Making Possible the impossible

performative ideas and solutions in some Iannis Xenakis' percussion works




Xenakis, Percussion, Impossible, Okho, Rebonds


This paper presents reflections on two emblematic works by Iannis Xenakis: Rebonds (1987-1989) and Okho (1989). The perpetuation of the myth of the impossible as a poetic trait of this composer’s production is the main justification for the practices of simplification and self-indulgence of the percussive community around his pieces. Rebonds led us to a more direct reflection around technical solutions to challenges found in the musical text: the double appoggiatura (drag) and the rolls on the wooden instruments. In Okho, we demonstrate the dynamic process of searching for timbres on the djembé, observing the tension of what was called ‘transplanting’ compositional material from a piece written to be played with drumsticks (Rebonds) to one played with bare hands. Having Irlandini (2020), Solomos (1996), Soteriou (2011) and Stasi (2011) as bibliographical references, the main goal of this paper is to present possible performance solutions for excerpts of percussion music by Xenakis that might evoke the notion of ‘impossible’.


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Author Biographies

Leonardo Labrada, Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Goiás - Campus Goiânia

Timpanist/percussionist of Villa-Lobos Symphony Orchestra, doctoral student at Unesp in Music Analysis, was the Associate Conductor of the Goiás Philharmonic Orchestra, working as assistant to Neil Thomson and responsible for the creation and implementation of didactic/pedagogical projects and chamber concerts. He is a conductor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Goiás (IFG), and conductor/artistic director of the Nilo Peçanha Symphonic Band. He is responsible for the courses of Music History of the 20th Century, Music Analysis, Harmony and Counterpoint II, and Percussion. He is a member of the Ensemble ABSTRAI, specialized in contemporary works, with whom he performed a concert at Sala Cecília Meireles in 2018, 2019 and 2022. He was assistant conductor at the premiere of the opera Ritos de Perpassagem by Flo Menezes at Theatro São Pedro. He was guest conductor and solo percussionist at the XXIII Brazilian Contemporary Music Biennial in Rio de Janeiro in 2019. In 2022 he was the Music Director of the Lyric Composition Atelier at Theatro São Pedro premiering three new operas by young composers. In 2017 he was guest conductor of the Goiânia Symphony Orchestra (OSGO) for a concert of baroque works. He served as guest percussionist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Goiás (OFG) and was a member of the Impact(o) Percussion Group, involved in the construction of the first set of 6 sixxens in Brazil, an instrument idealized by Iannis Xenakis for his work Pleiades and with whom he was soloist on 10/12/2017 in the first Concerto for Sixxen and Orchestra by Michelle Agnes, with the OFG. He also soloed with the OFG in the Latin American premiere of Des canyons aux les étoiles.

Fernando Chaib, Federal University of Minas Gerais / PPGMUS

PhD in Music/Performance by the Department of Communication and Art of the University of Aveiro, was a fellow of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) of Portugal. He also completed his Masters in Music/Performance at the same university and Bachelor of Percussion at the Institute of Arts of UNESP, being a former member of the PIAP Group. He has won prizes as soloist and chamber musician in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Brazil. He has received awards from the Federal Government (Funarte/Petrobras, MinC) and the State Secretariat of Culture of São Paulo and Goiás. He has been performing as a soloist with orchestras in Europe and Brazil. He is musical director (original score) of scenic spectacles. His arrangements and compositions have been premiered and/or recorded by Grupo Durum Percussão Brasil and Grupo PIAP. He has recorded CD's with orchestras (Brazil, Portugal and Taiwan) and important chamber music groups in Brazil, performing several concerts. He founded the Grupo Durum Percussão Brasil (Durum Percussion Group Brazil), performing concerts in South America and Europe, besides recording the CD "Dimensões". He founded and directed the Simantra Percussion Group (Portugal) with which he won prizes and performed concerts. He is responsible for premieres and first auditions in Portugal, Spain, Venezuela and Brazil of works by composers such as Stockhausen, Mantovani, Zampronha, López López, Stasi and De Mey. He has published scientific articles in the main journals dedicated to music in Brazil and in proceedings of conferences in the country and abroad. He has performed concerts in countries such as the United States, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, Chile, Hong-Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Venezuela. Between 2014 and 2015 he was a professor at the Federal Institute of Goiás (IFG), where he helped develop the Percussion Laboratory of IFG (LaPe), and is coordinator of the Center of Excellence for Teaching, Research and Performance in Percussion of IFG. Currently he is Coordinator of Percussion Course of Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and Director of Percussion Group of UFMG.

Charles Augusto Braga Leandro, DEMUS / Federal University of Ouro Preto

Master in Music by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (2014). Since 2015, he has been a professor of percussion, chamber music, music theory, counterpoint and other subect of the Department of Music at Federal University of Ouro Preto (Demus-UFOP). During the Master's course, he received a scholarship from the CAPES/REUNI Program, having taught, in 2013, the subject PERCUSSION: Complementary Instrument Licentiate, at Graduation Course of the School of Music of UFMG. From 2012 to 2014, he participated as an assistant professor for the UFMG Percussion Group.He completed his Bachelor of Music, with qualification in Percussion, at the São Paulo State University "Júlio de Mesquita Filho" (UNESP), in 2010. Moreover, he worked as a percussion teacher at the Centro de Formação Artística - CEFART, of the Clóvis Salgado Foundation, in Belo Horizonte-MG. From 2009 to 2014 he was a percussion teacher at Social Projeto Guri-Santa Marcelina, in São Paulo. He performed in several Brazilian states, as well as countries such as the USA, Canada and Germany. He professional carried out diversified activities as a percussionist, having worked in Orchestras such as: Philharmonic of Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte) and orchestra of Theatro São Pedro (São Paulo). He also worked in important groups such as: Camerata Aberta (from 2010 to 2014); PIAP Group (UNESP Percussion Group from 2006 to 2010); Grupo SONANTE 21 (Group for Research and Performance in Contemporary Music, from 2012 to 2014); SCHLAG!, chamber group specialized in music, sound and visual technologies, (2012-2016). In addition, he performed with soloists such as Fábio Zanon (guitar), Duo Labèque (pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque) and Shawn Mativetsky (percussion). He developed several projects linked to scenic music, performing works by Eduardo Guimarães Álvares, Mauricio Kagel and Thierry de Mey. In 2016 he founded the “Grupo de Percussão da UFOP”, of which he is Artistic Director. In 2019 he was a guest soloist of the Ateliê group performing the premiere of the work Labirinto de Asterion by Levi Oliveira.


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How to Cite

Labrada, Leonardo, Fernando Chaib, and Charles Augusto Braga Leandro. 2023. “Making Possible the Impossible: Performative Ideas and Solutions in Some Iannis Xenakis’ Percussion Works”. Per Musi, no. 42 (July):1-19.



Thematic Session Iannis Xenakis