Kevin Fisher April 27, 2013 Analysis – Kies Schoenberg Questions/2 Statements 1.

In twelve-tone music, what types of harmonies are avoided? a. According to Schoenberg’s article, all consonances are avoided. This includes major and minor triads, including thirds, fifths, octaves, and unisons. This is the same for simple dissonances too, including diminished triads and seventh chords, which contain simple 2nd intervals. Schoenberg says this is not based on a specific rule, but the general style of twelve-tone composers. Eventually, a “happy mixture” containing some of these sounds will be established. 2. Was Schoenberg extremely public about his tone-row methods? a. Schoenberg was not open or public about his use of tone-rows for approximately two years. This is because he knew his colleagues and other musicologists would be perplexed about this concept. At the time, he did not call this a tone-row “system”, but a “method” as a tool for composition. He did not even assume this method as a theory, either. He believed that you could use the tone-row as a tool and compose music as one had previously done before this new “method”. He did fear that other composers would become confused, and inevitably, they did. 3. How does Schoenberg feel about functional harmony? a. Schoenberg does not believe in one idea of harmony. He believes that there are many different ideas out there in regards to composition and structure. The main point he makes in the articles is that the composer must be conscious of his/her fantasies. The composer must have a sense of security and a sense of precision when writing music because the ideas must be believable and convincing for the composer. Whatever chord progressions or fundamental movements the music is doing is irrelevant – it is the process and background stability by which the music is created that is more important. 4. What is a unit? a. A unit is “the two-or-more dimensional space in which musical ideas are presented”. A phrase is an example of a musical unit. Schoenberg explains this concept with the example of English words. No single word can stand alone – it must coincide with other ideas. The same is for music. One note on a page means nothing unless they are analyzed and controlled by the other notes surrounding the specific note. It is all about the bigger picture when it comes to units. A musical rhythm, harmony, or melody is nothing by itself – it must be considered with other musical entities, which therefore deem a musical unit. A basic set, in the twelve-tone method, can be used in whole or in part, as they are part of one musical unit. 5. What is retrograde inversion?

a. Retrograde means backwards and inversion means upside-down. Thurs, retrograde-inversion, as discussed in Schoenberg’s articles, is the concept of music that moves backward and upside-down. This process is used on the same tone-row. The inversion of the prime series is in reverse order from last pitch to first. First, the inversion happens. Then the inverted version is taken backwards so that the untranposed retrograde inversion ends with the pitch that began the prime form of the series. Schoenberg’s first composition with this concept was the Piano Suite Op. 25. 6. What are Schoenberg’s thoughts on “sound”? a. Schoenberg says that sound was once a dignified higher-quality of music. Now, he says, that idea has deteriorated. Now he thinks that sound is used as a screen by which the absence of ideas will not be noticeable. He believes sound is the vehicle for deep, intrinsic ideas. The sound changes often in his music, based on every idea. At some points, the sound and ideas are difficult to perceive because of the rapid changes. 7. What does Schoenberg say about writing in canons? a. There is no merit to writing canons in two or more voices. Schoenberg believes this because the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th voices just need to enter two notes later than the previous voice and there will never be parallel octaves. He believes canons and imitations should only occur to accompany other voices, simply as a base. This would make the harmonies fuller and would bring out the main voices. 8. What is an advantage of twelve-tone composing? a. An advantage of composition with a set of twelve tones is that the “appearance of dissonances is regulated”. Dissonances aren’t used to spice-up consonances. The consonances are not of more importance than the dissonances, but of equal importance. I agree with Schoenberg’s statements on sound. When I was first exposed to “atonal” pieces such as Cage’s 4’33” and the twelve-tone Op. 25 Schoenberg Suite, I was not exactly interested because it was not traditional, consonant sound that I was used to. After having read the Schoenberg article, I now understand that even though the sounds are not always pleasant, they are sounds connected to and affiliated with other sounds. For example, a screeching cello bow on a rough percussion instrument can be directly correlated with the sounds of the Holocaust dead camps.

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