book release: from xenakis’s upic to graphic notation today

Presentation of the book published by the Hertz-Lab and the Centre Iannis Xenakis with moderated discussion by the editors Peter Weibel, Ludger Brümmer and Sharon Kanach, followed by a concert with a piece by Julia Rommel, which was created in the context of the artist's residence "Graphical Notation", as well as a software presentation.

Online Release Event: 17.04.2020 at 19.00 CET
The Vimeo link to the talk will be announced on the ZKM website
Click HERE to learn more about the event

Click HERE to learn more about the book

In spring 2020, the ZKM will release an extensive volume entitled ‘From Xenakis's UPIC to Graphic Notation Today’. This volume, with 27 richly illustrated articles, is the first to be dedicated to the genesis of this unique computational instrument and traces its technical, social, institutional and educational significance up to the current practice of contemporary composers who work with the idea of UPIC in current computer programs. The publication has been produced in cooperation with the Centre Iannis Xenakis, contains previously unpublished archive material and is simultaneously made available to the public as a digital version for free download at

live-streamed Talks
On the occasion of the book's publication there will be a discussion with editors Peter Weibel, Ludger Brümmer and Sharon Kanach, moderated by Lisa Bensel. This is followed by the premiere of the work "Zwischenraum - Akustische Kartographie" by Julia Jasmin Rommel, which was created between 2018 and 2019 as part of the Artistic Residency "Graphic Notation" at the ZKM | Hertz-Lab. It will be presented in a pandemic video version specially produced to reflect the current situation. This will be followed by a short jamsession demo of the educational software UPIsketch.

live-streamed Electronic Concerts
Julia Jasmin Rommel
“Zwischenraum – Akustische Kartographie”, [Interspace - Acoustic Cartography].

Pandemic version of an 8-channel audiovisual installation for the ZKM Sound Dome
• Bridge and tunnel map / Brücken und Tunnel Karte 03:20
• Flight booking map / Flugbuchungskarte 03:36
• Curve map / Kurvenkarte 02:50
• Oncoming traffic map / Gegenverkehrskarte 02:00

This audiovisual installation is based on several cartographic documents in which Julia Jasmin Rommel has visualized different aspects of the interspace – the mental state we are in during the routine crossing of distance between places A and B. They address, among other things, transitions, restlessness and continuity, sense of orientation and change of direction, and are each documented by experimental but context-related criteria and methods. Space structuring elements such as tunnel and bridge crossings, counter-trains, flight booking data, curve angles of certain railway lines form the parameters of these movement protocols. Using the Graphic Sequencer “IanniX” these protocols are translated into sound. In a sort of sonification the attempt is made to do justice both to the linearity of documented paths and to the map as a medium of overview. Rommel's interest lies in the interface between reading signs and interpreting images, which is made possible by the transformation into sound.
Click here to learn more about the event

The UPIC (Unité Polyagogique Informatique CEMAMu) a pioneering computerized music composition tool was first conceived in the 1950s by Iannis Xenakis. It is one of the first graphic interfaces for designing sound and structuring compositions. Drawing becomes the main vector of creation, enabling the user to hand-design all parameters. It was obvious that the UPIC could also revolutionize music pedagogy by demystifying traditional Western music notation. Access to this tool created unprecedented experiences for potential creators and audiences– including the blind and very young children. Audiences can be creative as composers as well perceptive in listening. It creates an understanding of the creative process in composition. Making the audience compose helps bring contemporary to a wider audience.

UPIC has undergone several “upgrades” since its inception and the project intends to take this extremely versatile system one step further (in collaboration with the CIX and the Université de Rouen) in order to expand the environment’s capabilities and improve its compatibility with contemporary DSP tools. This book will be a documentation of the system’s on-going development and use aiming to cover technical descriptions, testimony from composers and other users, and illustrate this tool’s rich history and potential.

Book Release: From Xenakis’s UPIC to Graphic Notation Today

with live-streamed Electronic Concerts and Talks


Fri, 17.04.2020 7 pm (CET)

Online at

Free entry

Pre-registration for participation in zoom by mail to LIVESTREAM@ZKM.DE. The event can also be followed in the livestream without registration.