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La Légende d'Eer (7 tracks) on 8 speakers (& 4 subwoofers). Computer program TSP (Textural Spatialisation Program), conceived by Reinhold Friedl, programed by Sukandra Kartadinata.


Xenakis's Legend

Spatialisation of Iannis Xenakis's La Légende d'Eer (7 tracks) on 8 speakers (& 4 subwoofers). Computer program TSP (Textural Spatialisation Program), conceived by Reinhold Friedl, programed by Sukandra Kartadinata.

Premiered at Festival Wundergrund, Copenhagen, inside the Sound Dome, 2014

When studying how Xenakis treated his spatialisation in La Légende d’Eer, I became aware of the similarities between my spatialisation program TSP (developed for Neo-Bechstein / Golden Quinces Earthed) and his textural concept, as described above. As Xenakis’s automated spatialisation of La Légende d’Eer inside the Diatope is lost, it seemed obvious to conceive a spatialistion of La Légende d’Eer with the help of TSP.

Two references are existing anyway: on the one hand, sources such as drafts and plans, but also descriptions of the automated spatialisation inside the Diatope; on the other hand, the spatialised Bochum version on 8 tracks, realized at WDR Cologne. This means that Xenakis himself realised an 8-track version and did not limit the performance or projection of the composition to the situation inside the Diatope. His foci were varied rotations and textural phaenomena, such as “galactic dust” [1]. Furthermore, Kiourtsoglou could reconstruct the sound movements during the first 4 minutes and 50 seconds with a certain precision. She is convinced that - despite some slightly inconsistent sources in the archives - her reconstruction should be pretty close to the original spatialisation [2].

I obtained permission from the Xenakis family to perform La Légende d’Eer in a spatialised version. TSP allows some of the main properties of Xenakis’s own automated spatialization to be respected:

1)    The sound source is not projected to a virtual point in the room, but directly to the speaker matrix.
2)    All traces include rotations.
3)    The similarity of the movements of the seven projected tracks only differ by slight variations.
4)    The spatialisation can be automated.

My further approach was based on the following ideas:

  • to connect certain spatialisation textures to certain sonic material.
  • to take over as much as possible from the reconstructed first five minutes: slow rotations enhance the transparency of the high-pitched, sine-wave-like sounds.
  • to enhance the dramaturgy of the composition.
  • to keep the spatialisation texture, which means not applying any sudden changes – in fact, to keep the changes of the spatialisation so slow that it is never immediately audible.

This led to the following decisions: as the piece ends with the same sounds as those with which it starts, I used almost the same spatialisation at the end as at the beginning – a slightly jittering rotation, reinforcing the spatial transparency. Furthermore, I assigned the jittering to the nervous electronic sound material in the middle of the composition, dominating the climax around minute 33. I also tried to intensify this dramaturgy by slowly going to the maximum spread (angle) of the jittering, combined with minimum width, to achieve maximum definition.

Even though this spatialisation is related to Xenakis’s ideas and notes, and uses the original sound material in the form of the seven tracks from the 8-track material tape (see Chapter 2.4.), the authorship is not clear. It is neither a precise reconstruction of any pre-existing version, nor is it authorised by the composer. Consequently, is was announced in accordance with the Xenakis family under the new title Reinhold Friedl - Xenakis’s Legend, and the audience at the performance in Copenhagen in 2015 was provided with a text explaining the background and history of the project.

[1] Kiourtsoglou, E. (2018) An Architect Draws Sound and Light - New Perspectives on Iannis Xenakis's Diatope and La Légende d’Eer (1978), in: Computer Music Journal 41, 4/2018, 8-31.
[2] Ibid., 23.