To the Memory of an Angel, Part II

Posted: September 24, 2016 by vequinox in Literature

Good Music Speaks

twelve-tone-technique-for-music-composition-6-728When composing music using Schoenberg’s serial methods, there is a great deal of preparatory, or “precompositional” work to be done.  The twelve-tone technique has at its heart a pre-determined tone row.  In brief, a proper twelve-tone row is an ordering of the twelve pitches of the chromatic scale, with no single note repeated in the row.  This row may appear in its original (prime) form, in inversion, in retrograde, or in retrograde-inversion.  Each of those four forms may be further transposed to start on any of the twelve pitches of the chromatic scale.  Often a composer creates a handy matrix of all 48 possible transformations of the tone row in use, and works out some of the textures and “harmonies” that can be constructed using a particular row. In practice, most of the tone rows used in composing music are chosen to avoid obvious structures that imply tonality.

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