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Kraanerg is a composition for 23 instruments and 4-channel analog tape composed by Iannis Xenakis, originally for a ballet with choreography by Roland Petit and set design by Victor Vasarely. It was created for the grand opening of the Canadian National Arts Centre in Ottawa, which was originally to coincide with Expo 67 but was delayed to 1969. [1]

Quadraphonic sound

Quadraphonic sound – equivalent to what is now called 4.0 surround sound – uses four channels in which speakers are positioned at the four corners of the listening space, reproducing signals that are independent of one another. Quadraphonic audio was the earliest consumer product in surround sound and thousands of quadraphonic recordings were made during the 1970s.

Magnetic tape medium for magnetic recording

Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders respectively. A device that stores computer data on magnetic tape is known as a tape drive.

Iannis Xenakis Greek composer and architect

Iannis Xenakis was a Greek-French composer, music theorist, architect, performance director and engineer. After 1947, he fled Greece, becoming a naturalized citizen of France. He is considered an important post-World War II composer whose works helped revolutionize 20th century classical music.


The title, by Xenakis, is an imaginary compound of the Greek-originating stems kraan (κρααν) and erg (εργ), meaning accomplished action. According to the composer's program notes, the title also refers to the "current youth movements" of that time, and his vision of the imminent "biological struggle between generations unfurling all over the planet, destroying existing political, social, urban, scientific, artistic, and ideological frameworks on a scale never before attempted by humanity." The program was left up to Xenakis, and he chose to avoid any narrative or story; the abstract modernistic character of the ballet was to be underscored by Vasarely's Op Art set design. Xenakis had previously written the soundtrack for a 1960 film about Vasarely. [1]

Counterculture Subculture whose values and norms of behavior deviate from those of mainstream society

A counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. A countercultural movement expresses the ethos and aspirations of a specific population during a well-defined era. When oppositional forces reach critical mass, countercultures can trigger dramatic cultural changes. Prominent examples of countercultures in Europe and North America include Romanticism (1790–1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910), the more fragmentary counterculture of the Beat Generation (1944–1964), followed by the globalized counterculture of the 1960s (1964–1974), usually associated with the hippie subculture and the diversified punk subculture of the 1970s and 1980s.

Protests of 1968 protest

The protests of 1968 comprised a worldwide escalation of social conflicts, predominantly characterized by popular rebellions against military and bureaucratic elites, who responded with an escalation of political repression.

Modernism (music) philosophicoesthetic stance, part of the modernist movement, underlying the change/development in musical language in the early 20th century, challenging/reinterpreting older music with new organization/approach to harmony, melody, timbre, and rhythm

In music, modernism is a philosophical and aesthetic stance underlying the period of change and development in musical language that occurred around the turn of the 20th century, a period of diverse reactions in challenging and reinterpreting older categories of music, innovations that led to new ways of organizing and approaching harmonic, melodic, sonic, and rhythmic aspects of music, and changes in aesthetic worldviews in close relation to the larger identifiable period of modernism in the arts of the time. The operative word most associated with it is "innovation". Its leading feature is a "linguistic plurality", which is to say that no one music genre ever assumed a dominant position.

Inherent within musical modernism is the conviction that music is not a static phenomenon defined by timeless truths and classical principles, but rather something which is intrinsically historical and developmental. While belief in musical progress or in the principle of innovation is not new or unique to modernism, such values are particularly important within modernist aesthetic stances.

The 75-minute piece is not divided into movements but includes twenty periods of silence of varying length (three of them more than twenty seconds) which are integral to the development. It has three phases of roughly equal duration: the first contains more or less equal portions of both orchestra and tape; the second (beginning after 23 minutes), primarily instruments; and the third (beginning after 52 minutes) primarily tape. The sounds on the tape are derived from instrumental material. The choreography by Petit (who was in charge of the premiere, and divided the work at its midpoint with an intermission) was a critical failure, but the music was widely praised; it was conducted at the premiere by Lukas Foss, who like Vasarely was invited to the project by Xenakis. After a tour of the original ballet that ended in 1972, Kraanerg was largely forgotten for some years. It was revived in 1988 with a new choreography by Australian choreographer Graeme Murphy, a performance which was regarded as much more successful than the original one. However, subsequently the music has usually been performed without the ballet. [1]

A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession. A movement is a section, "a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena".

A unit of a larger work that may stand by itself as a complete composition. Such divisions are usually self-contained. Most often the sequence of movements is arranged fast-slow-fast or in some other order that provides contrast.

Musical development process by which a musical idea is communicated in the course of a composition

In classical music, musical development is a process by which a musical idea is communicated in the course of a composition. It refers to the transformation and restatement of initial material. Development is often contrasted with musical variation, which is a slightly different means to the same end. Development is carried out upon portions of material treated in many different presentations and combinations at a time, while variation depends upon one type of presentation at a time.

Lukas Foss American composer

Lukas Foss was a German-American composer, pianist, and conductor.


In chronological order.

The ensemble Ars nova is a French contemporary music instrumental chamber ensemble. It was founded by Marius Constant. The current director is Philippe Nahon (conductor).

Marius Constant was a Romanian-born French composer and conductor. Although known in the classical world primarily for his ballet scores, his most widely known music was the iconic guitar theme for the Twilight Zone TV series.

Charles Bruck was a Hungarian-French conductor.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Harley, James (2008). Liner notes for Mode Records CD 196, Kraanerg, performed by the Callithumpian Consort; Xenakis Edition Volume 8.

Further reading