The maths underlying its construction, and the shapes it makes, have a direct correlation in the way Xenakis uses the instruments of the orchestra in Metastasis, organising the entries of the instruments, and the pitches they play, according to the working-out of mathematical and statistical formulae, translating the space of architectural planes into musical time. Take a look at his near-contemporary design for a " Cosmic City ", a gloriously sci-fi vision of the metropolis of the future - and what happens when Dan Dare meets curvy brutalism. And he designed a system for the conversion of graphic stimuli into sound, a programme he called UPIC and which has now morphed into more sophisticated computer software like IanniX. Those are some clues to the elemental concerns of his music.
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The title, a portmanteau ,  in the plural,  Meta after or beyond -stasis immobility , refers to the dialectical contrast between movement or change and nondirectionality.
Music usually consists of a set of sounds ordered in time; music played backwards is hardly recognizable. In warfare, as Xenakis knew it through his musical ear, no individual bullet being fired could be distinguished among the cacophony, but taken as a whole the sound of "gunfire" was clearly identifiable. The particular sequence of shots was unimportant: the individual guns could have fired in a completely different pattern from the way they actually did, but the sound produced would still have been the same.
These ideas combined to form the basis of Metastaseis. As Newtonian views of time show it flowing linearly, Einsteinian views show it as a function of matter and energy ; change one of those quantities and time too is changed. Xenakis attempted to make this distinction in his music. While most traditional compositions depend on strictly measured time for the progress of the line, using an unvarying tempo , time signature , or phrase length, Metastaseis changes intensity, register, and density of scoring, as the musical analogues of mass and energy.
It is by these changes that the piece propels itself forward: the first and third movements of the work do not have even a melodic theme or motive to hold them together, but rather depend on the strength of this conceptualization of time. The Philips Pavilion, showing hyperbolic paraboloids originally used in Metastaseis.
The second movement does have some sort of melodic element. A fragment of a twelve-tone row is used, with durations based on the Fibonacci sequence. This idea of the Golden Section and the Fibonacci Sequence was also a favorite of Xenakis in his architectural works; the Convent de La Tourette was built on this principle. See: Modulor. Xenakis, an accomplished architect , saw the chief difference between music and architecture as that while space is viewable from all directions, music can only be experienced from one.
The preliminary sketch for Metastaseis was in graphic notation looking more like a blueprint than a musical score, showing graphs of mass motion and glissandi like structural beams of the piece, with pitch on one axis and time on the other.
In fact, this design ended up being the basis for the Philips Pavilion , which had no flat surfaces but rather the hyperbolic paraboloids of his musical masses and swells.
Yet unlike many avant-garde composers of this century who would take such a thing as the completed score, Xenakis notated every event in traditional notation. Citation on p. Iannis Xenakis, the man and his music: a conversation with the composer and a description of his works, p.
Xenakis: His Life in Music, p. Iannis Xenakis und die Stochastische Musik. Bern: Verlag Paul Haupt. Matossian, Nouritza: Xenakis. London: Kahn and Averill, Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press,
A guide to Iannis Xenakis's music
Iannis Xenakis, compositeur - 1922-2001