This article comprises a comparative exploration of the conception of temporality by Iannis Xenakis and Brian Ferneyhough, as well as a study of their compositional responses to this conceptualization. Xenakis remarked that music exists primarily “outside of time,” whereas Ferneyhough reflects on the “tactility of time.” These ideas are developed here within a phenomenological framework, with particular reference to concepts by Jean-Luc Nancy, mainly those of sense and resonance. When cross-examined, Xenakis’s and Ferneyhough’s approaches, although quite different, are shown to resonate with each other, as both developed compositional methods based on sieves: the former for the production of sonorities and the latter as a means to formal articulation.

The author, Dimitris Exarchos, is a theorist and musicologist specialising in contemporary music. He holds a PhD in Theory and Analysis from Goldsmiths. He has published in books and journals, delivered talks in the UK and abroad, organised symposia at Goldsmiths’ Contemporary Music Research Unit (CMRU) and curated concerts and events (Southbank Centre, Goldsmiths). For a number of years he also taught Music Analysis and History at the University of Surrey. Recently he was a Research Fellow at the State Institute for Music Research in Berlin, Germany and is currently Visiting Research Fellow at CMRU. His research explores the intersections between post-structuralist philosophy and contemporary composition, including computational and mathematical approaches.

Read Dimitris Exarchos’ article here