Access to the full text of the entire article is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.


Article

Serialism/Twelve-Tone Technique By Whittall, Arnold

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM41-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 16 September 2019, from
https://www.rem.routledge.com/articles/serialism-twelve-tone-technique-1

Article

Serialism or the twelve-tone technique is a way of composing music that involves replacing major and minor scales with a fixed ordering of the pitches in the chromatic scale. This generates a structure that, in principle, remains in place throughout the composition in question.

Prior to the modernist age, the idea that a musical composition should establish a fixed order of pitches, intervals, rhythmic values, and dynamic values would have seemed intolerably restrictive and mechanical. The additional requirement that a composition must maintain specific serial ordering throughout, either through literal repetition or by using any of the possible transpositions of the chosen series (thereby changing the pitch sequence while retaining the interval sequence) would have reinforced such negative conclusions and connotations. In earlier music, such fixed ordering applied only when motifs or themes were stated and literally repeated. Earlier music generally featured an interest more in the transformation and development of multiple, contrasting themes than in the reiteration of a single musical idea. Music preceding modernism made use of a major/minor key system based on a ‘‘common practice’’ of harmonic identities and functions. While distinct from a composition’s thematic material, this gave composers a comprehensive set of musical procedures from which to create coherent thematic processes.

content locked

Published

09/05/2016

Article DOI

10.4324/9781135000356-REM41-1

Print

Related Searches



Related Items

Citing this article:

Whittall, Arnold. "Serialism/Twelve-Tone Technique." The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis, 2016. Date Accessed 16 Sep. 2019 https://www.rem.routledge.com/articles/serialism-twelve-tone-technique-1. doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM41-1

Copyright © 2016-2019 Routledge.