EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Expressiveness and Meaning in the Electroacoustic Music of Iannis Xenakis. The Case of "La légende d’Eer".

Frédérick Duhautpas, Renaud Meric, Makis Solomos

Frédérick Duhautpas, Renaud Meric, Makis Solomos, University Paris 8 – Equipe d’accueil 1572, Esthétique, musicologie, danse et creation musicale, 2 rue de la liberté – 93526 Saint Denis cedex


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This presentation proposes to address the issues of expressiveness and meaning in respect to Iannis Xenakis’ approach to electroacoustic music. One of the characteristics of his music is that it cannot be approached through a linear and discursive comprehension. Like many modernist composers, Xenakis has sought to escape the language model in favor of a conception of music as an “energetic” and “spatial” phenomenon. However, such an approach does not go without a redefinition of the manner by which the issues of signification in music are understood. As we will show, if it is still possible to speak of “signification” or “meaning” in this context, it is in terms of spatial immersion in the manner similar to the perception of the countless sonorous events with which we are flooded in our daily environments. One aspect to consider is that electroacoustic material, for the most part, evades the semiotic codifications that, in tonal music, once oriented the meaning that a musical work could convey. Music is no longer set inside a quasi-lexical logic based upon culturally codified figure-types. In this respect, such music benefits from a large, expressive freedom that plays on parameters that directly affect listeners on a sensitive and physical level. Xenakis’ music is unfolding a world in which the listeners’ perceptions and interpretations are actively solicited. It is the aim of this paper to address this issue. For the purpose of this discussion, we will take La légende d’Eer as an example.

EMS12 Proceedings