03 February 2007

Xenakis: Naama

I wouldn't usually do such a thing, but, here to quote from the liner notes of the Ultima 2-CD set that features a recording of this work: "Naama (meaning 'flux') calls for 'periodic constructions thanks to a group of exahedric transformations and stochastic distributions'" Now, this is quite ridiculous. Stochastic is random, conjectural and refers to the process of generating pitches. "Exahedric" appears in only one internet citation - that relating to this quote and as best I can piece together, is either from exa- "10 to the 18th power" + hedric - from hedron faces on a geometric figure, or else from exo-, which becomes ex- =outside of as in "exoskeleton" + a- the Greek negation, thus meaning outside of the negation of the faces of a geometric figure. Whatever it means, is this supposed to tell us anything about the piece, or else allow to understand it better. Obviously not, it's put forth to make someone feel as if they should respect a piece and points to a lack in confidence in the sounding result of the work. That aside, this work for harpsichord is generally exciting, it makes full use of the capabilities of the instrument, brings out its colors, has rhythmic vitality and surprising moments. Uses a non-octaviating scale in an almost Sheppard tone sort of way, uses another scale in apedantic way - actually both scales are used pedantically. Its as if once we accept the pitch sieve we don't need to do anything with it.

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