach was highlighted when he directed the Montréal Musiques Actuelle – New Music America festival in 1990. As a teacher at the Université de Montréal since the late 1980s, he has nurtured a number of young into diverse careers in new media and music. He keeps a hand in software development and some of his programs, notably Cecilia, are used by composers the world over.


Xenakis - Persephassa [28’]

Persephassa is a piece for six percussionists composed by Iannis Xenakis in 1969. The piece was commissioned by the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts (presided by the Empress of Iran), held at the historic site of Persepolis. The title is one of the variant names of the goddess Persephone, "the personification of telluric forces and of transmutations of life." It was performed in its premiere by Les Percussions de Strasbourg (France). Persephassa gains much of its effect from having the six percussionists distributed around the audience. The treatment of space as a musical parameter is one of the most important preoccupations of Xenakis' music, particularly in his works of the mid-to-late 1960s. The dramatic impact of utilizing the performance space in this manner is evident many passages throughout the piece in which accents or imitative rhythms are passed around the ensemble. The percussionists use a wide range of instruments and sound effects during the piece, including sirens, maracas, and pebbles, along with an arsenal of drums, wood blocks (simantras), cymbals, and gongs. (from Wikipedia) 8:00 JACK Quartet with guest TorQ percussion $35/$20 (PI Mike Lazaridis Hall)

Peter Hatch - new work for four glockenspiel
Hans Abrahamsen, String Quartet No. 4 [20']
Rob Wannamaker, Three Test Signals [17']
John Cage: String Quartet in Four Parts [18']
Peter Hatch - New Work for Four Glockenspiel

Hans Abrahamsen, String Quartet No. 4 (2012) [20']
1. Light and airy (High in the Sky Singing)
2. With motion (Dance of Light)
3. Dark, heavy and earthy (with a heavy groove)
4. Gently Rocking (with utmost sensitivity, babbling)

The basic idea for my Fourth String Quartet was very clear to me: It should be quiet and soft music or to put it in a german term: "hoch im Himmel gesungen ..." (”High singing in heaven…”). Each of the four movements has a different scordatura/pitch. The first movement begins – like my work ”Schnee” – Sky-high with an airy and soft melody by the first violin. The second movement is fast and ”movement and joy”-like. It consists of two duets and a reverse style counterpoint. While the sections were progressively longer in the first movement they are getting shorter and shorter in the second. ”Dark, heavy and earthy” is the third movement and its pizzicato recalls big black raindrops falling to the ground. It is the dark and grainy counterpart to the first movement whereas the fourth movement corresponds to the second. The fourth movement was planned as a dark and heavy counterpart but it turned out to be like ”babbling” music of a child. My Fourth String Quartet has become in its way a serene and cool piece. So the Quartet has been finished luckily after twenty years – it was already in 1990 that I was commissioned by Wittener Tage für Neue Musik to write the piece for Arditti Quartet.

Hans Abrahamsen (born December 23, 1952) is a Danish composer. Hans Abrahamsen started by playing the French horn, but even at a very young age he showed a remarkable talent for composition. In 1969 he began to study French horn at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, but already in 1970-71 he had his first lessons in composition with Niels Viggo Bentzon. In 1971 he studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music in Århus where he was taught composition by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. He has also studied with Per Nørgård and György Ligeti. From 1975-81 he went back to Copenhagen to study music history and music theory. In his early career Hans Abrahamsen was a key figure in the Danish New Simplicity movement which reacted against the complexities of the Darmstadt school. Despite the small scale and brevity of many of his works, his music often has an epic quality, creating the impression that behind the scarcity of material lie expansive concepts and dense thought. (from Last.FM)

Rob Wannamaker, Three Test Signals [17']

John Cage: String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) [18']
Cage began writing the quartet in 1949 in Paris. Prior to beginning to work on the piece, he told his parents that he wanted to compose a work which would praise silence without actually using it; after completing the first movement he was so fascinated with the new way to work that he wrote in a letter: "This piece is like the opening of another door; the possibilities implied are unlimited." The piece was completed in 1950 in New York City and dedicated to Lou Harrison. It was premièred on August 12 the same year at the Black Mountain College. The String Quartet in Four Parts is based partly on the Indian view of the seasons, in which the four seasons—spring, summer, autumn and winter—are associated each with a particular force–those of creation, preservation, destruction and quiescense. The parts and their corresponding seasons are as follows:

1. Quietly Flowing Along – Summer
2. Slowly Rocking – Autumn
3. Nearly Stationary – Winter
4. Quodlibet – Spring

The general quietness and flatness of sound in the quartet may be an expression of tranquility, the uniting emotion of the nine permanent emotions of the Rasa aesthetic, which Cage explored earlier in Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano. Another aspect of composition which Cage used earlier was the use of counterpoint: the third movement uses a canon for a single melodic line, which repeats itself going backward, in a slightly rhythmically altered form, to the beginning. Cage composed canons from his earliest works, such as the Three Easy Pieces of 1933 and Solo with obbligato accompaniment of two voices in canon of 1934. To compose the quartet Cage used a new technique, which consisted of dealing with fixed sonorities, or chords. He called those 'gamuts', and each gamut was created independently of all others. After producing a fixed amount of gamuts, scored for each player in an unchanging way, a succession of them could be used to create a melody with harmonic background. Because at any particular point a gamut would be selected only for containing the note necessary for the melody, the resulting harmony would serve no purpose and any sense of progression, which was alien to Cage, would be eliminated. Since 1946 Cage's interest was in composing music to "sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences", rather than music to express feelings and ideas, and he would later give up control over music altogether by using chance operations, but already in the String Quartet in Four Parts "the inclusion of traditional harmonies was a matter of taste, from which a conscious control was absent." (From Wikipedia)