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Bachelor of

Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 1: Extended Chromaticism
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   learn   about   the   ways   in   which   middle   and  
late  Romantic  composers  experimented  with  chromaticism.  You  
will   also   study   the   techniques   featured   in   Richard   Wagner’s  
prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand   chromatic   mediant   and   doubly  
chromatic  mediant  relationships  
• Understand   how   composers   used   extended  
chromaticism,   irregular   resolution,   real   sequences,  
and  frequent  modulations  
• Understand   how   the   chromaticism,   irregular  
resolutions,   and   deferred   resolutions   in   Wagner’s  
prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  anticipated  atonality  
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Bending  the  old  rules…………………………......................2  
Lecture  2:  The  p relude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde...............................7  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………............11  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Bending  the  Old  Rules
Metric  Modulation  
 
Testing  the  limits  of  the  old  system  
During  the  Baroque  and  Classical  periods,  most  classical  composers  followed,  more  or  less,  the  
rules   of   the   common   practice   period.   Although   they   might   have   resolved   some   chords  
irregularly   or   occasionally   used   parallel   fifths,   they   usually   tried   to   be   creative   within   the  
confines   of   the   system.   As   the   Classical   period   gave   way   to   the   Romantic   period,   composers  
began   testing   that   system’s   limits   with   more   regularity.   Irregular   resolutions   became   more  
common.   Non-­‐harmonic   tones   weren’t   always   resolved   –   or   at   least   not   resolved   quickly.   Key  
centers  within  a  piece  would  change  more  often  and  with  less  predictability.  By  the  mid  to  late  
1800s,   one   of   the   major   trends   in   classical   music   was   a   focus   on   chromaticism,   often   at   the  
expense  of  the  standard  diatonic  progressions.  As  composers  employed  non-­‐diatonic  harmony  
more  frequently  and  with  more  abandon,  they  found  themselves  bending  and  stretching  the  old  
common  practice  rules  to  the  breaking  point.  
 
Chromatic  mediant  
During   the   common   practice   period,   the   primary   key   relationships   in   a   piece   involved   keys  
closely   related   to   the   tonic:   the   relative   major   or   minor,   the   parallel   major   or   minor,   the  
subdominant   (and   its   relative   major   or   minor),   and   the   dominant   (and   its   relative   major   or  
minor).  Composers  challenging  common  practice  conventions  in  the  19th  century  would  explore  
keys  and  chords  distantly  related  –  and  not  diatonic–  to  the  tonic.    
 
One  such  distant  relationship  between  keys  or  chords  is  the  chromatic  mediant  relationship.  A  
chromatic  mediant  relationship  between  two  keys  or  chords  has  the  following  characteristics:  
1) The   tonic   notes   of   the   two   keys   (or   the   roots   of   the   chords)   are   a   major   or   minor   3rd  
apart.  
2) The  keys  (or  chords)  have  the  same  quality  (major  or  minor).  
3) Chords  related  by  chromatic  mediant  will  share  one  common  tone.  
 
Chords  in  a  doubly  chromatic  mediant  relationship  are  a  major  or  minor  3rd  apart  –  but  do  not  
have  the  same  quality  and  do  not  share  any  pitches.  
 
In   each   of   the   first   three   measures   of   Example   1.1   below,   the   two   triads   are   in   a   chromatic  
mediant   relationship.   The   triads   in   m.   4   of   Ex.   1.1   are   in   a   doubly   chromatic   mediant  
relationship.  (Triads  in  a  doubly  chromatic  mediant  relationship  do  not  share  a  common  tone.)  
 
Ex.  1.1  

 
 
In  his  song  “Widmung”  (measures  10-­‐17  of  which  appear  in  Example  1.2,  on  the  following  page),  
Robert   Schumann   creates   a   common   tone   modulation   between   two   keys,   Ab   and   E   major,  
related   by   chromatic   mediant.   Ab,   if   respelled   as   G#,   is   a   major   third   away   from   E  –   and   both  
keys  are  in  the  major  mode.  The  modulation  itself  occurs  in  mm.  13-­‐14  between  the  two  keys’  
tonic   chords,   which   are   themselves   related   by   chromatic   mediant.   Schumann   highlights   the  

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common  tone  and  chromatic  mediant  relationship  between  Ab  and  E  major  by  placing  the  tone  
they  share,  Ab/G#,  in  the  vocal  line’s  melody.  
 
Ex.  1.2  

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Real  sequences  
In  common  practice  period  music,  sequences  appear  frequently  but  do  not  usually  involve  exact  
transpositions   of   the   initial   pattern.   Exact   transpositions   of   that   initial   pattern   would  
immediately   change   the   key   of   a   passage.   In   Example   1.3   (below),   a   non-­‐modulating   (or  
diatonic)   sequence   repeats   the   initial   pattern   (in   mm.   1-­‐2)   at   various   pitch   levels   –   without  
changing  the  key  of  the  passage.  The  sequence’s  transpositions  are  not  exact.  
 
Ex.  1.3  

 
 
 
In   Example   1.4   (on   the   following   page),   a   modulating   sequence   repeats   its   initial   pattern  
(identical  to  that  of  Ex.  1.3)  at  various  pitch  levels   –  and  changes  the  key  of  the  passage  multiple  
times.   Here,   each   transposition   is   exact   and   initiates   a   change   of   key.   Real   sequences   contain  
only  exact  transpositions  of  the  initial  pattern  –  and  often  cause  modulations.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  1.4  

 
 
Irregular  resolutions,  extended  chromaticism,  real  sequences,  and  frequent  modulations  
The   middle   and   latter   parts   of   the   Romantic   period   saw   more   widespread   experimentation   with  
irregular   resolution.   Often,   these   irregular   resolutions   would   arrive   at   non-­‐diatonic   chords,  
which  might  then  resolve  irregularly  to  other  non-­‐diatonic  chords.  The  motion  featured  by  these  
irregular  resolutions  tended  to  be  stepwise  and  often  chromatic.  Through  this  type  of  stepwise  
and   chromatic   motion,   composers   could   reach   non-­‐diatonic   chords   and   foreign   key   areas  
without   discarding   the   smooth   voice   leading   procedures   favored   by   common   practice  
conventions.   This   extended   use   of   chromatic   motion   (sometimes   called  extended   chromaticism)  
could  create  non-­‐functional  harmonic  progressions  with  rapidly  changing  tonal  centers.  (Chords  
appearing   in   these   types   of   progressions   are   sometimes   called   voice   leading   chords.)  
Sometimes,  these  changes  in  tonal  center  were  so  rapid  that  they  defied  clear  identification  as  
either   tonicizations   or   modulations.   The   tonal   ambiguity   inherent   in   passages   with   extended  
chromaticism  and  frequent  modulations  can  complicate  Roman  numeral  analysis.  
 
Sometimes,  in  a  passage  with  extended  chromaticism  and  frequent  modulations,  composers  use  
real   sequences.   In   mm.   17-­‐22   (a   reduction   appears   on   the   following   page   in   Example   1.5)   of   the  
overture   to   his   1845   opera   Tannhäuser   (1845),   Richard   Wagner   applies   a   real   sequence   to   an  
initial  pattern  featuring  irregular  resolution  and  chromaticism.  In  the  initial  pattern  (labeled  by  
bracket  in  Ex.  1.5),  each  triad  approaches  the  next  triad  through  the  use  of  stepwise  motion  and  
one   common   tone.   Each   chord   movement   also   features   the   use   of   chromatic   motion.   One  
progression   in   the   pattern   is   completely   non-­‐functional:   the   F#/C#   in   m.   17   is   a   secondary  
dominant   chord   (V6/4/V)   that   resolves   irregularly   to   the   VII   chord   (D).   That   VII   chord   is   then  
reinterpreted   as   the   V   chord   of   the   next   key   (G   minor)   in   this   modulating   sequence.   In   this  

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sequence,  both  the  first  and  second  (although  partial)  repetitions  of  the  initial  pattern  feature  
exact  transpositions  of  the  initial  pattern.  Each  exact  transposition  moves  the  passage  to  a  key  
that   is   one   minor   third   higher   than   the   previous   key.   (Within   the   sequence,   each   key   is   in   a  
chromatic  mediant  relationship  with  the  next  key.)  
 
Ex.  1.5  

 
   

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Lecture  2:  The  Prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Anticipating  atonality  
Richard   Wagner   died   in   1883,   many   years   before   the   dramatic   musical   revolutions   that  
characterized  and  shaped  classical  music  in  the  twentieth  century.  The  seeds  for  at  least  one  of  
those  revolutions,  however,  can  be  seen  in  his  work.  In  the  early  1900s,  composers  like  Arnold  
Schoenberg   would   write   atonal   music,   in   which   there   is   no   tonal   center   at   all.   Many   theorists  
trace  the  beginnings  of  atonality  to  the  first  chord  of  Wagner’s  opera  Tristan  und  Isolde  (1859).  
 
The  Tristan  chord  
The  orchestral  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  begins  a  four-­‐hour  opera  that  tells  a  story  filled  with  
tension.   Wagner   accompanies   that   dramatic   tension   with   musical   tension   fueled   by   extensive  
chromaticism,  irregular  resolutions,  and  deferred  resolutions.  The  first  chord  in  the  prelude  (and  
in   the   opera),   often   called   the   Tristan   chord,   appears   below   in   Example   1.6.   Its   spelling,   as   it  
appears   in   the   score   (m.   1   of   Ex.   1.6),   defies   chord   symbol   classification,   but   enharmonic  
respelling   of   three   notes   (m.   2   of   Ex.   1.6)   of   the   chord   reveals   it   to   be   a   half-­‐diminished   7th  
chord.    
 
Ex.  1.6  

 
 
In  functional  harmony,  half-­‐diminished  7th  chords  can  fulfill  a  limited  number  of  roles:  
1) A  iiø7  that  resolves  to  V  or  V7  
2) A  viiø7  that  resolves  to  I  
3) A  viiø7  that  resolves  to  iii  or  iii7  
4) A  secondary  viiø7  that  resolves  to  a  secondary  tonic  
 
The  Tristan  chord,  which  first  appears  in  the  second  full  measure  of  the  prelude,  fulfills  none  of  
these  roles.  (A  reduction  of  the  first  phrase  of  the  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  appears  on  the  
following  page  in  Example  1.7.)  Its  resolution  is  heavily  chromatic,  with  all  but  one  chord  tone  
moving   by   half-­‐step   (or   group   of   half-­‐steps)   to   the   prelude’s   second   chord,   E7   (in   m.   3   of   Ex.  
1.7).  Since  F  ø7  and  E7  do  not  belong  to  the  same  major  or  minor  scale,  this  resolution  is  not  only  
irregular   but   also   non-­‐diatonic.   By   common   practice   period   rules,   that   E7,   as   a   dominant   7th  
chord,  should  then  resolve  to  an  A  major  or  A  minor  chord.  Instead,  it  does  not  resolve  at  all  –  
and   gives   way   to   complete   silence.   The   opera’s   first   chord   progression,   therefore,   does   not  
conclude   with   any   sort   of   resolution   or   even   establish   a   key.   This   tonal   ambiguity   anticipates  
both  the  tension  of  the  opera  and  the  instability  of  atonality.  
 

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Ex.  1.7  

 
 
 
 
A  sequence  with  implied  modulations  
In  the  first  11  measures  of  the  prelude,  Wagner  employs  a  sequence.  (A  reduction  of  the  first   11  
measures  of  the  prelude  appears  on  the  following  page  in  Example  1.8.)  The  second  phrase  (in  
mm.   4-­‐7)   is   almost   an   exact   transposition   of   the   first   phrase   (in   mm.   1-­‐3   –   and   including   the  
pickup  before  m.  1).  Like  the  first  phrase,  the  second  phrase  ends  with  a  dominant  7th  chord  (G7)  
that   does   not   resolve.   The   third   phrase   (in   mm.   9-­‐12)   continues   the   sequential   pattern,   but   it  
adds  one  note  to  the  melody  and  changes  the  voicing  of  the  half-­‐diminished  7th  chord.  Like  the  
first   and   second   phrases,   the   third   phrase   ends   with   a   dominant   7th   chord   (B7)   that   does   not  
resolve.  The  three  dominant  7th  chords  in  this  passage  –  E7,  G7,  and  B7  –  would  normally  resolve  
to   A   major   or   A   minor,   C   major   or   C   minor,   and   E   major   or   E   minor,   respectively.   This   twelve  
measure  passage  thus  implies  two  modulations  and  three  keys  without  establishing  any  keys.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  1.8  

 
 
Deferred  resolution  
In  mm.  12-­‐16  of  the  prelude,  Wagner  emphasizes  the  tension  of  the  phrase  that  ended  in  m.  11.  
(A  reduction  of  measures  12-­‐17  of  the  prelude  appears  on  the  following  page  in  Example  1.9.)  
He  begins  this  process  of  underlining  the  tension  by  copying  mm.  10-­‐11  and  placing  that  same  
material   (though   in   a   higher   register)   in   mm.   12-­‐13.   He   then   takes   the   final   fragment   of   the  
melodic  phrase  –  which  appears  in  measures  11  and  13  –  and  repeats  it  in  m.  14  (in  octaves)  and  
in   m.   15   (in   octaves   and   in   a   higher   register).   Finally,   in   m.   16,   he   extends   that   fragment   with  
melodic  chromaticism  and  reharmonizes  it  with  an  E9  chord.  
 
This  E9  chord,  a  dominant  9th  chord,  intensifies  the  harmonic  tension  created  by  the  string  of  
unresolved   dominant   7th   chords   and   unestablished   keys   in   the   preceding   measures   –and  
underlines   the   audience’s   expectation   for   a   dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic   resolution   (in   this   case,   E9   to   A  
minor   or   A   major).   Wagner   does   not,   however,   provide   a   release   for   this   tension.   Instead,   he  
resolves  the  E9  chord,  irregularly,  to  an  F  major  chord  (in  m.  17).  The  composer,  in  fact,  elects  to  
defer  a  resolution  of  this  harmonic  tension  –  and  of  the  dramatic  tension  in  the  opera  –  until  the  
very  end  of  the  work.  
 

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Ex.  1.9  

 
 
The  final  resolution  
At   the   end   of   the   opera,   Wagner   treats   the   Tristan   chord   very   differently   from   the   way   he  
treated   it   in   the   prelude.   Instead   of   moving   it   to   a   dominant   7th   chord,   he   irregularly   resolves    
the  Tristan  chord  (that  unusually  spelled  Fø7  chord  from  the  beginning  of  the  opera)  to  a  minor  
triad   (Emi/B)   –   with   the   common   tone   retained   as   a   pedal   tone.   That   minor   triad,   becoming   the  
first  chord  in  a  plagal  (iv-­‐i)  cadence,  then  resolves  to  the  i  chord  (Bmi).  A  reduction  of  the  final  
five  measures  of  Tristan  und  Isolde  appears  below  in  Example  1.10.  
 
Ex.  1.10  

 
   

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Next  to  each  given  triad,  notate  a  triad  that  has  a  chromatic  mediant  relationship  with  
that  given  triad.  
• Provide  a  chord  symbol  for  each  triad.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  2  
• Next   to   each   given   triad,   notate   a   triad   that   has   a   doubly   chromatic   mediant  
relationship  with  that  given  triad.  
• Provide  a  chord  symbol  for  each  triad.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  3  
• Create   (and   notate)   a   real,   modulating   sequence   that   repeats   the   given   initial   pattern  
on  two  different  pitch  levels.  
• Use  the  same  degree  of  transposition  throughout  the  sequence.  
• Label   and   analyze   the   sequence   (including   the   given   initial   pattern)   with   keys,   chord  
symbols,  and  Roman  numerals.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 2: Unconventional Harmonies and Scales
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   learn   about   unconventional   harmonies,  
including  quartal  chords,   polychords,   and  cluster  chords.  You   will  
learn   about   unconventional   scales,   including   the   pentatonic  
scale,  whole-­‐tone  scale,  and  octatonic/diminished  scale.    
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Construct,   identify,   and   use   unconventional  
harmonies  
• Construct,  identify,  and  use  non-­‐standard  scales  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Unconventional  sonorities.........................................14  
Lecture  2:  Unconventional  scales...............................................19  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......24  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Unconventional  S onorities
Metric  Modulation  
 
Definition  of  sonority  
For   the   purposes   of   this   unit,   the   term   sonority   will   refer   to   any   type   of   vertical   harmony   or  
collection  of  pitching  sounding  simultaneously.    
 
Rise  of  unconventional  sonorities  
Harmony   and   Theory   501   covered   many   different   types   of   chromatically   altered   triads   and  
seventh   chords,   such   as   the   Neapolitan   chord   and   tritone   substitutions.   These   types   of  
harmonies,   while   chromatically   altered,   were   still   largely   tertian   –   built   with   stacks   of   3rds.  
Other   types   of   sonorities,   not   necessarily   based   on   tertian   harmony,   became   increasingly  
common  in  the  later  Romantic  and  20th-­‐   and  21st-­‐century  periods,  as  composers  began  looking  
for   ways   to   expand   and   add   to   the   mostly   tertian   harmonies   used   throughout   the   common  
practice  period.  
 
Quartal  sonorities  
Around  the  turn  of  the  20th  century,  composers  such  as  Debussy,  Ravel,  and  Satie  began  using  
non-­‐tertian   types   of   sonorities,   including   quartal   and   quintal   harmony.   Quartal   sonorities  
involve   stacks   of   fourths.   Example   2.1   below   shows   quartal   sonorities,   built   with   stacks   of  
perfect  fourths.    
 
Ex.  2.1  

 
 
Quartal   sonorities   can   have   a   mixture   of   perfect   4ths   and   augmented   fourths   (tritones).   A  
mixture   of   perfect   4ths   and   tritones   creates   a   harmonically   complex   sound,   often   used   in   jazz  
voicings.   Example   2.2   below   shows   quartal   sonorities   composed   of   perfect   and   augmented  
fourths.    
 
Ex.  2.2  

 
 
Due   to   the   lack   of   a   major   or   minor   third,   quartal   harmonies   do   not   have   a   clear   major   or   minor  
quality   and   are   often   used   to   create   tonally   ambiguous   passages,   especially   in   modal   jazz.  

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Voicings   of   some   chords,   such   as   the   7sus4   and   ma7   (#11)   chords,   can   feature   quartal  
harmonies.   Example   2.3   below   shows   specific   voicings   of   these   chords   that   result   in   quartal  
harmony.  
 
Ex.  2.3  

 
 
Romantic  composer  Erik  Satie  was  particularly  fond  of  quartal  sonorities,  due  to  their  open  and  
tonally  ambiguous  sound.  The  opening  of  his  piece  La  Fils  des  Étoiles,  shown  below  in  Example  
2.4,  features  consecutive  quartal  harmonies  moving  in  parallel  motion.    
 
Ex.  2.4  

 
 
Quintal  sonorities  
Quintal  sonorities  are  harmonies  built  with  stack  of  fifths.  In  contrast  with  the  slight  dissonance  
of   fourths,   perfect   fifths   have   a   naturally   open   and   stable   sound   due   to   their   overlapping  
overtones.   Example   2.5   below   shows   examples   of   quintal   harmonies.   The   quintal   chord   in   the  
first   measure   of   Ex.   2.5   is   identical   to   the   open   strings   of   the   violin.   The   quintal   chord   in   the  
second  measure  of  Ex.  2.5  is  identical  to  the  open  strings  of  the  viola  and  (transposed  down  an  
octave)  to  the  open  strings  of  the  cello.  
 
Ex.  2.5  

 
 
Composers  gravitate  towards  quintal  harmonies  for  their  open  and  harmonically  rich  sound.  In  
his  piece  The  Sunken  Cathedral,  Debussy  uses  quartal  and  quintal  harmonies  to  evoke  the  image  

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of  an  abandoned  cathedral  slowly  emerging  from  the  sea.  The  top  voice  of  the  left  hand  part  in  
measures   13-­‐14   (Example   2.6,   below)   uses   quintal   sonorities   in   parallel   motion.   The   chords   in  
the  second  and  third  beats  of  measure  13  are  both  quintal  sonorities.    
 
Ex.  2.6  

   
 
Quintal  sonorities  have  become  associated  with  the  classical  “Americana”  sound  made  famous  
by   Aaron   Copland   in   his   compositions   Fanfare   for   the   Common   Man   and   Appalachian   Spring.  
Contemporary   American   film   composers   such   as   John   Williams   often   use   quintal   sonorities  
when  dealing  with  American  themes  and  settings.    
 
Polychords  
In  the  common  practice  period,  most  harmonies  have  one  possible  harmonic  analysis.  Early  20th-­‐
century   composers,   however,   started   to   explore   the   use   of   polychords,   two   or   more   chords  
occurring   simultaneously.   The   combination   of   two   simultaneously   sounding   chords   can   create  
harmonically  complex  and  chromatically  saturated  sonorities,  eroding  a  sense  of  tonal  stability.  
The   chords   within   a   polychord   are   usually   in   close   position   and   can   be   heard   as   distinct  
sonorities.  Example  2.7  below  shows  various  polychords.  In  m.  1  of  Ex.  2.7,  a  G#  minor  chord  in  
the   right   hand   is   played   over   a   C   major   chord   in   the   left   hand.   In   m.   2,   a   G   major   chord   is  
superimposed  over  an  F  minor  chord.  In  m.  3,  C7  is  played  over  an  E7.  In  m.  4,  a  C#o7  chord  is  
placed  over  an  F  minor  7th  chord.  In  all  of  these  examples,  the  two  chords  are  in  close  position  
and   are   separated   by   register.   Note   that   it   is   standard   in   polychord   analysis   to   show   the   top  
chord  above  the  bottom  chord,  with  the  two  separated  by  a  straight  horizontal  line.  
 
Ex.  2.7  

 
 
20th   and   21st   century   works   often   use   polychords   to   weaken   the   tonality   of   a   passage.   One  
famous   polychord   is   used   at   the   beginning   of   “The   Augurs   of   Spring”   section   of   Igor   Stravinsky’s  
The  Rite  of  Spring.  The  movement  begins  with  a  polychord  that  superimposes  an  Eb7  chord  over  
an  Fb  major  chord  (shown  in  Example  2.8,  on  the  following  page).  In  the  opening  eight  measures  

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of   this   section   of   the   piece,   the   strings   forcefully   play   this   polychord   in   repeated   eighth   notes  
and  are  accompanied  by  percussive,  syncopated  accents  in  the  brass.      
 
Ex.  2.8  

 
 
Chords  with  split  chord  members  
Sometimes  a  composer  will  use  a  triad  or  seventh  chord,  but  add  complexity  to  that  chord  by  
splitting   one   or   more   of   the   notes   within   the   chord.   To   split   a   note   within   a   chord   (a   chord  
member),  add  a  note  one  half  step  above  or  below  that  note.  (These  added  notes  may  be  placed  
into  an  octave  different  from  the  original  chord.)  In  the  first  measure  of  Example  2.9  below,  a  C  
minor   chord   appears   in   the   lower   staff.   The   E   in   the   upper   staff   splits   the   third   (Eb)   of   the   C  
minor  chord.  In  the  second  measure  of  Ex.  2.9,  the  F#  in  the  upper  staff  splits  the  7th  (F)  of  the  G  
minor  7th  chord  in  the  lower  staff.  In  the  third  measure  of  Ex.  2.9,  the  Ab  and  C  in  the  lower  staff  
split  the  third  (A)  and  fifth  (C#)  of  the  F  augmented  triad  in  the  upper  staff.    
 
Ex.  2.9  

 
 
Tone  clusters  
A  tone  cluster  is  built  with  stacks  of  seconds,  often  both  major  and  minor.  Clusters  are  typically  
used   more   for   their   striking   color   and   less   for   their   harmonic   function.   Notes   packed   tightly  
together,  especially  in  the  lower  register,  tend  to  be  perceived  as  more  of  a  sound  mass  rather  
than  an  analyzable  chord.  Example  2.10  (on  the  following  page)  contains  three  examples  of  tone  
clusters.  The  first  measure  of  Ex  2.10  contains  the  pitches  F,  Gb,  Ab,  Bb,  C,  D,  and  Eb.  The  second  
measure   contains   the   pitches   C,   Db,   Eb,   F,   G   in   both   the   higher   and   lower   registers.   The   third  
measure  contains  a  white  note  cluster  from  bass  G  to  treble  D,  creating  a  wall  of  sound.  Chord  
symbol  analysis  has  never  been  standardized  for  tone  clusters.  
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  2.10  

 
 
Whole  tone  sonorities  
A   whole   tone   sonority   is   a   chord   whose   notes   are   solely   derived   from   the   same   whole   tone  
scale.   Whole   tone   scales   contain   six   pitches   separated   by   major   seconds.   Example   2.11   below  
contains  two  examples  of  whole  tone  sonorities.  The  C9(#11)  chord  in  the  first  measure  contains  
the   notes   C,   E,   Bb,   D,   and   F#,   all   notes   from   the   C   whole   tone   scale.   The   A7(b5)   chord   in   the  
second  measure  contains  the  notes  A,  C#,  Eb,  G,  and  B,  all  notes  from  the  A  whole  tone  scale.    
   
Ex.  2.11  

 
 
 
   

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Lecture  2:  Unconventional  S cales  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Rise  of  unconventional  scales  
Towards  the  latter  half  of  the  Romantic  period  and  into  the  20th-­‐century,  composers  began  using  
scales  other  than  the  traditional  major  and  harmonic  minor  scales  that  had  dominated  much  of  
the   Baroque   and   Classical   periods.   Sometimes,   they   employed   the   church   modes,   which   had  
been   prominent   before   the   Baroque   era.     Composers   also   began   using   other   scales,   including  
the   pentatonic,   whole   tone,   octatonic/diminished,   augmented,   Lydian   dominant,   and   altered  
scales.  
 
The  pentatonic  scale  
The   pentatonic   scale   has   five   pitches   (penta   meaning   five).   The   first   measure   in   Example   2.12  
(below)   shows   the   C   major   pentatonic   scale,   containing   the   intervallic   structure   of   major   2nd-­‐
major   2nd-­‐minor   3rd-­‐major   2nd.   The   second   measure   of   Ex.   2.12   shows   the   only   two   possible  
triads  in  the  pentatonic  scale:  I  and  vi.  The  major  pentatonic  scale  is  often  used  in  folk  tunes  and  
folk-­‐like  passages  due  to  its  accessibility  and  simplicity.  
 
Ex.  2.12  

 
 
The   minor   pentatonic   scale   has   the   same   pitches   as   the   major   pentatonic   scale   but   begins   on  
the  fifth  note  of  the  major  pentatonic  scale.  The  first  measure  of  Example  2.13  (below)  shows  
the   A   minor   pentatonic   scale,   containing   the   intervallic   structure   of   minor   3rd-­‐major   2nd-­‐major  
2nd-­‐minor  3rd.  The  second  measure  of  Ex.  2.13  shows  the  only  two  possible  triads  in  the  minor  
pentatonic  scale:  i  and  III.  (The  minor  pentatonic  scale  becomes  the  blues  scale  with  the  addition  
of  the  raised  4th/flatted  5th.)    
 
Ex.  2.13  

 
 
The  whole  tone  scale  
The   whole   tone   scale   contains   six   pitches   separated   by   major   seconds.   Since   the   whole   tone  
scale  divides  the  octave  equally  into  six  parts,  it  does  not  have  a  true  tonic.  There  are  only  two  
distinct  whole  tone  scales.  The  first  measure  of  Example  2.14  (on  the  following  page)  shows  one  
whole  tone  scale,  containing  the  pitches  C,  D,  E,  F#,  G#,  and  A#.  Note  that  the  scale  can  begin  on  
any  of  these  notes.  The  second  measure  of  Ex.  2.14  shows  the  only  two  possible  triads,  C+  and  
D+,  in  this  whole  tone  scale.    
 

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Ex.  2.14  

 
 
The   first   measure   of   Example   2.15   (below)   shows   the   only   other   possible   whole   tone   scale,  
which  contains  the  pitches  Db,  Eb,  F,  G,  A,  and  B.  Note  that  the  scale  can  begin  on  any  of  these  
notes.  The  second  measure  of  Ex.  2.15  shows  the  only  two  possible  triads,  Db+  and  Eb+,  in  this  
whole  tone  scale.  
 
Ex.  2.15  

 
 
Composers,  especially  Debussy  and  Ravel,  have  used  the  whole  tone  scale  for  its  dream-­‐like  and  
ambiguous   quality.   Example   2.16   (below)   shows   the   opening   measures   of   Debussy’s   prelude  
Voiles   (Sails),   which   contain   only   the   pitches   E,   F#,   G#/Ab,   Bb,   C,   and   D   –   all   from   the   same  
whole   tone   scale.   The   usage   of   the   whole   tone   scale   gives   the   passage   a   lack   of   clear   tonal  
center  and  a  floating,  ethereal  quality.  
 
Ex.  2.16  

 
 
The  octatonic/diminished  scale  
The   octatonic   scale,   also   commonly   referred   to   as   the  diminished   scale,   contains   eight   pitches  
(octa  meaning  eight).  Octatonic  scales  alternate  whole  steps  with  half  steps  (or  vice  versa).  The  
octatonic  scale  has  two  variants:  whole-­‐half  and  half-­‐whole.  A  whole-­‐half  octatonic  scale  starts  
the   alternating   pattern   with   a   whole   step,   while   a   half-­‐whole   octatonic   scale   starts   the  
alternating   pattern   with   a   half   step.   The   first   system   of   Example   2.17   (on   the   following   page)  
shows   a   whole-­‐half   octatonic   scale,   containing   a   repeating   ascending   pattern   of   whole   steps  
(labeled   by   brackets)   followed   by   half   steps   (labeled   by   arrowheads).   This   scale   contains   the  
pitches  C,  D,  Eb,  F,  F#,  G#,  A,  and  B.  The  solid  slurs  in  the  second  system  show  how  the  1st,  3rd,  
5th,  and  7th  scale  degrees  of  the  scale  form  a  diminished  7th  chord  (F#o7).  The  dotted  slurs  show  
how   the   2nd,   4th,   6th,   and   8th   scale   degrees   form   another   diminished   7th   chord   (G#o7).   The  
presence  of  two  diminished  7th  chords  within  the  scale  gives  the  octatonic  scale  its  other  name,  
the  diminished  scale.  

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Ex.  2.17  

 
 
The   first   system   of   Example   2.18   (below)   shows   a   half-­‐whole   octatonic   scale,   containing   a  
repeating   ascending   pattern   of   half   steps   followed   by   whole   steps.   This   scale   contains   the  
specific   pitches   C,   Db,   Eb,   E,   F#,   G,   A,   Bb.   The   solid   slurs   in   the   second   system   show   how   the   1st,  
3rd,   5th,   and   7th   scale   degrees   of   the   scale   form   a   diminished   7th   chord   (F#o7).   The   dotted   slurs  
show  how  the  2nd,  4th,  6th,  and  8th  scale  degrees  form  another  diminished  7th  chord  (Eo7).  
 
Ex.  2.18  

 
 
Like  the  pattern  that  builds  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  two  possible  patterns  (whole-­‐half  and  half-­‐
whole)   that   build   octatonic   scales   divide   the   octave   into   equal   parts.   Therefore,   an   octatonic  
scale  does  not  possess  a  true  tonic.  The  limitations  of  the  octatonic  patterns  also  allow  for  the  
existence  of  only  three  distinct  octatonic  scales.  
 
The  augmented  scale  
Like  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  augmented  scale  contains  six  pitches  and  two  augmented  triads.  
Unlike  the  ascending  pattern  of  major  seconds  found  in  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  pattern  that  
builds   the   augmented   scale   alternates   between   ascending   minor   thirds   and   ascending   minor  
seconds.  (The  pattern  begins  with  an  ascending  minor  third.)   The  first  system  in  Example  2.19  
(on  the  following  page)  shows  the  C  augmented  scale,  which  contains  the  pitches  C,  Eb,  E,  G,  G#,  
and  B.  The  solid  slurs  in  the  second  system  in  Ex.  2.19  show  how  the  1st,  3rd,  and  5th  pitches  in  
the   scale   create   a   C+   triad.   The   dotted   slurs   in   the   second   system   show   how   the   2nd,   4th,   and   6th  
pitches  in  the  scale  form  an  Eb+  triad.    

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Ex.  2.19  

 
 
Franz   Liszt   uses   the   augmented   scale   throughout   the   first   movement,   “Faust,”   of   his   Faust  
Symphony.   Measures   4-­‐7   of   the   movement   (shown   below   in   Example   2.20)   use   the   C#  
augmented   scale,   which   contains   the   pitches   C#,   E,   F,   G#,   A,   and   B#.   Liszt   switches   back   and  
forth  between  the  two  interlocking  augmented  triads  of  the  C#  augmented  scale,  E+  and  F+,  to  
create  an  unsettling  and  tonally  ambiguous  texture.  (In  this  passage,  Liszt  spells  the  B#s  of  the  
scale  as  Cs).  
 
Ex.  2.20  
 

 
 
 
 
The  Lydian  dominant  scale  
A  hybrid  between  the  Lydian  and  Mixolydian  modes,  the  Lydian  dominant  scale  is  a  major  scale  
with   a   raised   4th   scale   degree   (like   the   Lydian   mode)   and   a   lowered   7th   scale   degree   (like   the  
Mixolydian   mode).   It   The   first   system   of   Example   2.21   (on   the   following   page)   shows   the   C  
Lydian  dominant  scale,  which  contains  the  pitches  C,  D,  E,  F#,  G,  A,  and  Bb.  The  second  system  
of   Example   2.21   shows   the   possible   seventh   chords   built   on   each   scale   degree.   Note   that   the  
tonic  seventh  chord  has  a  dominant  seventh  quality.  Jazz  artists  often  use  the  Lydian  dominant  
scale  when  they  improvise  over  a  dominant  seventh  chord.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  2.21  

 
 
The  altered  scale  
The  altered  scale,  also  called  the  super  Locrian  mode,  is  often  used  in  jazz  to  improvise  over  an  
altered   dominant   harmony.   The   scale   tones   of   the   altered   scale   combine   the   common  
alterations  (b5,  #5)  to  and  altered  extensions  (b9,  #9,  #11,  b13)  of  a  dominant   7th   chord   with  
the  three  essential  chord  tones  (root,  3rd,  and  7th)  of  a  dominant  7th  chord.  The  C  altered  scale  
(shown   below   in   Example   2.22)   contains   the   pitches   C,   Db,   D#,   E,   Gb,   G#,   and   Bb,   which   each  
correspond  to  a  chord  tone,  a  chord  alteration,  or  an  altered  chord  extension  of  C7.  C,  E,  and  Bb  
are  the  root,  3rd,  and  7th  of  C7.  The  other  scale  degrees  of  the  C  altered  scale  are  alterations  to  or  
altered  extensions  of  the  C7  chord:  Db  (b9),  D#  (#9),  F#/Gb  (#11/b5),  and  G#/Ab  (#5/b13).    
 
Ex.  2.22  

   
   

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Label   the   following   sonorities   as   quartal,   quintal,   polychord,   chord   with   split   chord  
member(s),  cluster,  or  whole  tone  chord  in  the  line  provided  below  each  measure.  
• Provide  chord  symbols  for  the  polychords  only.  
 

 
 
 
Exercise  2  
• Construct  the  specified  sonorities  in  the  measures  provided  below.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  3  
• Using   ascending   whole   notes,   construct   the   specified   scales.   The   first   note   (the   tonic)  
has  been  provided  for  you.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  4  
• Using  the  given  tonic,  identify  the  unconventional  scale  used  in  each  phrase.  
 
 
1)  The  tonic  note  of  the  phrase  below  is  D.  What  is  the  scale  used?    
 

 
 
 
 
2)  The  tonic  note  of  the  phrase  below  is  E.  What  is  the  scale  used?    
 

 
 
 
 
3)  What  is  the  scale  used  ?  (You  do  not  need  to  give  the  tonic).  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 3: Unconventional Harmonic Function,
Voice Leading, and Tonal Systems
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   explore   the   methods   composers   used   as  
they  discarded  the  strictures  of  common  practice  rules.  You  will  
learn   about   unconventional   harmonic   function,   voice   leading,  
and  tonal  systems.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand   how   composers   challenged   the  
conventions  of  common  practice  
• Understand   unorthodox   systems   of   tonality,  
including  polytonality  and  centricity  
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Breaking  the  old  rules………………………….....................28  
Lecture  2:  Unconventional  tonal  systems...................................32  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......37  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Bre aking  the  Old  Rules
Metric  Modulation  
 
Leaving  the  common  practice  period  behind  
Audiences   listening   to   music   of   the   common   practice   period   (from,   roughly,  the   Baroque   period  
through  part  of  the  Romantic  period)  had  certain  expectations:  
• The  music  would  be  based  on  the  major-­‐minor  tonal  system.  
• Chords,  both  diatonic  and  non-­‐diatonic,  would  resolve  in  expected  ways.  The  V  chord,  
for  instance,  usually  led  to  the  tonic.  If  chords  did  not  resolve  as  expected,  the  resulting  
irregular  resolutions  would  create  a  sense  of  surprise.  
• The   music   would   follow   basic   voice   leading   rules.   Leading   tones   would   resolve   to   the  
tonic,  while  7ths  would  resolve  downwards.  Parallel  motion  would  be  mostly  reserved  
for  imperfect  consonances.    
 
Although  many  composers  of  the  common  practice  period  would  occasionally  break  these  rules,  
the  conventions  of  the  common  practice  period  laid  the  foundation  for  a  wide  variety  of  classical  
music,  from  Bach  to  Chopin  to  Tchaikovsky.  
 
Some   Romantic   period   composers,   particularly   Richard   Wagner,   pushed   the   common   practice  
system   to   its   limits.   They   would   bend   the   rules   through   extended   chromaticism,   irregular  
resolutions,  delayed  resolutions,  real  sequences,  and  frequent  modulations.  
 
Other   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers,   such   as   Claude   Debussy   and   Maurice   Ravel,  
were   quite   free   in   their   application   –   and   frequent   abandonment   –   of   common   practice  
principles.  They  would  often  break  the  rules  by  employing  unorthodox  harmonic  progressions,  
unconventional  scales,  and  harmonic  planing.  
 
Unorthodox  harmonic  progressions  
Debussy,  and  other  composers  with  a  similar  mindset,  found  a  variety  of  ways  to  challenge  the  
old  rules  governing  chord  function.  Sometimes  they  would  employ  harmonic  progressions  that,  
while  diatonic,  featured  unorthodox  chord  function.    
 
In   measures   6-­‐8   (appearing   in   Example   3.1,   on   the   following   page)   of   his   Ballade,   Debussy  
employs   a   diatonic,   but   unorthodox,   harmonic   progression.   According   to   the   rules   of   the  
common  practice  period,  the  function  of  the  ii  chord  is  predominant  –  moving  toward  a  chord  of  
dominant   function.   The   Gmi   chord   that   ends   measure   7   is   the   ii  chord   in   F   major,   the   key   of   the  
passage.   That   ii   chord   then   moves,   in   the   beginning   of   m.   8,   to   Ami7,   the   iii7   chord.   Some  
theorists   consider   the   iii   chord   to   have   tonic   function,   while   others   consider   it   to   have  
predominant  function  (though  weaker  than  that  of  the  ii  chord).  No  theorists,  however,  consider  
the   iii   chord   to   have   dominant   function.   Therefore,   this   diatonic   progression   breaks   the   old  
rules.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  3.1  

 
 
Sometimes  composers  would  hide  their  rule-­‐breaking  by  using  progressions  that  broke  the  rules  
–  while  seeming,  at  first  glance,  to  follow  them.    In  “Clair  de  lune,”  the  third  movement  of  his  
Suite  bergamesque,  Debussy  uses  both  standard  V-­‐I  progressions  and  implied  V-­‐I  progressions.  
His   implied   V-­‐I   progressions   disguise   unorthodox   progressions   with   dominant-­‐tonic   motion   in  
the  bass.  In  measures  27-­‐28  (shown  below  in  Ex.  3.2)  of  “Clair  de  lune,”  the  composer  employs  
an  implied  V-­‐I  progression.  The  chord  on  the  third  (compound)  beat  of  m.  27  is  Fb/Ab  –  bIII6  in  
the  passage’s  key  of  Db  major.  The  very  next  chord  (at  the  beginning  of  m.  28)  is  Db,  the  I  chord  
in   Db   major.   The   progression   of   bIII6   to   I   does   not   follow   common   practice   rules.   The   bass   notes  
of   the   progression,   however,   show   a   movement   from   dominant   (Ab)   to   tonic   (Db).   So,   the  
standard  motion  of  the  bass  notes  hides  the  unusual  motion  of  the  chords.  
 
Ex.  3.2  

 
 
Unconventional  scales  
The  major  and  minor  scales  –  and  the  system  of  diatonic  chords  within  them  –  dominated  the  
common   practice   period.   Toward   the   latter   part   of   the   Romantic   period,   many   composers  
turned  back  to  the  church  modes  that  had  been  popular  before  the  Baroque  period.  Unlike  the  
major   and   harmonic   minor   scales,   most   church   modes   (aside   from   Ionian   and   Lydian)   lack   a  
characteristic   intrinsic   to   the   music   of   the   common   practice   period:   the   leading   tone.   The  
movement  of  leading  tone  to  tonic  provides  the  tension/release  dynamic  that  is  central  to  the  

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harmonic   progressions   of   the   Baroque   and   Classical   periods.   The   renewed   use   of   the   Dorian,  
Phrygian,   and   Mixolydian   modes   provided   composers   with   a   harmonic   world   outside   the  
strictures  of  common  practice.  
 
Maurice  Ravel  makes  prominent  use  of  the  Dorian  mode  in  his  Pavane  pour  une  infant  défunte.  
In  measures  40-­‐41  (shown  below  in  Ex.  3.3)  of  the  work,  he  uses  G  Dorian  exclusively.    
 
Ex.  3.3  
 

 
 
Some   unconventional   scales   –   such   as   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales   –   contain   far   fewer  
diatonic   triads   than   the   major   scales,   minor   scales,   or   the   church   modes.   Many   composers   have  
taken   advantage   of   this   relative   scarcity   of   diatonic   triads   in   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone  
scales  to  create  a  sense  of  harmonic  ambiguity.  Chords  in  the  common  practice  period  almost  
always   performed   some   sort   of   function;   their   roles   were   clear.   Harmonies   diatonic   to   the  
pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales,   in   contrast,   have   no   such   clarity   in   their   function.   This  
ambiguity  can  lead  to  a  sense  of  stasis,  in  which  nothing  changes  or  moves.  
 
In   measures   21-­‐24   (shown   below   in   Example   3.4)   of   “Jimbo’s   Lullaby,”   the   second   piece   in   his  
Children’s   Corner,   Debussy   employs   the   Bb   major   pentatonic   scale.   (The   A   at   the   end   of   m.   24   is  
the   only   note   that   does   not   belong   to   Bb   major   pentatonic.)   There   is   no   sense   of   harmonic  
motion  in  this  passage.  In  fact,  the  accompaniment  is  simply  a  repeated  one-­‐measure  pattern.    
 
Ex.  3.4  

 
 
 

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In   measures   25-­‐28   (shown   below   in   Example   3.5)   of   “Jimbo’s   Lullaby,”   Debussy   adds   one   note   –  
A   –   to   the   Bb   major   pentatonic   scale.   Although   the   As   in   this   passage   could   act   as   leading   tones  
by   resolving   to   Bbs,   none   of   them   perform   that   function.   In   this   fashion,   the   composer   adds    
color  to  the  passage  without  creating  any  sense  of  harmonic  motion.  
 
Ex.  3.5  

 
 
Harmonic  independence  and  planing  
One   of   the   hallmarks   of   the   common   practice   period   was   its   emphasis   on   smooth   voice   leading.  
Resolutions   of   leading   tones   and   7ths   were   tightly   controlled.   Parallel   motion   was   strictly  
limited.  The  rules  of  voice  leading,  overall,  emphasized  the  independence  of  melodic  lines  and  
the   smooth   motion   of   chord   progressions.   Some   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers  
began  to  treat  harmonies  as  independent  entities  –  sounds  to  be  featured  on  their  own,  without  
the  need  to  resolve  in  any  particular  fashion.    
 
Making   a   clear   break   with   the   rules   of   the   past,   composers   like   Ravel   took   this   harmonic  
independence   one   step   further   into   the   realm   of  harmonic   planing.   In   harmonic   planing,   chords  
move  from  one  to  another  in  parallel  motion.  In  measures  25-­‐27  (shown  below  in  Example  3.6)  
of  his  Pavane  pour  une  infant  défunte,  Ravel  harmonizes  the  same  melodic  phrase  twice.  In  the  
first   harmonization   (from   m.   25   through   the   second   beat   of   m.   26),   he   employs   a   variety   of  
chords  with  extensions  and  a  bass  line  that  moves  in  contrary  motion  with  the  melody.  For  the  
first  five  chords  of  the  second  harmonization  (from  the  third  beat  of  m.  26  through  the  second  
beat  of  m.  27),  he  limits  himself  to  dominant  9th  chords,  with  all  voices  moving  in  parallel  motion  
to  the  melody.  
 
Ex.  3.6  

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Lecture  2:  Unconventional  Tonal  Systems  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Redefining  tonality  
In   a   tonal   system,   there   is   a   hierarchy   that   classifies   each   pitch   in   terms   of   its   relative  
importance  to  and  overall  relationship  with  all  of  the  other  pitches.  The  common  practice  period  
emphasized  the  primacy  of  the  major-­‐minor  tonal  system,  which  features  a  clear  hierarchy:  
• The  tonic  note  is  the  most  important  and  stable  note.  
• The   leading   tone   and   dominant   notes   are   the   least   stable   notes,   because   they   lead  
directly  to  the  tonic.  
 
As   composers   tested   (and   often   trespassed)   the   boundaries   of   the   common   practice   period,  
they   experimented   with   alternatives   –   including   polymodality,   polytonality,   and   centricity   –   to  
the  major-­‐minor  tonal  system.  
 
Polymodality  
Each  of  the  modes  contains  a  unique  pattern  of  half  steps  and  whole  steps  and  thus  a  different  
hierarchy   of   pitches.   Some   composers   have   explored   the   possibilities   afforded   by   the  
combinations   of   various   modes.   Several   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers   would  
compose  passages  that  freely  moved  between  modes,  all  with  the  same  tonic.  Other  composers,  
particularly   Béla   Bartók,   wrote   music   that   featured   the   simultaneous   use   of   multiple   modes  
(again,  with  the  same  tonic).  Music  that  combines  multiple  modes  with  the  same  tonic  –  either  
in   succession   or   simultaneously   –   belongs   to   a   tonal   system   known   as   polymodality,   or  
polymodal  chromaticism.  
 
In   his   prelude   “Des   pas   sur   la   neige,”   Debussy   employs   a   simple   version   of   polymodality.   The  
first  four  measures  (shown  below  in  Example  3.7)  of  the  piece  are  in  D  Aeolian.    
 
Ex.  3.7  

 
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In  measures  5-­‐7  (shown  below  in  Example  3.8)  of  “Des  pas  sur  la  neige,”  the  passage  has  left  D  
Aeolian  in  favor  of  D  Dorian.  
 
Ex.  3.8  

 
 
In  the  opening  eleven  measures  of  “Petit  Poucet,”  the  second  movement  of  his  suite  Ma  mère  
l’oye,   Ravel   uses   four   different   modes   –   natural   minor   (Aeolian),   harmonic   minor,   melodic  
minor,   and   Dorian   –   with   C   as   the   tonic.   (A   reduction   of   these   measures   appears   below   in  
Example   3.9.)   The   oboe’s   melody   is   entirely   in   C   Dorian,   while   the   violins’   accompaniment   takes  
its  notes  freely  from  C  natural,  harmonic,  and  melodic  minor.  
 
Ex.  3.9  

 
 

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The   passage   in   Example   3.10   (below)   features   polymodality   in   the   style   of   Bartók.   Here,   two  
modes,   sharing   the   same   tonic,   appear   simultaneously.   The   upper   staff   employs   A   Phrygian,  
while  the  lower  staff  uses  A  Dorian.  
 
Ex.  3.10  

 
 
Polytonality  
Seeking   more   radical   departures   from   the   major-­‐minor   tonal   system,   some   composers  
(including   Bartok   and   Stravinsky)   have   experimented   with   polytonality,   the   simultaneous  
combination   of   multiple   tonal   centers.   A   polytonal   passage   might   combine,   for   example,   A  
minor  with  F#  major.  Mozart  ended  his   Ein  musikalischer  Spaß  with  polytonality,  featuring  the  
use  of  four  simultaneous  keys:  F  major  (for  the  horns),  G  major  (for  the  1st  violin),  A  major  (for  
the  2nd  violin),  and  Eb  major  (for  the  viola).  In  addition,  the  cello  part  –  though  still  written  in  the  
key  of  F  major  –  implies  the  key  of  Bb  major.  The  final  three  measures  of  the  piece  appear  below  
in  Example  3.11.  (The  part  for  the  horns  has  been  transposed  into  concert  pitch.)  
 
Ex.  3.11  

 
 
 
 

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Centricity  
Beginning   in   the   late   19th   century,   composers   would   sometimes   create   works   with   few   traces   of  
any   tonal   system.   (Some   theorists   call   this   type   of   music   post-­‐tonal   music.)   Gone   were   any  
recognizable   scales   and   any   sense   of   perceptible   harmonic   function.   For   some   composers,   post-­‐
tonal   music   would   evolve   into   atonal   music.   Other   composers   –   including   Debussy,   Ravel,  
Bartók,  and  Stravinsky  –  explored  various  methods  of  pitch  centricity.  Pieces  with  pitch  centricity  
demonstrate  a  perceptible  focus  on  a  certain  pitch  without  following  the  rules  of  a  specific  tonal  
system.  
 
In  pieces  with  pitch  centricity,  composers  establish  a  focus  on  certain  pitches  through  a  variety  
of  techniques  and  approaches,  including  repetition  and  symmetry.  
 
In  “Le  Gibet,”  the  second  movement  of  his  Gaspard  de  la  nuit,  Ravel  creates  a  focus  on  the  pitch  
Bb  (sometimes  spelled  as  A#).  Although  the  movement  is  notated  with  key  signatures,  the  music  
does   not   adhere   to   the   tonal   systems   those   key   signatures   imply.   The   movement   begins   and  
ends  with  repeated  Bbs,  which  sound  continually  (often  in  octaves)  throughout  the  piece.  The  
first  four  measures  of  “Le  Gibet”  appear  below  in  Example  3.12.  
 
Ex.  3.12  

 
 
Some   composers,   including   Bartók,   have   created   pitch   centricity   by   establishing   the   intended  
pitch   center   as   an   axis   of   symmetry.   In   Example   3.13   (on   the   following   page),   each   member   of   a  
simultaneous   pair   of   notes   is   the   same   number   of   half   steps   away   from   the   D   directly   above  
middle   C.     In   that   way,   D   becomes   the   passage’s   axis   of   symmetry.   Each   member   (Ab   and   G#)   of  
the   first   pair   of   simultaneous   notes,   for   example,   is   six   half   steps   away   from   the   D   above   middle  
C.  At  the  end  of  the  second  measure  of  Ex.  3.13,  each  member  (Eb  and  C#)  of  the  seventh  pair  of  
simultaneous  notes  is  one  half  step  away  from  that  D.  
 

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Ex.  3.13  

 
   

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Label  the  key.  
• Analyze  the  passage  below  with  chord  symbols  and  Roman  numerals.  
• Beneath   the   music,   describe   at   least   two   ways   in   which   the   passage   breaks   the   rules   of  
the  common  practice  period.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  2  
• Using  only  an  octatonic  scale,  compose  a  four-­‐measure  passage  for  the  piano.  
• Write  the  passage  on  the  blank  staves  below.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
Exercise  3  
• Harmonize  each  note  of  the  given  melody  below.  
• Use  harmonic  planing  to  move  from  one  chord  to  the  next.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  4  
• Using  F  as  the  tonic,  compose  a  four-­‐message  polymodal  passage  for  the  piano.  
• Write  the  passage  on  the  blank  staves  below.  
• Label  each  mode  that  you  use.  
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 4: Unconventional, Non-Systematic Music
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   learn   how   to   analyze   unconventional,   non-­‐
systematic   music   composed   in   the   late   19th   and   early   20th  
centuries.   You   will   explore   compositional   tools   and   techniques  
found  in  Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen   Hair  and  Erik  
Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Analyze  unconventional,  non-­‐systematic  music  
• Understand   various   compositional   tools   and  
techniques   common   to   unconventional,   non-­‐
systematic  music  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair…………………..41  
Lecture  2:  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1..........................................48  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......51  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  De bussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  
 
 
Non-­‐systematic  music  
Music   of   the   common   practice   period   tended   to   follow   a   system   that   married   functional  
harmony  with  formal  structures.  The  relationship  between  the  exposition  and  recapitulation  in  
sonata-­‐allegro   form,   for   example,   is   based   on   relationships   between   keys.   As   late   19th   century  
and   early   20th   century   composers   experimented   with   unconventional   sonorities,   scales,  
harmonic   function,   voice   leading,   and   tonal   systems,   their   use   of   form   sometimes   became  
unconventional   and   often   non-­‐systematic.   Some   composers,   such   as   Claude   Debussy   and   Erik  
Satie,  explored  the  use  of  looser  forms  that  fit  their  unconventional  materials.  
 
Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  
The   word   impressionism   is   often   associated   with   the   music   of   Claude   Debussy   (although   he  
himself  did  not  like  the  term),  but  it  was  originally  intended  to  describe  the  techniques  favored  
by   a   group   of   French   painters   (including   Claude   Monet   and   Pierre-­‐Auguste   Renoir)   in   the   late  
1800s.   Impressionist   paintings   feature   the   effects   of   light   through   the   use   of   soft,   thin   brush  
strokes  and  nuanced  colors.  Eventually,  impressionism  became  a  musical  term  associated  with  
some   of   the   non-­‐systematic   French   music   in   the   late   1800s   and   early   1900s   –   especially   the  
music  of  Debussy  and  Maurice  Ravel.  Impressionist  pieces  avoid  telling  a  direct  story  and  instead  
attempt  to  evoke  a  general  feeling  or  mood  through  color  and  nuances  of  sound.  Impressionist  
pieces  often  use  unconventional  scales  and  sonorities  and  avoid  strict  formal  structures.    
 
The  eighth  prelude  in  his  first  book  of  Preludes  (1909-­‐1910),  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  
Hair  appears  in  its  entirety  in  Example  4.1  below  and  on  the  next  three  pages.  
 
Ex.  4.1  

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Ex.  4.1  (cont.)  

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Ex.  4.1  (cont.)  
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  4.1  (cont.)  

 
 
Structure  
The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  (refer  to  Ex.  4.1  for  musical  examples)  avoids  the  systematic  
compositional  forms  that  predominated  the  Baroque  and  Classical  periods,  yet  it  still  remains  a  
unified  and  cohesive  piece  through  its  use  of  consistent  thematic,  harmonic,  and  rhythmic  
material.  The  following  chart,  in  Example  4.2  (below  and  on  the  following  page),  shows  the  
overall  structure  of  the  piece:    
 
Ex.  4.2  
Phrases     Description  
Measures  1-­‐4   The  main  theme  in  Gb  is  introduced  and  ends  with  a  plagal  
cadence  in  mm.  3-­‐4.  
Measures  5-­‐6   A  short,  folk-­‐like  melody  follows  the  main  theme  and  
cadences  on  Eb  major  in  m.  6.  
Measures  7-­‐11   The  main  theme  occurs  a  second  time,  reharmonized  with  
secondary  dominants  before  landing  on  a  root  position  Gb  
tonic  chord.  A  descending  Gb  major  scale  provides  a  bridge  
to  the  next  phrase.    
Measures  12-­‐13   In  m.  15,  an  ascending  V9sus  chord  arpeggio  leads  to  another  
tonic  Gb  chord.  In  m.  16,  another  descending  Gb  major  scale  
provides  a  bridge  to  the  next  phrase.  
Measures  14-­‐16   Parallel  2nd  inversion  triads  move  by  step  until  they  lead  to  
another  V9susàI  progression,  this  time  in  Cb  major.    
Measures  16-­‐19   Rhythmic  elements  of  the  main  theme  appear.  In  m.  17,  a  
ii9àV9  progression  in  Gb  appears  but  gives  way  (in  mm.  18-­‐
19)  to  a  modulation  to  Eb  major.  
Measures  19-­‐21   The  key  of  Eb  major  is  firmly  established  through  ascending  
Eb  major  pentatonic  scales  and  V9sus  (Bb9sus)  chords.  The  
third  Eb  major  pentatonic  scale  (in  m.  21)  leads  to  a  Cb  chord  
in  a  high  register  –  the  piece’s  melodic  climax.    
Measures  22-­‐23   A  series  of  chords  lead  the  tonality  away  from  Eb  major  back  
to  Gb  major,  established  by  V/VàV7sus  (AbàDb7sus)  in  m.  23.  
Measures  24-­‐27   The  key  of  Gb  is  clearly  established  again  by  an  arpeggiated  
Gb6  chord,  leading  to  a  strong  ii9àV  cadence  at  m.  27.    
Measures  28-­‐32   The  main  theme  is  played  over  the  IV  chord  (Cb)  in  mm.  28-­‐
30.  A  viàI  (EbmàGb)  progression  occurs  at  mm.  31-­‐32,  with  

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a  falling  Gb  major  scale  leading  to  the  next  phrase.  
Measures  33-­‐35  (~m.  14)   Parallel  2nd  inversion  triads  move  by  step,  an  extended  
version  of  m.  14,  until  they  land  on  a  ii6/4  (Abm/Eb)  chord.  An  
ascending  arpeggio  (featuring  quartal  harmony)  leads  to  the  
final  I  chord.  
Measures  36-­‐39   An  extended  I  (Gb)  chord  is  arpeggiated  until  each  chord  
tone  dissolves.  A  subtle  dominant  to  tonic  feel  is  established  
by  rolled  dominant  and  tonic  notes  in  m.  37-­‐38.  
   
 
Tonal  centers  
In  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair,  Debussy  mostly  stays  in  the  home  key  of  Gb  major,  but  briefly  
tonicizes  and  modulates  to  other  key  areas,  although  not  the  standard  dominant,  relative  
major/minor,  or  parallel  major/minor  key  areas.  The  first  glimpse  of  a  modulation  occurs  in  mm.  
6-­‐7,  when  the  key  area  of  Eb  is  tonicized  through  the  use  of  a  V/vi  (Bb)  secondary  dominant  
chord.  Instead  of  going  to  the  expected  vi  chord  (Ebm),  Debussy  tonicizes  the  major  Eb  chord,  a  
non-­‐diatonic  chord.    
 
A  brief  modulation  occurs  in  m.  14-­‐16,  when  the  subdominant  key  area  (Cb)  is  reached  through  
a  IV7àV9susàI  (Fbma7àGb9susàCb)  cadence.  The  piece  quickly  returns  to  Gb  major  with  a  ii9àV9  
(Abm9àDb9)  progression  in  m.  17.    
 
Almost  immediately  after  the  modulation  to  Cb  major  in  mm.  14-­‐16,  the  piece  clearly  modulates  
to  Eb  major  through  a  Bb7sus  to  Eb  progression  in  mm.  18-­‐19.  Instead  of  resolving  to  the  
expected  vi  chord  (Eb  minor),  the  Bb7sus  chord  resolves  to  Eb  major,  as  foreshadowed  in  m.  6.  
Measures  19-­‐21  remain  firmly  in  the  key  of  Eb,  which  is  then  weakened  by  the  introduction  of  a  
CbàDbàEbm  progression  in  mm.  21-­‐22.  The  introduction  of  the  Eb  minor  chord  in  m.  22  
implies  a  movement  toward  Gb  major;  that  implication  is  then  confirmed  by  the  
V/VàV7susàIadd6  (AbàDb7susàIadd6)  progression  in  mm.  23-­‐24.    
 
From  this  point  on,  the  piece  remains  in  Gb  major.  The  ending  features  subtle  rolled  dominant  
and  tonic  notes  on  the  downbeats  of  m.  37-­‐38,  reinforcing  the  key  area  of  Gb  major.  
 
Motivic  transformations  and  reharmonizations  
Without  the  structure  of  a  pre-­‐established  form,  one  way  to  organize  a  piece  cohesively  is  to  use  
a  consistent,  recurring  theme.  The  main  theme  of  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  is  first  seen  in  
mm.  1-­‐4,  where  it  begins  unaccompanied  before  ending  with  a  plagal  cadence.  The  theme  
outlines  an  Ebmi7  chord  and  contains  a  repeating  rhythm  of  eighth-­‐sixteenth-­‐sixteenth.  The  
theme  appears  four  times  in  the  piece.  
 
The  second  occurrence  of  the  main  theme  is  in  mm.  8-­‐11  in  the  soprano  voice.  Here  the  theme  
is  reharmonized  with  a  series  of  non-­‐functional  secondary  dominants  that  lead  to  a  V9susàI  
(Db9susàGb)  cadence.  The  use  of  non-­‐resolving  secondary  dominant  chords  is  characteristic  of  
Debussy’s  use  of  unconventional  harmonies.  
 
The  theme  appears  again  in  mm.  24-­‐25,  but  this  recurrence  is  only  partial.  This  altered  and  
shortened  version  of  the  theme  has  also  been  reharmonized,  primarily  with  Gbadd6  chords  in  
various  inversions.  The  rhythm  of  the  theme  has  been  subjected  to  augmentation.  The  sixteenth  

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notes  of  the  original  theme  have  become  eighth  notes  –  a  doubling  of  the  rhythm  of  the  theme.  
Debussy  often  uses  motivic  transformations,  such  as  augmentation,  to  develop  a  motive  or  
theme.  
 
The  fourth  and  final  appearance  of  the  theme  occurs  in  mm.  28-­‐32.  The  theme  is  heard  in  its  
highest  register  over  the  IV  chord  (Cb),  which  acts  like  a  pedal.  The  theme  is  almost  the  same  
rhythmically  in  mm.  29-­‐30  as  it  was  in  mm.  1-­‐2.  In  mm.  31-­‐32,  however,  the  falling  sixteenth  
note  line  found  in  m.  10  (during  the  second  occurrence  of  the  theme)  has  been  rhythmically  
augmented.  The  Gb-­‐F-­‐Eb  falling  figure  (eighth-­‐sixteenth-­‐sixteenth  in  m.  10)  has  been  
transformed  into  quarter  notes  in  m.  31.  The  Cb-­‐Ab-­‐Bb  falling  figure  (three  sixteenth  notes  in  m.  
10)  has  been  transformed  into  eighth  notes  in  m.  32.    
 
Unconventional  harmonic  language  
While  the  harmonic  progressions  in  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  can,  for  the  most  part,  be  
analyzed  with  Roman  numerals,  they  do  not  quite  fit  the  rules  of  the  common  practice  period.  
One  of  the  harmonic  progressions  most  conspicuously  absent  from  the  piece  is  a  
straightforward  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  progression.  There  is  not  a  single  VàI  progression  
throughout  the  piece.  At  every  cadence,  Debussy  finds  a  way  to  avoid  a  dominant  harmony  that  
contains  the  leading  tone  (F  in  Gb  major).  The  first  cadence  at  mm.  2-­‐3,  a  plagal  IVàI  cadence,  
avoids  the  leading  tone  and  the  dominant  chord  altogether.  At  mm.  7-­‐8,  there  is  a  series  of  non-­‐
resolving  secondary  dominant  7th  chords  completely  divorced  from  their  secondary  dominant  
function.  
 
Debussy  also  avoids  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  motion  by  using  suspended  dominant  harmonies,  which  
do  not  contain  the  tension-­‐filled  leading  tone.  In  mm.  9-­‐10,  a  V9susàI  (Db9susàGb)  cadence  
occurs,  but  since  the  dominant  harmony  is  a  suspended  chord,  there  is  no  leading  tone  
resolution.  In  mm.  12-­‐13,  a  V9sus4/IàI  (Db9sus/GbàGb)  cadence  again  avoids  the  leading  tone.  In  
mm.  15-­‐16,  a  V9susàI  (Gb9susàCb)  cadence  in  Cb  major  avoids  the  leading  tone  of  Cb  major  (Bb).  
One  can  argue  that  the  V7sus  (and  V9sus)  sonority,  occurring  a  total  of  8  times  throughout  the  
piece,  becomes  the  new  dominant  sonority.    
 
Debussy  also  avoids  functional  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  progressions  by  using  ii-­‐V  progressions  that  do  
not  fully  resolve  to  the  I  chord.  The  piece  contains  two  iiàV  (AbmiàDb)  progressions  in  Gb  
major,  in  m.  17  and  m.  27,  but  neither  progression  resolves  to  the  tonic.  The  ii-­‐V  progression  in  
m.  17  eventually  leads  to  a  modulation  to  Eb  major.  The  ii-­‐V  progression  at  m.  27  sounds  like  it  
will  resolve  to  I,  but  instead  deceptively  resolves  to  the  IV  chord  (Cb).    
 
In  this  piece,  Debussy  sometimes  places  diatonic  chords  in  progressions  that  break  the  rules  of  
the  common  practice  period.  A  clear  example  of  this  rule-­‐breaking  is  found  in  m.  5,  which  
contains  the  progression  VàiiiàviàI  (DbàBbmiàEbmiàGb).  These  chords  are  all  diatonic  to  
Gb  major,  but  the  chord  progression  does  not  follow  common  practice  rules.  The  V  chord  (a  
chord  with  dominant  function)  moves  not  to  the  I  chord  but  to  the  iii  chord,  and  the  vi  chord  (a  
chord  without  dominant  function)  moves  to  the  I  chord.  Even  at  cadences,  Debussy  sometimes  
approaches  the  tonic  chord  with  non-­‐dominant  harmony.  In  mm.  31-­‐32,  the  vi  chord  (Ebmi)  
resolves  straight  to  the  I  chord  (Gb).  In  mm.  35-­‐36,  the  ii6/4  chord  (Abmi/Eb)  resolves  straight  to  
the  I  chord  (Gb).  
 

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The  only  real  nod  to  clear  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  motion  is  mm.  37-­‐38,  when  the  rolling  of  the  
dominant  note  (Db)  is  followed  by  the  rolling  of  the  tonic  note  (Gb).  The  pitches  are  both  rolled  
very  softly  and  almost  dissolve  out  of  the  texture.  Such  a  subtle  gesture  does  not  contain  the  
normal  tension  and  resolution  found  in  more  obvious  VàI  motion.  
 
Use  of  unconventional  scales  and  sonorities  
In  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair,  the  most  featured  unconventional  scale  occurs  in  mm.  19-­‐21,  
where  a  repeated  Eb  major  pentatonic  scale  (Eb,  F,  G,  Bb,  C)  helps  to  establish  the  key  center  of  
Eb  major.  
 
Quartal  and  quintal  harmonies  also  make  a  few  appearances  in  the  piece.  In  mm.  24-­‐26,  a  
mixture  of  quartal  and  quintal  harmonies  are  used  to  reharmonize  the  main  theme.  Blatant  
parallel  fifths  appear  in  m.  25  in  the  left  hand.  A  sixteenth  note  line,  harmonized  mostly  in  
fourths,  appears  in  m.  35.    
 
Rhythmic  cells  
The  last  major  unifying  tool  used  in  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  is  the  consistent  use  of  
rhythmic  cells  throughout  the  piece.  The  main  theme  contains  the  primary  rhythmic  motive:  
eighth-­‐sixteenth-­‐sixteenth.  This  combination  occurs  six  times  in  the  main  theme.  It  occurs  
numerous  times  throughout  the  piece  in  both  melodic  and  accompanimental  material.  In  total,  
this  eighth-­‐sixteenth-­‐sixteenth  rhythm  occurs  over  forty  times  in  the  piece.    
 
Other  closely-­‐related  rhythmic  cells,  including  the  dotted  eighth-­‐sixteenth  cell  that  occurs  in  m.  
14  and  again  in  mm.  33-­‐34,  are  also  utilized  in  the  piece.  This  cell  also  appears  briefly  in  the  third  
reharmonization  of  the  theme  at  mm.  24-­‐25.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lecture  2:  Erik  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Erik  Satie    
Erik  Satie  (1866-­‐1925)  is  sometimes  considered  an  impressionist  composer,  although  his  music  
anticipated  minimalism  and  other  artistic  movements.  He  was  very  influenced  by  French  
impressionist  composers,  including  Debussy  and  Ravel.  Throughout  his  career,  he  avoided  
classical  thematic  development  and  instead  opted  for  shorter  compositions  without  long  
development  sections.  Satie’s  harmonic  language  became  increasingly  unconventional  (and  
even  eccentric)  in  his  later  career.      
 
In  1888,  early  in  his  career,  Satie  published  a  set  of  three  piano  pieces  entitled  Gymnopédies  No.  
1-­‐3.  The  most  famous  piece  from  this  set  is  Gymnopédie  No.  1  (shown  in  its  entirety  in  Example  
4.3,  below  and  on  the  following  page).  This  piece,  with  its  thematic  simplicity,  lack  of  traditional  
development,  and  unconventional  harmonic  language,  is  characteristic  of  Satie’s  non-­‐systematic  
compositional  style.    
 
Ex.  4.3  

 
 

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Ex.  4.3  (cont.)  

 
 
Satie’s  unconventional  harmonic  language  
For  the  first  16  measures  of  the  piece,  the  harmony  oscillates  between  IV7  (Gma7)  and  I7  
(Dma7).  In  the  common  practice  period,  the  I7  chord  –  which,  in  a  major  key,  contains  a  
dissonant  major  7th  interval  –  was  almost  never  used  as  a  tonic  sonority.  In  this  piece,  however,  
Satie  embraces  the  dissonance  of  the  major  I7  chord  and  makes  it  a  central,  striking  feature  of  
the  piece.      
 
Similar  to  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair,  Gymnopédie  No.  1  avoids  classical  VàI  
progressions  by  using  plagal  and  minor  vàI  cadences.  The  plagal  IVàI  cadence  is  used  
exclusively  in  mm.  1-­‐16.  In  mm.  37-­‐39,  a  seemingly  normal  circle  of  fifths  progression,  
vi7àii9àv7àI  (Bmi7àEmi9àAmi7àD),  employs  an  unusual  minor  v7  (Ami7)  chord  instead  of  
the  standard  dominant  V7  (A7)  chord.  When  the  minor  v7  (Ami7)  appears  again  in  the  final  
ii7àv7ài  (Emi7àAmi7àDmi)  cadence  in  mm.  75-­‐77,  its  lack  of  a  leading  tone  gives  the  ending  
a  modal  sound.  

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In  the  entire  piece,  there  are  only  two  dominant  7th  chords,  both  of  which  do  not  resolve  
traditionally.  In  mm.  26-­‐27,  a  D7  chord  resolves  not  to  the  expected  G  chord,  but  instead  to  a  
Dmi7  chord.  The  same  D7  appears  again  in  m.  31  and  this  time  resolves  to  an  Emi7  chord.  By  
avoiding  a  resolution  to  any  type  of  G  chord,  the  D7  chord  loses  its  dominant  function  and  pulls  
the  piece  away  from  functional  tonality.    
 
Satie  was  known  for  his  sense  of  humor  and  absurdity,  especially  in  his  later  music.  A  sense  of  
trickery  can  be  seen  in  this  piece,  especially  in  common  progressions  that  do  not  resolve  in  
standard  fashion.  The  common  chord  progression  of  iiiàviàii  (F#miàBmiàEmi)  in  mm.  17-­‐19,  
would,  by  common  practice  rules,  normally  continue  on  to  a  V7àI  (A7àD)  progression.  In  mm.  
20-­‐21,  however,  the  piece  takes  its  most  dramatic  turn,  going  straight  from  the  ii7  chord  to  the  
minor  i  chord  with  no  dominant  approach.  This  ii7ài  cadence  and  the  resulting  direct  
modulation  to  the  parallel  key  of  D  minor  would  surprise  a  listener  used  to  common  practice  
music.  
 
Use  of  common  tones  and  smooth  voice-­‐leading  
While  the  harmonic  language  in  Gymnopédie  No.  1  is  unconventional  and  surprising,  Satie’s  use  
of  common  tones  and  smooth  harmonic  progressions  makes  it  sound  harmonically  cohesive.  
While  the  bassline  contains  mostly  root  motion  by  4th/5ths  and  pedal  tones,  the  inner  voices  
tend  to  flow  very  smoothly  from  chord  to  chord.  In  mm.  1-­‐16,  for  example,  the  Gma7àDma7  
progression  contains  the  common  tone  of  F#,  which  is  placed  at  the  top  of  the  inner  voices.  The  
other  inner  voices  move  by  step  to  the  next  chord.  Similar  voice  leading,  using  common  tones  
and  step-­‐wise  motion,  is  found  throughout  the  piece.  
 
The  melody  also  features  long,  sustained  common  tones  as  the  harmony  changes  beneath  them.  
In  mm.  9-­‐12,  the  F#  is  sustained  as  a  common  tone  between  Gma7  and  Dma7.  During  the  
unconventional  iiàii7àiadd9  (EmiàEmi7àDmiadd9)  progression  in  mm.  19-­‐21,  the  melody  note  E  
is  held  over  the  chords  as  a  common  tone.  E  is  the  root  of  Emi  and  Emi7  and  the  ninth  of  
Dmiadd9.  Satie’s  purposeful  use  of  prolonged  melodic  common  tones  smooths  over  the  rather  
unconventional  harmonic  progressions  in  the  piece.  
 
Use  of  modes  
Much  of  Gymnopédie  No.  1  can  be  analyzed  using  modes.  While  mm.  1-­‐16  are  most  likely  in  D  
major,  it  is  possible  to  hear  this  section  with  Gma7  as  the  tonic  chord.  With  G  as  the  tonic,  the  
section  would  be  analyzed  in  G  Lydian.    
 
D  Dorian  is  used  almost  exclusively  in  mm.  21-­‐32  (except  for  the  non-­‐functional  D7  chords  in  m.  
26  and  m.  31).  B  Aeolian  appears  in  mm.  32-­‐37  and  then  gives  way  to  D  Mixolydian,  established  
by  a  v7àI  (Ami7àD)  cadence  in  mm.  38-­‐39.    
 
In  mm.  70-­‐75,  the  mode  of  E  Phrygian  is  used  over  a  pedal  E  in  the  bass.  By  saving  the  distinct  
dissonance  of  the  Phrygian  mode  for  the  final  phrase  of  the  piece,  Satie  harmonically  separates  
the  ending  from  the  rest  of  the  piece.  D  Aeolian  is  hinted  at  in  the  final  v7ài  cadence  in  mm.  76-­‐
77.  
 
 
 
 

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Analyze  Scriabin’s  Prelude  in  Db  Major  with  chord  symbols  and  Roman  numerals.  (There  
are   no   more   than   four   chords   per   measure.   You   do   not   need   to   analyze   each   eighth  
note  individually.  Reduce  the  texture  if  necessary.)  
• Label  the  key.  
• Label  the  phrase  structure  with  brackets.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

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• Describe   how   this   non-­‐systematic   piece   is   organized   and   unified.   In   your   answer,  
discuss   unconventional   harmonic   progressions,   thematic   content,   overall   structure,  
rhythmic  content,  and  anything  else  you  notice.  
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 5: Pandiatonicism, Midterm Review
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In  this  unit,  you  will  learn  about  pandiatonicism  and  prepare  for  
the  midterm.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand  pandiatonicism  
• Prepare  for  the  midterm  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Pandiatonicism...............................……………………......54  
Lecture  2:  Midterm  review.........................................................56  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......62  
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Pandiatonicism  
 
 
Something  old  and  something  new  
The  beginning  of  the  twentieth  century  saw  the  world  of  new  classical  music  in  a  state  of  flux,  as  
various   artistic   movements   competed   for   primacy.   Many   composers,   including   Sergei  
Rachmaninoff,   continued,   for   the   most   part,   to   follow   the   more   conventional   path   of  
traditionalists  like  Johannes  Brahms.  The  influence  of  Wagner  had  cast  a  long  shadow  over  other  
composers,   who   continued   to   follow   the   thread   of   his   extended   chromaticism.   (This   extended  
chromaticism   was   to   lead,   in   the   early   1900s,   to   the   development   of   atonality.)   Still   other  
composers,   like   Debussy,   explored   the   opportunities   offered   by   unconventional   harmonies,  
harmonic  progressions,  and  tonal  systems.  Some  members  of  this  last  group  –  unconventional  
but  not  devoted  to  chromaticism  –  explored  the  use  of  pandiatonicism,  a  technique  that  paired  
the   old,   standard   diatonic   scales   with   a   new,   unconventional   approach   to   harmony   and  
harmonic  progressions.  
 
Pandiatonicism  
In  pandiatonic  music,  the  notes  of  a  diatonic  scale  are  used  freely,  without  any  rules  governing  
chord  progressions,  sonority  type,  consonance,  or  dissonance.  A  pandiatonic  sonority   –  whether  
tertian,   quartal,   cluster,   or   any   other   sonority   type   –   can   be   created   from   any   combination   of  
diatonic   notes.   The   sonorities   in   Example   5.1   (below)   contain   notes   derived   only   from   the   F  
major  scale  and  thus  could  all  belong  to  a  pandiatonic  passage  of  music.  
 
Ex.  5.1  

 
 
 
Pandiatonicism  in  context  
A   number   of   prominent   composers   experimented   with   pandiatonicism   in   the   early   decades   of  
the   20th   century.   The   technique   could   be   useful   as   a   contrast   both   with   heavily   chromatic   music  
and   with   functional   music.   Igor   Stravinsky,   for   example,   would   sometimes   employ  
pandiatonicism  in  his  neoclassical  works,  which  fused  a  return  to  older,  classical  forms  with  his  
own,  more  modern  ideas  on  harmony  and  dissonance.  A  short  pandiatonic  passage,  in  the  style  
of   Stravinsky   in   his   neoclassical   period,   appears   on   the   following   page   in   Example   5.2.   The  
texture  and  rhythm  of  the  passage  are  modeled  on  the  texture  and  rhythm  of  Mozart’s  “Rondo  
alla  Turca.”  All  of  the  notes  in  the  passage  are  derived  from  the  G  major  scale,  but  some  of  the  
harmonies  are  dissonant.  The  dissonance  is  unresolved,  and  the  harmonic  progressions  are  non-­‐
functional.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  5.2  

 
 
In   the   1930s   and   1940s,   Aaron   Copland   often   used   pandiatonic   techniques   for   softer,   pensive  
passages.   He   blended   non-­‐functional   tertian,   quartal,   and   quintal   sonorities   in   a   harmonic  
language   that   came   to   be   associated   with   patriotic,   somber,   or   idyllic   American   settings   and  
scenes   in   film   scores   from   the   1940s   through   the   early   2000s.   A   passage   in   Copland’s  
pandiatonic  style  appears  below  in  Example  5.3.  All  of  the  notes  in  Ex.  5.3  are  derived  from  the  
Bb  major  scale.  
 
Ex.  5.3  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lecture  2:  Midterm  Review  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Chromatic  mediant  
One  type  of  distant  relationship  between  keys  or  chords  is  the  chromatic  mediant  relationship.  A  
chromatic  mediant  relationship  between  two  keys  or  chords  has  the  following  characteristics:  
1) The   tonic   notes   of   the   two   keys   (or   the   roots   of   the   chords)   are   a   major   or   minor   3rd  
apart.  
2) The  keys  (or  chords)  have  the  same  quality  (major  or  minor).  
3) Chords  related  by  chromatic  mediant  will  share  one  common  tone.  
 
Chords  in  a  doubly  chromatic  mediant  relationship  are  a  major  or  minor  3rd  apart  –  but  do  not  
have  the  same  quality  and  do  not  share  any  pitches.  
 
Real  sequences  
In  common  practice  period  music,  sequences  appear  frequently  but  do  not  usually  involve  exact  
transpositions  of  the  initial  pattern.  Exact  transpositions  of  that  initial  pattern  would  
immediately  change  the  key  of  a  passage.  Real  sequences  contain  only  exact  transpositions  of  
the  initial  pattern  –  and  often  cause  modulations.  
 
Irregular  resolutions,  extended  chromaticism,  real  sequences,  and  frequent  modulations  
The  middle  and  latter  parts  of  the  Romantic  period  saw  more  widespread  experimentation  with  
irregular  resolution.  Often,  these  irregular  resolutions  would  arrive  at  non-­‐diatonic  chords,  
which  might  then  resolve  irregularly  to  other  non-­‐diatonic  chords.  The  motion  featured  by  these  
irregular  resolutions  tended  to  be  stepwise  and  often  chromatic.  Through  this  type  of  stepwise  
and  chromatic  motion,  composers  could  reach  non-­‐diatonic  chords  and  foreign  key  areas  
without  discarding  the  smooth  voice  leading  procedures  favored  by  common  practice  
conventions.  This  extended  use  of  chromatic  motion  (sometimes  called  extended  chromaticism)  
could  create  non-­‐functional  harmonic  progressions  with  rapidly  changing  tonal  centers.  (Chords  
appearing  in  these  types  of  progressions  are  sometimes  called  voice  leading  chords.)  
Sometimes,  these  changes  in  tonal  center  were  so  rapid  that  they  defied  clear  identification  as  
either  tonicizations  or  modulations.  Sometimes,  in  a  passage  with  extended  chromaticism  and  
frequent  modulations,  composers  use  real  sequences.  
 
The  Tristan  chord  
The   first   chord   in   the   prelude   to   Wagner’s   opera   Tristan   und   Isolde,   often   called   the   Tristan  
chord,  appears  on  the  following  page  in  Example  5.4.  Its  spelling,  as  it  appears  in  the  score  (m.  1  
of  Ex.  5.4),  defies  chord  symbol  classification,  but  enharmonic  respelling  of  three  notes  (m.  2  of  
Ex.  5.4)  of  the  chord  reveals  it  to  be  a  half-­‐diminished  7th  chord.    
 
The  Tristan  chord,  which  first  appears  in  the  second  full  measure  of  the  prelude,  fulfills  none  of  
the   standard   roles   of   a   half-­‐diminished   7th   chord.   Its   resolution   is   heavily   chromatic,   with   all   but  
one  chord  tone  moving  by  half-­‐step  (or  group  of  half-­‐steps)  to  the  prelude’s  second  chord,  E7.  
Since   F   ø7   and   E7   do   not   belong   to   the   same   major   or   minor   scale,   this   resolution   is   not   only  
irregular   but   also   non-­‐diatonic.   By   common   practice   period   rules,   that   E7,   as   a   dominant   7th  
chord,  should  then  resolve  to  an  A  major  or  A  minor  chord.  Instead,  it  does  not  resolve  at  all  –  
and   gives   way   to   complete   silence.   The   opera’s   first   chord   progression,   therefore,   does   not  

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conclude   with   any   sort   of   resolution   or   even   establish   a   key.   This   tonal   ambiguity   anticipates  
both  the  tension  of  the  opera  and  the  instability  of  atonality.  
 
Ex.  5.4  

 
 
A  sequence,  implied  modulations,  and  deferred  resolution  in  the  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  
The  opening  passage  of  the  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  employs  a  sequence  that  implies  two  
modulations  and  three  keys  without  establishing  any  keys.  Wagner  defers  a  resolution  of  the  
prelude’s  harmonic  tension  (provided  by  both  the  Tristan  chord  and  its  chord  of  resolution)  until  
the  very  end  of  the  opera,  where  he  moves  from  the  Tristan  chord  to  a  plagal  cadence.  
 
Quartal  sonorities  
Quartal   sonorities   involve   stacks   of   fourths.   They   can   have   a   mixture   of   perfect   4ths   and  
augmented  fourths  (tritones).  
 
Quintal  sonorities  
Quintal  sonorities  are  harmonies  built  with  stack  of  fifths.  In  contrast  with  the  slight  dissonance  
of   fourths,   perfect   fifths   have   a   naturally   open   and   stable   sound   due   to   their   overlapping  
overtones.  
 
Polychords  
Early   20th-­‐century   composers   started   to   explore   the   use   of   polychords,   two   or   more   chords  
occurring   simultaneously.   The   combination   of   two   simultaneously   sounding   chords   can   create  
harmonically  complex  and  chromatically  saturated  sonorities,  eroding  a  sense  of  tonal  stability.  
Note   that   it   is   standard   in   polychord   analysis   to   show   the   top   chord   above   the   bottom   chord,  
with  the  two  separated  by  a  straight,  horizontal  line.  
 
Chords  with  split  chord  members  
Sometimes  a  composer  will  use  a  triad  or  seventh  chord,  but  add  complexity  to  that  chord  by  
splitting   one   or   more   of   the   notes   within   the   chord.   To   split   a   note   within   a   chord   (a   chord  
member),  add  a  note  one  half  step  above  or  below  that  note.  (These  added  notes  may  be  placed  
into  an  octave  different  from  the  original  chord.)  
 
Tone  clusters  
A  tone  cluster  is  built  with  stacks  of  seconds,  often  both  major  and  minor.  
 
 
 

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Whole  tone  sonorities  
A  whole  tone  sonority  is  a  chord  whose  notes  are  solely  derived  from  a  whole  tone  scale.  Whole  
tone  scales  contain  six  pitches  separated  by  major  seconds.  
 
The  pentatonic  scale  
The  pentatonic  scale  has  five  pitches  (penta  meaning  five).  The  major  pentatonic  scale  contains  
the   following   intervallic   structure:   major   2nd-­‐major   2nd-­‐minor   3rd-­‐major   2nd.   The   minor  
pentatonic  scale  contains  the  following  intervallic  structure:  minor  3rd-­‐major  2nd-­‐major  2nd-­‐minor  
3rd.  
 
The  whole  tone  scale  
The   whole   tone   scale   contains   six   pitches   separated   by   major   seconds.   Since   the   whole   tone  
scale  divides  the  octave  equally  into  six  parts,  it  does  not  have  a  true  tonic.  There  are  only  two  
distinct  whole  tone  scales.  
 
The  octatonic/diminished  scale  
The   octatonic   scale,   also   commonly   referred   to   as   the   diminished   scale,   contains   eight   pitches  
(octa  meaning  eight).  Octatonic  scales  alternate  whole  steps  with  half  steps  (or  vice  versa).  The  
octatonic  scale  has  two  variants:  whole-­‐half  and  half-­‐whole.  A  whole-­‐half  octatonic  scale  starts  
the   alternating   pattern   with   a   whole   step,   while   a   half-­‐whole   octatonic   scale   starts   the  
alternating  pattern  with  a  half  step.  
 
The  augmented  scale  
Like  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  augmented  scale  contains  six  pitches  and  two  augmented  triads.  
Unlike  the  ascending  pattern  of  major  seconds  found  in  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  pattern  that  
builds   the   augmented   scale   alternates   between   ascending   minor   thirds   and   ascending   minor  
seconds.  (The  pattern  begins  with  an  ascending  minor  third.)  
 
The  Lydian  dominant  scale  
A  hybrid  between  the  Lydian  and  Mixolydian  modes,  the  Lydian  dominant  scale  is  a  major  scale  
with   a   raised   4th   scale   degree   (like   the   Lydian   mode)   and   a   lowered   7th   scale   degree   (like   the  
Mixolydian  mode).  
 
The  altered  scale  
The  altered  scale,  also  called  the  super  Locrian  mode,  is  often  used  in  jazz  to  improvise  over  an  
altered   dominant   harmony.   The   scale   tones   of   the   altered   scale   combine   the   common  
alterations  (b5,  #5)  to  and  altered  extensions  (b9,  #9,  #11,  b13)  of  a  dominant  7th  chord  with  
the  three  essential  chord  tones  (root,  3rd,  and  7th)  of  a  dominant  7th  chord.  
 
Unorthodox  harmonic  progressions  
Debussy,  and  other  composers  with  a  similar  mindset,  found  a  variety  of  ways  to  challenge  the  
old  rules  governing  chord  function.  Sometimes  they  would  employ  harmonic  progressions  that,  
while   diatonic,   featured   unorthodox   chord   function.   In   an   unorthodox   harmonic   progression,  
dominant  function  chords,  for  example,  might  not  resolve  to  tonic  function  chords.  Sometimes  
composers   would   hide   their   rule-­‐breaking   by   using   progressions   that   broke   the   rules   –   while  
seeming,   at   first   glance,   to   follow   them.   Debussy   would   sometimes   employ   implied   V-­‐I  
progressions,  which  disguised  unorthodox  progressions  with  dominant-­‐tonic  motion  in  the  bass.  
 

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Use  of  unconventional  scales  
Toward   the   latter   part   of   the   Romantic   period,   many   composers   turned   back   to   the   church  
modes   that   had   been   popular   before   the   Baroque   period.   Unlike   the   major   and   harmonic   minor  
scales,   most   church   modes   (aside   from   Ionian   and   Lydian)   lack   a   characteristic   intrinsic   to   the  
music   of   the   common   practice   period:   the   leading   tone.   The   movement   of   leading   tone   to   tonic  
provides   the   tension/release   dynamic   that   is   central   to   the   harmonic   progressions   of   the  
Baroque   and   Classical   periods.   The   renewed   use   of   the   Dorian,   Phrygian,   and   Mixolydian   modes  
provided  composers  with  a  harmonic  world  outside  the  strictures  of  common  practice.  
 
Some   unconventional   scales   –   such   as   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales   –   contain   far   fewer  
diatonic   triads   than   the   major   scales,   minor   scales,   or   the   church   modes.   Many   composers   have  
taken   advantage   of   this   relative   scarcity   of   diatonic   triads   in   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone  
scales  to  create  a  sense  of  harmonic  ambiguity.  Chords  in  the  common  practice  period  almost  
always   performed   some   sort   of   function;   their   roles   were   clear.   Harmonies   diatonic   to   the  
pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales,   in   contrast,   have   no   such   clarity   in   their   function.   This  
ambiguity  can  lead  to  a  sense  of  stasis,  in  which  nothing  changes  or  moves.  
 
Harmonic  independence  and  planing  
Some   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers   began   to   treat   harmonies   as   independent  
entities   –   sounds   to   be   featured   on   their   own,   without   the   need   to   resolve   in   any   particular  
fashion.  Making  a  clear  break  with  the  rules  of  the  past,  composers  like  Ravel  took  this  harmonic  
independence   one   step   further   into   the   realm   of  harmonic   planing.   In   harmonic   planing,   chords  
move  from  one  to  another  in  parallel  motion.    
 
Polymodality  
Each  of  the  modes  contains  a  unique  pattern  of  half  steps  and  whole  steps  and  thus  a  different  
hierarchy   of   pitches.   Some   composers   have   explored   the   possibilities   afforded   by   the  
combinations   of   various   modes.   Several   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers   would  
compose  passages  that  freely  moved  between  modes,  all  with  the  same  tonic.  Other  composers,  
particularly   Béla   Bartók,   wrote   music   that   featured   the   simultaneous   use   of   multiple   modes  
(again,  with  the  same  tonic).  Music  that  combines  multiple  modes  with  the  same  tonic  –  either  
in   succession   or   simultaneously   –   belongs   to   a   tonal   system   known   as   polymodality,   or  
polymodal  chromaticism.  
 
Polytonality  
Seeking   more   radical   departures   from   the   major-­‐minor   tonal   system,   some   composers  
(including   Bartok   and   Stravinsky)   have   experimented   with   polytonality,   the   simultaneous  
combination   of   multiple   tonal   centers.   A   polytonal   passage   might   combine,   for   example,   A  
minor  with  F#  major.  
 
Centricity  
Some   composers   –   including   Debussy,   Ravel,   Bartók,   and   Stravinsky   –   explored   various   methods  
of  pitch  centricity.  Pieces  with  pitch  centricity  demonstrate  a  perceptible  focus  on  a  certain  pitch  
without  following  the  rules  of  a  specific  tonal  system.  In  pieces  with  pitch  centricity,  composers  
establish   a   focus   on   certain   pitches   through   a   variety   of   techniques   and   approaches,   including  
repetition  and  symmetry.  
 
 

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Non-­‐systematic  music  
Music  of  the  common  practice  period  tended  to  follow  a  system  that  married  functional  
harmony  with  formal  structures.  As  late  19th  century  and  early  20th  century  composers  
experimented  with  unconventional  sonorities,  scales,  harmonic  function,  voice  leading,  and  
tonal  systems,  their  use  of  form  sometimes  became  unconventional  and  often  non-­‐systematic.  
Some  composers,  such  as  Claude  Debussy  and  Erik  Satie,  explored  the  use  of  looser  forms  that  
fit  their  unconventional  materials.  
 
Impressionism  
The  word  impressionism  is  often  associated  with  the  music  of  Claude  Debussy  (although  he  
himself  did  not  like  the  term),  but  it  was  originally  intended  to  describe  the  techniques  favored  
by  a  group  of  French  painters  (including  Claude  Monet  and  Pierre-­‐Auguste  Renoir)  in  the  late  
1800s.  Impressionist  paintings  feature  the  effects  of  light  through  the  use  of  soft,  thin  brush  
strokes  and  nuanced  colors.  Eventually,  impressionism  became  a  musical  term  associated  with  
some  of  the  non-­‐systematic  French  music  in  the  late  1800s  and  early  1900s  –  especially  the  
music  of  Debussy  and  Maurice  Ravel.  Impressionist  pieces  avoid  telling  a  direct  story  and  instead  
attempt  to  evoke  a  general  feeling  or  mood  through  color  and  nuances  of  sound.  Impressionist  
pieces  often  use  unconventional  scales  and  sonorities  and  avoid  strict  formal  structures.  
 
Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  
Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  avoids  the  systematic  compositional  forms  that  
predominated  the  Baroque  and  Classical  periods,  yet  it  still  remains  a  unified  and  cohesive  piece  
through  its  use  of  consistent  thematic,  harmonic,  and  rhythmic  material.  Without  the  structure  
of  a  pre-­‐established  form,  one  way  to  organize  a  piece  cohesively  is  to  use  a  consistent,  
recurring  theme.  The  main  theme  of  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  appears  four  times  in  the  
piece  –  and  is  often  reharmonized.    
 
While  the  harmonic  progressions  in  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  can,  for  the  most  part,  be  
analyzed  with  Roman  numerals,  they  do  not  quite  fit  the  rules  of  the  common  practice  period.  
One  of  the  harmonic  progressions  most  conspicuously  absent  from  the  piece  is  a  
straightforward  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  progression.  There  is  not  a  single  VàI  progression  
throughout  the  piece.  Debussy  also  avoids  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  motion  in  the  piece  by  using  
suspended  dominant  harmonies.  
 
Erik  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1  
Erik  Satie  (1866-­‐1925)  is  sometimes  considered  an  impressionist  composer,  although  his  music  
anticipated  minimalism  and  other  artistic  movements.  Throughout  his  career,  he  avoided  
classical  thematic  development  and  instead  opted  for  shorter  compositions  without  long  
development  sections.  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1,  with  its  thematic  simplicity,  lack  of  traditional  
development,  and  unconventional  harmonic  language,  is  characteristic  of  Satie’s  non-­‐systematic  
compositional  style.  
 
Satie’s  unconventional  harmonic  language  
For  the  first  16  measures  of  Gymnopédie  No.  1,  the  harmony  oscillates  between  IV7  (Gma7)  and  
I7  (Dma7).  In  the  common  practice  period,  the  I7  chord  –  which,  in  a  major  key,  contains  a  
dissonant  major  7th  interval  –  was  almost  never  used  as  a  tonic  sonority.  In  this  piece,  however,  
Satie  embraces  the  dissonance  of  the  major  I7  chord  and  makes  it  a  central,  striking  feature  of  
the  piece.  Similar  to  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair,  Gymnopédie  No.  1  avoids  classical  

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VàI  progressions  by  using  plagal  and  minor  vàI  cadences.  In  the  entire  piece,  there  are  only  
two  dominant  7th  chords,  both  of  which  do  not  resolve  traditionally.  
 
Use  of  common  tones  and  smooth  voice-­‐leading  in  Gymnopédie  No.  1  
While  the  harmonic  language  in  Gymnopédie  No.  1  is  unconventional  and  surprising,  Satie’s  use  
of  common  tones  and  smooth  harmonic  progressions  makes  it  sound  harmonically  cohesive.  
While  the  bassline  contains  mostly  root  motion  by  4th/5ths  and  pedal  tones,  the  inner  voices  
tend  to  flow  very  smoothly  from  chord  to  chord.  Smooth  voice  leading,  using  common  tones  
and  step-­‐wise  motion,  is  found  throughout  the  piece.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• On   the   staves   provided,   compose   a   four-­‐measure   pandiatonic   piece   in   4/4   for   piano.  
Use  only  notes  derived  from  the  D  major  scale.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
Exercise  2  
• Next  to  each  given  triad,  notate  a  triad  that  has  a  chromatic  mediant  relationship  with  
that  given  triad.  
• Provide  a  chord  symbol  for  each  triad.  
 

 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  3  
• Label   the   following   sonorities   as   quartal,   quintal,   polychord,   chord   with   split   chord  
member(s),  cluster,  or  whole  tone  chord  in  the  line  provided  below  each  measure.  
• Provide  chord  symbols  for  the  polychords  only.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
Exercise  4  
• Construct  the  specified  sonorities  in  the  measures  provided  below.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  5  
• Using   ascending   whole   notes,   construct   the   specified   scales.   The   first   note   (the   tonic)  
has  been  provided  for  you.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  6  
• Using  the  given  tonic,  identify  the  unconventional  scale  used  in  each  phrase.  
 
 
1)  The  tonic  note  of  the  phrase  below  is  Ab.  What  is  the  scale  used?  
 

 
 
 
 
 

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2)  The  tonic  note  of  the  phrase  below  is  Bb.  What  is  the  scale  used?  
 

 
 
 
Exercise  7  
• Harmonize  each  note  of  the  given  melody  below.  
• Use  harmonic  planing  to  move  from  one  chord  to  the  next.  
 

 
 
 
Exercise  8  
• Compose  a  four-­‐measure,  polymodal  passage  for  the  piano.    
• Use  E  Aeolian  in  the  upper  staff  –  and  E  Mixolydian  in  the  lower  staff.  
• Write  the  passage  on  the  blank  staves  below.  
 
 

 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 6: Set Theory
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In  this  unit,  you  will  learn  about  the  principles  of  set  theory  and  
common  pitch  class  set  types.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand  the  principles  of  set  theory  
• Correctly  determine  normal  order  and  prime  form  
• Recognize  trichords  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Set  theory  principles............................…………............67  
Lecture  2:  Set  types  and  prime  form…….....................................71  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......74  
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Set  Theory  Principles
 
 
A  new  type  of  analysis  
Around  the  beginning  of  the  20th  century,  some  composers  began  writing  atonal  music  –  music  
with  no  discernible  key  center.  In  this  new  world,  completely  free  from  any  of  the  old  rules,  a  
new   system   of   organizing   pitches   and   material   took   some   time   to   emerge.   Before   that   new  
system   developed,   composers   experimented   with   free   atonality,   in   which   music   would   avoid  
traces  of  traditional  tonality,  harmonies,  and  harmonic  progressions  without  any  specific  type  of  
organization  or  system.  
 
Although   early   atonal   pieces   lacked   the   structures   and   rules   of   common   practice,   they   often  
maintained  cohesion  through  the  use  of  a  particular  type  of  recurring  cell.  This  type  of  recurring  
cell  would  contain  a  group,  or  set,  of  notes  that  were  related  to  each  other  by  a  specific  network  
of  intervals.  Music  with  this  relatively  free  kind  of  organization  presented  a  challenge  to  music  
theorists,   since   Roman   numeral   analysis   was   useless   in   describing   any   type   of   atonal   music.  
Later   in   the   20th   century,   a   new   theoretical   concept   called   set   theory   evolved   to   identify   and  
describe  the  recurring  cells  that  would  characterize  much  of  20th  century  music  (both  tonal  and  
atonal).  
 
Set   theory   provides   an   alternative   perspective   on   the   analysis   of   music.   Essential   to   that  
perspective  is  a  different  method  for  describing  and  categorizing  musical  materials.  
 
Pitch  classes  
Set   theory   involves   both   octave   equivalence   and   enharmonic   equivalence.   Pitches   that   are  
separated   by   an   exact   number   of   octaves   are   deemed   to   have   octave   equivalence.   All   Cs,   for  
example,   are   considered   to   be   equivalent;   register,   for   the   purposes   of   set   theory,   has   no  
significance.   Pitches   that   are   spelled   differently   but   sound   identical   (in   modern   tuning)   are  
considered  to  have  enharmonic  equivalence.  All  G#s  are  thus  equivalent  to  all  Abs.  A  pitch  class  
combines   all   of   the   notes   related   to   each   other   through   octave   equivalence   and   enharmonic  
equivalence.  In  that  way,  one  pitch  class  comprises  all  F#s  and  Gbs  –  in  any  octave.  
 
Integer  notation  
In   set   theory,   the   system   of   integer   notation   assigns   a   number   from   0   to   11   to   each   of   the  
twelve   pitch   classes.   The   table   in   Example   6.1   (below   and   on   the   following   page)   shows   the  
twelve   pitch   classes   and   their   assigned   numbers.   The   system,   beginning   with   B#/C   and   0,  
ascends  chromatically  and  numerically.  
 
Ex.  6.1  
Pitch  class   Number  in  integer  notation  
B#/C   0  
C#/Db   1  
D   2  
D#/Eb   3  
E/Fb   4  
E#/F   5  
F#/Gb   6  

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G   7  
G#/Ab   8  
A   9  
A#/Bb   10  
B/Cb   11  
 
Pitch  class  sets  
A  pitch  class  set  is  a  group  of  pitch  classes.  Set  theory  involves  a  process,  called  segmentation,  
that   identifies   prominent   pitch   class   sets   within   a   piece.   These   pitch   class   sets   may   appear  
horizontally  (in  a  melodic  line)  and/or  vertically  (as  sonorities),  and  the  pitch  classes  within  the  
sets  may  appear  in  any  order.  
 
Modular  arithmetic  
When   music   theorists   apply   various   mathematical   operations   to   the   numbers   that   represent  
pitch   classes,   they   use   modular   arithmetic.   In   modular   arithmetic,   the   numbers   continue   to  
ascend  only  until  they  reach  a  certain  value  (called  the  modulus)  –  at  which  point  they  start  the  
process   over   again.   The   12-­‐hour   clock   system,   for   instance,   features   modular   arithmetic.   The  
numbers  in  that  system  ascend  from  1  to  12,  at  which  point  they  start  the  process  again  at  1.  
 
Calculations   using   modular   arithmetic   differ   from   calculations   using   standard   arithmetic.   In  
standard   arithmetic,   for   example,   adding   5   to   8   provides   a   sum   of   13.   In   the   modular   arithmetic  
of  the  12-­‐hour  clock  system,  by  contrast,  adding  5  hours  to  8:00am  brings  the  time  to  1:00pm.    
 
The   modular   arithmetic   in   musical   set   theory   is   similar   to   that   of   the   12-­‐hour   clock   system.     The  
twelve  pitch  classes  can  be  represented  on  a  clock  diagram,  as  shown  below  in  Example  6.2.  The  
set  theory  clock  changes  the  12-­‐hour  clock  in  only  one  respect:  it  replaces  the  12  with  a  0.  
 
Ex.  6.2  

   

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Normal  order  
The  next  step  in  set  theory,  after  identifying  a  prominent  pitch  class  set  within  a  piece,  is  putting  
that   set   in   normal   order   (or   normal   form).   Normal   order   involves   condensing   the   pitch   classes  
into   their   most   compact   form.   To   put   a   pitch   class   set   in   normal   order,   use   the   following  
process:  
1) Using  integer  notation,  translate  the  pitch  classes  into  numbers.    
2) Arrange   the   numbers   into   sets   representing   all   possible   clockwise   orders.   (Use   the   clock  
diagram   in   Ex.   6.2   for   reference   in   determining   these   orders.)   The   number   of   possible  
clockwise  orders  will  be  equal  to  the  number  of  pitch  classes  within  the  set.  
3) Of   the   sets   created   by   Step   2,   determine   which   one   features   the   smallest   interval  
between   the   first   number   and   the   last   number.   Calculate   this   interval   by   determining  
(with  the  clock  diagram  in  Ex.  6.2)  the  clockwise  distance  from  the  first  number  to  the  
last  number.  If  there  are  ties  among  sets  for  the  shortest  interval  between  the  first  and  
last   numbers,   calculate   the   clockwise   distance   between   the   first   and   second   numbers   of  
each  tied  set.  The  set  with  the  smaller  interval  between  its  first  and  second  numbers  will  
become  the  pitch  class  set’s  normal  order.  (If  there  is  a  tie  between  sets  for  this  interval,  
calculate  the  clockwise  distance  between  the  second  and  third  numbers  of  each  set.  The  
process   for   breaking   ties   continues   along   the   same   path   –   comparing   the   intervals  
between  the  third  and  fourth  numbers,  then  the  interval  between  the  fourth  and  fifth  
numbers,  etc.  Occasionally,  there  will  be  no  way  to  break  the  tie.)  
4) Place   the   pitch   class   set’s   normal   order   in   brackets   –   and   separate   the   numbers   with  
commas.  
 
Putting  a  sample  set  into  normal  order  
The  process  of  segmentation,  for  example,  might  reveal  that  the  pitch  classes  A,  F#,  Db,  and  C  
appear   together   often   in   a   particular   piece.   To   put   this   pitch   class   set   in   normal   order,   one  
would  follow  these  steps:  
1) The  pitch  classes  A,  F#,  Db,  and  C  translate  to  9,  6,  1,  and  0  in  integer  notation.  
2) The  possible  clockwise  orders  for  9,  6,  1,  and  0  are:  
a) 0169  
b) 1690  
c) 6901  
d) 9016  
3) The  clockwise  distances  from  the  first  number  to  the  last  number  for  sets  a-­‐d  in  Step  2  
are:  
a) 9  
b) 11  
c) 7  
d) 9  
4) Since   –   of   all   four   sets   –   set   c   contains   the   smallest   interval   between   first   and   last  
numbers,  set  c  represents  the  normal  order  for  this  set:  [6,9,0,1].  
 
Transposing  a  set  and  transpositional  equivalence  
To  transpose  a  pitch  class  set,  add  the  same  number  to  –  or  subtract  the  same  number  from  –  
each   member   of   the   set.   (Use   modular   arithmetic   for   this   operation.)   Adding   2   to   each   member  
of  the  set  [6,9,0,1]  creates  the  set  [8,11,2,3].  Thus,  [F#,  A,  C,  and  Db],  the  original  set  of  pitch  
classes,  has  been  transposed  up  one  major  2nd  to  [G#,  B,  D,  and  Eb],  the  new  set  of  pitch  classes.  

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Pitch   class   sets   related   to   each   other   by   transposition   are   considered   to   have   transpositional  
equivalence.  
 
Inverting  a  set  and  inversional  equivalence  
To  invert  a  pitch  class  set,  subtract  each  member  of  the  set  from  12.  (There  is  one  exception  to  
this   operation:   the   number   0,   when   inverted,   remains   0.   Do   not   subtract   it   from   12.)   If   each  
member  of  the  set  [6,9,0,1]  were  subtracted  from  12,  the  resulting  numbers  would  be  6,  3,  0,  
and   11.   Pitch   class   sets   related   to   each   other   by   inversion   are   considered   to   have   inversional  
equivalence.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lecture  2:  Set  Types  and  Prime  F orm  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Set  types  
Music  theory  for  common  practice  music  regularly  places  various  harmonies  into  different  
categories:  major  triads,  dominant  7th  chords,  etc.  In  a  similar  way,  set  theory  places  various  sets  
into  categories  called  set  types,  or  set  classes.  
 
In  set  theory,  each  set  is  considered  to  be  equivalent  to  the  following:  
1) All  transpositions  of  that  set  
2) The  inversion  of  that  set  
3) All  transpositions  of  the  inversion  of  that  set  
 
Sets  related  to  each  other  by  transpositional  or  inversional  equivalence  belong  to  the  same  set  
type.   Each   set   type   is   a   family   comprising   all   sets   related   to   each   other   by   transposition   and  
inversion.  
 
Prime  form  
Each  set  type  has  a  unique  name  or  identifier,  called  the  prime  form.  To  determine  the  prime  
form  (and  thus  the  set  type)  of  any  set,  use  the  following  process:  
1) Put  the  set  in  normal  order.  
2) Transpose  that  normal  order  so  that  its  first  number  is  0.  
3) Invert  the  set  produced  by  Step  2.    
4) Take  the  set  produced  by  Step  3  and  put  it  in  normal  order.  
5) Transpose  the  normal  order  determined  by  Step  4  so  that  its  first  number  is  0.  
6) Compare  the  sets  produced  by  Steps  2  and  5  to  see  which  set’s  numbers  are  closer  
together  toward  the  left  of  the  set.  The  set  that  is  more  compact  toward  the  left  –  the  
one  whose  later  numbers  are  closer  to  the  first  number  –  is  the  prime  form.  
7) Place  the  numbers,  without  commas,  in  parentheses.  
 
Determining  the  prime  form  of  a  sample  set  
1) The  first  lecture  of  this  unit  used,  as  an  example,  a  set  that  contained  the  pitch  classes  A,  
F#,  Db,  and  C.  The  lecture  then  determined  that  the  normal  order  of  that  set  was  
[6,9,0,1].    
2) To  transpose  this  set  so  that  its  first  number  is  0,  add  6  to  –  or  subtract  6  from  –  each  
number  of  the  set.  (Make  sure  to  use  modular  arithmetic.)  The  process  of  transposing  
the  set  in  that  fashion  would  look  like  this:  
[6,9,0,1]  
                         +  +    +  +    
                         6  6  6  6  
                         =  =  =  =  
[0,3,6,7]  
3) To  invert  [0,3,6,7],  subtract  each  member  of  the  set  from  12.  (Remember  that  the  
number  0,  when  inverted,  remains  0.  Do  not  subtract  it  from  12.)  If  each  member  of  the  
set  [0,3,6,7]  were  subtracted  –  using  modular  arithmetic  –  from  12,  the  resulting  
numbers  would  be  0,  9,  6,  and  5.  
4) The  normal  order  of  the  set  containing  0,  9,  6,  and  5  is  [5,6,9,0].  

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5) To  transpose  this  set  so  that  its  first  number  is  0,  add  7  to  –  or  subtract  5  from  –  each  
number  of  the  set.  (Make  sure  to  use  modular  arithmetic.)  The  process  of  transposing  
the  set  in  that  fashion  would  look  like  this:  
[5,6,9,0]  
                         +  +    +  +    
                         7  7  7  7  
                         =  =  =  =  
[0,1,4,7]  
6) Comparing  the  sets  produced  in  Steps  2  [0,3,6,7]  and  5  [0,1,4,7]  reveals  that  the  latter  
set  has  numbers  more  closely  together  toward  the  left:  
   
Set   [0,3,6,7]   [0,1,4,7]  
st nd
Distance  between  1  and  2   3   1  
numbers  
Distance  between  1st  and  3rd   6   4  
numbers  
Prime  form   No   Yes  
 
7) The  prime  form  is  (0147).  
 
Trichords  
Set  types  can  contain  as  few  as  two  pitch  classes  or  as  many  as  twelve  pitch  classes.  There  are  
over  200  possible  set  types,  but  some  are  more  common  than  others.  Some  of  the  most  
common  set  types  are  the  trichords  –  set  types  containing  three  pitch  classes.  There  are  twelve  
possible  trichords,  shown  below  in  the  table  of  Example  6.3.    
 
Ex.  6.3  
Prime  form   Pitch  classes  represented  by  the  prime  form  
(012)   C,  C#/Db,  D  
(013)   C,  C#/Db,  D#/Eb  
(014)   C,  C#/Db,  E  
(015)   C,  C#/Db,  F  
(016)   C,  C#/Db,  F#/Gb  
(024)   C,  D,  E  
(025)   C,  D,  F  
(026)   C,  D,  F#/Gb  
(027)   C,  D,  G  
(036)   C,  D#/Eb,  F#/Gb  
(037)   C,  D#/Eb,  G  
(048)   C,  E,  G#/Ab  
 
Early  atonal  music  favored  trichords  whose  prime  forms  begin  with  01,  a  half-­‐step.  Trichords  
containing  that  half-­‐step  helped  early  atonal  music  to  emphasize  dissonant  intervals  (including  
minor  2nds,  major  7ths,  and  minor  9ths)  that  tonal  music  had  either  avoided  or  treated  with  
extreme  care.  Composers  of  the  Second  Viennese  School  –  chief  among  them  Arnold  Schoenberg  
and  his  students  Alban  Berg  and  Anton  Webern  –  were  at  the  forefront  of  atonal  composition  in  
the  beginning  decades  of  the  20th  century.  (016)  was  so  popular  among  composers  of  the  

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Second  Viennese  School  that  it  became  known  as  the  Viennese  trichord.  Schoenberg  and  
Webern  also  gravitated  toward  the  use  of  (014).  
 
The  trichords  whose  prime  forms  begin  with  02,  a  whole-­‐step,  can  easily  be  found  in  tonal  
music.  (024),  (025),  (026),  and  (027)  appear  as  segments  of  the  major  scale  and  all  three  minor  
scales.  (036)  is  identical  to  the  diminished  triad,  and  (037)  is  identical  to  the  minor  triad.  The  
inversion  of  (037)  –  (047)  in  prime  form  –  is  identical  to  the  major  triad.  (048)  is  identical  to  the  
augmented  triad.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Put  the  set  containing  the  pitch  classes  C,  A,  and  D  into  normal  order.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  2  
• Invert  the  set  determined  in  Exercise  1,  and  put  that  new  set  into  normal  order.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  3  
• Determine  the  prime  form  for  the  set  in  Exercise  1.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  4  
• Put  the  set  containing  the  pitch  classes  E,  F,  G#,  and  D  into  normal  order.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  5  
• Take  the  set  determined  in  Exercise  4,  and  transpose  it  upwards  by  four  half-­‐steps.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  6  
• Determine  the  prime  form  for  the  set  in  Exercise  4.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  7  
• Transpose  (016)  to  each  degree  of  the  chromatic  scale.  
• Write   each   transposition   of   (016)   as   a   whole-­‐note   chord   on   the   staves   below.   (Write  
one  chord  per  measure.)  
• As  examples,  two  instances  of  (016)  have  already  been  written.  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 7: Set Theory in Context; Twelve-Tone
Principles
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In  this  unit,  you  will  learn  how  to  analyze  music  with  set  theory  
techniques.   You   will   also   study   the   basic   principles   of   twelve-­‐
tone  technique.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand  the  process  of  segmentation  
• Correctly  construct  a  twelve-­‐tone  row  
• Understand   the   function   of   retrograde,   inversion,  
and  retrograde  inversion  in  twelve-­‐tone  technique  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Set  theory  in  context...........................…………............78  
Lecture  2:  Twelve-­‐tone  principles…..…….....................................82  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......84  
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Set  Theory  in  Context
 
 
Set  theory  as  a  tool  for  analysis  
Analysis  through  set  theory  can  provide  a  helpful  window  into  a  composer’s  thinking  process  –  
especially   if   the   piece   in   question   is   atonal.   Harmonically,   atonal   music   often   discards   familiar  
sonorities   (including   tertian,   quartal,   and   quintal   sonorities)  in   favor   of   unusual   sonorities   that  
defy  traditional  labels.  Melodically,  atonal  music  avoids  scales  (except  for  the  chromatic  scale)  
altogether.   The   process   of   segmentation   first   identifies   sets   (both   melodic   and   harmonic)   that  
occur  throughout  a  piece  –  and  then  the  other  tools  of  set  theory  (including  normal  order  and  
prime  form)  determine  if  and  how  these  sets  are  related  to  each  other.  
 
Segmentation  in  context  
A  freely  atonal  passage,  in  the  style  of  the  early  Second  Viennese  School,  appears  in  Example  7.1  
below.  
 
Ex.  7.1  

 
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The  passage  in  Ex.  7.1  –  without  a  tonal  center,  standard  chord  progressions,  or  any  evidence  of  
a   recognizable   scale   –   discards   the   conventions   of   the   common   practice   period   completely.  
There   is,   however,   a   clear   method   to   the   organization   of   the   pitch   material   in   the   passage.  
Analysis  through  set  theory  will  reveal  that  method.  
 
Segmentation,   when   identifying   important   melodic   sets,   takes   motives   and   phrasing   into  
account.  In  Example  7.2  (below),  numbered  brackets  have  been  added  to  the  passage  from  Ex.  
7.1  to  indicate  the  presence  of  important  melodic  sets.  These  sets  are  closely  aligned  with  the  
phrasing   (often   indicated   by   slurs)   of   the   melodic   material.   In   mm.   1-­‐2,   the   first   melodic   phrase,  
for   example,   features   two   motives   (indicated   in   Ex.   7.2   by   brackets   #1   and   #2),   which   happen   to  
be  enclosed  by  slurs.    
 
Ex.  7.2  

 
 
 

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Segmentation  meets  set  theory  
After   employing   the   process   of   segmentation   to   identify   important   sets   in   a   piece,   set   theory  
analyzes  those  sets.  The  table  in  Example  7.3  (below)  shows  the  normal  order  of  all  bracketed  
melodic  cells  of  Ex.  7.2.  Notice  that  Sets  1  and  4  are  identical.  
 
Ex.  7.3  
Melodic  set   Pitch  classes   Integer  notation   Normal  order  

1   F#,  A,  C,  Db   6,  9,  0,  1   [6,9,0,1]  


2   E,  Ab,  G   4,  8,  7   [4,7,8]  
3   F,  Ab,  A   5,  8,  9   [5,8,9]  
4   F#,  A,  Db,  C   6,  9,  1,  0   [6,9,0,1]  
5   Ab,  B,  G   8,  11,  7   [7,8,11]  
6   G#,  B,  D,  Eb   8,  11,  2,  3   [8,11,2,3]  
7   G,  Bb,  D#,  E   7,  10,  3,  4   [3,4,7,10]  
8   F#,  A,  Eb,  D   6,  9,  3,  2   [2,3,6,9]  
9   E,  G,  Bb,  B   4,  7,  10,  11   [4,7,10,11]  
10   D,  Db,  F   2,  1,  5   [1,2,5]  
 
The   sets   in   Ex.   7.2   either   have   three   notes   or   four   notes.   The   table   in   Example   7.4   (below)  
compares  the  three-­‐note  sets  from  Ex.  7.2.  The  third  column  of  the  table  in  Ex.  7.4  shows  the  
normal   order   of   each   set   –   but   now   transposed   so   that   its   first   number   is   0.   Transposing   the  
normal  order  of  each  set  to  0  reveals  that  two  pairs  of  sets  –  Sets  2  and  3  and  Sets  5  and  10  –  
have   transpositional   equivalence   and   thus   belong   to   the   same   set   type.   The   fourth   column   of  
Example  7.4  shows  that  the  prime  form  for  each  set  is  (014).    
 
Ex.  7.4  
Melodic  set   Normal  order   Normal  order  transposed  to  0   Prime  form  
2   [4,7,8]   [0,3,4]   (014)  
3   [5,8,9]   [0,3,4]   (014)  
5   [7,8,11]   [0,1,4]   (014)  
10   [1,2,5]   [0,1,4]   (014)  
 
The  table  in  Example  7.5  (below)  compares  the  four-­‐note  sets  from  Ex.  7.2.  The  third  column  of  
the   table   in   Ex.   7.5   shows   the   normal   order   of   each   set   –   but   now   transposed   so   that   its   first  
number  is  0.  Transposing  the  normal  order  of  each  set  to  0  reveals  that  two  groups  of  sets  –  Sets  
1/4,  6,  and  9  and  Sets  7  and  8  –  have  transpositional  equivalence  and  thus  belong  to  the  same  
set  type.  The  fourth  column  of  Example  7.5  shows  that  the  prime  form  for  each  set  is  (0147).    
 
Ex.  7.5  
Melodic  set   Normal  order   Normal  order  transposed  to  0   Prime  form  
1/4   [6,9,0,1]   [0,3,6,7]   (0147)  
6   [8,11,2,3]   [0,3,6,7]   (0147)  
7   [3,4,7,10]   [0,1,4,7]   (0147)  
8   [2,3,6,9]   [0,1,4,7]   (0147)  
9   [4,7,10,11]   [0,3,6,7]   (0147)  

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Set  theory  has  revealed  that  the  passage  in  Ex.  7.1  and  Ex.  7.2  uses  only  two  set  types  –  (014)  
and   (0147)   –   in   its   melodic   material.   (014)   and   (0147),   furthermore,   have   a   close   relationship:  
(014)  is  a  segment,  or  subset,  within  (0147).    So,  this  freely  atonal  passage,  though  not  bound  by  
common  practice  rules,  is  very  limited  in  its  use  of  melodic  material.  
 
The   harmonic   material   of   the   passage   in   Ex.   7.1   and   Ex.   7.2   will   be   analyzed   in   Exercise   1   of   this  
unit’s  homework  exercises.  
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lecture  2:  Twelve-­‐Tone  Principles  
 
  ha rmonization    int      
A  system  for  atonal  music            
In  the  opening  decades  of  the  20th  century,  the  composers  of  the  Second  Viennese  School  had  
composed  their  atonal  music  freely,  without  adhering  to  any  specific  set  of  rules  or  any  sort  of  
system.  In  the  early  1920s,  Arnold  Schoenberg  developed  the  twelve-­‐tone  technique  (often  
called  serialism),  which  gave  a  structure  and  strict  rules  to  atonal  composition.  
 
Equal  importance  and  the  row  
Essential  to  Schoenberg’s  system  is  the  idea  that  all  12  pitch  classes  are  equally  important.  The  
rules  of  the  system  were  designed  to  protect  that  pitch  class  equality  and  to  prevent  any  sort  of  
pitch  centricity.  Serialism,  like  set  theory,  involves  pitch  classes  and  does  not  distinguish  pitches  
by  register  or  enharmonic  spelling.  
 
The  first  step  in  creating  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece  is  to  arrange  the  12  pitch  classes  of  the  chromatic  
scale  in  a  particular  order,  called  a  row.  All  12  pitch  classes  must  be  used  –  and  no  pitch  class  
may  be  repeated.  This  first,  original  row  becomes  the  piece’s  prime  0  row  –  labeled  P0.  Below,  in  
Example  7.6,  is  the  P0  row  for  the  sample  twelve-­‐tone  piece  of  this  lesson  guide:  
 
Ex.  7.6  

 
 
Numbering  the  notes  in  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece  
The  numbering  system  in  twelve-­‐tone  technique  is  different  from  the  integer  notation  of  set  
theory.  In  twelve-­‐tone  technique,  the  first  note  in  the  P0  row  is  assigned  the  number  0.  The  
remaining  numbers  (1-­‐11)  are  assigned,  in  ascending  order,  to  the  notes  of  the  row,  in  
ascending  chromatic  order.  In  the  P0  row  of  Ex.  7.6,  for  example,  G  –  the  first  note  in  the  P0  row  
–  would  be  assigned  the  number  0.  G#/Ab  would  then  become  1,  A  would  become  2,  A#/Bb  
would  become  3,  and  the  numbering  pattern  would  continue  until  all  pitch  classes  were  
assigned  a  number.  The  appropriate  numbers  have  been  added  to  this  P0  row  in  Example  7.7  
below:  
 
Ex.  7.7  

 
 
Manipulations  of  the  row  
Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  P0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  P0  row,  may,  
however,  be  transposed.  Prime  (P)  rows  –  which  are  all  identical  to  or  transpositions  of  the  P0  
row  –  are  numbered  by  their  beginning  pitches.  All  rows  in  the  lectures  of  this  unit  and  Unit  8  
will  use  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  based  on  the  P0  row  in  Ex.  7.7.  Since  this  P0  row  begins  with  G,  

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the  P2  row  in  that  same  piece  would  have  to  begin  with  A.  There  are  three  other  operations  that  
may  be  performed  to  the  row:  retrograde,  inversion,  and  retrograde  inversion.  
 
Retrograde  
The  retrograde  (R)  of  a  row  is  that  row,  backwards.  Thus,  the  retrograde  of  the  P0  row  will  be  
the  P0  row,  backwards.  Since  retrograde  rows  are  numbered  by  their  ending  pitches,  the  
retrograde  of  the  P0  row  from  Ex.  7.7  will  be  labeled  R0  (as  shown  below  in  Example  7.8):  
 
Ex.  7.8  

 
Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  R0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  R0  row,  may,  
however,  be  transposed.  
 
Inversion  
To  invert  (I)  a  row,  reverse  the  direction  of  each  successive  interval.  If  there  is,  for  instance,  a  
rising  perfect  5th  between  the  first  and  second  notes  of  a  prime  row,  there  should  be  a  falling  
perfect  5th  between  the  first  and  second  notes  of  the  inverted  row.  Since  inverted  rows  are  
numbered  by  their  beginning  pitches,  the  inversion  of  the  P0  row  from  Ex.  7.7  will  be  labeled  I0  
(as  shown  below  in  Example  7.9):  
 
Ex.  7.9  

 
 
Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  I0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  I0  row,  may,  
however,  be  transposed.  
 
Retrograde  inversion  
Retrograde  inversion  (RI)  is  the  retrograde  of  an  inverted  row.  Thus,  the  RI0  row  is  the  I0  row,  
backwards.  (Retrograde  inversion  rows,  like  retrograde  rows,  are  numbered  by  their  ending  
pitches.)  The  RI0  row  for  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece  using  the  P0  row  from  Ex.  7.7  is  shown  below  in  
Example  7.10:  
 
Ex.  7.10  

 
 
Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  RI0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  RI0  row,  may,  
however,  be  transposed.  
 
 

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• The  freely  atonal  passage  from  the  first  lecture  of  this  unit  is  shown  below  –  now  with  
numbered  boxes  to  indicate  the  presence  of  important  harmonic  sets.  
• The  table  on  the  following  page  refers  to  the  passage  below.  Fill  in  each  empty  cell  of  
the  table.  
 

 
 
 
 

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Harmonic  set   Pitch  classes   Integer  notation   Normal  order   Prime  form  
1     E A
Bb   4, 9
10,    
2          
3          
4          
5          
6          
7          
8          
9          
10          
11          
12          
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(Exercise  2  is  on  the  following  page.)  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  2  
• Create  a  twelve-­‐tone  row,  and  write  that  row  on  the  staff  below  labeled  P0.  
 
P0  

 
 
 
• Create   the   R0   row   derived   from   the   P0   row   above,   and   write   that   row   on   the   staff  
below.  
 
R0  

 
 
 
• Create  the  I0  row  derived  from  the  P0  row  above,  and  write  that  row  on  the  staff  below.  
 
I0  

 
 
 
• Create   the   RI0   row   derived   from   the   I0   row   above,   and   write   that   row   on   the   staff  
below.  
 
RI0  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
Unit 8: Twelve-Tone Techniques and Application
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you  will   learn   how   to   create   the  matrix   for  a   twelve-­‐
tone   piece.   You   will   also   explore   how   to   use   the   matrix   to  
compose  a  piece.  
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Correctly  construct  a  twelve-­‐tone  matrix  
• Create   a   twelve-­‐tone   piece   conforming   to   strict  
twelve-­‐tone  technique  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  The  matrix...........................................…………............88  
Lecture  2:  Composing  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece…..……......................92  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….......97  
 
 

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Lecture  1:  The  Matrix
 
 
48  possible  rows  
In  every  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  there  are  exactly  48  twelve-­‐tone  rows  that  may  be  used.  Those  48  
rows   include   12   prime   rows   (the   P0   row   and   all   of   its   transpositions),   12   retrograde   rows   (the   R0  
row  and  all  of  its  transpositions),  12  inverted  rows  (the  I0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions),  and  
12   retrograde   inversion   rows   (the   RI0   row   and   all   of   its   transpositions).   It   is   useful,   when   a  
composing  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  to  construct  a  matrix  that  contains  all  of  these  possible  rows.  
 
The  matrix  
A  twelve-­‐tone  matrix  is  a  12-­‐by-­‐12  grid  that  contains  all  of  the  possible  48  rows  derived  from  a  
given  P0  row.  The  P0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix   –  read  left  
to  right.  The  I0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix  –  read  top  to  
bottom.  The  R0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix   –  read  right  to  
left.  The  RI0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix   –  read  bottom  
to  top.  To  begin  constructing  a  matrix,  place  the  pitch  classes  of  the  P0  row  (in  order  from  left  to  
right)  in  the  first  row  of  the  matrix.  The  matrix  in  this  unit  will  be  derived  from  the  P0  row  in  Unit  
7,  which  appears  in  the  first  row  of  a  12-­‐by-­‐12  matrix  in  Example  8.1  below.  
 
Ex.  8.1  
P0   G   A   C   Gb   F   D   Bb   E   Eb   Cb   Ab   Db  
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
                         
 
The   next   step   in   creating   the   matrix,   after   entering   the   P0   row,   is   placing   the   pitch   classes   of   the  
I0  row  (in  order  from  top  to  bottom)  in  the  first  column  of  the  matrix.  The  P0  and  I0  rows  (from  
Unit  7)  appear  in  their  proper  positions  in  the  matrix  in  Example  8.2,  on  the  following  page.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  8.2  
  I0                          
P0     G   A   C   Gb   F   D   Bb   E   Eb   Cb   Ab   Db  
  F                        
  D                        
  G#                        
  A                        
  C                        
  E                        
  Bb                        
  Cb                        
  Eb                        
  Gb                        
  Db                        
 
Below  the  P0  row,  each  of  the  other  rows  (reading  from  left  to  right)  will  be  a  transposition  of  
the  P0  row.  Once  both  the  P0  and  I0  rows  have  been  entered,  label  each  of  the  matrix’s  rows  with  
the   letter   P   and   the   number   corresponding   to   that   row’s   first   note.   Place   each   of   those   labels   to  
the  left  of  the  appropriate  row.  
 
Next   to   the   I0   row,   each   of   the   other   columns   (reading   from   top   to   bottom),   will   be   a  
transposition   of   the   I0   row.   Label   each   of   the   columns   with   the   letter   I   and   the   number  
corresponding  to  that  row’s  first  note.  Place  each  of  those  labels  above  the  appropriate  column.  
Proper  prime  row  and  inverted  row  labels  have  been  added  to  the  matrix  in  Example  8.3  below.  
 
Ex.  8.3  
  I0     I2   I5   I11   I10   I7   I3   I9   I8   I4   I1   I6  
P0     G   A   C   Gb   F   D   Bb   E   Eb   Cb   Ab   Db  
P10   F                        
P7   D                        
P1   G#                        
P2   A                        
P5   C                        
P9   E                        
P3   Bb                        
P4   Cb                        
P8   Eb                        
P11   Gb                        
P6   Db                        
 
Transposing  a  twelve-­‐tone  row  
All  of  the  pitch  classes  in  the  P1  row  will  be  one  half-­‐step  higher  than  the  corresponding  pitch  
classes   in   the   P0   row.   To   find   the   pitch   classes   in   the   P1   row,   simply   raise   the   pitch   classes   of   the  
P0  row  by  one  half-­‐step.  All  of  the  pitch  classes  in  the  P2  row  will  be  one  half-­‐step  higher  than  
the  corresponding  pitch  classes  in  the  P1  row.  To  find  the  pitches  in  the  P2  row,  simply  raise  the  
pitch  classes  of  the  P1  row  by  one  half-­‐step.  The  P1  and  P2  rows  have  been  added  to  the  matrix  in  
Example  8.4  (on  the  following  page).  

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Ex.  8.4  
  I0     I2   I5   I11   I10   I7   I3   I9   I8   I4   I1   I6  
P0     G   A   C   Gb   F   D   Bb   E   Eb   Cb   Ab   Db  
P10   F                        
P7   D                        
P1   G#   Bb   Db   G   Gb   Eb   Cb   F   E   C   A   D  
P2   A   Cb   D   Ab   G   E   C   Gb   F   Db   Bb   Eb  
P5   C                        
P9   E                        
P3   Bb                        
P4   Cb                        
P8   Eb                        
P11   Gb                        
P6   Db                        
 
Completing  the  matrix  
Using   the   same   method   that   added   the   P1   and   P2   rows   to   the   matrix   in   Ex.   8.4,   fill   in   the  
remaining   prime   rows.   (Alternatively,   one   could   enter   all   of   the   transpositions   of   the   I0   row.)  
After  all  of  the  cells  in  the  matrix  have  been  filled,  there  remains  one  step:  the  labeling  of  the  
retrograde  and  retrograde  inversion  rows.    
 
Labeling  the  retrograde  and  retrograde  inversion  rows  in  the  matrix  
Remember  that  the  R0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix  –  read  
right  to  left.    To  the  right  of  each  row,  label  each  of  the  retrograde  rows  with  the  letter  R  and  
the  number  corresponding  to  that  row’s  last  note  (the  matrix  row’s  first  note).  
 
Remember  that  the  RI0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix  –  
read  bottom  to  top.  Below  each  column,  label  each  retrograde  inversion  row  with  the  letters  RI  
and  the  number  corresponding  to  that  row’s  last  note  (the  column’s  top  note).    
 
The  full  matrix  derived  from  the  P0  row  of  Unit  7  (and  this  unit)  appears  on  the  following  page  in  
Example  8.5.  
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  8.5  
I0 I2 I5 I11 I10 I7 I3 I9 I8 I4 I1 I6

P0 G A C Gb F D Bb E Eb Cb Ab Db R0

P10 F G Bb E Eb C Ab D Db A Gb Cb R10

P7 D E G Db C A F Cb Bb Gb Eb Ab R7

P1 Ab Bb Db G Gb Eb Cb F E C A D R1

P2 A Cb D Ab G E C Gb F Db Bb Eb R2

P5 C D F Cb Bb G Eb A Ab E Db Gb R5

P9 E Gb A Eb D Cb G Db C Ab F Bb R9

P3 Bb C Eb A Ab F Db G Gb D Cb E R3

P4 Cb Db E Bb A Gb D Ab G Eb C F R4

P8 Eb F Ab D Db Bb Gb C Cb G E A R8

P11 Gb Ab Cb F E Db A Eb D Bb G C R11

P6 Db Eb Gb C Cb Ab E Bb A F D G R6

RI0 RI2 RI5 RI11 RI10 RI7 RI3 RI9 RI8 RI4 RI1 RI6
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lecture  2:  Composing  a  Twelve-­‐Tone  Piece  


 
  ha rmonization    int      
Strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique  
Arnold  Schoenberg  designed  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  to  ensure  strict  pitch  class  equality,  the  
idea  that  no  pitch  class  is  more  important  than  any  other  pitch  class.  In  a  system  of  pitch  class  
equality,  the  concepts  of  consonance  and  dissonance  have  no  meaning.  (In  1926,  Schoenberg  
even  wrote  an  essay  entitled,  “Emancipation  of  the  Dissonance.”)  Undergirding  pitch  class  
equality  in  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  is  a  network  of  strict  rules.  
 
Limitations  and  prohibitions  
Some  of  the  most  important  rules  in  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique  place  limitations  or  
prohibitions  on  composers:  
1) Only  the  48  rows  derived  from  the  P0  row  may  be  used.  No  other  material  may  be  
added.  
2) Each  row  appearing  in  a  piece  must  be  used  completely,  without  interpolations  of  other  
content  (including  other  rows).  
3) The  order  of  each  row  must  be  followed  at  all  times.    If,  for  example,  the  first  five  pitch  
classes  of  a  row  have  been  used,  the  sixth  pitch  class  of  the  row  must  be  employed  next.    
4) A  pitch  class  in  a  row  may  be  repeated  –  but  only  if  the  next  pitch  class  in  that  row  has  
not  yet  appeared.  The  second  pitch  class  in  a  row,  for  example,  may  be  repeated  –  but  
only  before  the  third  pitch  class  in  that  row  is  introduced.  
 
Flexibility  
Even  with  all  of  its  limitations,  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique  does  provide  composers  with  some  
flexibility:  
1) Within  a  piece,  any  row  may  be  used  melodically  or  harmonically  (or  both).  
2) When  a  row  is  used  harmonically,  any  simultaneous  notes  can  be  re-­‐ordered.  If,  for  
example,  a  sonority  employs  the  first  three  notes  of  a  row,  the  following  voicings  of  that  
sonority  (shown  from  top  to  bottom  in  Example  8.6  below)  are  all  possible  and  allowed:  
 
Ex.  8.6  
1st  note   1st  note   2nd  note   2nd  note   3rd  note   3rd  note  
2nd  note     3rd  note   1st  note     3rd  note   1st  note   2nd  note  
rd nd rd st nd
3  note   2  note   3  note     1  note     2  note   1st  note  
 
3) As  long  as  they  follow  the  row’s  order,  composers  can  place  any  note  of  that  row  in  any  
register.  
4) A  composer  may  double  any  note  of  the  row  by  simultaneously  assigning  it  (in  any  
register)  to  multiple  instruments  or  by  simultaneously  placing  the  note  in  multiple  
registers  of  the  same  instrument.  
5) A  row  –  as  long  as  its  order  is  followed  –  may  be  passed  between  instruments  or  
between  layers  of  a  texture.  In  a  piano  piece,  for  example,  a  row  may  move  from  the  
left  hand  to  the  right.  
6) A  twelve-­‐tone  piece  may  use  one,  some,  or  all  of  the  48  possible  rows  derived  from  its  
P0  row.  
 

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The  twelve-­‐tone  system  in  action  
Four  melodic  lines,  all  using  (or  attempting  to  use)  the  P8  row  from  the  matrix  in  Ex.  8.5,  appear  
in  Example  8.7  below.  (All  twelve-­‐tone  lines  and  passages  in  this  lecture  were  derived  from  the  
matrix  in  Ex.  8.5.)  The  first  three  lines  correctly  employ  the  P8  row  –  but  in  different  ways.  
Though  they  both  employ  the  P8  row  in  its  entirety  and  without  any  repeated  notes,  the  first  
and  second  lines  differ  from  each  other  in  meter,  rhythm,  and  the  registers  of  the  various  pitch  
classes  of  the  row.  The  third  line  employs  the  P8  row  in  its  entirety,  but  it  repeats  several  pitch  
classes  in  the  row.  Notice  that  none  of  these  repetitions  have  altered  the  order  of  the  P8  row.  
 
The  fourth  melodic  line,  in  Ex.  8.7,  breaks  the  rules  of  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  in  the  following  
ways:  
1) The  P8  row  does  not  appear  in  its  entirety.    
2) There  are  pitch  classes  (marked  “X”  in  Ex.  8.7)  whose  repetitions  alter  the  order  of  the  
row.  Eb,  for  example,  is  the  first  pitch  class  of  the  P8  row.  In  m.  1  of  the  fourth  melodic  
line,  it  appears  both  before  and  after  the  second  pitch  class  of  the  row.    
3) Between  notes  of  the  row,  there  is  an  interpolation  of  an  arpeggiated  C  major  triad.  A  
twelve-­‐tone  piece,  conforming  to  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique,  must  contain  no  
material  outside  the  matrix.  
 
Ex.  8.7  

 
 
 
 
 

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Two  lines,  featuring  correct  harmonic  use  of  the  P8  row,  appear  below  in  Example  8.8.  The  two  
lines  differ  from  each  other  in  two  respects:  the  grouping  of  the  notes  and  the  voicing  of  one  of  
the  chords.  
 
The  first  line  in  Ex.  8.8  groups  the  P8  row  into  four  sonorities:  
1) The  first  sonority  contains  the  first  four  notes  of  the  row.  
2) The  second  sonority  contains  the  5th  and  6th  notes  of  the  row.  
3) The  third  sonority  contains  the  7th,  8th,  and  9th  notes  of  the  row.  
4) The  fourth  sonority  contains  the  10th,  11th  and  12th  notes  of  the  row.  
 
The  second  line  in  Ex.  8.8  also  groups  the  P8  row  into  four  sonorities:  
1) The  first  sonority  contains  the  first  four  notes  of  the  row.  
2) The  second  sonority  contains  the  5th,  6th,  and  7th  notes  of  the  row.  
3) The  third  sonority  contains  the  8th,  9th,  and  10th  notes  of  the  row.  
4) The  fourth  sonority  contains  the  11th  and  12th  notes  of  the  row.  
 
Both  lines  have  preserved  the  order  of  the  P8  row,  but  the  two  lines  have  grouped  the  notes  of  
the  row  differently.  Only  one  grouping  –  the  first  grouping  –  is  common  to  both  lines.  This  
common  grouping,  however,  is  voiced  differently  in  the  two  lines.  Since  the  notes  within  this  
common  grouping  are  simultaneous,  the  differing  voicings  do  not  have  any  effect  on  the  order  
of  the  row.  
 
Ex.  8.8  

 
 
 
 
Textures  and  row  combinations  in  a  twelve-­‐tone  piano  piece  
A  variety  of  textures  and  row  combinations  are  possible  in  a  twelve-­‐tone  piano  piece.  In  
Example  8.9  (on  the  following  page),  the  I8  row  appears  melodically  in  the  right  hand,  while  the  
RI5  row  appears  harmonically  in  the  left  hand.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  8.9  

 
 
 
In  Example  8.10  (below),  the  P3  row  appears  melodically  –  in  both  the  right  and  left  hands  –  in  a  
polyphonic,  imitative  texture.  
 
Ex.  8.10  

 
 
Rows  may  also  be  passed  between  hands  in  a  piano  piece.  In  Example  8.11  (on  the  following  
page),  an  eight-­‐measure  twelve-­‐tone  passage  for  piano  appears.  This  passage  features  four  two-­‐
measure  phrases.  Each  two-­‐measure  phrase  uses  one  row  from  the  matrix  –  and  passes  that  
row  between  the  two  hands.  Notice  that,  when  a  row  passes  between  hands  in  Ex.  8.11,  its  
order  is  never  broken.    
 
Remember  that,  in  twelve-­‐tone  technique,  the  first  note  in  the  P0  row  is  assigned  the  number  0.  
The  remaining  numbers  (1-­‐11)  are  assigned,  in  ascending  order,  to  the  notes  of  the  row,  in  
ascending  chromatic  order.  These  number/note  assignments  remain  in  place  for  the  entire  
matrix  based  on  that  P0  row.  The  numbers  in  Ex.  8.11  represent  the  pitch  classes  as  assigned  to  
the  P0  row  (first  found  in  Ex.  7.6  of  Unit  7)  of  Units  7  and  8  in  this  lesson  guide.  Numbers  within  
parentheses  in  Ex.  8.11  represent  pitch  classes  whose  repetitions  do  not  break  the  rules  of  
twelve-­‐tone  technique.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  8.11  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Using  the  grid  below,  enter  the  matrix  derived  from  the  P0  row  you  created  in  Exercise  2  
of  Unit  7’s  homework  exercises.    
• Label  each  row  properly.  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  2  
• Using  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique,  compose  an  eight-­‐measure  passage  for  the  piano.  
• For  this  passage,  choose  from  the  rows  available  in  the  matrix  you  created  in  Exercise  1  
(on  the  previous  page).  
• You  must  use  at  least  three  different  rows.  
• Every  use  of  the  row  must  be  complete.  
• Label  each  use  of  the  row  with  a  bracket  and  the  appropriate  row  label.  
• Write  the  passage  on  the  staves  below.  
 

 
 

 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
UNIT 9: Minimalism and Aleatory
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   study   minimalism   and   its   identifying  
characteristics.  You  will  also   study  chance  music  (also  known  as  
aleatoric  music)  and  limited  aleatoric  music.    
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand   the   elements   and   techniques   of  
minimalism    
• Understand   the   elements   and   techniques   of  
aleatoric  and  limited  aleatoric  music  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Minimalism...............................................................100  
Lecture  2:  Aleatoric  music.........................................................107  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….....113  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Minimalism  
 
 
Precursors  to  minimalism    
As  a  natural  reaction  to  the  increasing  chromaticism  and  harmonic  complexity  found  in  the  late  
Romantic   period,   music   composed   in   the   20th   century   tended   to   veer   into   two   directions.   The  
first  direction  was  free  atonality  and,  eventually,  serialism.  Serialism  began  with  the  concept  of  
using   and   manipulating   rows   (or   series)   of   pitches   within   the   12-­‐tone   system.   The   idea   of  
serialism,   however,   was   stretched   to   its   ultimate   logical   end   with   integral   serialism   in   the   1950s  
and   1960s.   In   integral   serialism,   other   musical   elements,   including   note   durations,   dynamics,  
and  register,  can  be  arranged  and  manipulated  similarly  to  the  way  that  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  
arranged   and   manipulated   pitch.   Serialism   tended   to   dominate   the   world   of   contemporary  
classical   composition   in   the   1950s   and   1960s,   and   young   composers   were   often   expected   to  
compose  in  this  system  exclusively.    
 
The   second   reaction   to   the   increasing   complexity   of   the   late   Romantic   and   early   20th-­‐century  
music   was   to   simplify   structures   and   harmonic   language.   Erik   Satie,   with   his   simple   harmonic  
language   and   use   of   repetition,   is   considered   a   forerunner   to   the   minimalism   movement.   His  
piece  Gymnopédie  No.  1  used  simple  harmonic  language  and  avoided  the  harmonic  complexity  
extended   chromaticism   of   Wagner.   His   piece   Vexations   features   a   simple   theme   and  
accompaniment   and   embraces   repetition,   possibly   intended   to   be   repeated   840   times.  
Influenced   by   Erik   Satie,   other   composers,   using   simpler   harmonic   language   and   repetition,  
eventually  lead  the  way  to  the  minimalist  movement.  
 
Minimalism    
In  the  1960s,  the  minimalist  movement  first  began,  on  both  coasts  of  the  United  States,  in  art  
and  architecture  and  then  eventually  spread  to  music.  At  that  time,  many  composers,  wary  of  
the   complexity   of   integral   serialism,   longed   to   move   away   from   atonality   and   found   the  
simplicity  of  minimalism  attractive.    
 
With  many  influences,  including  Indian  philosophy,  African  and  Balinese  music,  and  the  music  of  
Erik   Satie,   minimalism   uses   limited   and   simple   materials   to   generate   music.   It   features   simple  
and  slowly  moving  harmonies,  which  are  often  diatonic,  consonant,  and  static.  Static  harmony  is  
achieved  through  the  use  of  drones  and  repeating  patterns  that  gradually  change  over  time.  The  
rhythms  tend  to  be  simple,  often  involving  a  steady  beat  and  the  use  of  ostinatos.  Minimalism  
also  features  short  phrases  and  simple  motives,  which  often  repeat  and  interact  in  interesting  
ways.   Compositional   techniques   such   as   phasing   and   additive/subtractive   processes   are   also  
popular  among  minimalist  composers.  
 
Terry  Riley’s  In  C  
Terry  Riley,  one  of  the  major  proponents  of  minimalism,  composed  what  is  considered  the  first  
true   minimalist   composition:   In   C   (1964).   As   the   title   would   suggest,   the   entire   piece   is   in   C  
major   (with   hints   of   C   Lydian   and   Mixolydian),   in   striking   contrast   with   the   atonality   of   serialism  
and  integral  serialism.  (In  C  also  involves  aleatory,  chance  music,  which  will  be  discussed  in  the  
second  lecture  of  this  unit.)  Riley  wrote  very  specific  instructions,  accompanying  the  score,  that  
shape   the   overall   texture   of   the   piece.   The   ensemble   is   not   specified,   but   a   group   of   35   is  
suggested.  Riley  does  not  specify  which  instruments  should  be  played  and  leaves  this  up  to  the  

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available   ensemble   performing   the   work.   In   C   contains   53   short   motivic   cells,   all   centered  
around   the   pitch   C.   The   shortest   motive   lasts   two   sixteenth   notes   and   the   longest   motive  
(motive   #35)   lasts   32   beats.   The   performers   all   begin   on   the   first   motive   and   eventually   reach  
the   53rd   motive.   The   motives   must   be   played   consecutively,   but   it   is   left   up   to   the   players   to  
determine  how  many  times  they  repeat  each  motive  before  moving  on  to  the  next  one.  Players  
are  allowed  to  occasionally  drop  out,  but  they  must  stay  within  2-­‐3  patterns  of  each  other.  Riley  
suggests  that  an  8th  note  pulse  on  high  Cs  of  a  piano  or  mallet  instrument  can  accompany  the  
motives  in  order  to  create  a  steady  pulse.  In  C  requires  the  ensemble  to  listen  to  each  other,  as  
the   composer   asks   the   performers   to   work   with   each   other   to   create   dynamic   shapes.   The  
motivic   patterns   should   all   be   played   strictly   in   rhythm,   although   Riley   does   not   specify   a   tempo  
in   the   score.     He   also   allows   for   a   few   motivic   transformations,   including   some   augmentation  
and  octave  transpositions.    
 
In   C   ends   when   all   the   players   have   reached   the   last   motive.   Each   player   repeats   this   motive  
until   everyone   has   arrived   there.   Once   this   happens,   the   entire   ensemble   crescendos   and  
diminuendos   a   few   times   before   the   players   drop   out   when   they   want.   Although   the   whole  
score  fits  neatly  onto  one  page,  the  entire  piece  lasts  an  average  duration  of  45-­‐90  minutes.  
 
In  C  is  considered  to  be  the  first  true  minimalist  piece  as  it  contains  many  of  the  critical  elements  
found  in  minimalist  music.  Each  of  the  53  cells  is  centered  around  C  major,  with  a  few  additional  
modal   inflections.   The   addition   of   an   F#   in   motives   14,   18,   20-­‐28,   and   35   creates   a   C   Lydian  
inflection.  The  addition  of  a  Bb  in  motives  35,  49,  and  51-­‐53  creates  a  C  Mixolydian  sound.  The  
tonal   similarity   of   the   53   motives   leads   to   an   overall   static   harmony,   since   there   is   little  
harmonic  progression.    
 
Characteristic  of  minimalist  music,  In  C  utilizes  short  and  simple  repeated  motives.  Since  it  is  left  
up  to  the  performers  to  decide  when  to  move  on  to  the  next  motive,  the  motives  often  interlock  
in  interesting  ways  and  create  complex  polyrhythms.    These  interlocking  polyrhythms,  combined  
with  the  gradual  motivic  changes  over  time,  create  densely  layered  textures.  The  addition  of  the  
steady  high  C  8th  note  pulse  grounds  the  shifting  texture  with  an  element  of  constancy.    
 
Taken  as  a  whole,  In  C  can  have  a  hypnotic  effect  as  the  listener  experiences  the  gradual  shifts  in  
textures.   The   aleatoric   aspects   of   In   C,   including   its   indeterminate   instrumentation   and   form,  
ensure  that  no  two  performances  will  ever  be  the  same.    
 
Steve  Reich  and  phasing  techniques  
Steve   Reich,   another   founder   of   minimalism,   has   used   the   tools   of   minimalism   in   slightly  
different   ways   than   Riley.   Reich   is   particularly   interested   in   creating   complex   textures   out   of  
minimal   materials   through   the   technique   of   phasing.   Phasing   is   a   process   where   two   musical  
lines   begin   in   time   with   each   other   and   then   slowly   get   out   of   sync   with   each   other.   His   early  
pieces  explore  the  possibilities  of  electronic  phasing,  in  which  two  tapes  were  initially  played  at  
the  same  tempo  but  gradually  shift  to  be  out  of  sync.  Reich’s  It’s  Gonna  Rain  (1965)  involves  two  
tapes   playing   the   same   recorded   speech,   but   due   to   the   analog   nature   of   technology   in   the  
1960s,  the  tapes  gradually  shift  out  of  sync  with  each  other.  This  phasing  creates  an  ever-­‐shifting  
texture.    
 
Reich   was   so   enamored   with   the   idea   of   phasing   that   he   transitioned   from   electronic   phasing   to  
live   performances   using   phasing.   His   pieces   Piano   Phase   (1967)   and   Clapping   Music   (1972)  

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involve   one   line   played   in   unison   by   two   players.   One   player   slowly   starts   shifting   the   pattern  
ahead   of   or   behind   the   other   player   by   a   certain   number   of   beats   and   thus   creates   intricate   and  
different   textures   over   the   course   of   this   process   of   phasing.   As   the   shifting   pattern   is   shifted  
rhythmically  again  and  again,  the  two  patterns  eventually  realign  in  unison.    
 
A  piece  in  the  style  of  Reich’s  phasing  music  appears  in  Example  9.1  on  the  following  page.  In  m.  
1   of   Ex.   9.1,   the   first   pianist   repeats   a   continuous   eighth   note   melody   centering   around   E  
Aeolian.   In   m.   2,   the   second   pianist   joins   the   first   pianist   in   unison.   In   the   third   measure,   the  
second  player  begins  the  pattern  on  the  second  eighth  note  of  the  pattern  (B).  The  numbers  of  
the  original  motive  are  shown  beneath  the  second  player’s  staff  to  show  where  the  pattern  is  
beginning   in   each   measure.   The   brackets   and   eighth   note   beaming   in   the   second   part   also   show  
where   the   pattern   is.   This   eighth   note   shift   causes   the   two   patterns   to   be   out   of   sync   by   an  
eighth   note,   with   the   second   player   an   eighth   note   ahead   of   the   first   player.   In   m.   4,   the   second  
player  starts  the  pattern  another  eighth  note  early,  beginning  on  the  3rd  note  in  the  pattern  (F#).  
This  pattern  is  repeated  until  m.  10,  when  both  players  realign  back  in  sync  and  play  the  line  in  
unison.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  9.1  
 

 
 
 
Philip  Glass  and  additive  processes  
Philip  Glass  does  not  particularly  like  the  term  minimalism,  and  instead  prefers  to  call  it  music  
with  repetitive  structures.  He  was  very  influenced  by  classical  music  and  Indian  music,  including  

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the   music   of   Ravi   Shankar.   Ravi   Shankar   and   Philip   Glass   released   an   album   together,   entitled  
Passages  in  1990,  which  combined  Hindustani  classical  music  and  minimalism.      
 
Glass   employs   the   typical   elements   of   minimalism,   including   static   harmonies   and   simple,  
repetitive   motives.   He   is   also   interested   in   the   idea   of   additive   processes,   whereby   a   pitch   is  
added   to   a   group   of   pitches   one   at   a   time   (1,   1+2,   1+2+3,   1+2+3+4,   and   so   on).     He   also   uses  
complementary   subtractive   processes,   whereby   a   pitch   is   subtracted   from   a   group   of   pitches  
one   at   a   time   (1+2+3+4,   1+2+3.   1+2,   1).   These   additive   and   subtractive   techniques   are   used  
throughout   his   opera   Einstein   on   the   Beach,   which   depicts   the   life   of   physicist   Albert   Einstein.  
The  movement  Knee  Play  1  (1976),  from   Einstein  on  the  Beach,  employs  additive  processes  as  
the  singers  count  numbers  aloud,  meant  to  mimic  Einstein’s  inner  thought  processes.  
 
The   piece   Add   On!   in   Example   9.2   (shown   in   its   entirety   on   the   next   two   pages)   uses   an   additive  
process  of  adding  one  quarter  note  to  each  consecutive  measure.  The  first  measure  of   Add  On!  
contains   one   quarter   note,   the   second   measure   contains   two   quarter   notes,   and   the   process  
continues   until   the   eighth   measure,   which   contains   eight   quarter   notes.   In   m.   9,   the   process  
starts  over  with  half  notes.  The  ninth  measure  has  one  half  note,  the  tenth  measure  has  two  half  
notes,  and  the  process  continues  until  m.  16,  which  contains  eight  half  notes.  Over  the  course  of  
mm.  9-­‐16,  the  entire  melody  is  introduced  two  beats  at  a  time  until  it  is  presented  in  its  entirety  
in  m.  16.  
 
Looking  forward  
The  minimalist  movement  continues  to  thrive  and  evolve  in  the  21st  century.  Philip  Glass  is  still  
an   active   film   composer   and   has   scored   37   films   and   counting,   including   The   Truman   Show  
(1998),   The   Hours   (1999),   and   most   recently   The   Fantastic   Four   (2015).   The   music   of   Glass,  
Reich,   Young,   Riley,   and   the   later   music   of   John   Adams   continues   to   influence   pop   and   rock  
music,  ambient  music  (especially  that  of  Brian  Eno),  and  film  music.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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19
Ex.  9.2  
10. Add on (Additive Processes)
A.  Gordon:  The  Contemporary  Child,  No.  10,  Add  On!   Amy Gordon

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2
accel.

> >
p F p F
> >
? 5 b ˙˙ n ˙˙ # ˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙ 6 b ˙˙ n ˙˙ # ˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙ b ˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙ 7
2 b˙ ˙ 2 b˙ ˙ 2
 
 
  AG © 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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20 Add On

˘ ,8
Ex.  9.2  (cont.)  

& 2 b œ . œj n œ .
7 j ˙ bœ nœ 2
15 accel.

˙
a tempo

nœ bœ. nœ œ œ œ
! f
˙ œ ˘œ
? 72 b b ˙˙˙ n ˙˙˙ # ˙˙˙ b ˙˙
˙ b ˙˙ n ˙˙˙ n œœ # œœ 8
2

& 82 b œ . j
œ n œ . n œj b œ . n œ œ œ œ ˙ ˙ bœ nœ œ œ
16 a tempo molto accel.

fl
! ƒ
˙ œ œ b œœ n ˘œœ
? 8 b ˙˙ n ˙˙˙ # ˙˙˙ b ˙˙
˙ b ˙˙ n ˙˙˙ n œœ # œœ œ œ
2 b˙
 
 
 
   

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Lecture  2:  Aleatoric  Music    
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Definition  of  aleatory  
The  word  aleatory  originates  from  the  Latin  word  for  gamble  and  gambling:  aleatorem.  The  
prefix  alea  involves  some  element  of  chance  or  randomness.  When  applied  to  music,  aleatory  
means  that  there  is  an  element  of  chance  in  the  process  of  music  creation.  Although  aleatoric  
music  is  sometimes  called  chance  music,  this  unit  will  use  the  terms  aleatoric  music  and  
aleatory.  
 
There  are  two  main  kinds  of  aleatoric  music:  compositional  and  performance-­‐based  aleatory.  
When  a  composition  is  written  using  aleatoric  processes,  some  aspect  of  the  compositional  
process  is  left  up  to  chance,  but  the  finished  product  is  a  fixed  composition.  In  a  performance-­‐
based  aleatoric  piece,  some  aspect  of  the  performance  is  left  up  to  the  players  themselves,  so  
that  no  two  pieces  will  sound  exactly  the  same.  Composers  of  aleatoric  music  have,  throughout  
the  history  of  aleatoricism,  incorporated  chance  aspects  into  their  music  to  varying  degrees.  If  a  
piece  has  mostly  composed  elements,  with  portions  left  to  chance,  it  could  described  as  
featuring  limited  aleatory.  The  term  limited  aleatory  indicates  that  the  chance  portions  of  a  
composition  have  been  controlled  in  some  way.  
 
Early  origins  of  aleatory  in  music  
Although  aleatoric  music  is  generally  considered  a  20th-­‐century  movement,  aleatoric  processes  
can  be  found  as  early  as  the  1700s.  In  the  1700s,  a  type  of  game  called  “Musikalisches  
Würfelspiel”  (meaning  “musical  dice  game”  in  German)  became  popular  as  a  way  to  create  
compositions  using  a  pair  of  dice.  These  Musikalisches  Würfelspiel  were  often  marketed  as  
parlor  games  for  non-­‐musicians  and  amateurs  to  compose  music  without  prior  musical  
knowledge.    
 
The  most  famous  example  of  Musikalisches  Würfelspiel  was  published  in  1792,  under  Mozart’s  
name.  (This  game  has  not,  however,  been  authenticated  as  a  composition  by  Mozart.)  There  are  
176  possible  measures  in  total.  The  sum  of  the  dice  roll  (a  possible  range  of  2-­‐12)  corresponds  to  
a  table,  which  connects  the  dice  roll  sum  to  specific  measures  in  the  score.  The  first  dice  roll  
would  determine  the  first  measure  of  the  piece,  the  second  dice  roll  would  determine  the  
second  measure,  and  this  process  would  continue  until  the  composition  was  finished.  Measures  
1-­‐16  of  this  game  are  shown  in  Example  9.3  (on  the  following  page).  If  the  dice  were  rolled  16  
times,  more  than  45  quadrillion  combinations  would  be  possible!    
 
The  measures  in  Ex.  9.3  have  a  clear  relationship  with  the  tonic  (C  major)  and  are  mostly  in  root  
position.  The  main  chords  used  are  the  I  chord  (C),  the  V  chord  (G),  and  V/V  (D).  These  
controlled  parameters  ensure  that  all  of  the  possible  45  quadrillion  combinations,  though  
generated  randomly,  are  still  tonal  and  relatively  musical.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  9.3  

 
 
 
Early  20th-­‐century  composers  such  as  Charles  Ives  and  Henry  Cowell  incorporated  aleatory  into  
their  compositions.  It  was  not,  however,  until  the  1950s  that  aleatoric  music  became  a  
movement,  including  composers  such  as  Pierre  Boulez,  Karlheinz  Stockhausen,  and  Witold  
Lutosławski.    
 
Pierre  Boulez  and  limited  aleatory  
Pierre  Boulez  (1925-­‐2015)  was  a  French  composer  and  conductor  and  is  generally  regarded  to  
have  first  coined  the  term  aleatory,  as  applied  to  music.  His  earlier  works  in  the  1940s  
experimented  with  open  forms,  sometimes  called  mobile  forms,  in  which  the  order  of  
movements  within  a  piece  was  not  decided  until  the  night  of  the  performance.  He  also  
experimented  with  serialism  and  integral  serialism  in  his  piece  Structures,  Book  1  for  Two  Pianos  
(1952).  
 

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In  the  1950s,  Boulez  began  to  experiment  with  limited  aleatoric,  or  controlled  chance,  music.  In  
his  Piano  Sonata,  No.  3  (1955-­‐1957,  rev.  until  1963),  Boulez  left  a  limited  number  of  parameters  
up  to  the  performer.  There  are  5  movements,  which  the  performer  can  play  in  any  order.  Each  
of  the  movements  has  small  cells  that  can  be  rearranged  as  desired  but  only  within  the  specific  
parameters  set  by  Boulez.  By  allowing  the  performer  to  shape  the  order  of  the  composition,  the  
piece  allows  the  performer  to  become  a  part  of  the  creative  process.  This  close  relationship  of  
composer  and  performer  is  part  of  what  makes  aleatoric  and  limited  aleatoric  music  so  
attractive  to  modern  composers.  It  is  a  way  to  leave  musical  elements  up  to  chance  so  that  
many  different  compositional  possibilities  can  be  generated  from  a  single  score.  
 
Limited  aleatory  in  the  literature  
Many  21st  century  composers  incorporate  some  degree  of  chance  into  their  compositions,  with  
varying  degrees  of  specified  and  unspecific  parameters.  The  notation  of  chance  procedures  can  
be  difficult  to  standardize,  so  composers  will  often  invent  their  own  notation  systems  to  show  
the  performer  the  parameters  in  which  they  can  improvise.  Limited  aleatory  is  employed  in  m.  
65  (shown  on  the  following  pages  in  Example  9.4)  and  m.  190  of  Daniel  Levin’s  piece,  Runaway  
Dream.  Unconventional  notational  devices,  including  a  lack  of  barlines  and  time  signatures,  can  
be  seen  here.  Above  the  top  flute  staff,  numbers  indicate  how  many  seconds  each  section,  
represented  by  letters  encased  in  diamonds,  should  last.  Exact  timing  in  seconds  is  often  used  in  
aleatoric  music  as  an  alternative  to  rhythmic,  meter-­‐based  notation.  Instead  of  calculating  an  
exact  series  of  tempos,  Levin  has  the  players  begin  at  quarter  note=63  and  accelerate  up  to  
quarter  note=84  by  the  end  of  m.  65.  This  leaves  the  exact  pace  of  the  accelerando  up  to  the  
performers.  The  notes  of  the  sixteenth  sextuplets  are  specified,  but  it  is  up  to  the  performer  to  
fit  them  into  the  time  allotted.  The  dynamics  are  also  controlled,  but  it  is  left  up  the  performers  
to  decide  exactly  how  to  crescendo  from  pp  to  ff  at  the  end  of  m.  65.  Also  note  the  use  of  
graphic  notation,  such  as  the  thick  horizontal  bars  representing  continued  repetition  and  the  
diagonal  lines  in  the  harp  part  (towards  the  end  of  m.  65)  signifying  the  general  pacing  and  
direction  of  the  glissandos.  Measure  65  of  Runaway  Dream  is  a  representative  example  of  
limited  aleatory  in  music.  On  the  whole,  most  of  the  elements,  such  as  dynamics  and  pitch  
material,  are  controlled,  but  the  exact  timing  of  the  notes,  accelerando,  and  crescendo  are  left  
up  to  the  performers.  This  ensures  that  no  two  performances  of  this  piece  will  be  exactly  the  
same.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  9.4  
             D.  Levin:  Runaway  Dream,  Measure  65  

 
   

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Ex.  9.4  (cont.)  

 
 
John  Cage  and  aleatory  
Composer  John  Cage  (1912-­‐1992)  studied  under  composers  Henry  Cowell  and  Arnold  
Schoenberg  and  popularized  modern  compositional  techniques,  such  as  aleatory,  electronic  
music,  and  prepared  piano.  He  met  and  was  influenced  by  other  avant-­‐garde  composers  in  the  
1950s,  including  Boulez,  Olivier  Messiaen,  Morton  Feldman,  and  Christian  Wolff.  He  was  
interested  in  eastern  philosophy  and  its  philosophy  of  life,  such  as  Zen  Buddhism.  In  1951,  
Christian  Wolff  gave  Cage  a  copy  of  the  classic  Chinese  book,  the  I  Ching,  also  known  as  The  
Book  of  Changes.  The  I  Ching  contained  an  ancient  method  of  producing  random  numbers,  
which  Cage  used  for  much  of  his  compositional  career  after  1951.    
 
The  most  famous  aleatoric  piece  by  John  Cage  is  his  controversial  4’33’’  (1952),  in  which  the  
performer  sits  silently  at  his  or  her  instrument  on  stage  for  exactly  four  minutes  and  33  seconds.  
The  actual  performance  of  the  piece  comes  from  the  sounds  made  by  the  audience,  which  will  
never  be  the  same  twice.  This  is  an  example  of  total  aleatory,  since  Cage  has  left  almost  no    

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parameters  for  the  performer  or  audience  to  follow.  As  one  can  imagine,  this  piece  generated  
mixed  reactions.  Some  composers  embraced  the  aleatory  involved  in  the  piece  and  considered  it  
revolutionary.  Other  scholars  and  composers,  including  Boulez,  Stockhausen,  and  Iannis  Xenakis,  
did  not  like  it  and  criticized  Cage’s  use  of  complete  aleatory.    
 
Cage  embraced  aleatory  in  both  his  compositional  process  and  the  actual  performances  of  his  
music.  In  his  compositional  process,  he  generated  his  pitches  using  the  procedures  (found  in  the  
I  Ching)  that  generated  random  numbers,  which  he  would  then  convert  to  different  musical  
elements.  In  pieces  like  4’33’’,  Cage  left  almost  all  of  the  musical  parameters  up  to  the  
performers  and  even  to  the  audience.    
 
In  the  late  1950s  and  1960s,  Cage  started  a  new  style  of  composition  called  “happenings.”  
“Happenings”  were  theatrical  productions  that  did  not  have  the  normal,  strict  audience-­‐
performer  boundaries  and  had  no  set  duration.  Cage  would  provide  a  general  script,  but  most  of  
the  content  of  these  “happenings”  was  left  up  to  the  artists,  performers,  and  audience  involved  
in  the  production.  The  importance  of  “happenings”  was  what  occurred  in  the  present,  entirely  
left  up  to  chance.  Cage  continues  to  influence  modern  and  avant-­‐garde  composers  who  use  
aleatory  and  chance  procedures  in  their  own  music.    
 
   

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Using  Ex.  9.1  as  an  example,  finish  composing  the  second  part  of  the  following  piece  for  
two  pianos  by  using  the  phasing  technique  discussed  in  the  first  lecture  of  this  unit.    
• Start   the   second   piano’s   pattern   an   eighth   note   earlier   every   measure   until   the   two  
pianos’   patterns   realign   at   m.   10.   Break   the   beam   where   the   pattern   starts   over   and  
show   the   position   of   the   motive   by   placing   numbers   below   the   notes.   Measures   1-­‐3  
have  been  done  for  you.  
 

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Exercise  2  
• Using  Ex.  9.2  as  an  example,  finish  the  following  melody  by  using  additive  processes.  
• In   each   new   measure,   include   the   notes   of   the   previous   measure   and   add   one   new  
eighth  note  with  a  pitch  of  your  choice.    
• Repeat  this  process  until  the  melody  reaches  eight  notes  in  length  at  m.  8.    
 

 
 
 
Exercise  3  
• Finish  the  following  melody  by  using  subtractive  processes.  
• In   each   new   measure,   include   the   notes   of   the   previous   measure   except   for   the   last  
quarter  note  beat,  which  will  be  subtracted  from  each  new  measure.    
• Repeat  this  process  until  the  melody  is  1  beat  long  at  m.  8.    
 

 
 
 
 

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Bachelor of
Music Program
HARMONY & THEORY 801
UNIT 10: Other 20th Century Techniques; Review
for Final
Curriculum CORE CC-801 2 Credits
 
 

Description                                                                                                                                                                                                
In   this   unit,   you   will   gain   an   overview   of   some   of   the   other  
important   musical   movements   and   techniques   in   the   20th  
century.  You  will  also  review  for  the  final  exam.    
 
Upon  completion  of  this  unit,  you  should  be  able  to:                                                
• Understand  the  principles  of  expressionism  
• Understand   the   techniques   of   Klangfarbenmelodie,  
sound  mass,  and  micropolyphony  
• Understand   how   20th   century   composers   explored  
varieties  of  sound  and  timbre  
• Prepare  for  the  final  exam  
 
 
Table  of  Contents                                                                                                                                                                            
Lecture  1:  Other  20th  century  techniques……………...................116  
Lecture  2:  Review  for  final  exam...............................................120  
Homework.………………………………….…..……………….…………..….....134  
 
 
 

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Lecture  1:  Other  20 t h  Century  Techniques  
 
 
The  diversity  of  20th  century  music  
20th   century   composers   explored   and   experimented   with   a   wide   variety   of   techniques   and  
followed  a  diverse  array  of  artistic  movements.  After  the  common  practice  consensus  collapsed  
around  the  turn  of  the  20th  century,  no  new  consensus  emerged  to  replace  it.  It  can  be  difficult  
to   categorize   the   work   of   some   composers   who,   like   Igor   Stravinsky,   wrote   music   with  
techniques   and   principles   belonging   to   multiple   artistic   movements.   Music   theorists   and  
musicologists  have  thus  been  unable  to  give  the  music  of  the  20th  century  a  label  akin  to  those  
of   the   Baroque,   Classical,   and   Romantic   periods.   Although   this   curriculum   cannot   cover   every  
development  in  20th  century  music  in  detail,  this  unit  will  give  an  overview  of  some  of  the  most  
important  techniques  and  movements  that  were  not  covered  in  previous  units.  
 
Expressionism    
Expressionism  was  an  artistic  movement  that  developed  in  Germany  at  the  beginning  of  the  20th  
century.    The  movement  rejected  realism  in  favor  of  expressing  inner,  subjective  emotions.  With  
an   interest   in   both   psychology   and   the   underside   of   life,   expressionist   artists   and   composers  
tended   to   focus   on   extreme   emotions   –   particularly   those   with   a   dark   or   disturbed   element.  
Schoenberg,   and   other   composers   of   the   Second   Viennese   School,   applied   the   ideals   of  
expressionism  to  music.  
 
Expressionist   music   features   the   use   of   atonality,   disjunct   melodies,   fragmentary   ideas,  
unconventional   forms,   dynamic   contrasts   and   extremes,   registral   extremes,   rapid   textural  
changes,   unconventional   colors   in   orchestration,   often   irregular   phrase   structure,   and   often  
complex   rhythm.   Also,   expressionist   composers   often   worked   to   erase   –   or   at   least   obscure   –  
the  boundaries  that  delineate  melody  and  harmony.    
 
One   of   the   innovations   of   expressionist   music   is   the   orchestrational   technique   known   as  
Klangfarbenmelodie.   In   Klangfarbenmelodie,   which   means   “tone   color   melody,”   a   musical   line   is  
passed   between   instruments   –   sometimes   at   a   rate   of   one   note   per   instrument.   The   result   of  
this   technique   is   a   line   with   continual   changes   in   color   and   timbre.   In   the   first   measure   of  
Example  10.1  (on  the  following  page),  four  woodwind  instruments  together  play  a  C  major  7th  
chord  in  root  position.  In  m.  2  of  Ex.  10.1,  they  play  the  same  chord,  but  each  instrument  plays  a  
note  different  from  the  one  they  played  in  the  first  measure.  The  chord  will  thus  be  repeated  –  
but   with   different   colors.   In   that   way,   the   two   measures   of   Ex.   10.1   have   employed  
Klangfarbenmelodie.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ex.  10.1  

 
 
Quotation  
For  many  centuries,  composers  have,  from  time  to  time,  included  passages  or  elements  of  pre-­‐
existing   music   in   their   pieces.   During   the   Renaissance,   parody   masses   (also   called   imitation  
masses)   appropriated   and   added   lines   to   an   entire,   pre-­‐existing   polyphonic   work.   Many  
composers,   including   Hector   Berlioz   and   Sergei   Rachmaninoff,   have   borrowed   the   “Dies   Irae”  
Gregorian  chant  for  use  in  their  pieces.  
 
The   20th   century   saw   widespread   experimentation   with   varying   levels   of   musical   quotation   in  
classical   and   film   music.   Composers   would   quote   melodies   exactly,   or   they   would   alter   or  
transform  them  to  varying  levels  of  recognizability.  Alban  Berg,  in  his  Violin  Concerto,  quoted  a  
Bach   chorale.   The   melody   of   that   chorale   first   appears   with   Berg’s   own   atonal   harmonization.  
Bach’s   harmonization   of   the   chorale   follows   directly   after   Berg’s   harmonization.   Some  
composers  tried,  with  their  quotations,  to  communicate  extramusical  ideas.  In  his  score  for  the  
film  Casablanca,  Max  Steiner  often  employed  “La  Marseillaise,”  the  French  national  anthem,  to  
communicate  extramusical  ideas  about  France,  World  War  II,  and  patriotism.  
 
Some   composers,   including   Charles   Ives   and   Luciano   Berio,   have   experimented   with   the  
technique   of   sound   collage,   in   which   multiple   pieces   of   music   (often   pre-­‐existing)   are   played  
simultaneously   or   in   quick   succession.   In   the   third   movement   of   his   Sinfonia,   Berio   layers   his  
own   music   and   other   quotations   on   top   of   the   third   movement   of   Gustav   Mahler’s   second  
symphony.  
 
Explorations  of  texture  
20th  century  music  featured  innovations  in  musical  texture.  Some  composers,  including  Edgard  
Varèse  and  Krzysztof  Penderecki,  treated  some  sonorities  –  often  large  groups  of  tone  clusters  –  
as   sound   masses.     A   sound   mass,   a   complex   collection   of   various   pitches   (often   in   clusters)  

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and/or  other  sounds,  moves  as  one  unit.  The  pitches  and/or  sounds  within  a  sound  mass  are  not  
meant  to  be  noticed  individually.    
 
In  the  late  1950s,  composer  György  Ligeti  introduced  the  textural  innovation  of  micropolyphony.  
Micropolyphony  involves  the  use  of  many  canons,  interacting  with  each  other  in  close  proximity  
of  pitch  and  time.  The  result  of  micropolyphony  is  a  cluster  of  moving  sound.  A  short  passage  
employing   micropolyphony   appears   below   in   Example   10.2.   The   initial   melody   of   the   canon   is  
performed  by  the  first  soprano.  Each  voice  that  follows  the  first  soprano  imitates  that  melody  by  
performing   it   at   a   close   level   of   transposition   and   after   a   close   rhythmic   interval.   The   second  
soprano,   for   example,   follows   the   first   soprano   by   performing   the   initial   melody   transposed  
down  one  half-­‐step  –  after  the  very  close  rhythmic  interval  of  a  16th  rest.  Each  successive  voice  
transposes  the  melody  down  another  half-­‐step  –  and  follows  the  last  voice  at  the  interval  of  a  
16th  rest.    
 
Ex.  10.2  

       
 
Explorations  of  sound  
20th   century   composers   often   seemed   to   be   on   an   endless   quest   for   new   sounds   and   colors.  
They   found   these   new   sounds   in   both   conventional   and   unconventional   sources.   From   the  
standard  instruments  –  the  conventional  sound  sources  –  they  drew  new  colors  through  the  use  
of   extended   techniques,   or   unconventional   playing   methods.   Some   extended   techniques,  
including  unorthodox  bow  placement  for  string  instruments,  had  been  explored  by  composers  
before   the   20th   century.   Other   extended   techniques   were   20th   century   innovations.   John   Cage  
explored  the  use  of  prepared  piano,  in  which  the  piano’s  sound  is  changed  by  the  placement  of  
various   objects   on   or   near   its   strings.   Henry   Cowell   pioneered   the   use   of   what   he   called   the  
string   piano,   in   which   a   performer   produces   various   sounds   by   directly   controlling   the   strings   of  
the   piano.   Some   composers,   including   Penderecki   in   his   seminal   Threnody   to   the   Victims   of  
Hiroshima,  experimented  with  microtones,  pitches  in  between  the  half-­‐steps  of  Western  tuning.  
 
Many  20th  century  composers  looked  to  unconventional  sources  for  new  colors  and  sounds.  By  
the   1930s,   early   electronic   instruments,   including   the   theremin   and   ondes   Martenot,   were  

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employed   both   by   classical   and   film   composers.   Many   composers   explored   the   use   of   electronic  
instruments,   which   continued   to   increase   in   availability,   variety,   and   sophistication   over   the  
course  of  the  20th  century.  After  World  War  II,  Pierre  Schaeffer,  and  other  composers  of  musique  
concrète,   recorded   outside   sounds   –   including   those   of   trains   –   and   manipulated   those  
recordings   into   pieces   of   music.   Other   composers   in   the   postwar   period,   including   Karlheinz  
Stockhausen,  experimented  both  with  electronically  generated  sounds  and  with  combinations  of  
conventionally   produced   and   electronically   generated   sounds.   Throughout   the   second   half   of  
the   20th   century,   many   composers   also   experimented   with   the   possibilities   afforded   by   the  
capabilities  of  the  computer  in  creating  sounds,  performing  sounds,  and  accomplishing  aleatoric  
operations.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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Lecture  2:  Review  for  Final  Exam    
 
  ha rmonization    int      
Chromatic  mediant  
One  type  of  distant  relationship  between  keys  or  chords  is  the  chromatic  mediant  relationship.  A  
chromatic  mediant  relationship  between  two  keys  or  chords  has  the  following  characteristics:  
1) The   tonic   notes   of   the   two   keys   (or   the   roots   of   the   chords)   are   a   major   or   minor   3rd  
apart.  
2) The  keys  (or  chords)  have  the  same  quality  (major  or  minor).  
3) Chords  related  by  chromatic  mediant  will  share  one  common  tone.  
 
Chords  in  a  doubly  chromatic  mediant  relationship  are  a  major  or  minor  3rd  apart  –  but  do  not  
have  the  same  quality  and  do  not  share  any  pitches.  
 
Real  sequences  
In  common  practice  period  music,  sequences  appear  frequently  but  do  not  usually  involve  exact  
transpositions  of  the  initial  pattern.  Exact  transpositions  of  that  initial  pattern  would  
immediately  change  the  key  of  a  passage.  Real  sequences  contain  only  exact  transpositions  of  
the  initial  pattern  –  and  often  cause  modulations.  
 
Irregular  resolutions,  extended  chromaticism,  real  sequences,  and  frequent  modulations  
The  middle  and  latter  parts  of  the  Romantic  period  saw  more  widespread  experimentation  with  
irregular  resolution.  Often,  these  irregular  resolutions  would  arrive  at  non-­‐diatonic  chords,  
which  might  then  resolve  irregularly  to  other  non-­‐diatonic  chords.  The  motion  featured  by  these  
irregular  resolutions  tended  to  be  stepwise  and  often  chromatic.  Through  this  type  of  stepwise  
and  chromatic  motion,  composers  could  reach  non-­‐diatonic  chords  and  foreign  key  areas  
without  discarding  the  smooth  voice  leading  procedures  favored  by  common  practice  
conventions.  This  extended  use  of  chromatic  motion  (sometimes  called  extended  chromaticism)  
could  create  non-­‐functional  harmonic  progressions  with  rapidly  changing  tonal  centers.  (Chords  
appearing  in  these  types  of  progressions  are  sometimes  called  voice  leading  chords.)  
Sometimes,  these  changes  in  tonal  center  were  so  rapid  that  they  defied  clear  identification  as  
either  tonicizations  or  modulations.  Sometimes,  in  a  passage  with  extended  chromaticism  and  
frequent  modulations,  composers  use  real  sequences.  
 
The  Tristan  chord  
The   first   chord   in   the   prelude   to   Wagner’s   opera   Tristan   und   Isolde,   often   called   the   Tristan  
chord,   appears   on   the   following   page   in   Example   10.3.   Its   spelling,   as   it   appears   in   the   score   (m.  
1   of   Ex.   10.3),   defies   chord   symbol   classification,   but   enharmonic   respelling   of   three   notes   (m.   2  
of  Ex.  10.3)  of  the  chord  reveals  it  to  be  a  half-­‐diminished  7th  chord.    
 
The  Tristan  chord,  which  first  appears  in  the  second  full  measure  of  the  prelude,  fulfills  none  of  
the   standard   roles   of   a   half-­‐diminished   7th   chord.   Its   resolution   is   heavily   chromatic,   with   all   but  
one  chord  tone  moving  by  half-­‐step  (or  group  of  half-­‐steps)  to  the  prelude’s  second  chord,  E7.  
Since   F   ø7   and   E7   do   not   belong   to   the   same   major   or   minor   scale,   this   resolution   is   not   only  
irregular   but   also   non-­‐diatonic.   By   common   practice   period   rules,   that   E7,   as   a   dominant   7th  
chord,  should  then  resolve  to  an  A  major  or  A  minor  chord.  Instead,  it  does  not  resolve  at  all  –  
and   gives   way   to   complete   silence.   The   opera’s   first   chord   progression,   therefore,   does   not  

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conclude   with   any   sort   of   resolution   or   even   establish   a   key.   This   tonal   ambiguity   anticipates  
both  the  tension  of  the  opera  and  the  instability  of  atonality.  
 
Ex.  10.3  

 
A  sequence,  implied  modulations,  and  deferred  resolution  in  the  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  
The  opening  passage  of  the  prelude  to  Tristan  und  Isolde  employs  a  sequence  that  implies  two  
modulations  and  three  keys  without  establishing  any  keys.  Wagner  defers  a  resolution  of  the  
prelude’s  harmonic  tension  (provided  by  both  the  Tristan  chord  and  its  chord  of  resolution)  until  
the  very  end  of  the  opera,  where  he  moves  from  the  Tristan  chord  to  a  plagal  cadence.  
 
Quartal  sonorities  
Quartal   sonorities   involve   stacks   of   fourths.   They   can   have   a   mixture   of   perfect   4ths   and  
augmented  fourths  (tritones).  
 
Quintal  sonorities  
Quintal  sonorities  are  harmonies  built  with  stack  of  fifths.  In  contrast  with  the  slight  dissonance  
of   fourths,   perfect   fifths   have   a   naturally   open   and   stable   sound   due   to   their   overlapping  
overtones.  
 
Polychords  
Early   20th-­‐century   composers   started   to   explore   the   use   of   polychords,   two   or   more   chords  
occurring   simultaneously.   The   combination   of   two   simultaneously   sounding   chords   can   create  
harmonically  complex  and  chromatically  saturated  sonorities,  eroding  a  sense  of  tonal  stability.  
Note   that   it   is   standard   in   polychord   analysis   to   show   the   top   chord   above   the   bottom   chord,  
with  the  two  separated  by  a  straight,  horizontal  line.  
 
Chords  with  split  chord  members  
Sometimes  a  composer  will  use  a  triad  or  seventh  chord,  but  add  complexity  to  that  chord  by  
splitting   one   or   more   of   the   notes   within   the   chord.   To   split   a   note   within   a   chord   (a   chord  
member),  add  a  note  one  half  step  above  or  below  that  note.  (These  added  notes  may  be  placed  
into  an  octave  different  from  the  original  chord.)  
 
Clusters  
A  tone  cluster  is  built  with  stacks  of  seconds,  often  both  major  and  minor.  
 
 
 
 

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Whole  tone  sonorities  
A  whole  tone  sonority  is  a  chord  whose  notes  are  solely  derived  from  a  whole  tone  scale.  Whole  
tone  scales  contain  six  pitches  separated  by  major  seconds.  
 
The  pentatonic  scale  
The  pentatonic  scale  has  five  pitches  (penta  meaning  five).  The  major  pentatonic  scale  contains  
the   following   intervallic   structure:   major   2nd-­‐major   2nd-­‐minor   3rd-­‐major   2nd.   The   minor  
pentatonic  scale  contains  the  following  intervallic  structure:  minor  3rd-­‐major  2nd-­‐major  2nd-­‐minor  
3rd.  
 
The  whole  tone  scale  
The   whole   tone   scale   contains   six   pitches   separated   by   major   seconds.   Since   the   whole   tone  
scale  divides  the  octave  equally  into  six  parts,  it  does  not  have  a  true  tonic.  There  are  only  two  
distinct  whole  tone  scales.  
 
The  octatonic/diminished  scale  
The   octatonic   scale,   also   commonly   referred   to   as   the  diminished   scale,   contains   eight   pitches  
(octa  meaning  eight).  Octatonic  scales  alternate  whole  steps  with  half  steps  (or  vice  versa).  The  
octatonic  scale  has  two  variants:  whole-­‐half  and  half-­‐whole.  A  whole-­‐half  octatonic  scale  starts  
the   alternating   pattern   with   a   whole   step,   while   a   half-­‐whole   octatonic   scale   starts   the  
alternating  pattern  with  a  half  step.  
 
The  augmented  scale  
Like  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  augmented  scale  contains  six  pitches  and  two  augmented  triads.  
Unlike  the  ascending  pattern  of  major  seconds  found  in  the  whole  tone  scale,  the  pattern  that  
builds   the   augmented   scale   alternates   between   ascending   minor   thirds   and   ascending   minor  
seconds.  (The  pattern  begins  with  an  ascending  minor  third.)  
 
The  Lydian  dominant  scale  
A  hybrid  between  the  Lydian  and  Mixolydian  modes,  the  Lydian  dominant  scale  is  a  major  scale  
with   a   raised   4th   scale   degree   (like   the   Lydian   mode)   and   a   lowered   7th   scale   degree   (like   the  
Mixolydian  mode).  
 
The  altered  scale  
The  altered  scale,  also  called  the  super  Locrian  mode,  is  often  used  in  jazz  to  improvise  over  an  
altered   dominant   harmony.   The   scale   tones   of   the   altered   scale   combine   the   common  
alterations  (b5,  #5)  to  and  altered  extensions  (b9,  #9,  #11,  b13)  of  a  dominant  7th  chord  with  
the  three  essential  chord  tones  (root,  3rd,  and  7th)  of  a  dominant  7th  chord.  
 
Unorthodox  harmonic  progressions  
Debussy,  and  other  composers  with  a  similar  mindset,  found  a  variety  of  ways  to  challenge  the  
old  rules  governing  chord  function.  Sometimes  they  would  employ  harmonic  progressions  that,  
while   diatonic,   featured   unorthodox   chord   function.   In   an   unorthodox   harmonic   progression,  
dominant  function  chords,  for  example,  might  not  resolve  to  tonic  function  chords.  Sometimes  
composers   would   hide   their   rule-­‐breaking   by   using   progressions   that   broke   the   rules   –   while  
seeming,   at   first   glance,   to   follow   them.   Debussy   would   sometimes   employ   implied   V-­‐I  
progressions,  which  disguised  unorthodox  progressions  with  dominant-­‐tonic  motion  in  the  bass.  
 

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Use  of  unconventional  scales  
Toward   the   latter   part   of   the   Romantic   period,   many   composers   turned   back   to   the   church  
modes   that   had   been   popular   before   the   Baroque   period.   Unlike   the   major   and   harmonic   minor  
scales,   most   church   modes   (aside   from   Ionian   and   Lydian)   lack   a   characteristic   intrinsic   to   the  
music   of   the   common   practice   period:   the   leading   tone.   The   movement   of   leading   tone   to   tonic  
provides   the   tension/release   dynamic   that   is   central   to   the   harmonic   progressions   of   the  
Baroque   and   Classical   periods.   The   renewed   use   of   the   Dorian,   Phrygian,   and   Mixolydian   modes  
provided  composers  with  a  harmonic  world  outside  the  strictures  of  common  practice.  
 
Some   unconventional   scales   –   such   as   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales   –   contain   far   fewer  
diatonic   triads   than   the   major   scales,   minor   scales,   or   the   church   modes.   Many   composers   have  
taken   advantage   of   this   relative   scarcity   of   diatonic   triads   in   the   pentatonic   and   whole   tone  
scales  to  create  a  sense  of  harmonic  ambiguity.  Chords  in  the  common  practice  period  almost  
always   performed   some   sort   of   function;   their   roles   were   clear.   Harmonies   diatonic   to   the  
pentatonic   and   whole   tone   scales,   in   contrast,   have   no   such   clarity   in   their   function.   This  
ambiguity  can  lead  to  a  sense  of  stasis,  in  which  nothing  changes  or  moves.  
 
Harmonic  independence  and  planing  
Some   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers   began   to   treat   harmonies   as   independent  
entities   –   sounds   to   be   featured   on   their   own,   without   the   need   to   resolve   in   any   particular  
fashion.  Making  a  clear  break  with  the  rules  of  the  past,  composers  like  Ravel  took  this  harmonic  
independence   one   step   further   into   the   realm   of  harmonic   planing.   In   harmonic   planing,   chords  
move  from  one  to  another  in  parallel  motion.    
 
Polymodality  
Each  of  the  modes  contains  a  unique  pattern  of  half  steps  and  whole  steps  and  thus  a  different  
hierarchy   of   pitches.   Some   composers   have   explored   the   possibilities   afforded   by   the  
combinations   of   various   modes.   Several   late   19th   and   early   20th   century   composers   would  
compose  passages  that  freely  moved  between  modes,  all  with  the  same  tonic.  Other  composers,  
particularly   Béla   Bartók,   wrote   music   that   featured   the   simultaneous   use   of   multiple   modes  
(again,  with  the  same  tonic).  Music  that  combines  multiple  modes  with  the  same  tonic  –  either  
in   succession   or   simultaneously   –   belongs   to   a   tonal   system   known   as   polymodality,   or  
polymodal  chromaticism.  
 
Polytonality  
Seeking   more   radical   departures   from   the   major-­‐minor   tonal   system,   some   composers  
(including   Bartok   and   Stravinsky)   have   experimented   with   polytonality,   the   simultaneous  
combination   of   multiple   tonal   centers.   A   polytonal   passage   might   combine,   for   example,   A  
minor  with  F#  major.  
 
Centricity  
Some   composers   –   including   Debussy,   Ravel,   Bartók,   and   Stravinsky   –   explored   various   methods  
of  pitch  centricity.  Pieces  with  pitch  centricity  demonstrate  a  perceptible  focus  on  a  certain  pitch  
without  following  the  rules  of  a  specific  tonal  system.  In  pieces  with  pitch  centricity,  composers  
establish   a   focus   on   certain   pitches   through   a   variety   of   techniques   and   approaches,   including  
repetition  and  symmetry.  
 
 

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Non-­‐systematic  music  
Music  of  the  common  practice  period  tended  to  follow  a  system  that  married  functional  
harmony  with  formal  structures.  As  late  19th  century  and  early  20th  century  composers  
experimented  with  unconventional  sonorities,  scales,  harmonic  function,  voice  leading,  and  
tonal  systems,  their  use  of  form  sometimes  became  unconventional  and  often  non-­‐systematic.  
Some  composers,  such  as  Claude  Debussy  and  Erik  Satie,  explored  the  use  of  looser  forms  that  
fit  their  unconventional  materials.  
 
Impressionism  
The  word  impressionism  is  often  associated  with  the  music  of  Claude  Debussy  (although  he  
himself  did  not  like  the  term),  but  it  was  originally  intended  to  describe  the  techniques  favored  
by  a  group  of  French  painters  (including  Claude  Monet  and  Pierre-­‐Auguste  Renoir)  in  the  late  
1800s.  Impressionist  paintings  feature  the  effects  of  light  through  the  use  of  soft,  thin  brush  
strokes  and  nuanced  colors.  Eventually,  impressionism  became  a  musical  term  associated  with  
some  of  the  non-­‐systematic  French  music  in  the  late  1800s  and  early  1900s  –  especially  the  
music  of  Debussy  and  Maurice  Ravel.  Impressionist  pieces  avoid  telling  a  direct  story  and  instead  
attempt  to  evoke  a  general  feeling  or  mood  through  color  and  nuances  of  sound.  Impressionist  
pieces  often  use  unconventional  scales  and  sonorities  and  avoid  strict  formal  structures.  
 
Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  
Claude  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  avoids  the  systematic  compositional  forms  that  
predominated  the  Baroque  and  Classical  periods,  yet  it  still  remains  a  unified  and  cohesive  piece  
through  its  use  of  consistent  thematic,  harmonic,  and  rhythmic  material.  Without  the  structure  
of  a  pre-­‐established  form,  one  way  to  organize  a  piece  cohesively  is  to  use  a  consistent,  
recurring  theme.  The  main  theme  of  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  appears  four  times  in  the  
piece  –  and  is  often  reharmonized.    
 
While  the  harmonic  progressions  in  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair  can,  for  the  most  part,  be  
analyzed  with  Roman  numerals,  they  do  not  quite  fit  the  rules  of  the  common  practice  period.  
One  of  the  harmonic  progressions  most  conspicuously  absent  from  the  piece  is  a  
straightforward  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  progression.  There  is  not  a  single  VàI  progression  
throughout  the  piece.  Debussy  also  avoids  dominant-­‐to-­‐tonic  motion  in  the  piece  by  using  
suspended  dominant  harmonies.  
 
Erik  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1  
Erik  Satie  (1866-­‐1925)  is  sometimes  considered  an  impressionist  composer,  although  his  music  
anticipated  minimalism  and  other  artistic  movements.  Throughout  his  career,  he  avoided  
classical  thematic  development  and  instead  opted  for  shorter  compositions  without  long  
development  sections.  Satie’s  Gymnopédie  No.  1,  with  its  thematic  simplicity,  lack  of  traditional  
development,  and  unconventional  harmonic  language,  is  characteristic  of  Satie’s  non-­‐systematic  
compositional  style.  
 
Satie’s  unconventional  harmonic  language  
For  the  first  16  measures  of  Gymnopédie  No.  1,  the  harmony  oscillates  between  IV7  (Gma7)  and  
I7  (Dma7).  In  the  common  practice  period,  the  I7  chord  –  which,  in  a  major  key,  contains  a  
dissonant  major  7th  interval  –  was  almost  never  used  as  a  tonic  sonority.  In  this  piece,  however,  
Satie  embraces  the  dissonance  of  the  major  I7  chord  and  makes  it  a  central,  striking  feature  of  
the  piece.  Similar  to  Debussy’s  The  Girl  with  the  Flaxen  Hair,  Gymnopédie  No.  1  avoids  classical  

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VàI  progressions  by  using  plagal  and  minor  vàI  cadences.  In  the  entire  piece,  there  are  only  
two  dominant  7th  chords,  both  of  which  do  not  resolve  traditionally.  
 
Use  of  common  tones  and  smooth  voice-­‐leading  in  Gymnopédie  No.  1  
While  the  harmonic  language  in  Gymnopédie  No.  1  is  unconventional  and  surprising,  Satie’s  use  
of  common  tones  and  smooth  harmonic  progressions  makes  it  sound  harmonically  cohesive.  
While  the  bassline  contains  mostly  root  motion  by  4th/5ths  and  pedal  tones,  the  inner  voices  
tend  to  flow  very  smoothly  from  chord  to  chord.  Smooth  voice  leading,  using  common  tones  
and  step-­‐wise  motion,  is  found  throughout  the  piece.  
 
Pandiatonicism  
In  pandiatonic  music,  the  notes  of  a  diatonic  scale  are  used  freely,  without  any  rules  governing  
chord  progressions,  sonority  type,  consonance,  or  dissonance.  A  pandiatonic  sonority  –  whether  
tertian,  quartal,  cluster,  or  any  other  sonority  type  –  can  be  created  from  any  combination  of  
diatonic  notes.  
 
Free  atonality  and  set  theory  
Around  the  beginning  of  the  20th  century,  some  composers  began  writing  atonal  music  –  music  
with  no  discernible  key  center.  In  this  new  world,  completely  free  from  any  of  the  old  rules,  a  
new   system   of   organizing   pitches   and   material   took   some   time   to   emerge.   Before   that   new  
system   developed,   composers   experimented   with   free   atonality,   in   which   music   would   avoid  
traces  of  traditional  tonality,  harmonies,  and  harmonic  progressions  without  any  specific  type  of  
organization  or  system.  
 
Although   early   atonal   pieces   lacked   the   structures   and   rules   of   common   practice,   they   often  
maintained  cohesion  through  the  use  of  a  particular  type  of  recurring  cell.  This  type  of  recurring  
cell   would   contain   a   group   of   notes   that   were   related   to   each   other   by   a   specific   network   of  
intervals.   Music   with   this   relatively   free   kind   of   organization   presented   a   challenge   to   music  
theorists,   since   Roman   numeral   analysis   was   useless   in   describing   any   type   of   atonal   music.  
Later   in   the   20th   century,   a   new   theoretical   concept   called   set   theory   evolved   to   identify   and  
describe  the  recurring  cells  that  would  characterize  much  of  20th  century  music  (both  tonal  and  
atonal).  
 
Pitch  classes  
Set   theory   involves   both   octave   equivalence   and   enharmonic   equivalence.   Pitches   that   are  
separated  by  an  exact  number  of  octaves  are  deemed  to  have  octave  equivalence.  Pitches  that  
are   spelled   differently   but   sound   identical   (in   modern   tuning)   are   considered   to   have  
enharmonic  equivalence.  A  pitch  class  combines  all  of  the  notes  related  to  each  other  through  
octave  equivalence  and  enharmonic  equivalence.    
 
Integer  notation  
In   set   theory,   the   system   of   integer   notation   assigns   a   number   from   0   to   11   to   each   of   the  
twelve  pitch  classes.  The  table  in  Example  10.4  (on  the  following  page)  shows  the  twelve  pitch  
classes   and   their   assigned   numbers.   The   system,   beginning   with   B#/C   and   0,   ascends  
chromatically  and  numerically.  
 
 
 

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Ex.  10.4  
Pitch  class   Number  in  integer  notation  
B#/C   0  
C#/Db   1  
D   2  
D#/Eb   3  
E/Fb   4  
E#/F   5  
F#/Gb   6  
G   7  
G#/Ab   8  
A   9  
A#/Bb   10  
B/Cb   11  
 
Pitch  class  sets  
A  pitch  class  set  is  a  group  of  pitch  classes.  Set  theory  involves  a  process,  called  segmentation,  
that   identifies   prominent   pitch   class   sets   within   a   piece.   These   pitch   class   sets   may   appear  
horizontally  (in  a  melodic  line)  and/or  vertically  (as  a  sonority),  and  the  pitch  classes  within  the  
sets  may  appear  in  any  order.  
 
Modular  arithmetic  
In   modular   arithmetic,   the   numbers   continue   to   ascend   only   until   they   reach   a   certain   value  
(called  the  modulus)  –  at  which  point  they  start  the  process  over  again.    
 
The   modular   arithmetic   in   musical   set   theory   is   similar   to   that   of   the   12-­‐hour   clock   system.     The  
twelve   pitch   classes   can   be   represented   on   a   clock   diagram,   as   shown   below   in   Example   10.5.  
The  set  theory  clock  changes  the  12-­‐hour  clock  in  only  one  respect:  it  replaces  the  12  with  a  0.  
 
Ex.  10.5  

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Normal  order  
The  next  step  in  set  theory,  after  identifying  a  prominent  pitch  class  set  within  a  piece,  is  putting  
that   set   in   normal   order   (or   normal   form).   Normal   order   involves   condensing   the   pitch   classes  
into   their   most   compact   form.   To   put   a   pitch   class   set   in   normal   order,   use   the   following  
process:  
1) Using  integer  notation,  translate  the  pitch  classes  into  numbers.    
2) Arrange  the  numbers  into  sets  representing  all  possible  clockwise  orders.  The  number  of  
possible  ascending  orders  will  be  equal  to  the  number  of  pitch  classes  within  the  set.  
3) Of   the   sets   created   by   Step   2,   determine   which   one   features   the   smallest   interval  
between   the   first   number   and   the   last   number.   Calculate   this   interval   by   determining  
the  clockwise  distance  from  the  first  number  to  the  last  number.  If  there  are  ties  among  
sets  for  the  shortest  interval  between  the  first  and  last  numbers,  calculate  the  clockwise  
distance   between   the   first   and   second   numbers   of   each   tied   set.   The   set   with   the  
smaller  interval  between  its  first  and  second  numbers  will  become  the  pitch  class  set’s  
normal   order.   (If   there   is   a   tie   between   sets   for   this   interval,   calculate   the   clockwise  
distance  between  the  second  and  third  numbers  of  each  set.  The  process  for  breaking  
ties   continues   along   the   same   path   –   comparing   the   intervals   between   the   third   and  
fourth   numbers,   then   the   interval   between   the   fourth   and   fifth   numbers,   etc.  
Occasionally,  there  will  be  no  way  to  break  the  tie.)  
4) Place   the   pitch   class   set’s   normal   order   in   brackets   –   and   separate   the   numbers   with  
commas.  
 
Transposing  a  set  and  transpositional  equivalence  
To  transpose  a  pitch  class  set,  add  the  same  number  to  –  or  subtract  the  same  number  from  –  
each  member  of  the  set.  (Use  modular  arithmetic  for  this  operation.)  Pitch  class  sets  related  to  
each  other  by  transposition  are  considered  to  have  transpositional  equivalence.  
 
Inverting  a  set  and  inversional  equivalence  
To  invert  a  pitch  class  set,  subtract  each  member  of  the  set  from  12.  (There  is  one  exception  to  
this  operation:  the  number  0,  when  inverted,  remains  0.  Do  not  subtract  it  from  12.)  Pitch  class  
sets  related  to  each  other  by  inversion  are  considered  to  have  inversional  equivalence.    
 
Set  types  
Music  theory  for  common  practice  music  regularly  places  various  harmonies  into  different  
categories:  major  triads,  dominant  7th  chords,  etc.  In  a  similar  way,  set  theory  places  various  sets  
into  categories  called  set  types,  or  set  classes.  
 
In  set  theory,  each  set  is  considered  to  be  equivalent  to  the  following:  
1) All  transpositions  of  that  set  
2) The  inversion  of  that  set  
3) All  transpositions  of  the  inversion  of  that  set  
 
Sets  related  to  each  other  by  transpositional  or  inversional  equivalence  belong  to  the  same  set  
type.   Each   set   type   is   a   family   comprising   all   sets   related   to   each   other   by   transposition   and  
inversion.  
 
 
 

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Prime  form  
Each  set  type  has  a  unique  name  or  identifier,  called  the  prime  form.  To  determine  the  prime  
form  (and  thus  the  set  type)  of  any  set,  use  the  following  process:  
1) Put  the  set  in  normal  order.  
2) Transpose  that  normal  order  so  that  its  first  number  is  0.  
3) Invert  the  set  produced  by  Step  2.    
4) Take  the  set  produced  by  Step  3  and  put  it  in  normal  order.  
5) Transpose  the  normal  order  determined  by  Step  4  so  that  its  first  number  is  0.  
6) Compare  the  sets  produced  by  Steps  2  and  5  to  see  which  set’s  numbers  are  closer  
together  toward  the  left  of  the  set.  The  set  that  is  more  compact  toward  the  left  –  the  
one  whose  later  numbers  are  closer  to  the  first  number  –  is  the  prime  form.  
7) Place  the  numbers,  without  commas,  in  parentheses.  
 
Trichords  
Set  types  can  contain  as  few  as  two  pitch  classes  or  as  many  as  twelve  pitch  classes.  There  are  
over  200  possible  set  types,  but  some  are  more  common  than  others.  Some  of  the  most  
common  set  types  are  the  trichords  –  set  types  containing  three  pitch  classes.  There  are  twelve  
possible  trichords,  shown  below  in  the  table  of  Example  10.6.    
 
Ex.  10.6  
Prime  form   Pitch  classes  represented  by  the  prime  form  
(012)   C,  C#/Db,  D  
(013)   C,  C#/Db,  D#/Eb  
(014)   C,  C#/Db,  E  
(015)   C,  C#/Db,  F  
(016)   C,  C#/Db,  F#/Gb  
(024)   C,  D,  E  
(025)   C,  D,  F  
(026)   C,  D,  F#/Gb  
(027)   C,  D,  G  
(036)   C,  D#/Eb,  F#/Gb  
(037)   C,  D#/Eb,  G  
(048)   C,  E,  G#/Ab  
 
Early  atonal  music  favored  trichords  whose  prime  forms  begin  with  01,  a  half-­‐step.  Trichords  
containing  that  half-­‐step  helped  early  atonal  music  to  emphasize  dissonant  intervals  (including  
minor  2nds,  major  7ths,  and  minor  9ths)  that  tonal  music  had  either  avoided  or  treated  with  
extreme  care.  Composers  of  the  Second  Viennese  School  –  chief  among  them  Arnold  Schoenberg  
and  his  students  Alban  Berg  and  Anton  Webern  –  were  at  the  forefront  of  atonal  composition  in  
the  beginning  decades  of  the  20th  century.  (016)  was  so  popular  among  composers  of  the  
Second  Viennese  School  that  it  became  known  as  the  Viennese  trichord.    
 
Segmentation  
Harmonically,   atonal   music   often   discards   familiar   sonorities   (including   tertian,   quartal,   and  
quintal  sonorities)  in  favor  of  unusual  sonorities  that  defy  traditional  labels.  Melodically,  atonal  
music   avoids   scales   (except   for   the   chromatic   scale)   altogether.   The   process   of   segmentation  
first  identifies  sets  (both  melodic  and  harmonic)  that  occur  throughout  a  piece  –  and  then  the  

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other  tools  of  set  theory  (including  normal  order  and  prime  form)  determine  if  and  how  these  
sets  are  related  to  each  other.    
 
A  system  for  atonal  music            
In  the  early  1920s,  Arnold  Schoenberg  developed  the  twelve-­‐tone  technique  (often  called  
serialism),  which  gave  a  structure  and  strict  rules  to  atonal  composition.  Essential  to  
Schoenberg’s  system  is  the  idea  that  all  12  pitch  classes  are  equally  important.  The  rules  of  the  
system  were  designed  to  protect  that  pitch  class  equality  and  to  prevent  any  sort  of  pitch  
centricity.  Serialism,  like  set  theory,  involves  pitch  classes  and  does  not  distinguish  pitches  by  
register  or  enharmonic  spelling.  
 
The  first  step  in  creating  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece  is  to  arrange  the  12  pitch  classes  of  the  chromatic  
scale  in  a  particular  order,  called  a  row.  All  12  pitch  classes  must  be  used  –  and  no  pitch  class  
may  be  repeated.  
 
Numbering  the  notes  in  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece  
The  numbering  system  in  twelve-­‐tone  technique  is  different  from  the  integer  notation  of  set  
theory.  In  twelve-­‐tone  technique,  the  first  note  in  the  P0  row  is  assigned  the  number  0.  The  
remaining  numbers  (1-­‐11)  are  assigned,  in  ascending  order,  to  the  notes  of  the  row,  in  
ascending  chromatic  order.  
 
Manipulations  of  the  row  
Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  P0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  P0  row,  may,  
however,  be  transposed.  Prime  (P)  rows  –  which  are  all  identical  to  or  transpositions  of  the  P0  
row  –  are  numbered  by  their  beginning  pitches.  There  are  three  other  operations  that  may  be  
performed  to  the  row:  retrograde,  inversion,  and  retrograde  inversion.  
 
Retrograde  
The  retrograde  (R)  of  a  row  is  that  row,  backwards.  Thus,  the  retrograde  of  the  P0  row  will  be  
the  P0  row,  backwards.  Since  retrograde  rows  are  numbered  by  their  ending  pitches,  the  
retrograde  of  a  P0  row  would  be  labeled  R0.  Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  R0  row  
may  not  be  changed.  The  R0  row,  may,  however,  be  transposed.  
 
Inversion  
To  invert  (I)  a  row,  reverse  the  direction  of  each  successive  interval.  Since  inverted  rows  are  
numbered  by  their  beginning  pitches,  the  inversion  of  a  P0  row  would  be  labeled  I0.  Within  a  
twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  I0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  I0  row,  may,  however,  be  
transposed.  
 
Retrograde  inversion  
Retrograde  inversion  (RI)  is  the  retrograde  of  an  inverted  row.  Thus,  the  RI0  row  is  the  I0  row,  
backwards.  (Retrograde  inversion  rows,  like  retrograde  rows,  are  numbered  by  their  ending  
pitches.)  Within  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  the  order  of  the  RI0  row  may  not  be  changed.  The  RI0  row,  
may,  however,  be  transposed.  
 
48  possible  rows  
In  every  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  there  are  exactly  48  twelve-­‐tone  rows  that  may  be  used.  Those  48  
rows   include   12   prime   rows   (the   P0   row   and   all   of   its   transpositions),   12   retrograde   rows   (the   R0  

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row  and  all  of  its  transpositions),  12  inverted  rows  (the  I0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions),  and  
12   retrograde   inversion   rows   (the   RI0   row   and   all   of   its   transpositions).   It   is   useful,   when   a  
composing  a  twelve-­‐tone  piece,  to  construct  a  matrix  that  contains  all  of  these  possible  rows.  
 
The  matrix  
A  twelve-­‐tone  matrix  is  a  12-­‐by-­‐12  grid  that  contains  all  of  the  possible  48  rows  derived  from  a  
given  P0  row.  The  P0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix  –  read  left  
to  right.  The  I0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix  –  read  top  to  
bottom.  The  R0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix  –  read  right  to  
left.  The  RI0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix  –  read  bottom  
to  top.    
 
To  begin  constructing  a  matrix,  place  the  pitch  classes  of  the  P0  row  (in  order  from  left  to  right)  
in  the  first  row  of  the  matrix.  The  next  step  in  creating  the  matrix,  after  entering  the  P0  row,  is  
placing  the  pitch  classes  of  the  I0  row  (in  order  from  top  to  bottom)  in  the  first  column  of  the  
matrix.  
 
Below  the  P0  row,  each  of  the  other  rows  (reading  from  left  to  right)  will  be  a  transposition  of  
the  P0  row.  Once  both  the  P0  and  I0  rows  have  been  entered,  label  each  of  the  matrix’s  rows  with  
the   letter   P   and   the   number   corresponding   to   that   row’s   first   note.   Place   each   of   those   labels   to  
the   left   of   the   appropriate   row.   Next   to   the   I0   row,   each   of   the   other   columns   (reading   from   top  
to  bottom),  will  be  a  transposition  of  the  I0  row.  Label  each  of  the  columns  with  the  letter  I  and  
the   number   corresponding   to   that   row’s   first   note.   Place   each   of   those   labels   above   the  
appropriate  column.  
 
Transposing  a  twelve-­‐tone  row  
All  of  the  pitch  classes  in  the  P1  row  will  be  one  half-­‐step  higher  than  the  corresponding  pitch  
classes  in  the  P0  row.  To  find  the  pitch  classes  in  the  P1  row,  for  example,  simply  raise  the  pitch  
classes  of  the  P0  row  by  one  half-­‐step.  
 
Completing  the  matrix  
After  entering  the  P0  and  I0  rows  and  labeling  each  of  the  prime  and  inverted  rows,  fill  in  the  
remaining  prime  rows.  (Alternatively,  one  could  enter  all  of  the  transpositions  of  the  I0  row.)  
After  all  of  the  cells  in  the  matrix  have  been  filled,  there  remains  one  step:  the  labeling  of  the  
retrograde  and  retrograde  inversion  rows.  
 
Labeling  the  retrograde  and  retrograde  inversion  rows  in  the  matrix  
Remember  that  the  R0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  rows  of  the  matrix  –  read  
right  to  left.    To  the  right  of  each  row,  label  each  of  the  retrograde  rows  with  the  letter  R  and  
the  number  corresponding  to  that  row’s  last  note  (the  matrix  row’s  first  note).  
 
Remember  that  the  RI0  row  and  all  of  its  transpositions  appear  in  the  columns  of  the  matrix  –  
read  bottom  to  top.  Below  each  column,  label  each  retrograde  inversion  row  with  the  letters  RI  
and  the  number  corresponding  to  that  row’s  last  note  (the  column’s  top  note).  
 
 
 
 

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Limitations  and  prohibitions  
Some  of  the  most  important  rules  in  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique  place  limitations  or  
prohibitions  on  composers:  
1) Only  the  48  rows  derived  from  the  P0  row  may  be  used.  No  other  material  may  be  
added.  
2) Each  row  appearing  in  a  piece  must  be  used  completely,  without  interpolations  of  other  
content  (including  other  rows).  
3) The  order  of  each  row  must  be  followed  at  all  times.    If,  for  example,  the  first  five  pitch  
classes  of  a  row  have  been  used,  the  sixth  pitch  class  of  the  row  must  be  employed  next.    
4) A  pitch  class  in  a  row  may  be  repeated  –  but  only  if  the  next  pitch  class  in  that  row  has  
not  yet  appeared.  The  second  pitch  class  in  a  row,  for  example,  may  be  repeated  –  but  
only  before  the  third  pitch  class  in  that  row  is  introduced.  
 
Flexibility  
Even  with  all  of  its  limitations,  strict  twelve-­‐tone  technique  does  provide  composers  with  some  
flexibility:  
1) Within  a  piece,  any  row  may  be  used  melodically  or  harmonically  (or  both).  
2) When  a  row  is  used  harmonically,  any  simultaneous  notes  can  be  re-­‐ordered.  
3) As  long  as  they  follow  the  row’s  order,  composers  can  place  any  note  of  that  row  in  any  
register.  
4) A  composer  may  double  any  note  of  the  row  by  simultaneously  assigning  it  (in  any  
register)  to  multiple  instruments  or  by  simultaneously  placing  the  note  in  multiple  
registers  of  the  same  instrument.  
5) A  row  –  along  as  its  order  is  followed  –  may  be  passed  between  instruments  or  between  
layers  of  a  texture.  In  a  piano  piece,  for  example,  a  row  may  move  from  the  left  hand  to  
the  right.  
6) A  twelve-­‐tone  piece  may  use  one,  some,  or  all  of  the  48  possible  rows  derived  from  its  
P0  row.  
 
Integral  serialism  
Serialism  began  with  the  concept  of  using  and  manipulating  rows  (or  series)  of  pitches  within  
the  12-­‐tone  system.  The  idea  of  serialism,  however,  was  stretched  to  its  ultimate  logical  end  
with  integral  serialism  in  the  1950s  and  1960s.  In  integral  serialism,  other  musical  elements,  
including  note  durations,  dynamics,  and  register,  can  be  arranged  and  manipulated  similarly  to  
the  way  that  the  twelve-­‐tone  system  arranged  and  manipulated  pitch.  Serialism  tended  to  
dominate  the  world  of  contemporary  classical  composition  in  the  1950s  and  1960s,  and  young  
composers  were  often  expected  to  compose  in  this  system  exclusively.  
 
Minimalism    
In  the  1960s,  the  minimalist  movement  first  began,  on  both  of  coasts  of  the  United  States,  in  art  
and  architecture  and  then  eventually  spread  to  music.  At  that  time,  many  composers,  wary  of  
the   complexity   of   integral   serialism,   longed   to   move   away   from   atonality   and   found   the  
simplicity  of  minimalism  attractive.    
 
With  many  influences,  including  Indian  philosophy,  African  and  Balinese  music,  and  the  music  of  
Erik   Satie,   minimalism   uses   limited   and   simple   materials   to   generate   music.   It   features   simple  
and  slowly  moving  harmonies,  which  are  often  diatonic,  consonant,  and  static.  Static  harmony  is  
achieved  through  the  use  of  drones  and  repeating  patterns  that  gradually  change  over  time.  The  

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rhythms  tend  to  be  simple,  often  involving  a  steady  beat  and  the  use  of  ostinatos.  Minimalism  
also  features  short  phrases  and  simple  motives,  which  often   repeat   and   interact   in   interesting  
ways.   Compositional   techniques   such   as   phasing   and   additive/subtractive   processes   are   also  
popular  among  minimalist  composers.  
 
Terry  Riley’s  In  C  
Terry  Riley,  one  of  the  major  proponents  of  minimalism,  composed  what  is  considered  the  first  
true  minimalist  composition:  In  C  (1964).  
 
In  C  is  considered  to  be  the  first  true  minimalist  piece  as  it  contains  many  of  the  critical  elements  
found   in   minimalist   music.   Each   of   its   53   cells   is   centered   around   C   major,   with   a   few   additional  
modal   inflections.   The   addition   of   an   F#   in   some   motives   creates   a   C   Lydian   inflection,   while   the  
addition   of   a   Bb   in   some   motives   creates   a   C   Mixolydian   sound.   The   tonal   similarity   of   the   53  
motives  leads  to  an  overall  static  harmony,  since  there  is  little  harmonic  progression.    
 
Characteristic  of  minimalist  music,  In  C  utilizes  short  and  simple  repeated  motives.  Since  it  is  left  
up  to  the  performers  to  decide  when  to  move  on  to  the  next  motive,  the  motives  often  interlock  
in  interesting  ways  and  create  complex  polyrhythms.    These  interlocking  polyrhythms,  combined  
with  the  gradual  motivic  changes  over  time,  create  densely  layered  textures.  The  addition  of  the  
steady  high  C  8th  note  pulse  grounds  the  shifting  texture  with  an  element  of  constancy.    
 
Steve  Reich  and  phasing  techniques  
Steve  Reich,  another  founder  of  minimalism,  has  used  the  tools  of  minimalism  in  slightly  
different  ways  than  Riley.  Reich  is  particularly  interested  in  creating  complex  textures  out  of  
minimal  materials  through  the  technique  of  phasing.  Phasing  is  a  process  where  two  musical  
lines  begin  in  time  with  each  other  and  then  slowly  get  out  of  sync.  
 
Philip  Glass  and  additive  processes  
Philip  Glass  is  interested  in  the  idea  of  additive  processes,  whereby  a  pitch  is  added  to  a  group  of  
pitches  one  at  a  time  (1,  1+2,  1+2+3,  1+2+3+4,  and  so  on).    He  also  uses  complementary  
subtractive  processes,  whereby  a  pitch  is  subtracted  from  a  group  of  pitches  one  at  a  time  
(1+2+3+4,  1+2+3.  1+2,  1).  
 
Definition  of  aleatory  
The  word  aleatory  originates  from  the  Latin  word  for  gamble  and  gambling:  aleatorem.  The  
prefix  alea  involves  some  element  of  chance  or  randomness.  When  applied  to  music,  aleatory  
means  that  there  is  an  element  of  chance  in  the  process  of  music  creation.  Although  aleatoric  
music  is  sometimes  called  chance  music,  this  unit  will  use  the  terms  aleatoric  music  and  
aleatory.  
 
There  are  two  main  kinds  of  aleatoric  music:  compositional  and  performance-­‐based  aleatory.  
When  a  composition  is  written  using  aleatoric  processes,  some  aspect  of  the  compositional  
process  is  left  up  to  chance,  but  the  finished  product  is  a  fixed  composition.  In  a  performance-­‐
based  aleatoric  piece,  some  aspect  of  the  performance  is  left  up  to  the  players  themselves,  so  
that  no  two  pieces  will  sound  exactly  the  same.  Composers  of  aleatoric  music  have,  throughout  
the  history  of  aleatoricism,  incorporated  chance  aspects  into  their  music  to  varying  degrees.  If  a  
piece  has  mostly  composed  elements,  with  portions  left  to  chance,  it  could  described  as  

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featuring  limited  aleatory.  The  term  limited  aleatory  indicates  that  the  chance  portions  of  a  
composition  have  been  controlled  in  some  way.  
 
Pierre  Boulez  and  limited  aleatory  
Pierre  Boulez  (1925-­‐2015)  was  a  French  composer  and  conductor  and  is  generally  regarded  to  
have  first  coined  the  term  aleatory,  as  applied  to  music.  His  earlier  works  in  the  1940s  
experimented  with  open  forms,  sometimes  called  mobile  forms,  in  which  the  order  of  
movements  within  a  piece  was  not  decided  until  the  night  of  the  performance.  In  the  1950s,  
Boulez  began  to  experiment  with  limited  aleatoric,  or  controlled  chance,  music.  In  his  Piano  
Sonata,  No.  3  (1955-­‐1957,  rev.  until  1963),  Boulez  left  a  limited  number  of  parameters  up  to  the  
performer.  
 
John  Cage  and  aleatory  
Composer  John  Cage  (1912-­‐1992)  studied  under  composers  Henry  Cowell  and  Arnold  
Schoenberg  and  popularized  modern  compositional  techniques,  such  as  aleatory,  electronic  
music,  and  prepared  piano.  In  1951,  Christian  Wolff  gave  Cage  a  copy  of  the  classic  Chinese  
book,  the  I  Ching,  also  known  as  The  Book  of  Changes.  The  I  Ching  contained  an  ancient  method  
of  producing  random  numbers,  which  Cage  used  for  much  of  his  compositional  career  after  
1951.    
 
The  most  famous  aleatoric  piece  by  John  Cage  is  his  controversial  4’33’’  (1952),  in  which  the  
performer  sits  silently  at  his  or  her  instrument  on  stage  for  exactly  four  minutes  and  33  seconds.  
The  actual  performance  of  the  piece  comes  from  the  sounds  made  by  the  audience,  which  will  
never  be  the  same  twice.  This  is  an  example  of  total  aleatory,  since  Cage  has  left  almost  no    
parameters  for  the  performer  or  audience  to  follow.  
 
Cage  embraced  aleatory  in  both  his  compositional  process  and  the  actual  performances  of  his  
music.  In  his  compositional  process,  he  generated  his  pitches  using  the  procedures  (found  in  the  
I  Ching)  that  generated  random  numbers,  which  he  would  then  convert  to  different  musical  
elements.  In  pieces  like  4’33’’,  Cage  left  almost  all  of  the  musical  parameters  up  to  the  
performers  and  even  to  the  audience.    
 
In  the  late  1950s  and  1960s,  Cage  started  a  new  style  of  composition  called  “happenings.”  
“Happenings”  were  theatrical  productions  that  did  not  have  the  normal,  strict  audience-­‐
performer  boundaries  and  had  no  set  duration.  Cage  would  provide  a  general  script,  but  most  of  
the  content  of  these  “happenings”  was  left  up  to  the  artists,  performers,  and  audience  involved  
in  the  production.  
 
 
 
 
   

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On  Your  Own  
 
 
Homework  
 
Exercise  1  
• Next  to  each  given  triad,  notate  a  triad  that  has  a  chromatic  mediant  relationship  with  
that  given  triad.  
• Provide  a  chord  symbol  for  each  triad.  
 

 
 
 
 
Exercise  2  
• Next   to   each   given   triad,   notate   a   triad   that   has   a   doubly   chromatic   mediant  
relationship  with  that  given  triad.  
• Provide  a  chord  symbol  for  each  triad.  
 

 
 
 
Exercise  3  
• Construct  the  specified  sonorities  in  the  measures  provided  below.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  4  
• Label   the   following   sonorities   as   quartal,   quintal,   polychord,   chord   with   split   chord  
member(s),  cluster,  or  whole  tone  chord  in  the  line  provided  below  each  measure.  
• Provide  chord  symbols  for  the  polychords  only.  
 

 
 
 
 
Exercise  5  
• Identify  the  unconventional  scale  used  in  each  phrase.  (There  is  no  tonic.)  
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  6  
• Using   ascending   whole   notes,   construct   the   specified   scales.   The   first   note   (the   tonic)  
has  been  provided  for  you.  
 
 

 
 
 
Exercise  7  
• Harmonize  each  note  of  the  given  melody  below.  
• Use  harmonic  planing  to  move  from  one  chord  to  the  next.  
 
 

 
 
 
 

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Exercise  8  
• Put  the  set  containing  the  pitch  classes  D#,  Cb,  F,  and  Ab  into  normal  order.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  9  
• Invert  the  set  determined  in  Exercise  8,  and  put  that  new  set  into  normal  order.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exercise  10  
• Determine  the  prime  form  for  the  set  in  Exercise  8.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  11  
• Transpose  (015)  to  each  degree  of  the  chromatic  scale.  
• Write   each   transposition   of   (015)   as   a   whole-­‐note   chord   on   the   staves   below.   (Write  
one  chord  per  measure.)  
• As  examples,  two  instances  of  (015)  have  already  been  written.  
 
 

 
 
 
Exercise  12  
• Determine  the  R0,  I0,  and  RI0  rows  derived  from  the  given  P0  row.  
•  Write  each  row  on  the  designated  staff.  
 

 
 
 
 

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Exercise  13  
• Using  the  grid  below,  enter  the  matrix  derived  from  the  P0  row  in  Exercise  12  (on  the  
previous  page).  
• Label  each  row  properly.  
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Exercise  14  
• Using   Ex.   9.1   from   Unit   9   as   an   example,   finish   composing   the   second   part   of   the  
following  piece  for  two  pianos  by  using  the  phasing  technique  discussed  in  Unit  9.  
• Start   the   second   piano’s   pattern   an   eighth   note   earlier   every   measure   until   the   two  
pianos’   patterns   realign   at   m.   10.   Break   the   beam   where   the   pattern   starts   over   and  
show   the   position   of   the   motive   by   placing   numbers   below   the   notes.   The   notes   for  
measures  1-­‐3  have  already  been  entered.  
 

 
 

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Exercise  15  
• Finish  the  following  passage  by  using  subtractive  processes.  
• In   each   new   measure,   include   the   notes   of   the   previous   measure   except   for   the   last  
quarter  note  beat,  which  will  be  subtracted  from  each  new  measure.    
• Repeat  this  process  until  the  chord  is  1  beat  long  at  m.  6.    
 
 
 

 
 

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