Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes

Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes

The Hungarian composer György Ligeti composed "Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes" in 1962, during his brief acquaintance with the Fluxus movement.

The piece requires a conductor and ten "performers", and most of their efforts take place without the audience present. Each of the hundred metronomes is set up on the performance platform, and they are all then wound to their maximum extent and set to different speeds. Once they are all fully wound they are all started as simultaneously as possible. The performers then leave. The audience is then admitted, and take their places while the metronomes are all ticking. As the metronomes wind down one after another and stop, periodicity becomes noticeable in the sound, and individual metronomes can be more clearly made out. The piece typically ends with just one metronome ticking alone for a few beats.

Comparisons have been drawn between this piece and other process music, such as certain works by the American minimalist composer Steve Reich, and with other music unconcerned with conventional 'musical' sound, such as the work of the American experimental composer John Cage.

Ligeti did not repeat this type of experiment, but many of his later instrumental works also featured slowly evolving landscapes of sound. It is an example of Ligeti's taste for micropolyphony.

The piece has been recorded several times. A current version lasts just under 20 minutes.

External links

* [http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/gligeti-poemesymphonique.html Musical score]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=X8v-uDhcDyg Video of a performance]

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