Landscape with figures II

The antiphonal fragments


A  central interest in the project was finding spatial distributions and perspective both through diffusion of electroacoustic sound and by how musicians are seated.


"The venetian renaissance music spread vocal groups at the different galleries of San Marco. Karlheinz Stockhausen followed up this idea in Gruppen (1957) for 3 orchestral groups. Iannis Xenakis atomized the orchestra completely in Nomos Gamma (1968) by spreading the musicians amoungst the audience." [1]


In search for spatializations within instrumental music, the atomizing approach in Nomos Gamma and Terretektorh by Xenakis struck me as the most relevant for my ideas. If we add colours to the seating plan for Terretektorh,[2] it is clear how each timbre type is spread as far as possible around the audience. There are triangles of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and squares of horns, trumpets and trombones. The strings form more continous spatial constellations, and when all musicians play the same percussion instruments, there are no timbral differences, just space.






































"Terretektorh  is thus a "Sonotron": an accelerator of sonorous particles, a disintegrator of sonorous masses, a synthesizer. It puts the sound and the music all around the listener and close up to him. It tears down the psychological and auditive curtain that separates him from the players when positioned far off the pedestal, itself frequently enough placed inside a box. The orchestral musician rediscovers his responsibility as an artist, as an individual."[3]


Sketches drawn by Xenakis suggest architectural spatialization trajectories for woodwinds,between sector A to H of the orchestral setup. [4] A final sawtooth shape give 2 full rotations through the hall. [5]


A vocal ensemble of 5 singers and an instrumental ensemble of 17 musicians, offer less possibilities for such an equal distribution of timbres. The seating for Landscape with figures II is nevertheless strongly inspired by the Xenakis idea. There is a triangle of brass instruments, a square of heterogenous woodwinds. 5 voices and 5 strings offer the most complete circles.  Like for the speaker setup, they form a divide between inner and outer circle.























































Antiphonal fragments and Noice circles are parts of the work where the spatial positions and spatial trajectories are used directly as compositional techniques. The ensemble-circles methods[6] proved useful to create circular flux through the setup, through architectural methods related to those used by Xenakis. What fills the musical surface levels is a different story.


[1] Ruben Sverre Gjertsen, 2011, Between instrument and everyday sound,p. 4.

[3] Xenakis, 1992, Formalized Music [ translated from french edition (1955-65)], p. 237.

[4] Maria Anna Harley, 1994, Space and Spatialization in Contemporary Music: History and Analysis, Ideas…, p. 289.

[6] Ruben-OM: ensemble-circles, ensemble-circles-lists, ensemble-circles-lists-gliss.