The 12-Tone thread

Discussion in 'Jazz, Acoustic, Classical & Fingerstyle' started by All_¥our_Bass, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    A thread for posting music and discussion on all things 12-tone.

    For those not in the know:
    Twelve-tone technique - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Now here is probably one of my favorite pieces of music.
    It's soooo weird sounding.

    Schoenberg's "Serenade"












     
  2. xtrustisyoursx

    xtrustisyoursx SS.org Regular

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    my all time fav 12 tone piece is the berg violin concerto
     
  3. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    I've heard that one too, pretty cool stuff.
     
  4. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Awesome stuff. I don't listen to enough Schoenberg, as a majority of Schoenberg I've been exposed to has been crap Schoenberg. :lol: I do like that his compositions tend to build up to a frantic climax just before the end. Here's a pre-twelve-tone Schoenberg piece, from Pierrot Lunaire. The music and lyrics work very well together. Weird video FTW.



    And, now, the master of tone rows, himself:








    And, to complete the triad, Berg:


    Not strictly twelve-tone, I don't think, but it really is beautiful.









    This is definitely not twelve-tone, but its awesomeness is noteworthy:




    The Second Viennese School was a very diverse and representative force, in my book. Schoenberg was like the big innovator, Webern was the really heady guy, and Berg was dramatic. Beyond those three, I haven't been exposed to much twelve-tone music, but I can say that I do prefer free atonality to serial atonality. Berg, if you haven't guessed it, is my favorite of the Second Viennese School, because even his serial works don't sound as serialistic as that of many other composers.
     
  5. Keytarist

    Keytarist SS.org Regular

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    My favorite atonal compositions are Alban Berg's Violin concerto (seems to be very popular) and 'Erwartung' (for Soprano and orchestra) by Arnold Schoenberg. This last one is pre-twelve tone technique and is very rough and sometimes ethereal, like you dive in exotic atmospheres and you hear things never heard before.
    Microtonal compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki are interesting also, like 'Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima'. You may have heard it before in the soundtrack of The Shinning (Stanley Kubrick).
    All those suspense/horror soundtracks were inspired by this music, but I believe that is rather beautiful than nasty, and I hate the stereotype built around this music by the film industry.
    I'm into Oliver Messiaen music also. I don't know how to call it, but it isn't exactly fully atonal, he uses synthetic modes. I love the Turangalila Symphony, the most exotic and exhuberant composition I have ever heard until now.
    Going back to the topic; the first fully twelve tone technique composition made by Schoenberg was the Piano suite Op.25.
    Here is the complete matrix for the tone row: image.[​IMG][​IMG]
     
  6. Neal

    Neal Down-pick or die

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    I generally agree with that. Pierrot lunaire is my favorite from Schoenberg, and it is atonal as opposed to dodecaphonic, although there might be some serialism going on in there... I could be wrong, been a while since I studied it.

    :agreed: People have such an association built up with this music now that its hard to do anything else with it.

    Outside of the classical/"serious" world, Ray Jarzombek uses some 12-tone stuff on the Blotted Science album that is very cool. I'm starting to employ the technique in my own stuff, but haven't gotten too far with it. Anybody here using 12-tone or any form of serialism in their compositions?
     
  7. AySay

    AySay Banned

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    This really helped me get a grasp of the 12 tone stuff. It's Awesome!
     
  8. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Ron is awesome. He didn't get into inversion and retrograde inversion there, but I'd like to point out something that he did which I think is a good way to go about formulating tone rows: he broke up the row into chords. Now, his sounds like a typical row, because he used diminished chords, which have nebulous tonality by nature, but you can achieve some beautiful rows by using major and minor sonorities. Here's an example: E G B D C# A# F# C A G# F D#
    (0 3 7 10 9 6 2 8 5 4 1 11)

    E G B D is an E minor seventh chord
    C# A# F# is an F# major chord
    C A G# F D# is a D#°7 chord, with the G# and F acting as nonchord tones. Notice that the D# sounds like a leading tone.

    Organizing rows into harmonic units can make them sound practically tonal. The one I did could even be analyzed harmonically as i7 V/V vii°7 (i), which is a perfectly tonal progression. I'm not quite to the point that I can make these things work backwards, as well as forwards, but I'm making it a goal. Another thing I like to do is use sequences, but they're not always so easy to do and still retain the structure of the row.
     
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  9. Nick1

    Nick1 SS.org Regular

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    Twelve-Tone Serialism is pretty cool. It is definitely not for everyone thats for sure.

    When I was taking lessons from George Bellas we spent some time talking about Twelve-Tone Serialism and the tone rows and what not. I actually composed a short piece that became very dark and ominous sounding. Every time I listen to it, I picture in my mind a dark and stormy night and a patient from a metal hospital that went nuts and started axing everyone. :lol: Its really creepy but totally cool.
     
  10. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    :hbang:
     
  11. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    There's also the Quadritonal Chords/Arpeggios idea, where you split the 12 tones into four mutually exclusive chords.

    Like so:

    2 major and 2 minor:
    Cm,Dm,E,F#
    Cm,D,E,Bbm
    C,D,G#m,Bbm
    C,F#m,G#m,Bb
    C,Dm,F#,G#m
    Cm,E,F#m,Bb

    2 Aug, 1 major, 1 minor:
    C+,Dm,Eb+,F#
    Cm,Db+,D+,E
    C+,Db+,Eb,Bm
    C,Db+,D+,G#m

    1 Aug, 1major, 1 minor, 1 Dim:
    C+,Eb,F#m,Bdim
    C,Db+,Ebm,G#dim
    Cm,D+,Fdim,A
    Cdim,Db+,E,Gm

    2 Dim, 1 major, 1 minor:
    Cdim,Fdim,Gm,A
    Cdim,Dm,E,Gdim
    Cm,E,Fdim,Bbdim
    C,D#dim,G#dim,Bbm

    4 Aug:
    C+,Db+,D+,Eb+
    C+,D+,Eb+,F+
    C+,Eb+,F+,A+

    Of course these "groups" of chords can be transposed, and any note of an aug or dim triad can be considered the root.

    You could also make 6 dyads, 3 4-note chords, and 2 6-note monstrosities.

    Another really neat thing you can do with tone rows, whether you are using it as a "melody" or theme or if you are deriving chords from it, is to cycle through it.

    I'll take SchecterWhore's row to demonstrate.

    He split up the row like this to get his chords.
    (E G B D) (C# A# F#) (C A G# F D#)

    Now what if we keep the way we get the chords from the row, but shift the row over, we get different, and often unexpected sonorities.

    (E G B D) (C# A# F#) (C A G# F D#) original

    (G B D C#) (A# F# C) (A G# F D# E) moved over 1

    (B D C# A#) (F# C A) (G# F D# E G) moved over 2

    (D C# A# F#) (C A G#) (F D# E G B) moved over 3

    etc.

    It's the same thing with melody/theme stuff, if you cycle through the row but keep the phrasing, note lengths and stresses the same, you'll emphasize different notes and it can lend a completely different feel to the music.

    BTW SchecterWhore, what are sequences?
     
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  12. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    :agreed: I'm loving this.

    Sequences are melodic patterns that arise from the transposition of an original motivic idea. So, for example, let's say our motif is F# G A.
    A sequence made from this might look like F# G A, G# A B, A# B C#.
    Sequences can either be chromatic or diatonic. Chromatic sequences keep the intervallic space between the notes the same, and diatonic sequences conform to the key that you're in. The sequence I demonstrated is a chromatic sequence. Wikipedia has a few examples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequence_(music)

    Now, here is a row I've put together using a sequence: D# F# E C# B D C A G Bb Ab F
     
  13. Keytarist

    Keytarist SS.org Regular

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    Yes, it is known as cyclic permutation, or rotation, where the row is taken in order but using a different starting note. Igor Stravinsky used it.
     
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  14. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    So you know it's good. :lol:

    I'm not aware of much of Stravinsky's serial music. I have The Flood and Agon on my iPod, but whenever I'm in the mood for Stravinsky, I'm thinking of his Russian period stuff. Mind you, he wasn't using any twelve-tone technique at that point, but his orchestration is just amazing; the way he uses different melodic textures and tonality/atonality to contrast characters and ideas is very theatrical. I read a really useful Stravinsky companion that I checked out from my school's library a couple years back, and the overview of L'Oiseau de Feu was enlightening - the author pointed out that human characters (Ivan Tsarevich, I guess.) are represented by diatonic melodies, and magical characters (The Firebird and Kaschei) are represented by chromatic melodies. It seems like a really simple idea, but it underscores the point that every sound and texture is useful to the musician, becoming perhaps more useful when one idea is used in conjunction with another or several other ideas. Stravinsky really makes this obvious in his opera.

    Before I begin, this is my favorite opera, and one of the weirdest video productions I have ever seen. In Le Rossignol (The Nightingale), Stravinsky tells the story of a nightingale in the woods that has a beautiful song. The Emperor of China invites the Nightingale to his court, and when the Nightingale sings, he offers it a position. The Nightingale says that the greatest reward of all is seeing the tears in his eyes when she sings, and proceeds to fly away. Shortly thereafter, the Emperor of Japan sends some envoys carrying the gift of a mechanical nightingale to sing to him (the weird crotch-grabbing cartoon dude in the purple suit in video 3), which Stravinsky portrays in the orchestra as a pentatonic melody given to the oboe, no doubt due to the particular tone colour of the oboe.







    The Emperor uses the mechanical nightingale so much, he wears it out, and falls ill. On his death bed, he is haunted by his deeds. Then, crying out for help, the Nightingale comes to the Emperor's aid, finds Death (Death is the heavy set lady that rides off on a forklift in video 5), expels it from the land, and returns the Emperor's health. The Nightingale tells the Emperor that she will visit him every night to sing to him.





    So, basically, mechanical things are seen as evil in this story, or at least unsatisfactory and not to be used in excess, and Stravinsky makes this distinction by giving the proponents of mechanical stuff extremely angular chromatic lines, while the more "organic" characters and ideas are characterized by lyrical melodies that have more of a sense of diatonicism. Notice that the Emperor's last song is the same music as that of the Fisherman earlier in the opera, signaling his transformation. The Nightingale is somewhat the exception, as its melodies are very chromatic, but perhaps only to emphasize its unearthly beauty; the Nightingale's song is still very lyrical and not as rhythmically mechanical as, say, that of the Chamberlain.


    By the way, that film is available with English subtitles, but I can't find it on Youtube. Also, if everything I said is complete bullshit, call me on it. This is just my interpretation, and I don't have a score to look at.
     
  15. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    I actually already knew that. But it's one of the less mentioned ways to manipulate tone rows, most of the time all you hear is "retrograde, inversion, retrograde-inversion, and transposition."
     
  16. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Keep them coming, dude. All I knew before this thread were P, I, R, and RI, maybe a bit of combinatoriality and klangfarbenmelodie.
     
  17. 8string

    8string Grande puta de gear! Contributor

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    Now that has to be badass!

    Open brain surgery with an axe

    Sorry 'bout the off topicness, I'll go away now
     
  18. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    I know this is an old thread, but since it got referenced in the thread on Vi Hart's Twelve Tones video, hopefully few people will mind if I reopen it.

    I really like the chordal-row approach here. I noticed also that the last chord (C A G# F D#) could be interpreted as F7#9 (it's more obvious if you spell D# enharmonically as Eb), which is a b5 substitution for B7, the dominant of our initial Em7. That's also a pretty conventional harmonic structure from a jazz perspective, although you'd usually find it with a minor II instead of a major. You could also swap the position of the A and the A# in the row and get a progression that goes Em7-F#m-Fm11, which might be interesting as a serialist take on modal jazz.
     
  19. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    Cool! Some of these are actually the same row transposed, though. The "2 maj/2 min" rows you provided, for example, only represent two patterns. The first four rows are all composed of minor-minor-major-major triads, all a whole-step apart. The last two rows are both major-minor a whole-step apart, plus the same pattern a tritone away.
     
  20. celticelk

    celticelk Enflamed with prayer

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    Taking advantage of the multiple ways that 12 can be factored suggests some lovely techniques for manipulation. Start with your initial row:

    E G B D C# A# F# C A G# F D#

    Break it into two six-note modules and retrograde separately:

    A# C# D B G E D# F G# A C F#

    Break that row into three four-note modules and retrograde:

    B D C# A# F D# E G F# C A G#

    ...and then four three-note modules:

    C# D B D# F A# F# G E G# A C

    ...and then six two-note modules:

    D C# D# B A# F G F# G# E C A

    Note that the initial Em7 arpeggio is still discernible as a regular pattern within the row, but in retrograde and dispersed evenly throughout the resulting row. We've also created a repeating motif *within* the row with two instances (D-C#-D# and G-F#-G#) and an overlapping variation (F-G-F#). Note further that this motif occurs at the beginning of each six-note module, lending a sort of call-and-response structure to this row that could be emphasized by other compositional choices.

    You can, of course, reverse the process at any point after the second modularization, and end up with a new row. You could also retrograde every other module, for example. Or you could invert as well as taking the retrograde on any given iteration (you can't apply inversion modularly without potentially violating the twelve-tone rule, though). Or you could recombine by changing the order of the modules without otherwise manipulating them.

    -----------

    If you're willing to violate the twelve-tone rule, you could have infinite amounts of fun by using biology-inspired recombination techniques to derive new pitch collections. Take our first row and place it next to its retrograde:

    E G B D C# A# F# C A G# F D#
    D# F G# A C F# A# C# D B G E

    Now apply an arbitrary rule about recombining these two rows. Maybe you'll switch "strands" every time the vertically-paired tones are a semitone apart, yielding:

    E F G# A C A# F# C D B G E

    Or every time they're a third (major or minor) apart:

    E G B A C F# F# C# D B F D#

    Or whenever there's a semitone movement in *horizontally* paired pitches:

    E G B D C F# A# C# A G# F D#

    (This collection is also a twelve-tone row; specifically, it's the equivalent of modularizing our original row into 3 units and retrograding the middle module.)

    These techniques can, of course, be used to recombine any two rows, including completely unrelated rows. Whether you find the resulting pitch collections useful is a different story.
     

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