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13

Serialism means that musical material is derived from a series (hence "serial") of said musical material; this series is also commonly called a row. In early serialism, composers used the serial concept to determine the pitch content of the work. Most famously, the composers of the "Second Viennese School" (Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern) were proponents of ...


12

It sounds like your teacher is asking you to write a row without any inherent tonal qualities. We're not looking at three adjacent rows here, but rather tones that are next to each other within a single row. Take, for instance, this 12-tone row from Berg's Violin Concerto: Notice that the first three pitches spell a G-minor triad; pitches 3--5 spell a D-...


10

Well, if you're composing in a cabin in the woods, and there's no wifi or cell-phone coverage, and you forgot to bring along your paper print-out of the Wikipedia page, doing it by hand isn't more difficult than solving a Sudoku™. The biggest problem is that most random interval vectors will not lead to a solution, so you could spend a lot of time finding ...


10

No textbook is flawless. Even ignoring the occasional typo, every student is different and learns in a different way, so the best textbook for one student might be just "eh" for another. (And don't even get me started on cost...) I've worked extensively with both the Laitz and Clendinning/Marvin textbooks, and I can enthusiastically recommend both. They ...


9

Fair question. Think about these things: 1.) Context (lots of sharps / flats already? Which would simplify the music?) 2.) The direction (sharps = up / flats = down) 3.) The instrument (strings more comfortable reading sharps / winds more comfortable with flats) 4.) Writing intervals the way they sound (does that really need to be "C-D#" or would "C-Eb" ...


8

It is important to note that Schoenberg didn't invent twelve-tone serial music specifically to get away from tonality or functional harmony. He had already been writing atonal music for more than a decade without using any kind of serialism. The problem he was trying to solve was that he struggled to give his atonal music unity, and he hoped to achieve that ...


7

They are both right and here's why. There are two different algorithms for determining the prime form which are Forte's and Rahn's. In most cases they are the same, however there are a handful that are not the same. The one's you've noted are not the same with both algorithms. The breakdown of them are as follows: Pitch Class Set Forte Prime ...


6

There are almost 10 million distinct possible 12-tone rows, and essentially infinitely many different ways of using them. I could carefully construct a row so that it uses only a small number of different intervals, or so that it contains multiple instances of a particular harmony or motive, or so that is uses as many different intervals as possible, or I ...


6

I think it's a beautiful song, but it doesn't seem to stick to a key signature very well. I'm not sure where that happens. Here's some sheet music, and the whole thing stays in a single minor key. a) Would you consider this song atonal? No. It's one of the most tonal uses of a minor key in popular music I've actually seen recently. It's pretty much ...


5

This is kind of a weird artifact of Forte’s original formulation of the operation, and is often ignored nowadays. The basic idea for him is that the transposition operation Tn is a single operation wherein all of the notes are increased by n (mod 12). The inversion operation TnI is actual a dual function wherein first the notes are inverted around C (PC 0) ...


5

In 12-tone serializm, it doesn't really mater what you call a note the more important is that you maintain the integrity of the tone row which doesn't recognize enharmonic equivalents as different notes for the purpose of the town row. The letter/quality combination comes second to the enumeration of the notes in a row and utilizing the different ...


5

...the melody I wrote just seemed like random notes of the chromatic scale... In a way you are describing in a nutshell what 12 tone music is. Of course it isn't really random. The constraint to use all 12 in sequence is meant to equalize their importance and thereby eschew tonality, and that is not random. I suppose you could describe the resulting atonal ...


4

As a follow-up to Richard's answer, I'd like to give an example of the way a row or series is used in a composition for several instruments, and explain how the series to be used for a composition was chosen. Here is a simplified version (omitting dynamics and articulation) of the opening measures of Schoenberg's String Quartet No.4 op.37: X:1 L:1/8 M:...


4

As the PC Set Calculator you link to shows, [0, 1, 2, 3, 5] is the Prime Inversion of [0, 2, 3, 4, 5]. However, as [0, 1, 2, 3, 5] has a lower interval at the bottom, it is considered the correct prime form of these two equivalent PC Sets. Another page on the website you link to gives a rigorous method for determining the Prime Form of any PC Set. The last ...


4

Tonal center is a name of the note that "feels like home". If you can name such note, then it is the tonal center. But you can use many different chords and scales in a single piece, while still maintaining the same tonal center. A very simple example: you have a progression in C major, you use C ionian scale, but when the dominant G chord comes, ...


4

One possible approach to this is exactly what you mentioned in your post: to recognize the inherent asymmetry in tonal music. The perfect fifth, for instance, does not split the octave in two, but rather just barely misses it. Same with the major triad: the third doesn't split the perfect fifth in two, but it just barely misses. So one of the ways in which a ...


3

I have been playing guitar for more than 10 years, and the only book I ever needed was this one, which I was recommended by many people on the Ultimate-Guitar.com forum. https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark-Levine/dp/1883217040/ You can read the first few chapters for free on the Amazon website. It's not just for playing jazz, but covers all the ...


3

Your use of the word 'meticulous' reminded me of my first theory teacher relating this stern instruction in best school marm fashion: You may break any of these hallowed rules of musical composition only after you are totally familiar with all of them, because by then you will know enough to strictly contain yourself until you thoroughly understand WHY these ...


3

Serialism refers to a number of compositional techniques or styles, the most well-known of which is 12-note serialism. Generally, serialism means music which is governed by one or more series of values (often pitch, but sometimes dynamics, tempi, rhythm) which are reused throughout the piece to give a sense of unity. In 12-note serialism, a specific ...


3

I think you forgot to test inversions -- you should measure the distance between the first two and last two classes, and find the form that packs the smaller intervals to the left. If you invert [0 2 3 4 5], you get [0 1 2 3 5], which succeeds in packing the shorter distance to the left of the form (starts with a distance of 1 instead of 2).


3

It happens all the time. At the risk of borrowing from one of my recent contributions - the tritone sound pulls a listener's ear in a meaningful way to a tone that's one half-step up from the involved notes. If we play a C-F# interval, music theory tells us that the most satisfying resolution to this interval will either be (enharmonically) to Db or to G. ...


3

The chromatic scale is a kind of superset of diatonic scales. It is therefore, by design, a tool for creating tonal music in a flexible way. Because of this, there is arguably a self-contradiction in the idea of 12-tone technique in that it aims to get away from tonality, and yet aims to do so using a musical framework that has evolved with tonal music in ...


3

What 12-tone music have you listened to? Do you like it? What's your favourite passage of Schoenberg? Study it, see how he gets his effects. Or maybe you just agree with a whole lot of musicians that serialism - though an interesting and maybe necessary reaction to centuries of Common Practice writing - doesn't actually sound very good.


3

The first two pages show Schoenberg constructing the tone row from its component parts. He starts by exploring the tritone interval of the first two notes for the first four bars, adding the tritone G-C# (an inversion) in bar 3. Then he adds the major second interval (the second two notes). In bar 8 he starts the first five notes of the tone row (fl/harp) ...


3

Richard has given an excellent explanation. I just wanted to point out that the basic serial techniques can be applied not only to tones in your row, but to portions of your row. For example, given the row: G Bb D F# A C E G# B C# Eb F you can segment the row, and apply the techniques to parts of it. Split it into thirds and retrograde the middle four ...


3

Seems like it's really just the last two chords that pull you back into (sounds to me like) Bb minor. I'd avoid the I-V or V-I root progression in the final bars.


3

This question brings to mind the line... it's turtles all the way down ...or why do magnets repel each other? How far do you want to take this question about why rather than how or when? If animals aren't compelled to do something for their survival, they tend to rest. Actually, rest is part of survival, because it doesn't waste energy. Rest is a ...


3

First, an executive summary: The primary point of these quoted passages is simply that any sequence of transpositions and inversions, no matter how long or convoluted, is ultimately the same as one transposition or inversion. So, as discussed in the comments to the question, the meaning of X can be a single pitch class, but, more importantly, X can also ...


2

There is nothing wrong with triads in a tone row, and it certainly is not against the rules. Having said that, perhaps your teacher wanted you to experiment with less standard melodies and harmonies. Keep in mind that because the tone row includes all twelve pitch classes, it can take a lot of work to avoid jarring harmonic transitions if you do employ the ...


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