Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
eboats

Post Tonal

Recommended Posts

I've been learning about 12 tone/serialist approaches to structuring and composing music.  Of course, those approaches aren't new anymore.  Have there been other important (more recent) non-tonal music theory frameworks for organizing music since then? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Though 12-tone serialism is the most well known and at times in the 20th century the most popular way of organizing pitches post-tonally, its not the only one. Before 12-tone, there was free atonalism. As the word suggest, its less about organization and more about freely composing without a tonal center. This can be problematic because implied tonality can sneak in. 

Another organization tool is set-theory; which involves organizing trichords, tetrachords, etc. in a way similar to how one would organize tonal triads so to speak. They are labeled by numbers and can be transposed, inverted, and so forth. 

After 12-tone came total serialism in which all aspects of the music in organized in rows; from the pitches, dynamics, articulations, etc. After that, around 1945, the number of "-isms" kind of died down, especially in the non-tonal realm. Mathematic and performances algorithms were used a lot in the 1950s-1970s. Elements of chance and process were used to organize music making music more interactive and unpredictable in someways. But no one method really took hold and became another kind of "ism" or school of thought like 12-tone has. My theory as to why this is is because one can say we are in the late period of our musical aesthetic period. In the late part of any period you see a lot less innovation and more refinement of what is introduced in a period. We see that now with composers writing in 12-tone but are refining and redesign it. I mention this because as you can see their isn't much more from 12-tone in ways of organizing pitches in a post-tonal way. Something to think about as you research these methods. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have definitely been moving into a distinctly new era of concert music for the last 30 years or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Though 12-tone serialism is the most well known and at times in the 20th century the most popular way of organizing pitches post-tonally, its not the only one. Before 12-tone, there was free atonalism. As the word suggest, its less about organization and more about freely composing without a tonal center. This can be problematic because implied tonality can sneak in. 

Another organization tool is set-theory; which involves organizing trichords, tetrachords, etc. in a way similar to how one would organize tonal triads so to speak. They are labeled by numbers and can be transposed, inverted, and so forth. 

After 12-tone came total serialism in which all aspects of the music in organized in rows; from the pitches, dynamics, articulations, etc. After that, around 1945, the number of "-isms" kind of died down, especially in the non-tonal realm. Mathematic and performances algorithms were used a lot in the 1950s-1970s. Elements of chance and process were used to organize music making music more interactive and unpredictable in someways. But no one method really took hold and became another kind of "ism" or school of thought like 12-tone has. My theory as to why this is is because one can say we are in the late period of our musical aesthetic period. In the late part of any period you see a lot less innovation and more refinement of what is introduced in a period. We see that now with composers writing in 12-tone but are refining and redesign it. I mention this because as you can see their isn't much more from 12-tone in ways of organizing pitches in a post-tonal way. Something to think about as you research these methods. 

 

Thanks for the great reply.  I guess whether you like it or don't, one thing about 12 tone music is that it sounds utterly unique and original, even today, 60+ years after a lot of it was written.  It's interesting that innovation in art and technology moves faster and is more widely accepted than innovation in music.  Or maybe as you say, we're just in a a slow/innovation period.   Any recommendations for books on 12 tone or serialist music?  I've seen one which is pretty dense (Post-tonal Theory by Strauss) so wonder if there are clearer texts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great reply.  I guess whether you like it or don't, one thing about 12 tone music is that it sounds utterly unique and original, even today, 60+ years after a lot of it was written.  It's interesting that innovation in art and technology moves faster and is more widely accepted than innovation in music.  Or maybe as you say, we're just in a a slow/innovation period.   Any recommendations for books on 12 tone or serialist music?  I've seen one which is pretty dense (Post-tonal Theory by Strauss) so wonder if there are clearer texts.

All periods have a development period in which the build upon the stuff that started it. The early 20th century saw a ton of innovation of which many were just so tiresome after a while. There are not many books on 12-tone itself and I can't think of any at the moment. The best book is Post-Tonal Theory by Strauss even though it is dense. Its very complete. 

You should also look into some of the other -ism that are still growing. Spectralism out of France has been one that has steadily growing since the 70s. Also look into what composers today are doing with all the musical material that has been started since the 1900's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, I've heard of Spectralism - any books you recommend on it?  I haven't seen any on the subject or the composers. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...