Pitch Class Sets

Paul Nelson - Revised: 5/16/2004 Pitch Class Sets are a method for describing harmonies in 20th century music. These notations and methods can describe and manipulate any type of chord that can be created within a 12-tone (equally tempered) scale. It is an extremely useful technique for composers to help understand and control the harmonies which make up their music. Pitch class sets are the chemistry of harmonic color. Modern composers will use pitch class sets like chemistry, to mix and create interesting and vibrantly colorful harmonic sounds, which they then use to create works of music.

1 Basic Definitions
1.1 ! ! ! Pitches A "pitch" is any note that we hear. The standard piano can play 88 pitches: A0 to C8, where C4 = middle-C. For example, the notes above middle-C are as follows: C4 (B!3), C!4(D"4), D4, D!4(E"4), E4(F"4), F4(E!4), F!4(G"4), G4, G!4(A"4), A4, A!4(B"4), B4(C"5) Pitch Classes Pitch classes are used to discuss pitches independent of octave displacement and enharmonic spelling. Any two pitches which sound the same on an equal tempered scale (for example, C! and B") or are only different due to octave displacement are said to belong to the same "pitch class". For example, the following pitches all belong to Pitch Class C: B#4, D""4 (enharmonic equivalents), C0, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 (octave displacements) There are only 12 pitch classes in a system where each octave has 12 chromatic notes. Pitch classes can also be numbered: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. These numbers are sometimes called "Pitch Class Representatives". For this tutorial, 0 = Pitch Class C (i.e. "fixed Do"). All other pitch classes will by numbered by counting the half steps from pitch-class C. Therefore, C = 0, C# = 1, D = 2, D# = 3, E = 4, F = 5, F# = 6, G = 7, G# = 8, A = 9, A# = 10, B = 11 Sometimes the letter 'T' (for Ten) or 'A' is used instead of the number 10, and 'E' (for Eleven) or 'B' instead of 11. Pitch Class Sets A "Pitch Class Set" is a list of pitch class numbers: [0, 4, 7, 10] (note the square brackets) These are also called "PC Sets". The PC Set for a C minor triad: [0, 3, 7] The PC Set for a G major triad: [7, 11, 2] In Pitch Class sets, octave doublings and displacements are ignored: o [0, 3, 7, 12] => [0, 3, 7] (see the section below on modulo math) o [14, 7, 11] => [2, 7, 11] o For example, all of the following can be described with Pitch Class Set [0, 1,4]. The only difference in these chords are octave displacements or enharmonic spellings in the pitches.


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Oftentimes PC Set notation is shown without the commas: [037] (here is where A=T=10 and B=E=11 comes in handy, for example: [0,4,7,10] = [047T] = [047A] (note: this is a C dominant 7th chord)


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Pitch Class Sets



2 Simple Operations on Pitch Classes and Pitch Class Sets
2.1 ! ! ! ! ! ! "Clock" Math or Modulo Math When manipulating pitch classes, you will use a special operator, called the "modulo" operator. The "modulo" operator takes the remainder of an integer divided by some other integer. 23 For example: 19 modulo 12 = 7 11 (i.e. 12 goes into 19 once, with 7 left over) 22 10 Pitch class sets use "modulo 12". Any number above 12 should be reduced, using "mod 12", to a number from 0 to 11. The modulo operator can be visualized using a clock face: 21 9 Some interesting characteristics of the clock face: 8 o A tritone is made up of two notes which are 20 opposite of each other (for example: C = 0 and F# = 6) 7 o The notes of a cross make up a doubly-diminished 7th chord (for example: C = 0, D# = 3, F# = 6, A = 9) 19 o The augmented triad (C = 0, E = 4, G# = 8) is also pleasingly symmetric.
24 12 0 13 1 2 14


3 15 4 6 18 5 17 16


Transposing Pitch Class Sets To transpose a pitch class set, add (or subtract) the same number to all elements of the list: [0,1,4] => (transpose up a major third) [0+4, 1+4, 4+4] => [4,5,8] In this example, the chord "C D" E" is transposed up to "E F G#". ! Remember to use "Module 12" when numbers are greater than or equal to 12: [0,1,4] => (transpose up a major 7th) [0+11, 1+11, 4+11] => [11, 12, 15] => [11, 0, 3] ! ! Inverting Pitch Class Sets To invert a PC Set, subtract each element of the list from 12: [0,1,4] => [12 - 0, 12 - 1, 12 - 4] => [12, 11, 8] => [0, 11, 8] (don't forget to use Mod 12 if any of the numbers are greater than 11) For example: The chord "C D" E" becomes "C B A"". ! By convention, simple inversion is always around Pitch Class C (0). Therefore, any note of the chord which is N half-steps above C, will be flipped to be come a note N half-steps below C. In the above example, the note "E" (4 half-steps above C) was flipped to become "A"" (4 half-steps below C). ! Very often you will want to invert and transpose at the same time: [0,1,4] => [ (12-0) + 4, (12-1) + 4, (12-4) + 4] => [16, 15, 12] => [4, 3, 0] This has a special notation: T4I (invert and then transpose up 4 half steps) ! Examples of the PC Sets shown above:



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[0,11,8] inversion

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[4,3,0] inversion + transposition

Pitch Class Sets



! If you are a composer. [0. 8.0) = 8 o [4.3 The Prime Form 3. ! ! ! ! ! ! Determining the Prime Form: The Rigorous Method Goal: To identify the prime form for any PC set.4] is very similar to [3.4]. However.4. you can look it up in a table of prime forms to get more information about the PC Set. 8. 12.1. try playing the following chords. 12] [6. [3. 18] 3.0] all belong to the Prime Form: (0.9] (transposition and inversion). related PC Sets using other software tools.16. For example.0.4. and [8. you can use this information to help you better control.6.12. 16] [8.9.11. See http://www. 8.0] (transposition). 12.16] $"" $" " [8. 8.0] (inverted) $" "" [5. There are only 208 different Set Classes! Each Set Class is represented by a "Prime Form" PC Set.7].4. the Rotations of [0. then they belong to the same Set Class. 6. 18] => (18 . 6. [8.6.4. [5. Uses for The Prime Form The prime form is considered to be the "simplest" version of the pitch class set.6. " ! ! $$" "" [0.3.8] and [ Pno.8] are: [0.e.4) Note that parenthesis are used to denote Prime Forms in this tutorial.4]. ! You can also use the prime form to search for other. 12. for example: [0.1. simply move the first number to the end and add 12 to it (i. a "Set Class". such as its interval vector and fellow related PC Sets (see appendix).8. ! For example. 6.18] [4.6.1. For example: [0.8] " $$" "" " $$" "" [6.8.6) = 10 o [8.ComposerTools.4) = 8 o [6. and manipulate the harmonies in your music. 12. 8] [4.4. [5.2 A group of similar PC Sets like these is called a "Pitch Class Set Class". shift it up an octave).7] (transposition). and [8. If two PC Sets differ only by transposition or inversion. not everybody agrees on this syntax. 16. 12] => (12 .8] Step 2: List all of the rotations of the pitch class set. and as far to the left as possible.4. or more simply.0] (transposed) ! ! ! ! ! 3.7] (transposed) $" "" "" $" [8.4] (original) [3.1.9. Generally. To rotate a PC Set.8.4. 16] => (16 . these should be reduced to 0-11 with "Modulo 12") ! Step 3: Determine which rotation of the PC Set has the minimum distance between the first and last numbers in the Set: o [0.com .6] ? Step 1: Put the Pitch Classes in numerical order => [0.12.6. Can you hear that they all have something in common? ! Pno.8) = 10 There is a tie! Versions [0. the "simplest" version of a PC set means that the pitches in the set are packed as tightly together possible. 6. ! ! #" "" [0. 8] => ( 8 .12] both have a minimum distance between first and last of 8 Pitch Class Sets 3 5/16/2004 .9].8.6.12] (note: numbers over twelve shown to demonstrate rotation. 4.4. ! Once you know the prime form of a PC set. understand. 16.9] (transposed & inverted) $" "" [ Similar Pitch Class Sets: Set Classes & Prime Forms Some pitch class sets are very similar. Example: What is the prime form of [8.0] (inversion). 4.

Option 6: Visualize the Pitch Class Set on a clock face and locate the prime form visually o Step 1: The shortest distance traveled around the clock.4] => [0. 10. 8] Step 7: Invert the pitch class set and reduce it using steps 1-5 above. For example.! Step 4: If there is a tie. 8 . 12-4. 2. For example. or 2) skip steps 6 & 7 above and look up the inversion in the table. The PC Set at this point is in "Normal" form.6.4. 10. o Invert [0. Option 3: Use the "Simplified Set List" at the back of Post Tonal Theory by Joseph N. 12. 10] o Find the best rotation: (last-first) (second-first) PC Set [0. 12-2.12] is preferred. Straus. is most packed to the left (has the smallest numbers)? That will be the Prime Form.com .8. 8. 12] 8 4 [8.8] => [ 12-0. 12] => ( 6 . 4.4.4.euph0r1a. then use the rotation that has the notes most packed towards the bottom. Step 5: If there is still a tie. 8. o Step 3: Check to see if the inversion is better packed.4. 4.8] is (0. [4. See the URL: http://www.2. Option 5: Use the table of all prime forms. 12 . 12 . 4. 8.7) : 8 11 10 9 8 4 7 6 2 5 0 1 2 3 4 0 1 0 10 9 8 7 6 5 11 0 1 2 3 4 5 7 ! ! ! ! 3. 8. 16 . 6. Option 2: Figure it out on the piano o Step 1: Keep rotating your chord until it is as small as possible.8). o Step 2: If there are ties. in our example. In our example. Step 6: Transpose the pitch class set so that the first number is zero: [4 . then look it up in the table of all PC Sets (see below).8.8. and the prime form of [2. the original or the inverted. 4] o Put in numerical order: [0.4. 16] 8 2 << Preferred [10.6.4 ! ! ! ! ! ! Pitch Class Sets 4 5/16/2004 . 8. 16. 12-8 ] => [12. and so on until the tie is resolved. choose the rotation which has a minimum distance between the first and second numbers: Distances between the first and second numbers: o [0. both forms produced the same Prime Form (this is because the original PC Set was "inversionally symmetric").8.9] is (01.8] => [0.0) = 4 o [4.4. o Step 2: Numbers packed as close to the starting point as possible. 8] Step 8: Which form. 4.8. Option 4: Use a MAX/MSP patch which displays the Prime form of a chord you play on your MIDI keyboard. then check the first and third numbers.composertools.4) = 2 So. 10 . 8] => ( 4 . 6 . 8) Determining the Prime Form: Easier Methods Option 1: Use an online tool at http://www.15.12.2. 10.net/projects/?handler=etrof . 20] 10 2 o Transpose down: [8 . 6. 1) Find the interval vector first. 4] => [0. 8. 4. and so the Prime Form is (0. the prime form of [0. 2. 10] 10 4 [4. 4.8. 10. 2.

then the distance between the two is a perfect 4th.1 Pitch Intervals The distance between any two pitches is called a "pitch interval". o m2 / M7 => 1 (half-steps) o M2 / m7 => 2 (whole-steps) o m3 / M6 => 3 (minor thirds) o M3 / m6 => 4 (major thirds) o P4 / P5 => 5 (perfect intervals) o A4 / d5 => 6 (tritones) ! The interval class number (1 to 6) is the count of half steps between two pitch classes. or tritones. This is the standard definition for an interval in music. For example: ! Ordered Intervals: = +17 half steps A"3 to D"5= Perfect 11th ascending D"5 to A"3= Perfect 11th descending = -17 half steps ! ! Un-ordered Intervals: A"3 to D"5= D"5 to A"3= 4. these entries in the interval vector are all set to zero (0). ! For the purposes of this tutorial. With a little experience. Interval Vectors An Interval Vector is a summary of all of the intervals between all pairs of pitches in a pitch class set. once you know the interval content of a PC Set. whole steps. It is. if you moved A"3 up an octave to A"4. you will be able to get a sense for how a PC Set sounds when you see its interval vector. The angle brackets appear to be the most common.3 < m2/M7 (half-step) m3/M6 (minor-3rd) P4/P5 (perfect) > M2/m7 (whole-step) M3/m6 (Major-3rd) A4/d5 (tritone) ! ! For example. This is because a C major chord contains one minor third (from E to G) one major third (from C to E) and one perfect interval from C to G). a C major chord is represented by the PC Set: [047] and has the interval vector <001110>. essentially. for a perfect interval. an interval vector will be represented with angle brackets as follows: ! 1 2 3 4 5 6 4. And so the interval class is a '5'. ! For example. ! There are six different interval classes which are numbered from 1 to 6.4 Interval Vectors An "Interval Vector" is a list of six numbers which summarizes the interval content in a PC Set. a histogram of all of the interval classes which can be found in a PC Set. Since a major chord contains no half steps. Pitch Class Sets 5 5/16/2004 . In other words. in the case of A"3 to D"5. Note that there is no agreed upon standard punctuation for representing an interval vector. but there are many other representations being used. 4. there are also many intervals which sound alike and so are put into the same Interval Class. it is the minimum distance between two pitches ignoring the octave displacement of either pitch. Further.2 ! Perfect 11th Perfect 11th = = 17 half steps 17 half steps Interval Classes In the same way that many pitches "sound alike" and are therefore put into the same Pitch Class. you will also be able to manipulate the sound of the PC Set by inversion and octave displacement of pitches to emphasize certain intervals over others.

8] = 1 o Step 3: For each difference in Step 2. This table is an indispensable aid for composers. [2. 2. diminished. [0. 7. [0. and augmented) and seventh chords (dominant. essentially. 7. 2] = 2.1 The Columns of Data in the Table For each prime form in the table. 7] [2. 8] [7. a table of all possible types of chords. the interval vector is: <110121> This means that the Pitch Class Set [0. subtract the smaller number from the larger number: [0. subtract the smaller number from the larger number. the formula for computing the number of intervals (Ni) from the number of pitchs (Pi) is: Number of Intervals = ( N*(N-1) ) / 2 o Step 2: For each pair. Not only does it contain all of the standard chords from tonal harmony such as triads (major. 8] = 8. major-minor sevenths. 7] = 7. 5. 8] [2. 1 whole-step. [2.). major-major sevenths.7) = <010020> with an additional pitch (8) that adds some significant 'bite'. minor sevenths. 8] contains the following interval classes: 1 half-step. If your PC Set has: It will contain: 2 pitches 1 interval 3 pitches 3 intervals 4 pitches 6 intervals 5 pitches 10 intervals 6 pitches 15 intervals Overall. 8] o Step 1: 4 pitches in the pitch class set = 6 intervals = 6 pairs of pitches: [0. Any chord which can be constructed using a 12-tone equal tempered scale is represented in the table. what I hear is a triad based on perfect fifths (0. etc. 8] o Step 2: For each pair. 1 major third. 2 perfect intervals. 11 10 9 8 7 o Step 3: Take the result of step 2 and increment 1 2 3 4 5 6 the appropriate slot in the interval vector using the chart on the right: ! Example: [0. for our example. 2. but it also contains all chord types used by modern composers as well. there are five columns of data: ! Column 1: The interval vector ! Column 2: The count of PC Sets which reduce to the prime form ! Column 3: The Forte code (see below) ! Column 4: The Prime Form PC Set ! Column 5: The inverted form (if different than the Prime Form) Pitch Class Sets 6 5/16/2004 . 5 The Table of All Prime Forms of PC Sets Please refer to the Appendix for a two-page table of all possible prime forms of Pitch Class Sets. minor.How to compute an interval vector: o Step 1: Go through all pairs of pitches in your PC Set. 7] = 5. via the half-step and tritone dissonance. since it is. 8] = 6. and 1 tritone When I listen to this PC Set [0278]. 2] [0.2. 7] [0. increment the appropriate slot from the chart above: 11 10 9 1 1 2 1 3 0 8 4 1 7 5 2 6 1 ! ! ! Therefore. [7.

(0. they are said to be "Z-Related".1. how could the types of these chords be specified? ! ! ! ##" " "" % & 4-Z15 [0. which was sequentially assigned by Dr. Since the Z-related sets contain the same intervals. Z-related forms are listed together. * $* * .10. ) ** * / * * / * #* * ( * * * .1.#* * * * * .1.8. etc. ! The first number (5-) specifies the number of pitches in the pitch class set. into 13 sections (from 0 pitches to 12 pitches per PC Set).7] 4-Z15 [0. 11.6] " " #" " 4-Z29 [9. one after the other (see section 5.3. the number of chord types used by in common practice music is quite small.6.8) Stravinsky: Rite of Spring 4-19: (0. To conserve space. The Structure of Atonal Music.4. many music theorists will label them using the Forte designation. and when one can not be reduced to the other (by inversion or transposition). Forte when the table was first created. Within each group the list is sorted by interval vector.. and C for the numbers 10.4. ! The Forte Code for all PC Sets which are Z related contains a 'Z' in the PC Set ID.0.4 Pno.4. For example.5.7. . (0.2. Forte when he first created the table. For example.g.9.3 Forte Names Allen Forte's book. prime forms (208) and chord qualities (351).9). * / * * 7-Z36: (0. and so on. . types of scales. They sound similar to each other. the table uses the letters A.3.1.8) Bernard Herrmann: "Psycho" Prelude Pitch Class Sets 7 5/16/2004 .. then vectors with the most whole-step intervals. ! When analyzing PC Sets.* * * * * * * * * * * . 5. Listen for the intervals they contain.7.6] " ##" "" & 4-Z29 [0.8) or (01378) ) is becoming more common.6] " " $$" " $$" " " " 4-Z15 [0. 7) is labeled as {min} because it is a minor triad. ! 'Z' doesn't stand for anything.7) is listed to the left of set 8-16.1. such as 5-20. try playing the following PC Sets on the piano. it is just an identifier chosen by Dr. For some reason. he labeled each prime form of the PC Set with a unique designation.4. ! # ! # # # ** * * + % ## ##* * # #* * + 7-32: (0. (0. in my mind.4. and 12.4) Commonly known pitch class sets (e. although simply using the prime form (e.5. (0. For example. o This implies that there is a very number of chords yet to be thoroughly explored! ! The following music shows some very famous chords. * * * . ! Along the same lines. I was surprised that it contained so few interval vectors (200). With the exception of the sets of 6 Pitch Classes. ! Z-related sets are "close cousins" to one another. In his table. ! Z-Related Sets When two prime forms produce the same interval vector.'' ( * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * $$ ** ** .3. set 4-16. With out PC Sets.8.'' * ** * ( .2. . each set is listed opposite of its "complement".) are labeled with {curly braces}. I had always thought that the complete list of possible chord types was much much larger.1. but not as similar as sets related by (say) transposition or inversion.1.5 Other Comments on the Table When I first encountered the table.9) Stravinsky: Rite of Spring * ** * + * * * * + * ** * + * * * * + * ** * + * * * * + .3.5. . well-known chord qualities. 6-Z25.6.6.1] Pno. as few as a dozen different types chords. A set and its complement share many similar properties (see below for a discussion of Pitch Class Set complements). * * # * #* .1. published the first version of this table..g.7] $$" " " " #" " $$" " 4-Z15 [1.1. .6.2 ! ! ! ! ! ! The Layout of the PC Sets in the Table The PC Sets are grouped in the table by size. or "Z Correspondents".5. ! The second number (20) is a unique number given to the prime form. 5.4. do they not sound at least somewhat similar? ! 5.4] $" " " " 4-Z29 [0. For example. 3. B.. * / #* * / . / * * * * .1..7] 4-Z29 [6. ) / * / ( #* * * * * * # * * * * . Interval vectors with the most half-step intervals are listed first. perhaps as many as 20 if you include Jazz chords.3.3..7.

6.7] + [0.8]+[0.2.2] + [0.] => [0.7]{transposed by 6 halfsteps} => [0.1.2. restrict sections of your music to use only portions of a larger PC set and then grow the PC set over time. 12-6+8] => [0. where one is transposed.1.8] = three tritone intervals PC subsets and supersets are a very useful compositional technique.8]+[0.6] + [8. ! For Example.8] ! Note: The result of an inversional combination will always be "inversionally symmetric" (see below for a discussion of inversional symmetry) 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 0 1 2 3 4 10 9 8 7 6 5 11 0 1 2 3 4 10 9 8 7 6 5 11 0 1 2 3 4 Transpositional Combination Transpositional Combination Inversional Combination Pitch Class Sets 8 5/16/2004 . i.8] $" "" " $$" " [1.19.2] = two chromatic clusters Subsets 5: => [0.6]{invert and transpose by 8 half steps} => [0.7. and manipulate your harmonies.6.1.8] ! ! $ #" " " $ $" "" % & [0.2] + [6. o Put the sub-sets in different registers to emphasize their unique sounds (see examples below). 12-1+]+[0.1.8] + [0.2.7] + [ also PC Sets in their own right.7.8] $" $$" " " " " [0. This will help you to use.14] => [0.2 Definition: Inversional Combination of Two Common Subsets Inversional combination: When a superset is created from two equal subsets.1.6. ! Other things to experiment with: o Use subsets for growth.1.1.6]+[1.2. Be sure to explore all of the subsets for PC Sets that you use (see ComposerTools. making your harmonies denser and more complex.7] = a simple fifth + a complex chord (a dominant+tonic sound) Subsets 3: => [1.6. space.7.8) is quite dissonant and has the interval vector <420423>.7] + [0.7] + [2.7.7]+[2.6.6.e.1.6] + [8.2] => [0.8]]{transposed by 6 halfsteps} => [0.8] + [0.7] " $$"" " $" " $" $$"" " $#"" " [6.1.6] + [12-0+8. where one is inverted (and possibly transposed) ! Example: [0. which is the "superset".2.6] + [0. The smaller PC Sets are said to be "subsets" of the larger PC Set.2.2. These pieces are.com).8] [1.2.6 Subsets and Supersets Any of the larger PC Sets can be divided into pieces.1. of course.6.2] #" " " $" $" " [0.6] + [1.2.1 ! ! ! !] = two quintal/quartal triads Subsets 2: => [1. the superset (0. It contains the following subsets: Subsets 1: => [0.2.8] Example 2: [0. 8] = a tritone + whole-tone-scale fragment Subsets 4: => [6.7] + [1.1. 2. o Construct melodies from sub-sets which can be combined together to create Definition: Transpositional Combination of Two Common Subsets Transpositional combination: When a superset is created from two equal subsets.7]+[1.7. Example 1: [] => [0.

7 pitch classes) and the difference (D) between 5 and 7 is (12-5*2) = 2.8.5. o If the interval vector for the original PC Set is <I1.1. 8.8.9. I2.2. I5+D.4. 1+(4/2)> = <546553> 7. I4.1. When someone says that a PC Set is the complement of some other PC Set.3.5.7) (0.2 ! Some famous complements: o Pentatonic Scale (5 Pitches) : <032140> " Diatonic Scale (7 Pitches) : <254361> o Octatonic Scale (8 Pitches) : <448444> " doubly-diminished 7th chord (4 Pitches) : <004002> 6-note complements The complement of a set with 6 Pitch Classes will itself have 6 Pitch Classes Therefore.3. there is a simple formula for computing the interval vector of a complement: o How many more pitch classes does the complement have? Call this 'D'. 1+4. I3.9) o 8-4=D=4 o The complement's interval vector is: <1+4.6. it's complement will have (12-X) pitch classes. I3+D. the complement will have (12-5) pitches (i. ! ! ! PC Set Complements and Their Interval Vectors A Pitch Class Set and its complement will have very similar interval vectors. its interval vector grows by D/2.9) (0.8. Example: (0.7] and [2. ! Note: If the original PC set has X pitch classes. are abstract complements of each other ! The prime forms of abstract complements are listed side-by-side in the PC Set table found in the Appendix (except for the sets of 6 pitch classes).2. 2+4.1.11] are literal complements of each other ! Abstract Complement: When two PC Sets would be complements of each other. I4+D. a 6-note complement will always have the same interval vector as it's complement! True! ! ! #" " "" % & " $$$" "" # " $$ " "" (0. except that one is transposed or inverted from the other.2.5.6. 4-18 and 8-18 are abstract complements of each other.1.1.3. 4.6. 10}.10. 6.5. For this reason. Example: [0.8. For example. In fact.1.9) 7.1. ! Example: o 4-18:(0.4. 0+4.3 ! ! ! ! Pitch Class Sets 9 5/16/2004 . o Also note that D is always an even number {0. it usually means that they are Abstract Complements of each other. ! Note that the Forte designation for a PC Set and it's complement will always have the same PC Set ID number (after the dash). I5.7) $" " " " & $$"" $" " $" " " " (0.7) has 4 pitch classes and an interval vector of <102111> o It's complement is 8-18:(0.7) and (0. and so D/2 will always be an integer number (never a fraction). and the difference between the two will be: D = (12-X)-X = (12-X*2) ! For example.5. Therefore.6. the difference in number of Pitch Classes is always 0 (zero).1 Definitions Literal Complement: When one PC Set contains all of the Pitch Classes not in some other PC Set.2.e. 1+4.1.6. I2+D. 2. I6+ (D/2) > o Note that the tritone is special because it divides the 12-tone chromatic scale exactly in half.4.8.4. if the original PC set has 5 pitches.7 PC Set Complements 7.1. I6> o Then the interval vector for the complement will be: <I1+D.

2. For more harmonic variety.5.7. the last 6 notes of a 12-tone row are the PC Set complement of the first 6 notes For more harmonic cohesiveness.6.3.8) <122212> 6-Z43:(0.3. i. <112101> 5-28:(0.8) <322332> Note: This is just a sample.5.8) <322332> 9-2:(! Since all PC Sets with 6 pitches have a complement with the same interval vector.1. where the 2nd half is a transposed inversion of the first half (further discussion is beyond the scope of this tutorial). make the first and last 6 notes of the row Z-related PC-sets. there are only two ways that one of these PC Sets can be related to its complement: o The set is "self complementary".5.9) <344433> 6-Z17:(0. because: o If you take any 12-tone row and divide it up into two pieces at any point.1.9) <876663> 8-12:( the set and it's complement have the same prime form.3.4 ! PC Set Complements Used in Twelve Tone Composition PC Set complements are critically important when composing music with 12-tone rows. make the first and last 6 notes of the row the same PC Set.1. This is a favored technique of late Schoenberg compositions.4.4.9) <556543> 7-28:(0.7.e. for example. Op. ! For example. 0 1 11 10 9 8 3 7 6 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 7 0 9 2 3 4 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 0 1 2 3 4 9 6 Self-Complementary Set {6-30} with 6 Pitch Classes Z-Related Sets with 6 Pitch Classes 6-Z23 6-Z45 7.5. many more combinations are possible ! ! ! ! By definition.7. then o the two pieces will have similar (or exactly the same) interval content. consider the following 12-tone row: ') ! ! ( -* Schoenberg.3. self complementary and possibly inversionally related. 25 -* -* $* -* -* -* #* #* #* #* -* 3-2:(0. ! This is one of the reasons why a 12-tone composition has a "built-in" harmonic cohesiveness.2. Pitch Class Sets 10 5/16/2004 .3) <111000> 4-12:(0.2. o The set and its complement are Z-related: Two sets with the same interval vector but which can not be reduced to the same Prime Form by transposition or inversion. This is the first step towards hexachordal combinatoriality: where a 12-tone row is made up of two similar halves. that is.1.

7] ( 4-16:(0. rather than one (see above for an example).1.7) o Step 2: Lookup the PC Set. they will transition smoothly from one to the other. 0 ! ! 1 * * $* * + * * $* * . ! As a second example. ! ! Except: For tritones (it would figure). * Using common tone transposition to smoothly transpose a [0. if the interval vector of the PC Set is: <324222> (6-Z13).4. <102210>.6. Suppose it is (0. Simply look up the transposing interval in the interval vector.7] is transposed by a major third it becomes [4. For example.5.7. if [0.3.6] Shows the common tones when [0.4.5. 4.8]. For example.3. You can use this fact for composition to either make transitions smoother or more abrupt.11].4. o Based on the interval vector <102210>. 4. If they have few common tones. If two adjacent harmonies in your music have many common tones. 7] and [1. 3. 3.1.7).8 More Properties of Pitch Class Sets and Interval Vectors 8.2. then the transition will be less smooth.7) ) figure ( 2 ! ! ( $2 22 2 2 2 $2 2 22 2 2 2 $2 2 22 2 2 2 2 $2 22 2 2 2 Transposing up using two common tones Pitch Class Sets 11 5/16/2004 .4.7] is transposed up by various intervals. o Step 3: The elements of the PC Set will tell you how many common tones to expect as you transpose the PC Set. (0. The interval vector can tell you how many common tones you will have after transposing a pitch class set. o For example. you would get two common pitch class sets. *+ * * * $* * * #* -* . you get double the number of common pitches as specified in the interval vector. The original PC Set and the transposed PC Set have one common tone (4 = E). and the number you find will be the number of common tones after transposing the pitch class set.8.1. which has two common tones (4 and 7).7] $" *" $" m2 M2 #" "" " $$$" " ** m3 #" * *" m3 *" $" " P4 #$$" " "" Tritone #$" "" $* *" Transpose by a Tritone [0.3. How does the interval vector help? Take any Pitch Class Set Algorithm: o Step 1: Find the Prime Form of your PC Set. in the Prime Forms table and find its interval vector. if [0. if you transpose [0.4. When transposing by a tritone.7] is transposed by a half-step it becomes [1.3. ! For example. 8] are 3 and 4.4. the common tones between [0. and if you transpose the PC Set by a minor third. you will have 4 common tones between the original PC Set and the transposed PC Set.3.6] by a tritone.3. these are called the "common tones".4.1 ! ! ! ! ! Common Tones when Transposed If two PC Sets contain the same pitches. here is a complete list of how many common tones to expect when the PC Set is transposed: ! a half-step => 1 pitch class remains the same ! a whole-step => All new pitch classes ! a minor-third => 2 pitch classes remains the same ! a major third => 2 pitch classes remains the same => 1 pitch class remains the same ! a perfect 4th ! a tritone => All new pitch classes ( " ! ! ($" "" [0. For example: o Use for common tone transposition / modulation: Transpose a PC Set around a common tone for smoother transitions.

0 0 one common three new 2 3 4 7 6 5 11 10 9 8 7 1 2 3 4 10 9 8 11 1 6 5 inversionally symmetric along two axis two common two new ! Pitch Class Sets .1.e.o Alternatively.10) which has the interval vector <254361> o Transpose the scale by a fifth or fourth (i. . A PC Set which can invert to itself (on some axis of inversion) is said to be "Inversionally Symmetric". OR: when looking at the table of all prime forms in the Appendix. o For example. * -$* Alternating inversions of (0. ! 8. and 1 new pitch class.6. if a PC Set has no entry in the "inversion" column. in tonal music.1. ! $* * #-* *++ 2 % 2 2 *++ * 2 2 2 . Also. the PC Set 6-8 has 6 pitches and the interval vector <343230>. any PC Set with a "Count" column smaller than 12 has some Transpositional Symmetry.6.5. the interval vector can be used to help identify when a PC Set can be combined with itself to make larger PC Sets with all unique pitches. ! The whole tone scale: 6-35:(0. then the PC Set can be transposed to itself with all pitch classes in common. modulate to the dominant or the sub-dominant) and there will be 6 common pitch classes.2 ! ! ! ! ! ! Inversional Symmetry The best way to see if (and how) a PC Set contains common pitch classes when inverted is to visualize the PC set on a clock face. o Remember to double the value of the tritones entry (from 3 to 6).4. o This gives rise. For example: C Major to C# Major. ! If any entry of the interval vector is equal to the number of pitch classes in the set. and there will be only 2 common pitches and 5 new ones. ! Diatonic Scale. Both of these scales have some rather interesting properties when they are transposed. Otherwise. This PC Set can be combined with itself by transposing it a tritone to make up a complete twelve tone row.6.1.10) has interval vector <060603> o Transpose this scale by any interval and either 1) all the pitch classes will be new or 2) all the pitch classes will be different.3." ! In the Pitch Class Set Table. then it is inversionally symmetric on at least one axis. * $* * #-* *++ -$* 2 2 2 *++ * 2 2 2 .7) with two common tones 12 5/16/2004 . In the following examples. there is no special math involved to determine inversional symmetry. transpose with all new notes to emphasize the difference. and the second is not. 7-35:(0. or C Major to B major. This is called "Transpositional Symmetry.8. 8.2.8. Looking for inversions and inversional symmetry is another way to manipulate PC Sets to get new sounds.1 More Examples and Transpositional Symmetry Let us consider two interesting PC Sets: The diatonic scale and the whole tone scale. o Transpose the scale by a half step. the first PC Set is inversionally symmetric. and then look for one or more axis of symmetry. to the notion of "near" and "distant" keys.

For example. R1. o Not a very useful measure.9 Other PC Set Similarity Relations This section covers other ways in which two PC Sets can be related. and their interval vectors are as similar as they can be without being equal o This will be the case when the 4 of the 6 entries in the interval vector are the same. rather than the presence or total absence of intervals. and the two entries are merely exchanged from one to the other.1. R2 Rp => When two PC Sets are the same except for one different pitch class.5. For example. as long as the two sets are related by Rp. Other techniques for generating related PC Sets Rotational arrays: Used by Oliver Knussen and Igor Stravinsky Intervallic projection to relate subsets and supersets: o Add notes to a PC Set by projecting up from the top note by a certain interval o For example: Quartal / Quintal harmony is created by projecting by adding a note to a PC set which is a perfect 4th or 5th above the last note added o Or this can be done with alternating intervals (i. you could choose a PC Set and compose a work which is made up of just the original PC Set plus other.4) has interval vector <221100> o 4-13:(0. you can go from PC Set 1 to PC Set 2 by changing a single note.4) has interval vector <221100> o 4-3: (0. except that the two different entries are not merely an exchange of numbers.4) has interval vector <212100> o Note the highlighted entries in the interval vector are the only ones which are different. for example: o 4-2:(0.6) has interval vector <112011> o There is no interval which has the same count in both interval vectors. this can be a useful compositional technique.1. Note that you can explore many of these similarity relations at http://www.2 ! ! Pitch Class Sets 13 5/16/2004 .3.com .e. R1 => When two PC Sets have the same number of pitch classes.ComposerTools. i. first add a 5th.1.2.3. this is one way to "morph" PC sets. since it has to do with the relative strengths of the intervals. Similarly. you will likely want to avoid similarly related PC Sets.4.6) has interval vector <222121> Note that R1 and R2 are also Rp. etc) ! ! ! ! 9.3.1. o But not too useful for analysis.2. closely related sets. if you are looking for dramatic color contrasts. and the remaining two entries are simply exchanged. but no interval vector entries in common. 9. For example: o 5-10: (0. R0.3. R2 => Just like R1.1.e. Such a composition should have a fairly consistent harmonic color throughout. one note different o Very useful for composers.1 ! Special Purpose Relations: Rp.6) has interval vector <223111> o 5-Z12: (0. then a tritone. for example: o 4-2: (0. Again.1. since this relates many PC sets to many many other PC sets R0 => When two PC Sets have the same number of pitch classes.

3.7) (0.5) [0.7] (0.1.9) [0.9) [} (0.7]{maj} Sets of 9 pitch classes. [0.2. 6 qualities.A) [ [0.4.6) ( (0. 28 intvls (28 vectors.6.8){7+5} (0.7.6.A) ( 3 intvls (12 vectors.3.4.9) ( (] (0.3){minor-third} (0.3.7) ( 19 qualities.2.8. 1 quality.6.5.4) (0.6) [0. 43 qualities.5.7){min} (] (0.7.4) (0. 1 intervals (6 vectors.5.5) (] (] [ [] ( (0.A) ( ( [] (0.7) (] (0.9] [0.6){It.7.7) [ (0.6.7) [0.6) [] [0.6.8){mM7} [] ({hd7} [] ({major-third} ( 66 total) Sets of 3 pitch classes. [0.6){dim} (0.5) (0.4.7.A) Sets of 11 pitch classes.8.9) [] ( ( (] ( (] [ (] [ 220 total) [0.A] Sets of 4 pitch classes.6.2. 55 intervals (1 vector.} (0.6. 6 qualities.7.3. 66 total) Sets of 12 pitch classes.3) (0.2.9] (0.8.9) ({aug} inverted form interval vector Forte prime count code form inverted form Sets of 0 pitch classes.6.3.A) (0.4) ( (] (0.1. 0 intervals (1 vector.] [{chromatic} (0. 45 intervals (6 vectors. (0.9] ( (0.2.5) [ (0.4.8){fr.. ( (0.5.1.A) (0.5.6) [0.1.2. 495 total) (0.6.6.A) ( 12 total) Sets of 2 pitch classes.8.2.3. 0 intervals (1 vector.9) ({min7.3.2. 1 quality.4. 1 quality. ( [0.5.A) (] (0.5.8) [ (0.1.8) [0.3.A) ( of All PC Set Prime Forms interval vector <000000> <000000> <100000> <010000> <001000> <000100> <000010> <000001> <210000> <111000> <101100> <100110> <100011> <020100> <011010> <010101> <010020> <002001> <001110> <000300> <321000> <221100> <212100> <211110> <210111> <210021> <201210> <200121> <200022> <122010> <121110> <112101> <112011> <111120> <111111> <110121> <102210> <102111> <101310> <101220> <030201> <021120> <021030> <020301> <020202> <012120> <012111> <004002> Forte prime count code form (1) (12) (12) (12) (12) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (24) (24) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (24) (4) (12) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (24) (24) (24) (48) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (24) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (3) 3-1: 3-2: 3-3: 3-4: 3-5: 3-6: 3-7: 3-8: 3-9: 3-10: 3-11: 3-12: 4-1: 4-2: 4-3: 4-4: 4-5: 4-6: 4-7: 4-8: 4-9: 4-10: 4-11: 4-12: 4-13: 4-14: 4-Z15: 4-Z29: 4-16: 4-17: 4-18: 4-19: 4-20: 4-21: 4-22: 4-23: 4-24: 4-25: 4-26: 4-27: 4-28: (){silence} (0){single-note} (0.9) (} (0.5.A) ( (0. 495 total) (0.9) (] (] (0.5.6){tritone} (0.A) ( [ 1 total) <CCCCC6> (1) <AAAAA5>(12) <988884> <898884> <889884> <888984> <888894> <888885> <876663> <777663> <767763> <766773> <766674> <686763> <677673> <676764> <676683> <668664> <667773> <666963> <765442> <665542> <656542> <655552> <654553> <654463> <645652> <644563> <644464> <566452> <565552> <556543> <556453> <555562> <555553> <554563> <546652> <546553> <545752> <545662> <474643> <465562> <465472> <464743> <464644> <456562> <456553> <448444> (12) (12) (12) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (24) (24) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (24) (4) (12) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (24) (24) (24) (48) (24) (12) (24) (24) (12) (12) (24) (12) (12) (6) (12) (24) (3) 9-1: 9-2: 9-3: 9-4: 9-5: 9-6: 9-7: 9-8: 9-9: 9-10: 9-11: 9-12: 8-1: 8-2: 8-3: 8-4: 8-5: 8-6: 8-7: 8-8: 8-9: 8-10: 8-11: 8-12: 8-13: 8-14: 8-Z15: 8-Z29: 8-16: 8-17: 8-18: 8-19: 8-20: 8-21: 8-22: 8-23: 8-24: 8-25: 8-26: 8-27: 8-28: (0. 1 quality.] [ 220 total) [0.9. 66 intervals (1 vector.3.4. 1 total) Sets of 1 pitch classes.9] (0. 6 intvls (28 vectors.5){perfect} (] ( 43 qualities.6] (0. 12 total) Sets of 10 pitch classes.6) (0.4.A] [0.9.6.A] [ (0.1.9] (0.5.6. 19 qualities.3.8] ( .9) [0.1){half-step} (0.8]{dom7} (] ( [0.1.8){maj7} ({whole-step} (0.A.] [0.8] ( [0.3] [0.7.7. 36 intvls (12 vectors.] [{octatonic} Pitch Class Sets 14 5/16/2004 . (0.7){quar-3} (0.A) (0.8.7) [] (0.2.1.A) ( [] (0.5.9] (0.6) [{dd7} Sets of 8 pitch classes.3.1.2) ({quar-4} ( [0.4.7] <212320> (24) 5-Z17: ( (0.1.9) [0.7] <123121> (24) 5-25: ( [ [0.8.7) (0.9]{dom11} (24) 6-34: ( [ [ [0.9]{7+9} <040402> (12) 5-33: (] <434343> (24) 7-19: ( [0.9] <344532> (24) 7-26: ( (] <322210> (24) 5-3: ( [] <443532> (24) 7-13: (] <344433> (24) 7-28: ( [ [] [0.7.7) [0. 924 total) <543210> <443211> <433221> <432321> <422232> <421242> <420243> <343230> <342231> <333321> <333231> <332232> <324222> <323430> <323421> <322431> <322332> Totals: (12) 6-1: (24) 6-2: (48) 6-Z3: 6-Z36: (24) 6-Z4: 6-Z37: (24) 6-5: (24) 6-Z6: 6-Z38: (6) 6-7: (12) 6-8: (24) 6-9: (48) 6-Z10: 6-Z39: (48) 6-Z11: 6-Z40: (48) 6-Z12: 6-Z41: (24) 6-Z13: 6-Z42: (24) 6-14: (24) 6-15: (24) 6-16: (48) 6-Z17: 6-Z43: ( (] <122311> (24) 5-26: ( [ <254442> (12) 7-34: (0.3.7) [0.6.3. 21 intvls (35 vectors. [0.7) (] <221131> (24) 5-14: (0.2.8] <122131> (24) 5-29: ( [0.8] <122230> (24) 5-27: ( 7-Z36: ( ( (12) 6-30: (0.7) (0.6) [] <222220> (24) 5-11: (] <121321> (24) 5-30: (] <443352> (24) 7-14: ( [0.8) <435432> (24) 7-16: (0. 1.6) [] 6-Z46: (] (24) 6-Z28: ( [ 792 total) <654321> (12) 7-1: (0.5.7] <221311> (24) 5-13: (0.9) [0.4.8) ( [] <344451> (24) 7-27: ( [] [ [0.8] [ [] [0.1.8) <434442> (48) 7-Z18: ( [ [ [0.1.9] <434541> (24) 7-Z17: ( [ [0.2.8) <212221> (48) 5-Z18: ( [0.8] <114112> (24) 5-31: (0.2. 66 qualities.2.8] (24) 6-22: (0. does not include (0. 15 intervals (35 vectors.2.7] [] <262623> (12) 7-33: (0.8] <212122> (24) 5-19: (] <533442> (24) 7-6: ( [] Sets of 7 pitch classes.4.1.9] (48) 6-Z25: ( [0.6) <554331> (24) 7-2: (] <220222> (12) 5-15: (0.7) [ [0.8) [{diatonic} <322242> <313431> <303630> <242412> <241422> <234222> <233331> <233241> (24) 6-18: (0.8] [0.9) [ (]{7-9} <113221> (24) 5-32: ( [ [0.9) [] <444441> (24) 7-11: ( [] <222121> (36) 5-Z12: (0.7.9) [0.7] <544431> (24) 7-3: (0. 10.] <202420> (24) 5-21: (0.1.6] <223111> (24) 5-10: (0.4.7) [] <311221> (24) 5-6: (0.7] <211231> (24) 5-20: (0.5.8) [ (] (2) 6-35: (] <544332> (24) 7-4: (0.9) (24) 6-21: (] [] <344352> (24) 7-29: (0.3.3.A) <254361> (12) 7-35: (0.6) <231211> (24) 5-9: (0.7.9) 7-Z37: ( 5-Z37: (] 5-Z38: (] <322111> (24) 5-4: ( (24) 6-Z29: ({harm-min} [ [0.8) [0.9] <335442> (24) 7-32: (0.9){min11} (24) 6-33: ( [] [ [] <454422> (12) 7-8: (0.8) [0.5.4) <332110> (24) 5-2: (0.9] 7-Z38: (} <032221> (12) 5-34: (] <424542> (12) 7-22: (0.9) 6-Z49: (] <442443> (12) 7-15: ( 6-Z45: (] <343542> (24) 7-30: (0.6.7] [0.4.6] <310132> (24) 5-7: (0.9] <336333> (24) 7-31: (0.5.7. 66 qualities.6.3.9) (0.3.8] <202321> (12) 5-22: (0.8) [ [] [] <353442> (24) 7-24: ( (48) 6-Z24: (0.8] <532353> (24) 7-7: (0.6.8) ( 5-Z36: (0.3.6) (0.1.7) (]{min9} <122212> (24) 5-28: ({hungar-min} <354351> (24) 7-23: ( [ [ (0.8] <444342> (36) 7-Z12: ( (0.7.3. 80 qualities.9] <424641> (24) 7-21: (0.6.9){dom9} <032140> (12) 5-35: ( ( (24) 6-27: (0.8) <132130> (24) 5-23: (] [0.8) (] (24) 6-Z23: (0.8) [0.8] <445332> (24) 7-10: (] (24) 6-Z26: ({9+5.7.8) [ (0.8.8) <453432> (24) 7-9: ( 6-Z48: (] 200 208 351 4095 <232341> <225222> <224322> <224232> <224223> <223431> <143250> <143241> <142422> <060603> Total unique interval vectors: Total prime forms: Total unique chord qualities: Total pitch collections: (according to the Forte designations. ( [ 10 intvls (35 vectors.{pentatonic.2.8) [] <232201> (12) 5-8: (0.1.6.A){wholetone} [ [0. 792 total) <432100> (12) 5-1: (] 6-Z44: (] (12) 6-32: (0.7) [0.7] <543342> (24) 7-5: (0.2.Quar-5} Sets of 6 pitch classes.6.8) ( (0.8) [0.8) [0.7) [0.5.7.interval vector Forte prime count code form inverted form interval vector Forte prime count code form inverted form Sets of 5 pitch classes.] [] <131221> (24) 5-24: (0.2.7) [ [ [ [] [] 6-Z47: (] [ <213211> (24) 5-16: ( [0.1.6] <321121> (24) 5-5: (0.2.9] (4) 6-20: (0.6) [ (] (48) 6-Z19: (0.9] <433452> (24) 7-20: (0.3.9] <345342> (24) 7-25: ( 12 element PC sets) (the prime forms plus inversions of all PC sets shown above) (includes all transpositions and inversions of all PC sets shown above) Pitch Class Sets 15 5/16/2004 .6.8) [0.1.9] (24) 6-31: ( [0.9) 6-Z50: (0.

9] +4 +4 +4 +4 +4 =[4. beginning with the upper pitch of the largest interval. 2. 4.perfect fourths & fifths f) 6 . 8.9 . the Pitch-class set -A group of pitch-classes. Number from 0. 10.11 . 1] 3. -2. 6.semitones & major sevenths b) 2. 6] 4. Inversion -Replacing every interval in a set with its complement.whole tones & minor sevenths c) 3. each different from the others. Pitch-Class Sets 1. -6 = [0.7 . (starting on any pitch class) b) Find the largest interval between consecutive pitches.6] 12 12 12 -0. this is the lowest ordering).10 . Reorder the pitches. its complement. Interval-Classes -An interval-class contains an interval.. (its complement) 5.assigning 0 to whatever pitch-class is a convenient focal point. and transpose to begin on 0. Pitches & Intervals 1. b) Fixed-Zero notation.9] 2.minor thirds & major sixths d) 4. Naming Pitch-class sets -The form of a pitch-class set in normal order with the first integer being 0 is the Prime form. Ex: [0. rewrite the pitches from right to left.& Movable-Zero -Two methods of assigning the number 0 to a pitch-class: a) Movable-Zero notation. 11. subtract its number from 12. c) If the last interval in step2 is the same size or smaller than the first interval.8 . (If the last interval is larger than the first interval.using 0 for the pitch-class C.2.tritones B.7. 7. Compare this new result to the result(s) in step 2 to find the lowest ordering.PITCH-CLASS SETS & RELATIONS A. and all compounds: a) 1. (note: if the number of the upper pitch is smaller than the lower. 4. Fixed. write the complement of each number. Calculating harmonic Intervals -Harmonic Intervals are calculated by subtracting the lower pitch from that of the upper pitch. Transposition -A pitch-class set is transposed by adding the interval of transposition to each pitch number. add 12 to the upper before subtracting ) -Compound intervals (larger than an 8va) are reduced by subtracting 12 or multiples of 12 until the number is between 0 and 11. 2.Numbering pitch-classes -The numbers 0 to 11 refer to the twelve different pitch-classes in ascending semitones. .2. subtracting from 12 any pitch numbers over 11.4. ex: [0. Ex: [0.major thirds & minor sixths e) 5. 3. Inverting Intervals -To invert an interval. -Three main steps for figuring out this lowest ordering: a) Notate all the pitches in ascending order within an octave.

(see above for details) 2.For a set to be a member of the set complex Kh about a pair A/B.2.10] is a subset of 5-30: [2. Equivalence relations -Two pitch class-sets are said to be equivalent if and only if they are reducible to the same prime form by transposition or by inversion followed by transposition. C. 2. Ex: 4-19: [2.6.A subset is a pitch-class set that is part of a larger set or superset.0 [0.7] 0 1 5 6 7 4 5 6 1 2 1 b) Count the number of digits representing each interval class: Ex: # of instances: Interval-class: 3 1 0 1 3 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 D. called the nexus set.8. Ex: [0. Inclusion relations -Subsets & Supersets.7. (Ex: Set 6-27 is a subset of 7-32 and also contains 5-32) 5. by the inclusion relation: a) set complex K. Related Pitch-Class Sets 1. a) Take the first number (other than 0) and subtract each of the other numbers of the set working your way down to one digit.1.5.5. Similarity relations -Pitch-class sets (whether transpositions or inversions of one set or different sets) can also be related to one another by the number of pitches or the number of intervals they have in common.the transposition and/or inversion of one or both complement-related pc sets without losing the fundamental association between them. Complement relations -The set of 12 pitch-class integers comprises the universal set U. (Ex: 6-Z44 is a member of the set complex K about 5-32/7-32) b) set complex Kh.6] (reversed order) (the complement of each) (transposed to begin on 0) 5. 0 6.6. those sets are said to be in the set complex K about the pair A/B. Set Complexes -A group of sets related to a single set.10] 3.the remaining pitches not found in that set. Interval Content 1. it must be in an inclusion relation to both A and B.1.3. the set complex K consists of all the sets that are in an inclusion relation (subset or superset) with either A or B.) . Relation Interpreted as: Rp Maximum similarity with respect to pitch class R0 Minimum similarity with respect to interval class R1 Maximum similarity “ “ “ (note: the relation maximum similarity with respect to both pitch class and interval class will be regarded as more significant than pitch or interval class similarity alone.10. Like tonal scales.Ex: [0. a) the Literal complement.4. b) the transformed complement.5. nontonal pitch class sets provide the notes out of which melodies and harmonies arise.6] 6. Pitch-class sets in Nontonal Music -Pitch-class sets in nontonal music are analogous to scales in tonal music . the set of all elements from which sets of cardinal number less than 12 are drawn. 4. the Interval Vector -The interval content of a pitch-class set is the total of all its intervals.6.Given a set A and its complementB.3.

•reversal in time. Combinatoriality In music using the twelve tone technique combinatoriality is a side-effect of derived rows where combining different segments or sets such that the pitch class content of the result fulfills certain criteria. one of which is an inversion and one is not. dynamics and other aspects of music other than the pitch can be freely chosen by the composer. but it is Schoenberg's method which is historically the most prevalent and considered easily the most important. The opposite is partitioning. at the exact same time and country but with no connection to Schoenberg. not least by Schoenberg himself. •The various transformations can be combined. tetrachords. the "rules" of twelve-tone technique have been bent and broken many times. and intervals (di) or interval classes (ic). Anton Webern often used derived rows in his pieces. George Perle describes their use as "pivots" or non-tonal ways of emphasizing certain pitches. Offshoots or variations may produce music in which: • • the full chromatic is used and constantly circulates. and there are also no rules about which tone rows should be used at which time (beyond them all being derived from the prime series. The tone row chosen as the basis of the piece is called the prime series (P). retrograde. but the order of the notes in the tone row must be maintained. usually the combination of hexachords which complete the full chromatic. most often through registral difference Invariance Invariant formations are also the side effect of derived rows where a segment of a set remains similar or the same under transformation (inversion. without recourse to the twelve-tone technique at all.Twelve-Tone Technique Twelve-tone technique (also dodecaphony) is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg. Given the twelve pitch classes of the chromatic scale. retrograde. the technique demands that one statement of the tone row must be heard in full (otherwise known as aggregate completion) before another can begin. the use of methods to create segments from sets. the retrograde inversion of which is identical to the prime form. and the notes can appear in any octave. Adjacent notes in the row can be sounded at the same time. giving the inversion (I): I(?) = 12 . These statements may appear serially. Untransposed. These invariants can take the form of pcs. or may overlap. the generator. inversion. Hexachordal inversional combinatoriality refers to any two rows. and the retrograde of which is identical to the inversion (thus. retrograde-inversion. the most common being the first three pitches or a trichord. giving the retrograde (R) •reversal in pitch. or any combination to produce the other parts of the row (in this case. giving a maximum of 48 possible tone rows. The first row's first half. When twelve-tone technique is strictly applied. it is notated as P0. Josef Matthias Hauer also developed a similar system using unordered hexachords. I and RI can each be started on any of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. R. When rigorously applied. Thus the first half of each row is . as already explained). in some pieces two or more tone rows may be heard progressing at once. The combination of the retrograde and inversion transformations is known as the retrograde inversion (RI). only 24 forms of this tone row are available). or tropes. and hexachords). but not necessarily in the same order. an ordered arrangement of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale (the twelve equal tempered pitch classes). For instance. but permutational devices are ignored permutational devices are used but not on the full chromatic Derivation In music using the twelve tone technique a derived row is a tone row whose entirety of twelve tones is constructed from a segment or portion of the whole. the other three segments). multiplication). This segment may then undergo transposed. a piece consists of statements of certain permitted transformations of the prime series. not all prime series will yield so many variations because tranposed transformations may be identical to each other. Rows may derived from a sub-set of any number of pitch classes that is a divisor of 12 (trichords. giving P?. Appearances of P can be transformed from the original in three basic ways: •transposition up or down.P?. or there may be parts of a composition which are written freely. are the second's last six notes. Technique The basis of twelve-tone technique is the tone row. A simple case is the ascending chromatic scale. Other composers have created systematic use of the chromatic scale. However. there are 12! (12 factorial) unique tone rows. Durations. Additionally. P. In practice. This is known as invariance. subsets. combinations of row forms may result in invariant sets of various sizes. Music using the technique is called twelve-tone music. Invariant rows are also combinatorial. meaning that 47 permutations of the initial tone row can be used. or six notes. giving rise to harmony.

This is called isomorphic partitioning. Thus. though the term often refers simply to combinatorial rows stated together. This was to provide for temporal unity and variation beyond the surface level. rests. These create what are known as secondary sets. A horizontal presentation may be combined with a vertical one using various row segments. or vice versa). but secondary sets are also very important.. All-combinatorial sets are sets whose hexachords are capable of forming an aggregate with any of its basic transformations transposed. Moses and Aron. Subsequent divergences from and return to this metaphorical "tonic" could then signal important formal divisions. Combinatoriality may be used to create an aggregate or all twelve tones. A repetition is not considered different from holding a note. Further. Retrograde Hexachordal combinatoriality is considered trivial. Often Schoenberg would partition his row into segments of three or four notes apiece. Semi-combinatorial sets are sets whose hexachords are capable of forming an aggregate with one of its basic transformations transposed. the ordering within each segment was juggled. to avoid confusion with a tonal conception and to maintain pc equality. again keeping the same pitch level.34567812) Schoenberg also sought a way to create an analogue to the key modulations that tonal music contains. By using features of invariance. . Again. which and regulates the possible harmonic combinations. or have the same interval content (IV). as with the second half. these rows still maintain a fully chromatic feeling and don't tend to reinforce certain pitches as tonal centers as would happen with freely combined rows.g. it is now used more flexibly. In "total serialization" found in works by Milton Babbitt and Pierre Boulez.the others complement. But.. each hexachord of which may be reordered within itself: • • • • • • (A) 0 1 2 3 4 5 // 6 7 8 9 10 11 (B) 0 2 3 4 5 7 // 6 8 9 10 11 1 (C) 0 2 4 5 7 9 // 6 8 10 11 1 3 (D) 0 1 2 6 7 8 // 3 4 5 9 10 11 (E) 0 1 4 5 8 9 // 2 3 6 7 10 11 (F) 0 2 4 6 8 10 // 1 3 5 7 9 11 Partitioning As strict linear ordering became less important in row composition. Babbitt also described the semicombinatorial row and the all-combinatorial row. texture. overlapping and sharing subsets in a polyphonic texture. Additionally. have tonal elements. as in voice leading. the first hexachord was treated as an analogue of tonic and was presented at the outset of a composition. the latter being a row which is combinatorial with any of its derivations and their transpositions. Contrary to novice beliefs.. the hexachord becomes an important harmonic unit in this scheme. The hexachord is used as the primary unit of harmony.several pieces by Berg. pitches can be repeated in a row composition. meter is often affected by the periodicity of this harmonic profile. or basic hexachordally all-combinatorial sets. effectively restricting them to one harmonic profile. or rotation. e. Notes can be held and repeated but these repetitions should be at the same pitch level (rather than octave displaced). but Schoenberg also began to use unequal units in his late compositions. when combined. Thus. e.g. as an aid to perception.. However. Rhythm. There are six source sets. one could argue that harmony was always the primary concern. a series subset may repeat. sets formed from what may be non-consecutive pcs of the original row. the pcs need not occur in any special arrangement (bottom to top. articulation.. since any set has retrograde hexachordal combinatoriality with itself. are normally free in twelve-tone composition. Although backtracking is permitted. for instance. Although usually atonal. i. Often these secondary sets are discrete equal units. This principle was eventually extended to hexachordal segments. there are compositional guidelines.. Thus. including dynamics and articulation. partitioning the row into sets composed of nonconsecutive elements became increasingly important. In fact. (12345678 . Linear Set Presentation Although Schoenberg used the row as a linear/melodic line in the earlier twelve-tone works his later use became more sophisticated. and. the linear rigidity of the row became much more flexible and began to function more as a governor of harmony. all elements of the composition are serialized. Although the row was once believed to be rigid in its pc order. where the row is taken in order but using a different starting note. Schoenberg used almost exclusively IH combinatoriality in his late works. twelve tone music need not be . Non-adjacent elements were often combined to create local harmonies that repeat throughout a composition. and although the order from one segment to another was maintained. 1234 1234 567 456 78 78 9AB. The series can be used to form chords where ordering is indeterminant. etc. it is the order that is maintained. dynamics. A strict linear statement is relatively rare in his mature compositions and is usually reserved for marking important structural or dramatic points in the composition. Harmony in the twelve-tone music of Schoenberg is not arbitrary as is often claimed. a linear statement is often given at the beginning in order to present the row in its clearest form. these secondary sets can be organized and related to each other.e. These units may be composed so that their unordered contents are transpositions or inversions of one another. i. Other Some composers have used cyclic permutation.e.

This is the prime. The latter is most compacted (smallest interval) near zero. Thus. But. 0-6=6. FAC is represented as 590 in abdo. usually the first of an arbitrary rotation. any pc may be set to zero. The digits should always sum to 12 to complete an octave. Reldo. This is the normal form. All pitches with the same name plus their enharmonic equivalents. which may be simplified to 2369. (If the "smallest" number occurs more than once following a tie. In the reldo (relative-do) notation. A group of pitch classes. we'll start by figuring it. For example. Db and Bx are also in the same class. The one which is most compacted toward zero is the Forte Prime. Eliminate any duplicate pcs. To get the Forte Prime (after Allen Forte). cycling back to the initial pc. In set theory intervals are measured by the number of semitones. cycling the intervals. Forte Prime. . Subtract the same number from all the pins. the normal order of an F major chord would be 590. Here are the quickest steps for finding the normal form and then the prime: 1. So. above a reference pc. So. This is called the directed-interval vector. C 0 0 C# 1 1 D 2 2 D# 3 3 E 4 4 F 5 5 F# 6 6 G 7 7 G# 8 8 A 9 9 Bb 10 A B 11 B The first row of numbers in this table indicates the decimal notation for each pc. This would be the second 3 in the above example. The pin (pitch number) following this is the index number. Therefore. Interval String. The normal form has very little use and can be discarded. the largest interval number is 3. compare P=02369 with I=01369. in mod12. as in chords. The last row shows the same pcs in hexadecimal (base 16) notation. this pc set is initially labeled 30869. This points to the next interval as the starting interval for the prime. 9-8=1. A more elegant (simpler) way to get the prime is to use the div. Each pc can be represented by a number from 0 to 11 in the twelve-tone system. Pitch class (pc). The result is 02369. Then find the inversion's prime div by the same method: 12333. then the next number should be considered using the same criteria. or directed-interval vector.g. Remember that Forte Primes do not discriminate between major and minor. Identifying a Set Class. we get 21333. Building a set class from this we get: I=01369. 3-6=9]. Pitch number (pin). Each pc is represented by a pitch number in the absolute-do system. Interval class (ic). As in the above glossary. In our example this is 33213. Thus. also interval string. pcs or pitch-class set . 8-6=2. Find the index number by locating the largest interval number. Thus. but its interval class is 5. C to G may be the interval of 7. the largest ic is the tritone (6). all C#s make up a single pitch class. The transposition number. the intervals are 33213. [6-6=0. However. A cyclic permutation of a pc set arranged in ascending order as compactly as possible with respect to the first pc. In our example the index pin is 6. The distance between successive (ordered) pcs cycling to an octave. The distance between two pitches. 2.) 5. 9-6=3. If we build a set class from this we get 02369. If we want to know what 2 hours past 11 is (11+2). but there are three of them. choose the one with the smallest number following it (cyclically). Thus. 14=2 etc. the Forte Prime is 01369. Each pc is represented by a pitch number in the absolute-do system. where 13=1. A set whose temporal order is irrelevant. or simply prime. is used. An arithmetic system nearly identical to that of a clock. The prime is figured from the normal form by setting the first pin to zero by transposition. measured by the shortest distance. When there are more than one of the largest number. pins= 0 3 6 8 9 div= 3 3 2 1 3 4. where C is always zero (0). The prime form of a set without including its inversion. The distance between two pitch classes. D# C G# F# A C G#. (or nonlinear set). the Prime The first and most important way that a pc set is identified is by its protoprime. and there is no number greater than 11. see div Modulo 12 (mod12 ). in semitones. etc. 09=3. eliminate the duplicate G# and C. with the pitch duplications eliminated. The largest interval followed by the smallest is the second 3. P5 would be a transposition up 5 semitones from P0. or div. omitting the superfluous leading zero. Thus. we say it is one o'clock (1). Place the numbers in ascending order. Thus. The table shows abdo (absolute-do) notation. or interval string. 6-3=3. in modulo 12 the number 12=0. see Pitch number Unordered set. The Forte prime may or may not differ from the protoprime. 1. 3-0=3. sometimes the normal form. 03689. or normal order . 8-6=2. However. A generalized version of a set that includes its inversion. Normal form or normal order. Nonlinear Set Basic Definitions Abdo. 7. Thus. or simply 4. A minor sixth would be 8. e. Protoprime. 6. CE is not a major third (M3) but 4 semitones. In this case. but as 047 in reldo. compare the prime with its inversion. To get the Inversion (I). the normal order is a cyclic permutation of a pc set arranged in ascending order as compactly as possible with respect to the first pc. A prime div is the div of a prime form. Figure the intervals between consecutive pairs of pitch numbers. Interval.Set Theory Primer for Music Part I. 3. Index number. In this case. Arrange the pins ascending from the index number: 68903. see pitch number div. The normal order may be considered as a step on the way to the prime. The normal order of an F major chord would be 590. 11+2=1. reverse the div: 33312. This is done in our example by subtracting 6.

the minor chord. If desired. i.. first documented by Ernst-Lecher Bacon in The Monist.e. project the div intervals in the reverse order (42231). They are simply not normally perceived as equivalent set classes.g. just as are the dominant seventh and half-diminished seventh. becomes 345 in ISN.. The same is true for more complex sets. yet related.. Eliminate duplications. rather than a pitchclass set. number 2. which encompasses the smallest inverval of a minor sixth or 8 semitones. Starting with zero (0). which are unnecessary and have little use. Thus. Thus. these additional primes are reinstated to their proper position in the pantheon of chords. The dominant-seventh (0368). e. choose the one with the smallest interval from the bass to the next note above. organ. 3A628A8. it embraces them and expands upon them. including enharmonics. and they are rendered indistinguishable by Forteian analysis. . If two or more forms compete with the smallest span. in this case the div is already in the required order: 13224. Primes from the Keyboard The keyboard of a piano. under the title "Our Musical Idiom". This problem expands to all distinct pairs of prime inversions. (It is important to recognize that set theory calls these chords "inversions". a dominant seventh chord. 27:1. does not appear in Forte's table. i. As before. generate the prime: P=01468 .g. The half-diminished seventh (0258 or 4-27) becomes simply 2334.g. 0368. the Forte Prime can be computed by selecting the most compact form from P and I. 0368 ( 4-27B).) Find the largest interval (4).. without the need for set names. choose the most compact form under the hand. normal form. the intervals between the pcs with one more to complete the octave. . 037.(The index here is 4) Cycle the div from the next interval: 22314 Generate the Inversion from this: 02478. Put the numbers in order: 2368A. Consider the pitch set D#.. using reldo. i. which is not the same as the traditional concept of chord inversion as determined by the bass note. But. can be imagined or played on a keyboard in four possible configurations or positions. or other electronic keyboard. The intervals in ISN should always add up to 12.. For example.) Thus. distinct. F#. To get the inversion. e. Ab.e. Using this form. the difference between major (435) and minor (345) chords are clearly nonequivalent. 3A628. Bb. can be used to simplify the determination of the prime. Ives. making them indistinguishable. NOTICE: This is all that is required to identify the set class (The set class is the protoprime). Schoenberg himself maintained that "atonality" is actually a misnomer and is indeterminate. Cycle the div starting with the next interval. Why Does a (proto) Prime Differ from the Forte Prime? Allen Forte's "prime forms" are actually combined pairs of protoprimes (or simply. Compute the cyclic div by subtraction: 13224. first.e. (See my web essay Tonality. Satie. "best normal form". This is the prime. i. but identifies each distinct inversion as a "B" form. just as is "atonal music". i. i. but is subsumed into 037. or div. primes) that are not perceived or conceived as such in our music. As a simple example. the division between tonality and atonality" is itself questionable. A new catalog of sets may be constructed with this notation in which set identity is very elegant and economical. as another example. is subsumed into the half-diminished seventh (0258). A#. more information is provided -.information that is omitted by subsumption of inversions into the same set class. G#. In this system a pc set is represented by a series of intervals (in semitones) that fills an octave. an identifying label that is suffixed to the Forte name for each inversion. D... and third inversions. it is impossible to distinguish these "inversions" in Forte's system. Assign pitch numbers. the major chord. Even the concept "pantonality" can only be defined subjectively. 047. commonly known as root. impossible to distinguish major chords from minor. major and minor chords are the same in an "atonal" context. e. and . In ISN. and figure the intervals in semitones above it.e. the minor 7th chord. It is maintained by some theorists that the reduction in the Forte primes is valid because of the "atonal" context for which set theory was designed. October 1917. The division between tonal and and atonal music is very unclear. second.e. Rather. Interval String Notation The most elegant way to represent a set class is with Interval String Notation (ISN). and objectively indefinable.. From these. such as in Scriabin's late music. find the largest interval: 42231. C7 chord.. set the first pc to zero. which in this case is 01468. a C7. In no way does this subtract from the information of set theory. The following are additional steps for computing the inversion and the Forte Prime.e. It also has the additional benefit of simplifying the determination of the prime form by elimination of the steps that include the inversion. to their inversions. becomes 3324. the index. I would contend that these chords are not heard as identical sonorities in this. i. The Table of Set Classes retains all the original Forte set-names. and others.Ex 1. This method can be used for any set. (Remember that the last interval cycles the set back to the first pitch. or any other context. On close scrutiny it will be ascertained that a set class is really a directed-interval vector. (1) (2) (3) (4) These are the cyclical rotations of this set. The problem is exacerbated in the "atonal" work of Schoenberg.e. Forte himself uses set theory to analyze Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and other at least marginally tonal music. Modality and Atonality. nor does it change Forte's foundational sets. Major and minor chords are found in the Rite.

Notice that inversionally related sets have the same iv. Additionally. 047. Directed Interval. These need to be converted to ics. this is acheived by subtracting the pins from 12 (the modulus). Z-related sets are accompanied by an extension on the set name with two dots followed by an ordinal number. Tally the number of each ic and place each number in the corresponding position of the iv array. Such a set results in the equivalent set when inverted and is thereby called a mirror set. The Forte Prime. and two 6s. the Forte Prime also has an iv of 114112. The total ic content of a pc set. but instead. we can figure the interval vector using the following method: 1. where the first indicates the number of semitones. Thus. In Forte's system inversionally related sets are equivalent and are made indistinguishable. Identifying the Set Name and Set Class The set name is found in the Table of Pc Sets. 02369. This may be abbreviated S for the subset relation.. In this system inversionally related sets are identified as distinct but related by mutual inversion.e. is found as set number 125 with the set name 5-31B. the ordinal number. This is done by subtracting any number over 6 from 12. rotation and transposition. Thus.2. Mirror Sets A mirror set is actually not a relation between sets. Taking our example 02369. any number over 6 must be converted to a number less than 7. Equivalence Since pc sets are not bound by the octave. This is normally represented by an array of six digits. is 5-31. Set Relations Complement. the di of E to C is 8. one 4. Z related sets are sets that have the same interval vector. the di between a series of pins. Set class. Subset Relation When one set is included within another. Interval Vector Interval vector (iv ). 047. including transpositions. 047 is subsumed into 037. Find the same set-name without the B at the end (5-31). Sets of the same cardinality may be related by their similarity. Subtract the second pin from the following pins: 147 3. the original list becomes 2363145363. BDF. 4. but a relation that a set may have within itself. also known as the inclusion relation. Another way to identify a set is by its prime form. . 01369. there is one 1. is a matter of addition. GBDF (7B25) and FACEb (5903) are equivalent by transposition. This makes it easy to establish these relations in the tables. There are several different types. Thus. one 5. All such sets are indicated in the table of sets with an asterisk after their set names. which may also be its set name. All the pc sets represented by a single prime form. i. The second.* Definitions: Set name. BGF is a subset of GBDF.g. is also a subset of the dominant seventh. they are said to be in the subset relation. Mathematically. such a set has no distinct inverse.. the major. the iv is 114112. which when subtracted from 12 become 3 and 5 respectively. Subtract the first pin from the following pins: 2369 2. Subtract the third pin from the following pins: 36 4. *Note: another way to find the Forte Prime is to look up the Prime in a table of sets (try this link). The distance between two pins that are placed in an order. Two sets are so related when one set is included within the other. Allen Forte's set name consists of two numbers separated by a dash. E. A familiar example of this is the incomplete dominant-seventh chord. Directed Interval Vector (div). each is its own inverse. whereas the di from C to E is 4. There are two such numbers here: 9 and 7. one 2. Therefore. 037. So.. 6. 3. two pc sets are equivalent if they map under rotation and/or transposition. and note its set-name (5-31B). The intervals are: 2369147363. indicates a catalog number determined by its alphanumeric order in the complete list of sets. As an example. the most important of which are described below. pc sets are equivalent by these two operations. Inversionally related sets always have the same interval vector. Similarity Relation. A tag used to identify a pc set.e. four 3s. the sets are inversionally related.. The last digit indicates the number of tritones. The Prime. The number after the dash.The first operation involves rotating the pitch numbers as in a circle. All the pcs that are not in a given pc set. This identifies the ordinal number of another set having the same interval vector. the minor chord is the inverse of 047. the div of ECGAC is 8723. thus. Subset Relation. when two sets have the same name except for the B ending on one. etc. 037 and 047 are in the same set class.g. Sets FBGD (5B72) and CEGBb (047A) are equivalent after both operations. the third the number of ic3. The sets must be of differing cardinalities. the diminished chord. the major chord may be represented as simply 47 and minor as 37. Thus. thereby inverting the interval. Subtract the fourth pin from the last: 3 5. When placed in prime form 085 becomes 037. e. 01369. the major chord is inverted by subtracting its pins from 12 to give: 085. add 2 to 5903 and the result is 7B25. In Forte's system the set class also includes the inversion. the second the number of whole tones. Inversion and Z-Related Sets Inversion is achieved by projecting intervals of a set in the opposite direction. Thus. i. Another way to find the iv is to look it up in the table. This is the Forte Prime. EGC (470) and CEG (047) are equivalent by rotation. transposition. An example is 427. The number before the dash indicates the cardinality of the set (the number of pcs it contains). These are their ic numbers. The iv for a major chord is 001110.

The remaining two dissimilar digits determine the difference between R1 and R2. Rp. By Forte's Rp criteria. than it is if it were a subset of an 9note set. be considered cyclic. In this way one may make a distinction between significant-subsets (mapping>50%) by labelling them with an S. Ro. They have all but one pc correspondence. Write the pins of the complement of one of the sets and place it in prime form. For a revision of Rp that would agree more with our perceived notions of similarity. These are based upon pc similarity and ic similarity. Complement Relation Two sets are in the complement relation when one contains all the pcs that are excluded from the other. and a less-significant subset (mapping<=50%) by labelling it with a +. If these are the same numbers but switched in position.The subset relation is the only relation that two sets of differing cardinalities may have. and vice versa. more distinguished. the less significant are its subsets. 2. except for the B ending. has a di content of 246 (cyclically). These dots also identify Z-sets. etc. maximum similarity of pc. For example. exists when the two sets of cardinality C have at least one common subset of cardinality C-1. The 6 is a sum of the two 3s. then the subset relation applies. called "minimum similarity". i. Thus. then the relation is R1. Similarity Relations Similarity relations are used to describe the relationships between sets of the same cardinality. A table of the set complexes Kh may be found in SAM. a 4-note set has an 8-note complement. Forte has also described special set complexes that relate groups of such sets. Rp is determined by pc similarity. Example 2. However. Exceptions to this are indicated with a < sign in the table of sets. although true. This sign indicates that the complement has the same name ending. sets with complementary cardinalities and the same ordinal number are complements. Allen Forte describes four basic types of similarity relations. Additionally. How to Determine Subset Relations To determine if one set is contained in another place both in prime form. Every set is in the subset relation to its complement except for the complementary couple 7-Z12/5-Z12. If the two dissimiar digits are simply not equivalent. as usual. All hexachords have hexachord complements. This type of similarity could be designated as simply P. In some cases. GBF. Those that are not their own complements identify their complements by the ordinal number that follows two dots in the set name. has a div of 3324 (Considered cyclically the div is 3324332. thus. where a set AND its complement are in the inclusion relation with all the other sets in its group. They must be the same cardinality C. Therefore. Therefore.e. one could require that the unmatched pc pair be within a semitone of a match... A 3-note subset is more significant if it is a subset of a 4-note set. Compare 023568 (div=212124) with 0134679A (div=12121212). which is the same as saying that there is one unmatched pc. which he designates Rp. The second is called the set complex Kh. 014 is just as similar to 037 (minor chord) as is 036 (diminished chord). R1. 246 aligns with the latter starting with the 24. But. they have the subset relation. and R2. 2433 = 246. This makes the criteria for maximal similarity more selective. the two sets are in the subset relation. Figure the intervals between successive pins of both sets. (The reasons for changing Forte's symbols become apparent when a single letter is needed on a "Relations Triangle". The div of the first set aligns with the second when starting with pin 7 [212124 = 21212(2+1+1)]. because they neatly describe their respective relations in the shape of the letters. etc. (Rp) Maximal similarity exists when two pc sets of the same cardinality can be mapped to one another. for example. Many are there own complements. Not all subset relations are equally significant. The first is called the set complex K. How to Determine if Two Sets are in the Complement Relation The cardinality of the two sets must add up to 12. The latter is more selective. the pins of the smaller set will be the same as those of the larger set and can. most of the time this will not be the case. is insignificant. If this matches the other set. where the complement cardinalities always add up to 12. For instance. These may be called the X relation (Forte's R1) when the unmatched digits are switched and the O relation (Forte's R2) when they are not. The larger the superset is. These intervals should. the statement that the major chord is a subset of the 12-note set. and leaves it at that. And. Forte remarks that Rp by itself is "not especially significant" because it is too common. R1 and R2 are known as maximum similarity of interval class. the interval vectors of the two sets must have four out of six matches. Additionally. with the exception of one pc in one of the sets. The five black keys are its complement.e. In the table of sets. those that have the same interval vector. where a set OR its complement are in the inclusion relation (superset or subset) with all the other sets in its group. It is suggested here that a subset whose cardinality is more than half of the superset is more significant than one that is not.) . But. the relation is R2. if one has a B ending. the two sets are complements. appendix 3. prime form 0368. Example 1.).. (R1/R2) 3. because all sets are subsets of the 12-note set. This observation leads to a method for establishing subset significance. the complement does not. which is used as a reference. prime form 026. If the div of the smaller set can be aligned with the larger or with successive sums of the larger.. When are Sets Maximally Similar? 1. a C major scale excludes "black keys". Such is the case when four out of their six iv digits are equivalent. reveal the subset relation. a 7-note set has a 5-note complement. X and O are easier to remember. and corresponding more closely to our perceived notions of similarity. i. They have four out of six iv digits corresponding and parallel (same position). Ro. 014 would be just as similar to 047 (major chord) as is 037 (minor chord). the statement is not discriminating. even if switched. exists when two set of cardinality C have no corresponding interval vector digits in common. GBDF. and the other three are determined by ic similarity.. This does not agree with the way these chords are commonly perceived. The set to which all the others are so related is called a nexus set.

Since this is an ic transposition it may be either up or down. Since SC/8=11. Transpositional PC Invariance Pc sets often maintain some pc invariance after a transposition. ECG. and they are a semitone apart. vertically. etc.. GCE. There must be a minimum of interval correspondence T. namely those that create the intersection: 2 and 7. A common example is the whole-tone scale. (This is determined by adding the numbers in either iv. The easiest way to determine this type of pc invariance is to form an addition table with the set represented horizontally and vertically.. TnI. To satisfy R the sets must meet the following criteria: 1. These operations have no effect on pc content.) and registral displacement. this operation needs to be considered in combination with transposition.) To determine T: The number of ics common in each iv position is equal to the smaller number (comparing each pair of digits in the same position). recall that 6 is its own inversion. the sum (S) of the ics in this cardinality is 15. called simply the R relation. The number that appears in each position indicates the number of pcs held invariant when transposed by its respective ic. 9-note sets would be more difficult to perceive than their complements. That is. etc.e. therefore.The R Relation Another type of maximal similarity. with the exception of one pc in one of the sets. 2pcs invariant when t=2 (or t10). the two sets of our example meet the criteria for the R relation. Two operations that are commonly performed on pc sets that can alter pc content are (1) transposition and (2) inversion.e. 02468A. T must be equal or greater than SC/8. The 3 in the ic6 position. may seem puzzling at first. . the similarity of. 2 2 4 7 8 4 6 9 A 4 6 8 B 0 7 9 B 2 3 8 A 0 3 4 Notice that the set is placed at the top. 2 pcs invariant when t=4 (or t8). For example. say. they remain invariant under these operations. however. The two 4s indicate 2 common pcs at T4I.e. i. Adding these together gives T. where T equals the total number of ics corresponding in the two sets. As an example. with iv=420243. Comparing the primes. Thus. the number of invariant pcs is double the number in the ic6 position. and down the left side. and 6 pcs invariant when t=6. As another example. which must be within a semitone of a match with the unmatched pc of the other set. the cardinality. By this criteria it is assumed that the perception of the similarity of small sets is easier than is the perception of the similarity of large ones. t6 also results in 6 invariant pcs). The numbers within the table are the sums at the intersections of the pins. The number 8 is the cardinality chosen to represent a reasonable limit to the perception of R. i. Thus. But. Two pc sets of the same cardinality can be mapped to one another. or 6-35*. have important compositional consequences. sets having cardinalities greater than 7 cannot have the R relation (although they may have other maximally similar relations). and they are 2 and 8. 4 pcs invariant when t=5 (or t7). 3-note sets. Further. to know when pcs are held invariant under the operation of transposition. only one pin pair is unmatched (8 and 9). the two 9s reveal that there are 2 common pcs at T9I. i. We can determine this by examining the iv of a pc set. 6-35* has an iv of 060603. These include rotations (CEG becomes EGC. where S is the sum of the ics in the set cardinality (the sum of the digits in the iv). There is a 6 in the ic4 position. meaning that at t4 or t8. The same is true of t3 and t9.e. PC Invariance Various operations are commonly performed on pc sets. the table tells us which pcs are invariant under this T. is more selective. Let us take 2478 as an example. i. t2 or t10. no pcs invariant when t=3 (or t9). Then observing the ivs. But. This would. which satisfies condition 1. 6 pcs (all) are again held constant. The iv tells us that there will be 4 pcs invariant when t=1 (or t11). When this set is transposed by 2 semitones all of its pcs are held invariant..e. and C is the cardinality.. and is based upon a perception model that is statistically determined. given in prime form with their interval vectors: 013578 232341 013579 142422 C=6. 6 pcs (all) are held invariant. horizontally. All sets of cardinality C will have the same S. A zero in the first position reveals that when this set is transposed by 1 semitone no pcs are held constant (also true for t11). By tallying these numbers we can ascertain the invariant pcs under TnI. consider set 6-7*.25 and T=12 is greater. then. which is 12 in this case. It would be important. and 132321 is the result. 2. representing a transposition n of the inversion. Inversional PC Invariance Inversion can and often does lead to pc invariance. the 6 that appears in ic position 2 reveals that when this set is transposed by 2 semitones (t2). i. 012678. of course. a formula is constructed to simulate this difference in perception. compare the following two sets..

This may be represented in pins as 7AB541098236 (hexadecimal). The following axioms apply to the Reldo system: Axiom 1.* Axiom 2. Schoenberg's purpose in his new compositional method of twelve tones was to supplant tonality with a new means of order. and disproved of the term "atonality". the third row P8. the row for Schoenberg's Septet. Now fill in the rest of the matrix by writing the rest of the transposed prime forms horizontally starting with each number that appears in the first column. starting with 0. and R is the reverse div of I: 4B413B38818 . The latter enables mathematical operations on the set which facilitate various transformations and constructions. Then write its inversion vertically down the left side. Repeating some tones makes them sound more important. The index or transposition number is equal to the first pin number of each set form. etc.. How to Construct a 12-Tone Matrix A 12-tone matrix is a concise way of representing all 48 forms of a row on a grid (matrix). "Composition with Twelve Tones". take the 12-tone row G A# B F E C# C A G# D D# F#. or series. The Retrograde (R) pins are the prime pins in reverse order. Thus. 12-Tone Composition & Serial or Ordered Sets Introduction The construction of the set of twelve tones derives from the intention to postpone the repetition of every tone as long as possible. set the first PC to zero by transposition (subtract 7): 034A9652178B. Thus. The inversion div is simply the pin complements of 12. 246 . (Note that matrix construction would be different in the absolute-do [abdo] system. The Row in Reldo 0 9 8 2 3 6 7 A B 5 4 1 3 0 B 5 6 9 A 1 2 8 7 4 4 1 0 6 7 A B 2 3 9 8 5 A 7 6 0 1 4 5 8 9 3 2 B 9 6 5 B 0 3 4 7 8 2 1 A 6 3 2 8 9 0 1 4 5 B A 7 5 2 1 7 8 B 0 3 4 A 9 6 2 B A 4 5 8 9 0 1 7 6 3 1 A 9 3 4 7 8 B 0 6 5 2 7 4 3 9 A 1 2 5 6 0 B 8 8 5 4 A B 2 3 6 7 1 0 9 B 8 7 1 2 5 6 9 A 4 3 0 All 48 forms are represented on this matrix with inversions reading down from the top. Subtract the horizontal numbers from 12 for each successive pc of the inversion down the left side. This will be the div for all transpositions of the prime and is a more elegant representation of a set. the basic principle behind composition with twelve tones is the even distribution of pcs with none dominating the others.Part 2. etc. The first number becomes the index number of the transposition in reldo. 29 is 376A2B098451. and RI forms are read from bottom to top. RI is the reverse div of P: 818B91944B4. Each pc can be represented by a number from 0 to 11 in the twelve-tone system. The Inversion (I) pins are determined by subtracting the prime pins from 12. and the set that begins with it is Po.) or by pitch numbers. Axiom 3. 81883B314B4. This is called a twelve-tone row. " Pantonality means an equality of tones. Pitch number (pin). of which he approved calling "pantonality". As an example. the number representation has definite advantages over the letter notations. Axiom 4. The div for this set is 4B44919B818. The Retrograde Inversion (RI) pins are the reverse of the inversion pins. An economical way to represent the 48 forms is with their divs (directed-interval vectors). The Prime (Po) form starts with zero (reldo) which sets the index numbers for all other forms. A group of pcs (usually the 12 chromatic pcs) placed in a particular order to be so used in a composition. Op. Style and Idea. For example.* *It should be noted that the other system in use (abdo) calls the last pc of Po the zero transposition index of Ro. i. F#. [Arnold Schoenberg. effectively a democracy of tones. D.e. Tone Row. Transpositions are determined by adding a transposition number to the pins (mod12). One way to guarantee the "postponement" of tone (pc) repetitions is to place all twelve in an order where none is repeated. Axiom 5. and hence contradicts the goal. These pcs may be represented as letter names (C. Axiom 6.) To construct a reldo matrix first write the row horizontally. Retrogrades are read from right to left. Table 1. The second row will be P9. A complete matrix of the divs can be represented: P: 4B44919B818 I : 81883B314B4 R: 4B413B38818 RI:818B91944B4 . Since we will be using the relative-do (reldo) system here. This sets the pc G to zero.

is achieved. the second trichord is rA .g. Also. if its unordered pc content is considered. then P=RI. Such a constructed row would be used to explore the motivic and/or harmonic properties of the 3-note figures. each hexachord is inversionally symmetric. and comprehensibility. Additionally. All the trichords of all transformations maintain a constant ordering. so I=R. The same relationship holds between I and R. they are identical. Berg's row has a symmetrical dcv which makes P=R and I=RI. P=I=R=RI. and shorter in length than Schoenberg's. a row may be constructed to have recurring subsets within the series. 3131. Therefore. C#DA#. variation was at least as important a compositional concern as unity. or "all-interval rows". This row also has a most remarkable property if considered cyclic. The div of a row inversion (I) is determined by subtracting the prime (P) div from 12. For Schoenberg. G#AF#F. The Path to the New Music. In these rows all eleven intervals (di) are used without any repetition. it becomes easier to memorize the set. (Another is that Webern's music is generally thinner in texture. e.g.. All formal construction is built upon it. 103] Derived rows are definitely an advantage if one is striving for the greatest amount of unity in a composition. Its div is 316B9B9B613. 17] "Composition with twelve tones has no other aim than comprehensibility. Theorum 5. Unity vs Variety in Row Structure: All-interval Rows "Repetition is the means by which this unity. Comparing I4 with R 4 on the matrix. C#CE. Style and Idea. 414. sometimes a composer prefers variation over repetition. Repetition eases comprehension. especially if it is partitioned into segments and visualized or "auralized": 4144. they are identical in ic (unordered) content. Additionally." [Anton Webern. The row is also combinatorial (Po+I5 and Po+IB). 414. thus. Such rows are called 11-interval 12-tone rows. P=R and I=RI. The numbers over 6 are converted to their complements as negatives. one could start with any note and generate a transformation with this dcv. Such a row is found in Alban Berg's Lyric Suite: 5409728136AB. And.) Theorum 6: There is no transposition of P that is congruent with I (nor R with RI) unless the row is cyclic. not all these rows have the same degree of variation. each trichord... If the div numbers of P are equal about the central axis of symmetry. They may be represented in long hand by placing a small minus sign before each negative number as in example 1 above. P=RI and I=R. However. often considered to be an impossible condition. in four 3-note groups... hence more transparent. If the div numbers of P are complements of 12 about the central axis of symmetry. Anton Webern was fond of using derived rows in his compositions. e. Such a row is the one in Table 1. Notice that the numbers are symmetrical about the central B. the second is the inversion of the first. assuring maximum variety. Since RI has the reverse div of P and the div is symmetric. Webern's chief concern was unity. a row might be chosen that has a minimum amount of internal repetition and maximum variation. Retrograde-Inversional forms (P/RI and I/R) reverse the order of`div. The div of RI is the reverse of P. consists of the Forte prime 014. For example. 3131. effectively. [Arnold Schonberg. RI This row demonstrates an extreme condition of maximum internal organization and therefore contains maximum repetition. This row has very special properties: 034A9652178B. Po = CED#GB. Inversional forms simply switch positive and negative numbers: 4144. The negatives are here represented as smaller numbers on the matrix. however. But there are even further principles organizing this row. P: 41443131414 I : 41443131414 R: 41413134414 RI:41413134414 With this last representation. In this case.e. How to Select Organizational Properties of a Row: Derived Rows If greatest unity is desired. I2 = DA#BGD#. The div of R is the reverse of I. Theorum 3. the row itself consists of an initial trichord with transformations derived from it to create the rest of the row.. Thus. each trichord is followed by its own retrograde. F#FG#A. his rows are mostly of the derived type. Theorum 1.An even more elegant way to represent the set is by using the dcv (directed-class vector). If the first 3-note figure is taken as a little prime (p 0). which is a probable reason that his music is more accessible than that of Schoenberg's. Po. the third trichord is i5 and the last is ri7! Thus. One can prove this by comparing Po with the RI that starts with 0 (reading up)(RIo). Theorum 4. Theorum 7: Interval classes are invariant after Inversion (T nI). This is called a derived row and has profound implications for the composition that uses this row. Theorum 2. i. Here is a list of some all-interval rows expressed as div: (1) B89A7652341 (Berg) (2) 4B295681A37 (3) 529A16473B8 (4) 453126AB978 (5) 1432567A98B (6) 523146B897A (7) A195268B374 (8) B29476583A1 (9) 1A98567432B . Thus.

An aggregate is a collection that includes all twelve pcs. Theorum 9.. combinations of row forms may result in invariant sets of various sizes. e. This may be called transpositional or Prime combinatoriality. R combinatoriality is possessed by any hexachord that has a 6 as one of its iv (interval vector) entries. as in voice leading. Schoenberg avoided pc duplication in his late works by rhythmically aligning the respective IH hexachords. The series can be used to form chords where ordering is indeterminant. Thereby. Moses and Aron. the ordering within each segment was juggled. it will be combinatorial with Po. and this will be referred to here as Retrograde combinatoriality. Combinatoriality does not depend upon how the notes are ordered but simply by their content.Combinatoriality If only one set is used the order of notes can be easily maintained without ambiguity. This results in no pc duplication before all 12 pcs sound. because they are the most frequently used. The prime form of a set may also be combinatorial with itself at some transposition. R. Since this is automatic. it is now used more flexibly. . one constructs the initial hexachord from some ordering of the first six notes of a chromatic scale. I.g. On this list "comb" means combinatorial. 27. Often Schoenberg would partition his row into segments of three or four notes apiece. etc. when they complete an aggregate. texture. Over half of all twelve-tone rows are IH combinatorial. for another transposition of R to be combinatorial. This principle was eventually extended to hexachordal segments. P6 . e. Hexachordal combinatoriality means that hexachords of the same order can be combined without pc duplication. including dynamics and articulation. This also depends upon the rhythmic alignment of the rows in a composition. if two row forms are presented at once. to avoid confusion with a tonal conception and to maintain pc equality. called hexachordal-inversional combinatoriality. and intervals (di) or interval classes (ic). But. Other types are possible but are beyond the scope of this exposition. even when row forms are combined.g. It is possible.. or a 3 in the tritone position. these hexachords can be identified in the complete Table of (unordered) Pc Sets. the linear rigidity of the row became much more flexible and began to function more as a governor of harmony. Webern Op. The table shows all forms of hexachordal combinatoriality except for the Ro type. A row may also have RI combinatoriality. A horizontal presentation may be combined with a vertical one using various row segments. Composition of a row with TH is fairly easy. IH combinatorial row forms by themselves do not guarantee the avoidance of pitch class duplications. the second hexachord can be made from an ordering of the other six. However. The combinatorial properties can be determined from examination of the first unordered hexachord of the row. all elements of the composition are serialized. a series subset may repeat. This form is not trivial and must be dealt with. rests.. Transpositional combinatoriality is possessed by any hexachord whose iv contains a zero. If for instance. or. Thus. a set may be combinatorial with its inversion. i.. Theorum 8. These are called invariants and take the form of pcs. however. All series are combinatorial with their retrograde at a transposition that corresponds with the last pin of Po (abdo). Since Ro combinatoriality is a property of all 12-tone rows. and although the order from one segment to another was maintained. say in counterpoint. this form is trivial and will not be studied here. Invariants Through the use of operations of transposition. there are compositional guidelines. i. or IH. a linear statement is often given at the beginning in order to present the row in its clearest form. or vice versa). or TH. When the whole row is transposed by a tritone. Hexachordal combinations are the only ones that we will consider here. Thus. A repetition is not considered different from holding a note. Rhythm. Pc dyads are held invariant between inversionally related forms (TnI) if the transposition number is the sum of pins of the same order. 27/2) Linear Set Presentation Although Schoenberg used the row as a linear/melodic line in the earlier twelve-tone works his later use became more sophisticated. A necessary condition for IH is that the sum of pins of the same order number must be odd. And. which all hexachords possess. The forms of combinatoriality are listed following "comb". This is referred to here as Ro combinatoriality. articulation. At the beginning he uses Po+Ro where he aligns the first hexachord of each followed by their second hexachords. One of the aims of twelve tone composition is to complete an aggregate before repeating pcs. Notes can be held and repeated but these repetitions should be at the same pitch level (rather than octave displaced). the pcs need not occur in any special arrangement (bottom to top. and RI. there is nothing special about it. as an aid to perception. Although the row was once believed to be rigid in its pc order.e. In "total serialization" found in works by Milton Babbitt and Pierre Boulez. in other words. Webern uses retrograde combinatoriality in his Piano Variations. The last type. Op.g. pitches can be repeated in a row composition.. 1234 1234 567 456 78 78 9AB. Although backtracking is permitted. pcs will be repeated unless special procedures are followed. it is the order that is maintained. A strict linear statement is relatively rare in his mature compositions and is usually reserved for marking important structural or dramatic points in the composition. (e. The same result will hold when I is combined with RI at the proper transpositions. are normally free in twelve-tone composition. subsets. Additionally.e. But. dynamics. again keeping the same pitch level. certain properties of the original set may be preserved.. To extend this principle even further he created secondary sets that formed aggregates when two row forms were used in succession. Contrary to novice beliefs. Further. has received considerable attention among 12-tone composers. The transposition numbers apply only to the hexachord in prime form.

effectively restricting them to one harmonic profile.. . but secondary sets are also very important. partitioning the row into sets composed of non-consecutive elements became increasingly important. This is called isomorphic partitioning. Twelve-Tone Tonalities Schoenberg also sought a way to create an analogue to the key modulations that tonal music contains. By using features of invariance. i. the first hexachord was treated as an analogue of tonic and was presented at the outset of a composition. sets formed from what may be nonconsecutive pcs of the original row. or have the same interval content (IV). Additionally. The hexachord is used as the primary unit of harmony.. which and regulates the possible harmonic combinations. Harmony and Meter Hramony in the twelve-tone music of Schoenberg is not arbitrary as is often claimed. Often these secondary sets are discrete equal units. Thus. Nonadjacent elements were often combined to create local harmonies that repeat throughout a composition. but Schoenberg also began to use unequal units in his late compositions. the hexachord becomes an important harmonic unit in this scheme.Partitioning As strict linear ordering became less important in row composition. These create what are known as secondary sets .e. meter is often affected by the periodicity of this harmonic profile. one could argue that harmony was always the primary concern. Subsequent divergences from and return to this metaphorical "tonic" could then signal important formal divisions. Schoenberg used almost exclusively IH combinatoriality in his late works. overlapping and sharing subsets in a polyphonic texture. In fact. These units may be composed so that their unordered contents are transpositions or inversions of one another. these secondary sets can be organized and related to each other. Again. This was to provide for temporal unity and variation beyond the surface level.

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