MP3 Blog #109: Xenakis’s “Gendy3″

Iannis Xenakis: Gendy3 (1991)

For computer generated sound

Currently out of print

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Program Note:

In the Achorripsis (1956-57) chapters (I and V) of Formalized Music [revised and expanded English translation edition, Pendragon Press, 1992], Xenakis established a “background canvas,” for the creation of sounds primarily by stochastic functions.  Gendy3, entirely produced with a computer program written by the composer in 1991, is the most recent and most thoroughly stochastic instance in this quest.  Both the macrostructure (the form) and the sonic materials themselves are stochastically generated.  The overall form is mosaic-like, based on the superimposition of several “routes,” or stochastically determined successions of fields.  Each field in the several layers may be silent or not.  The composer intends to create an interesting musical composition by what is, objectively, “an arbitrary chain of these field sequences.”

An elastically bounded process Xenakis calls “general dynamic stochastic synthesis” [hence the title GenDy"] is responsible for generating the sonic content of the piece.  Polygonal waveforms are computed using one stochastic law while others govern the timing and amplitude fluctuations.  “The challenge,” writes Xenakis, “is to create a music starting as much as possible from a minimum number of premises,” but which will be interest to contemporary sensibilities without their “being trapped in known paths.”

Gendy3, created at the composer’s CEMAMu facility in Paris, was premiered on 17, November 1991 at the Rencontres Internationales de Musique Contemporaine in Metz.

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