Approaching the Liminal in the Performance of Iannis Xenakis' Instrumental Solo Works

Margarethe Maierhofer-Lischka


In contemporary music repertoire, the solo works of Greek composer Iannis Xenakis are known to be extremely demanding. In this paper, Theraps for solo double bass is examined, combining issues of performance practice with an aesthetical and theoretical approach. Using my personal study of this piece as a starting point, questions concerning its practice and performative experience are tackled: how can musicians practise, achieve high focus and stamina and deal with physical pain? How do perceptual phenomena encoded in the score inform the experience of performing this piece? As methodology, I am applying Turner ́s theory of liminality which offers a model to describe performance situations as acts of crossing a threshold. This is combined with perspectives from the medical, cultural and psychophysical aspects of instrumental performance, resulting in a complex view that can be expanded into further consequences for music practice and musicological research.


Xenakis, performance, mind-body-relation, liminality

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