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“Music and rhythm”

Joëlle Caullier, Makis Solomos, Jean-Marc Chouvel et Jean-Paul Olive
janvier 2012


1The journal Filigrane is already in its tenth issue…Initially launched in 2005 on the basis of two issues per year, Filigrane. Musique, esthétique, sciences, sociétés (Filigrane. Music, Aesthetics, Sciences, Societies) has already covered a number of themes that are particularly close to our heart: Musicologies ?(no.1), Traces d’invisible (Traces of the invisible) (no.2), La société dans l’écriture musicale (Composing –writing– and society) (no.3), Nouvelles sensibilités (New sensibilities) (no.4), Musique et globalisation (Music and globalization) (no.5)1, Musique et inconscient (Music and the unconscious) (no.6), Musique et bruit (Music and noise) (no.7), Jazz, musiques improvisées et écritures contemporaines (Jazz, improvised music and contemporary composition) (no.8), and L’individuel et le collectif (The individual and the collective) (no.9). Yet this is only a beginning because ideas for future issues are in no short supply, and our plan for the new future is to explore a wide range of other themes, including: New Musicology. Perspectives critiques (New Musicology. Critical perspectives) (no.11), Musique et lieu (Music and place) (no.12), musical interpretation, music and consciousness, music and anthropology…(forthcoming issues).

“Giving a journal a name is tantamount to announcing its platform. […] What does Filigrane (literally: filigree, watermark, or subtle implication) evoke? The absence of hard evidence, a penchant for introversion, but also the permeability necessary for penetrating an apparent transparency to discover something encrypted within its raw matter ; something deposited by man, imprinted at the core of the material he sends to others, at the core of his work : a secret sign, a trace of passage, of origin, of belonging. A watermark disputes the frontier imposed by the surface of a page. It presupposes nuances and shadings, but it also demands of the reader a particular disposition, one that allows him to identify the mysterious impressions, which at first glance escape view – the sign of the other.

This, then, is what motivates the birth of Filigrane, a journal dedicated not to contemporary music as a set of works and discourses, but rather to creation considered as a field of forces where meaning is elaborated. The project at hand is to consider music as a global phenomenon in which meaning is forged and circulated, where man uses his faculties to construct a world and, at the same time, himself. Taken thusly, musicology becomes a locus where social and human sciences intersect with thought proper to art – thought in action, not discursive ; the thought of human experience, transformed by the invention and disposition of material of time and space. Now, if music is above all thought about experiences, how can musicology, deliberately and without contradicting art itself, constitute itself as an autonomous discipline mediating these experiences? Is not musicology obligated to share art’s own destiny, enriched with the myriad points of view that elevate its function at the confluence of art and human sciences? This is high praise for interdisciplinarity, but even more so for the fecund un-disciplinarity of art”.

2So we wrote in the editorial of our first ever issue. We shall leave it to our readers to decide whether we have achieved our goal.

3 In structural and organizational terms, the journal has developed in two significant ways. Firstly, born of the commitmentof its four founders (the editorial committee) to defend and promote the type of musicology in which they believe, the journal has opened its doors to new editorial possibilities. Colleagues who share a marked degree of intellectual affinity with the founding quatuor have already been granted the editorial responsibility of three issues, including the current one. Without denying our initial commitments, it is our hope that the journal will find its place in the community of European scholars who share the same range of interests.

4The second novelty is that each issue is invariably accompanied by a call for papers. The editors of each issue then make a selection of articles in agreement with the editorial committee. Every article is then read by two scholars who have no connection with the journal and who may decide against the publication of the paper or require alterations. These two anonymous reviewers send their comments to prospective authors to encourage debate and discussion. To this extent, our journal can also claim to be making a contribution to the debate over “expertise” and “evaluation”: while it is strongly in favour of evaluation, the process is invariably aimed at providing a precise foundation for values rather than indulging merely in the pleasure of quantifying or exerting power…

5The current issue is the third in the series edited by colleagues who are not members of the editorial committee. We wish to express our gratitude to Geneviève Mathon and Eric Dufour for having suggested the thematic focus of this issue, Music and Rhythm, and to have produced a particularly rich and wide-ranging volume.

6At the core of the new issue, the reader will find a previously unpublished score by Iannis Xenakis from a work that has yet to be performed. The piece dates back to Xenakis’s training period, when the composer was still a student of Olivier Messiaen and when, no doubt at Messiaen’s instigation, he cultivated a particular interest in the issue of rhythm, as suggested by his numerous notes2. It is a little-known fact that the young Xenakis was far more interested in rhythm (and melody) than in sound or the relations to physics and mathematics. But it was no doubt because he was never able to find a system or writing form that fully satisfied him that he eventually moved away from his work on rhythm to embark on the research avenue for which he is now known (masses, continuous transformations, etc., in relation to the issue of sound, combinatorics and probabilities, as far as his interest in mathematics is concerned). This is demonstrated by the fact that Xenakis gradually returned to the question of rhythm at a later stage, a development that eventually produced percussion masterpieces such as Persephassa and Psappha. As noted above, the unpublished score in question demonstrates that although he had yet to find his own writing style – the main reference is the metrics of Indian music, which he studied at the time through Messiaen and himself3 – the young Xenakis’s work abounds in possibilities and ways of enriching rhythmic perspectives.

7The score published in this issue probably constitutes an “exercise” (a “study”) more than a finished work, although it would still amply merit an interpretation. It is presented here through a transcription by François-Bernard Mâche, to whom we wish to express our profound gratitude for having provided us with the original publication as well as the publication of his “Xenakis et la musique indienne” (Xenakis and Indian music).

8We also wish to express our gratitude to the Xenakis family (Françoise and Mâkhi Xenakis) for their permission to publish this work.


1 The journal held a conference on this theme in November 2008 at the Cdmc and the Cité de la musique, with different topics and authors from those included in our fifth issue. The conference proceedings are due to be published in the form of a single volume.

2 See in particular Carnet 1 (Xenakis archives, Bibliothèque Nationale de France), in which Xenakis

3 See ibid., “La musique hindoue” (Hindu music) (October 1951).


Joëlle Caullier, Makis Solomos, Jean-Marc Chouvel et Jean-Paul Olive, «Foreword», Filigrane. Musique, esthétique, sciences, société. [En ligne], Numéros de la revue, Musique et rythme, mis à  jour le : 25/01/2012, URL : https://revues.mshparisnord.fr:443/filigrane/index.php?id=317.


Joëlle CaullierMakis SolomosJean-Marc ChouvelJean-Paul Olive