Croatian Musicological Society

Serialism and Its Contradictions
Author(s): Allan F. Moore
Source: International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jun., 1995
), pp. 77-95
Published by: Croatian Musicological Society
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UDC: 78.021
Original Scientific Paper
London College of Music, Izvorni znanstveni 6lanak
School of Creative, Cultural Received: June 24, 1994
and Social Studies, Thames Primljeno: 24. lipnja 1994.
Accepted: January 25, 1995
Valley University, St Mary's Prihva4eno: 25. sijeinja 1995.
Road, Ealing, LONDON W5 5RF,
United Kingdom

Abstract - Resume

This article proposes that the demise of se- through the writings of Milton Babbitt and Ro-
rialism as a compositional language is due to berto Gerhard, with further reference to Boulez,
contradictions inherent within it, relating to Stockhausen, Krenek and others. Moreover, it
such matters as: the status of the serial >order<; suggests that the crisis of communication in se-
the role of the >aggregate<; identity and ordinal rial music relates strongly to serialism's role as
permutation; serial durations; and >>meaning<. the apogee of modernist composition.
It addresses these contradictions principally


It was in 1921 that Arnold Schoenberg uttered to Josef Rufer those chilling
words: >I have made a discovery which will ensure the supremacy of German
music for the next hundred years< (reported in STUCKENSCHMIDT 1977:277).
The most telling account of the reasons for his profound error, perhaps, would
see serialism not as merely a compositional tool, but as an integral part of the
modernist aesthetic project. Across the arts, modernism has been conceived as
a >>cultureof rupture<2, represented by an attack on >>naturalistic<modes of ex-
pression: thus the slightly sordidly realistic depictions of modem life by Degas,

1 Thanks are due to Eric Graebner and Charlie Ford for time and attention given to earlier
versions of this paper.
2 The description is taken from Calinescu

This content downloaded from on Sun, 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC
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later in Webem's Symphony. thus the fragmentation of melodic gesture first in Erwartung. Additionally. MOORE. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 77-95 developing into the abstract watercolours of Kandinsky. thus.<< (MIDDLE- TON 1990:14) It is in this context that the Schoenbergian aphorism >>ifit is art. arguing that the social ferment of the fin-de-sieclewas such as to prevent the simple linear development of old ways. of its evolution.19. This content downloaded from 200. although unfinished. thus the attack on chro- nological time in the novels of Woolf or Joyce and the disintegration of Eliot's The Waste Land. This became identified with a concept of aesthetic autonomy in- itially through the growing bourgeois demand for leisure commodities through the nineteenth century (see WOLFF 1987) and. rational and efficient urban planning. or because of partial public acceptance (perhaps in a di- its supposedly excessive intellectual approach) and that it has evolved rection away from that of mass market music (such that the stylistic gap between I Babbitt and the Blur is far greater than that between Schoenberg and Sinatra).thus the unadorned functionalism of the Bauhaus and the concept of large-scale. It is this context which suggests that the preferred view of atonality.Harvey (1989) employs the image of >>creativedestruction< to describe this polyglot aesthetic position. by a single individual.SERIALISM AND ITSCONTRADICTIONS. and if it is for all. Now if. serialism itself may be considered an apogee of modernist expres- that sion. as the logical outcome of late-tonal chromaticism is a construction made from the relative security of a carefully structured system.157 on Sun. the >>projectof modernity< remains unfinished and. In this.78 A. the suggest here that. at least insofar as it is to be seen as anti-modernistic. but with reference to the fact work's the autonomy of the serial work is strengthened by the autonomy of each individual series. positional experience of the Its partial but widespread abandonment as practice since the 1960s is frequently with reference to observations that serial music has failed to gain even explained because of its unlovely sound.130. it is not art<< (SCHOENBERG 1946:124) is shown as a precisely modernist formulation. from Descartes and Kant through to Adorno (see PIPPIN 1991). it profoundly counters the signification of >natural< which obtains in tonality (and which signification is made clearest through its such appropriation by serial renegades such as George Rochberg) in terms of features as scalar contours and harmonically-engendered pulse. with the develop- ment of a modernism identified by Middleton as >an outraged and deliberately esoteric response to the new drive towards total commodification. In the formulation of Jiirgen Habermas (1985). any >project of post-modernity<<is to be resisted. it is not for all. not only in terms of the method itself. modernity has been predicated upon the construction of the autonomy of the individual. What more thoroughgoing expres- sion of aesthetic autonomy could be imagined than the invention. and then serialism. rather than being simply a consequence abandonment of serialism can be seen as resulting from problems lying inherent within itself. it is nonetheless defunct (as it is taken to be in the writings of French post-struc- turalism from Barthes to Derrida to Lyotard). subsequently. F. Thus. of the very aesthetic conventions underpinning compositional deci- sions? Thus. IRASM26 (1995)1. this would accord with the com- loss of serialism as a medium of communication. its (and modernism's) demise might be viewed as mutually reinforcing.

. II In some quarters. are over and beyond the conditions of mere serialism. while for Otto Deri. rather than articulate it through a reconstrual of analyses of the work of Schoen- berg and Webern.A.. Reginald Smith Brind- le. in music. differ in identifying Schoenberg's first real twelve-tone piece.. Schoenberg clearly had that feature as basic to his design..19. temporally serialised pitch collection or interval succession. invented his epoch-making method of composition with twelve tones<<(DERI 1968:107). suggests that >>serialtechnique is designed to exploit the possi- bilities of the total-chromatic. A twelve-tone set is a serially ordered collection of the familiar twelve pitch-classes. without reference to their quantity. I shall focus on the stated views of two composers whose music is conventionally understood. But. ?The first and decisive phase of serialism was initiated by Arnold Schoenberg..Both Milton Babbitt and Roberto Gerhard may be described as being in the direct line of descent: pupils of Schoenberg in the USA and Europe re- spectively. for example.. The issue is one of rigour and. but the fact that each class occurs exactly once in the collection and that the systematic transformations of this set are the similarly familiar ones of transposition. who.< (BRINDLE 1966:4). inversion and retrogression are to be excluded from This content downloaded from 200.< (GRIFFITHS1984:87).. if the >>familiar< operations of transposition. Babbitt comments on this seeming confu- sion. and hence calls attention to the difference between >>serialtechniques<<and >>twelve-tonemethod<. retrogression. it appears that the concepts >serialism< and )twelve-tone< (or >twelve-note<<)music are used almost interchangeably. F MOORE. inversion.. both by themselves and by others. Paul Griffiths argues that ?The basic principle of serialism is simply stated: the twelve notes of the chromatic scale are arranged in fixed order. and their combinations.157 on Sun. to be )serial<<. Gerhard's frequent insistence that ?the sense is in the sound? acknow- ledges his fierce desire to communicate while the tone of tranquil recollection in Babbitt (1988) suggests no less a determination.. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (BABBITT 1963:39-40) Thus >serialism<<refers to the constructive role of a particular ordering of a coll- ection of pitch-classes. 77-95 79 Martha Hyde has drawn attention to the potential existence of such a field of contradiction: Disagreement about the essential nature of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method explains in part why earlier scholars such as Rufer and Leibowitz .. (HYDE 1985:140) Hyde goes on to situate the disagreement in the realm of >'primitive' or 'mature' uses of the method< (IBID:140). SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. but Stravinsky at least changed that design. writing some years before any of these quoted texts actually appeared: .130. despite the infamous >im- penetrability< of his theory (recently jusitified as modernist political expression by BRODY 1993). the term [serial] has come to designate a work in which the pitch content is describable as deriving from operations on a relatively small.

G. This content downloaded from 200. retrogression. 33a. The second factor is that of >>serial< ordering. Bab- bitt tends not to use one fundamental set-class as the basis for an entire work (except for a work like the Second String Quartet). reserving the term >>twelve-notemu- sic< for music whose serial attributes may be called into question. it uses all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. Although some of Schoenberg's music appears rela- tively impoverished when viewed through the conjunction of array.. the intermediate level is that of the lyne (a com- positionally uninterpreted complete linear unfolding of a twelve-note set). which has two separate aspects: that the precise order in which local events occur is of systematic relevance. then. but at intermediate and background levels too: the surface level is that of the array (an aggregate formed by concurrent. C #. As Andrew Mead (1984) has shown with reference to Babbitt's mature music. F MOORE. what can the >>operationson a relatively small. F. her use of the term >>twelve-tone<with reference to Schoen- berg would equate to >>aggregateserial<<. for instance. at least not at a level at which a piece is >>serial<<. The term >twelve-note music<<. It is clear that this fundamental emphasis derives from Schoenberg's dictum: >>. F #. Provisionally. whereas the set of the piece is of the form B b. D #. E b. A.. the concepts are none the less inherent in the serial method. G #.80 A. pitch-class permutating operations of transposition. I shall substitute here the term >>aggregateserialism< for what Babbitt calls >>twelve-notemusic<. A.19.. Note the apparent contradiction >>freetwelve-note music<<. although of course even Schoenberg's work exhibits different set-classes on its surface as a by-product of the simultaneous use of more than one version of the set.. this aggregate is presented: B b. after all). the total-chromatic of all twelve chromatic tones within the octave is used fairly consistently. F. C. tem- porally serialised pitch collection< refer to? Moreover. E. Accordingly. non-repeating collection of twelve pitch-classes) that is subject to ordering. The first factor is the constructive role of the aggregate itself.e. to the notion that to alter the order of presentation of pitch- classes within the aggregate actually produces a different set. D. the term thus defined has little explanatory power. tone is re- peated within the series and . the aggregate can play a vital role not only at the immediate surface level.e.. D b. 77-95 a definition of >>serialism<<.as used again by Brin- dle: >In free twelve-note music. partial unfoldings of twelve-note sets). far more strongly than did Schoenberg. F #.130.. as Babbitt points out. inversion. i. It is clear from Babbitt's own music and writings that two separable factors are fundamental to his conception of aggregate serialism. Thus in Hyde's article. lyne and set-class. but not >>free< permutation. B. I shall redefine >>serialism<< with reference to the constructive role of a pitch-class ordering with the attendant. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of course.<<(BRIN- DLE 1975:53).on the other hand.157 on Sun. B. requires that it is the aggregate (i. E. G. conceivably rotation (Babbitt was writing about Stravinsky. In bars 14-15 of the Klavierstiick op. D. but there is no rigid rule. the background level is formed by the set-class underlying a particular passage (where a set-class is the group of all sets which can be transformed into one another by means of the >>familiar<< operations alluded to above). IRASM 26 (1995) 1. A b. and that the surface of a piece will exhibit a variety of orderings.<< (SCHOENBERG 1941:218).. This is. for example. set-classes. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. Babbitt appears to hold.

with their thorough employment of non-aggregate sets... but even in an acknowledged twelve-tone work such as Threni. where one or pitch-classes are repeated within the aggregate. For a different example. where a single set-class is a result . 77-95 81 strictly true: Schoenberg seems more to have conceived a reordering of pitches as a ?variant< of a previously presented set. Where more than one particular set-class may be in use. as in Babbitt. European com- posers have tended to view the former as a far less important constituent of their methods than has Babbitt. nor the constructive role of the aggregate can be held to apply to the finished piece with any rigour. KOBLYAKOV 1977) is of importance in giving him his basic harmonic complexes. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as in the be- more ginning of movement V. are order al- teration with regard to one another. These examples alone point to a basic contradiction within serialism concerning the fundamentality of the ag- gregate.A. a reordering within any single presentation will prevent that presentation being recognized as a ?variant? of the unaltered set-class. thus. As Harvey (1968) has argued. >>Hexachords. >>weighted? aggregates. subject . bookI. Although it is clear that Boulez's partitioning of his initial set (BOULEZ 1975. but is satisfied with six. we can perhaps turn to Stock- hausen's choice of a row of thirteen notes (and. Thus. Stockhausen clearly found it unnecessary to maintain twelve tempi at a background level. In a work like Le marteausans maftre.130. By way of illustration. IRASM 26 (1995) 1.157 on Sun. For all the manifest differences between the work of Babbitt and.serial significance<<is considered. come to be regarded virtually as independent units. MOORE.. there appears on the surface to be more for agreement.Such a comment is obvious when seen against a background of the >>Ricercar II< of the Cantataand of In memoriam Dylan Thomas. These two factors. Stockhausen's use of tempi derived from his belief in the continuity of pitch into duration. deviations from )correct< ordering have the capacity to be perceived as just that. By and large. the position is a little different. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. consider the highly di- vergent cases of Stockhausen and Stravinsky. On a very different level. a contradiction which Babbitt's definition (quoted above) engages. F. example. On the relevance of serial ordering.Babbitt himself remarked that ))Strav- insky recently has asserted that serialism in general interests him more than the twelve-tone system as such< (BABBITT1963:49).however. when the matter of >. what is by convention >>serial<can seem to shade into ?free twelve-tone music<<. Here. consider Stockhausen's use of a series as a background device controlling more foreground events. the Boulez of Structures. overt aggregate presentations. as in Schoenberg. are the norm. a succession of twelve rather than eleven intervals) to generate Mantra.. This content downloaded from 200. it would not seem that immediate surface ordering has the same degree of systematic relevance that it has in Babbitt's arrays. Indeed. neither the ?familiar< surface operations of serialism.19. the ?aggregate< and the >serial< are found in post-war uses of serialism in Europe to different degrees. In KlavierstiickV. However.( (IBID:50). This basic difference in attitude will be taken up again below. they share a reliance on local order (at least) as some sort of constructive principle functioning more deeply than simply considering the whole work as a single set of ordered pitches.

As we hear our way through a piece. I do not feel that I am unduly assertive in saying that they must not be believed. be too strongly emphasised that it [the twelve-tone method] is entirely and exclusively the concern of the composer.. accommodating position is taken by theorist Joseph Straus: When we listen to twelve-tone music. appeared particularly in four articles published in The Score magazine between 1952 and 1958.130. if >>serialmanipulation< is not audible. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. the question of >>serialsignificance< is meaningless. F. And this is. In discussing Philomel. since >>knowledge of serial operations is not required for full appreciation of the music< [quoted from STADLEN 1956:16.157 on Sun.82 A. as a composer. we don't need to be able to identify the forms of the series.what possible >>significance<could be extracted from consciously registering the file-past of the terms of a given series in the correct order?< (ibid: 51). The same accusation has also been levelled at Babbitt.what could the notion of intrinsic serial significancepossi- bly mean?< (GERHARD 1958:51). (STRAUS 1990:147) Gerhard.. of course. The point Gerhard makes most insistently. our ear is often led via a chain of invariants. reporting com- ments of Webern]. Paul Griffiths' criticism of Xenakis takes exactly the same line: >>Xenakis'methods must give one cause for extreme doubt that the sophistication of his mathematics is expressedin his music< (GRIFFITHS1981:111 . what are we to make of the fierce unapproachability of his theory? Is the alluring surface merely inadvertent. (GERHARD 1958:51) Strong words indeed. But empha- sis). IRASM 26 (1995) 1. and: There are people who do pretend that they are in fact able to detect and to follow the serial thread in audition.19. To me.. He amplifies a little later: >>. therefore. in which he leaves his reader in no doubt as to his support for what he believes to be Webern's position. the musical results of its ongoing transformations. and hence on the role of se- rialism. theirs would be an odd case of auditory perversion indeed. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 200. and in a va- riety of ways. I think. his arguments revolve around the existence of what he terms >>serialsignificance<: >>. would still disagree. 77-95 III Gerhard's thoughts on compositional method. MOORE. Instead. can serialism be of any >>sig- nificance< whatever? The answer is evidently: not to you as a listener or as a performer. you may ask. we need to hear the musical consequences of the series. the critic John Rockwell asks: But if his best music >>works<so directly. (GERHARD 1952:280) In the last article.. a perennial problem.. is that the method which the composer chooses to use can be of no practical value whatever to the listener. It does not concern the listener at all. If they could be believed. the gift wrapping for the actual musical content? (ROCKWELL1985:29) A more recent. thus endorsing Schoenberg's own stated position: It cannot..

This content downloaded from 200...130.157 on Sun. combined with the fact that this scale in itself was intrinsically unsuitable as a theoretical or practical basis of composition [due to its undifferentiated nature]. at least as regards the music of Babbitt. at least as early as 1956. for if they are. in the absence of other. articulatoryfeatures. it would have seemed that there might be a measure of com- mon ground between Gerhard and Babbitt in the latter's use of derived sets. and the former's fond- ness for >>metamorphosedinterval-relations<<. simply by knowing the original order< (BABBITT 1963:51) and insists: Certainly. In his rejoinder to Peter Stadlen. the flute solo near the beginning . or (if you like) metamorphoses already of bare interval-relations. He quotes Stravinsky's own comments on his Mouvements for piano and orchestra: >No theorist could determine the spelling of the note order in. AND ITSCONTRADICTIONS. namely.) However. any local order can conceivably be significant for the listener. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Gerhard follows Schoenberg in considering a basic order to have the status of a ground. MOORE.. (IBID: 52) which appears to be just Gerhard's point3. they are irrelevant. are.SERIALISM IRASM26 (1995)1. Stravinsky could not have been implying that the relations and associations which endow these particular places in the Mouvements with their compositional coherence are undetectable in terms of the premises of the system and of the work.. whether it be the triad [in Rameau's explanation of harmony] or a hexachord. I believe that such a view would be mistaken. The simple spelling of the 12-note series forwards and backwards in the correct order seems to me too much like copying the flower of my wallpaper-pattern [referring to a previous anal- ogy]. As these articles show. analogous to the >order< of a scale4 (viewed as the compositional basis of tonal melody) or even of a motif: My rigid series begins to throw up images. some way of organising the twelve notes other than the scale. F. I attend only to its metamorphoses. the freedom with which contemporary composers were [in the early years of the century] using all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. (GERHARD 1956b:69) This is used as a justification for a principle of unsystematic permutation: All these variations affecting the position of the notes within the unit. from which local motivic ideas can be drawn: . (GERHARD 1952:26) Thus.. Gerhard does not argue against the apparent monotony resulting from the revolution of only one set-class (although he does argue this elsewhere)..19. for example.. at any rate as a theorist.serial thread<. 77-95 83 Compare Babbitt the theorist.. but against the supposition that. which yield a surface permutation of a particular set-class. 4 Which of course is not work-specific.. 3 It should certainly be acknowledged here that Mead (1984) makes a strong case for both the significance and the audibility of the . seems to leave only one alternative. A.(Gerhard was aware of Babbitt. From this to the tone-rows or >series< of the twelve-tone technique is clearly only a short step. the >>order<of the row is seen as something of a work-specific con- vention. At first glance.

MOORE. a part of what serialism is.. though >serial significance< (the significance for the listener of local ordering per se) is not. (BABBITT 1960:247-8) As we can see. the choice of a subcollection of these as a referential norm provides a norm that is distinguishable by content alone. since it arises from the internal ordering of that set-class. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. F. a permutation only points to the unordered paired hexachords which lie in the work's conceptual background.. and deviations from this norm cannot exist within the system. there is but one such norm in terms of content. and taken as a norm. the above quotation also implies that there needs to be an initial order (presumably stated in the piece) which is then subject to permutation. is it simply that serialism will be satisfied provided notes are not exchanged across the hexachord boundary? Although this seems to be a nec- essary condition. Gerhard's >permutations< are far indeed from Babbitt's derived sets.Note that the raison d'etre of the method is not serial significance for the listener. about.84 A. and the traditional tonal system is such. 77-95 of course. from the . the result of permutation. The emphasis is on content here. such a system.of which the individual series is only one aspect. for Gerhard. (GERHARD 1952:33) In this respect. one of the possible permu- tations. But if an ordering is imposed upon this to- tality. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. or even conceivably could be. And yet. the very raison d'etre of the method. Constraint is the whole purpose. it is. For Gerhard. namely the acceptance of the prin- ciple of permutation (within antecedent and consequent) based on a recog- nition of the fact that beyond the actual series there is an ultimate ground. And this. never- theless.represented by the coupled hexachords . a derived set points (among other things) to the set-class from which it was derived. an abstract archetype . 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . not order.19. is precisely what is shown in Von Heute auf Morgen.130. for Gerhard. For Babbitt. He states: L'invention contraride is evidently what Schoenberg's restrictive rules are aimed at. hexachords will maintain their identity irrespective of their internal orderings. that is. He clarifies this in discussing his continuation of the principle into the durational realm: This content downloaded from 200. but constraint for the composer. the issue of permutation (the method or absence of method through which ordinal positions are altered) raises a profound contradiction at the heart of serialism. is therefore combinational. in my opinion. From which it is easy to see how little the meaning of Schoenberg's idea has been understood by practitioners of a so-called >>freetwelve-tone technique<.. Al- though a specific series is >only one of the possible permutations<. But if the referential norm is the totality of elements. (GERHARD 1956b:66) Since. other possible permutations. and so is diametrically opposed to the emphasis Babbitt has drawn in an important distinction: Given a collection of available elements. there is clearly some notion of local ordering which he finds important. a >>rigidseries<<.157 on Sun. this norm is so distinguished .

Babbitt's con- ception appears to be melodic. at all. MOORE.. serialism remains a method: Gerhard's >style< (the conventions he asks a listener to use) does not equate to the techniques of serialism. or a method. serialism is the best alternative to tonality yet found for constraining or channelling the imagination. At first audition. F. (GREEN 1988:33-4 . many earlier texts described it as the latter. A further important contradiction now begins to emerge. the most satisfactorily developed and potentially versatile tool the composer of our time has at his disposal. canons or procedural rules in every sphere. No piece of music is ever stylistically autonomous . and without which we could have no music at all. Moreover. to my mind. In that Babbitt's serial method should be of concern to the listener.whereby a certain collection will retain its basic identity irrespective of the order in which it is >arpeggiated<<. the work of Gerhard's last decade may seem to have much in common with the doubly-decried ?free twelve-tone technique<. Babbitt's use of serialism is stylistic in that competence in following >a chain of invariants< at the very least. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (GERHARD 1956b:65) And elsewhere. (Gerhard's late surfaces consist of a lack of aggregates and a profusion of carefully articulated motivic orderings.) This common appearance. Hence. we find: Looked at from our [the composers'] side the major problem is one of pres- entation. is achieved with impor- tantly different means: I for one refuse to believe that salvation depends on your creed. the >arbitrariness<<being of course of the same kind as that invariably found in methods. even as he employs them. For Gerhard. I shall return to this point below. because we musthavesomeknowledgeof the style of a pieceof musicin order to experienceinherentmeaningsas distinctfromnon-musically meaningfulsound. it strikes me This content downloaded from 200. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. for Gerhard. objective presentation requiring. is a necessary pre-requisite. rather than a style.In contrast. numbers or symbols and a system of co-ordinates arbitrarily set up. such that it may work to best ad- vantage. as Hermann Weyl says. And yet.19. or the tonal leanings of the serialism of a composer like Frank Martin.emphasis in the original). (GERHARD 1956a:8 .157 on Sun. time-set is to be understood in the manner of an ar- bitrarily chosen system of co-ordinates. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. This usage has rightly fallen out of favour due to the similarities between Webern's serial and pre-serial music (for instance). which permit communication be- tween composer and listener: Style is the medium by which we experience music. although serialism is generally accepted as being a practice.emphasis in the original). And arbitrarily is the key-word.A. but even here it must be asked whether such qualitative divergence can be encompassed by serial practices. Gerhard's concep- tion is essentially harmonic. While 12-tone technique is. 77-95 85 The couple: pitch-set. note Lucy Green's identifi- cation of >style< in terms of its conventions. whereby identity is determined by immediately presented order.130. however..

MOORE.which the naked eye [sic . although it should apparently be of no concern to the listener. It seems. we do have an organizing factor. 77-95 nevertheless as downright silly to disparage or deplore the use of other tech- niques which other people may find more congenial. His comments regarding >>free twelve-tone technique<<would seem to set him apart from the world of Berio's Circles. that we must differentiate not only serialism from aggregate serialism. (GERHARD 1956b:63) Of course.not the ear!] can pin-point on the stave that spells the >code?. (b) series whose an- tecedent is inverted in the consequent..86 A. Indeed.130.. by 1952. why should any surface group of interval-relations .. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .if we agree that the oars combinatoria<<is indeed the organ- izing factor in the new orbit? (GERHARD 1956b:68) So. (GERHARD 1952: 30-31) Of all possible taxonomies. This penchant for hexachordal combinatoriality is as far as Gerhard travels along Babbitt's path for. F. Gerhard became (to the best of my knowledge) the first composer in Europe to openly acknowledge the fundamental importance of Schoenberg's uti- lisation of hexachordal combinatoriality.. again either in the original or in the reverse order. ?free 12-tone technique< may not be considered a technique at all. and recognize that all four represent contradictory expressions of Schoenberg's invention. then. while his use of serialism as a constraint against which the imagination can work is perhaps close to that of the Boulez of Le marteau sans This content downloaded from 200. or else in permutation .19..< (GERHARD 1952:28) Clearly. but also distinguish between a Gerhardian permutational serialism (where the role of the aggregate is uncertain on the musical surface although ensured in the theory) and a free twelve-tone technique. but rather a catch-all for any number of less-determined ones. a technique crucial to the development of Babbitt's style: According to its structure. And yet it seems remarkable that. for instance. be granted privilege or priority over all the potential relations which only the combinatorial operation of the code can actualize .. he feels that ?the twelve-tone technique must be understood and appraised as a new principle of tonality.157 on Sun. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. series whose antecedent and consequent are structurally different . or else in a new permutational form .. we find him asking: In effect. It should be clear from all that has gone before that Gerhard's conception of >>twelve-tone technique< is radically different from Babbitt's. a series can be shown to belong to one of three possible types: (a) series whose antecedent (notes 1 to 6) is reproduced by transposition in the consequent (notes 7 to 12) either in the same order or in crab-form. that is. and (c) asymmetrical series.. as I have shown elsewhere (Moore 1990). SERIALISMAND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. Gerhard has chosen that which highlights hexachor- dal combinatoriality as the deciding factor.. Schoen- berg has consistently favoured series of the second type .in the hori- zontal or the vertical . the way Gerhard has conceived serialism compares more easily with the practices of other European composers..

F. Ligeti has gently criticised this approach on the precise grounds that pitch transposition produces a new sequence of ordinal numbers but the same interval sequence.. but which destroy the identity of the series with the exception that the destruction process. like Gerhard's. criteria often derived from outside the system.< (IBID: 62 . Although the detailed way in which such a scheme works out (in the First String Quartet. and he develops this to- wards a critique of the derivation of serial >form< from the characteristics of serial rows (SAVAGE 1989:14-18). IRASM 26 (1995) 1. Boulez calls at- tention to the >irrational<<metamorphoses beloved of Gerhard: >there is a sort of natural invention which is irrational and is due almost to your temperament and talents<<(BOULEZ 1970:101). so that . is used .The alleged >total organization? is achieved by applying dissimilar.<<(GER- HARD 1956b:62). since they are measurable . in Boulez' case. an employ- ment which seems directly inherited from the composer of Erwartung.whose course is determined by a numerical. In stating his position in such terms.130. as a compositional device. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . rather than by a narrative or descrip- tive. Pitch-values can therefore be translatedinto duration-values. and vice-versa. >>programme<. more correctly. Boulez' series.157 on Sun. whereas in Gerhard's. is recorded (BOULEZ 1975:40). And yet.the rhythm is independent of and thus separable from the pitch structure. whereas that new sequence of ordinal numbers applied to rhythm produces a wholly different configuration (LIGETI1960:39).my emphasis).< (BABBITT 1955:55) This content downloaded from 200.. His justification for this view is that >>bothpitch-values and duration-values are based on number. Another point of contact between Gerhard and Boulez lies in the durational realm. the basis for such a stance is remarkably similar. an important difference. 77-95 87 maftreor even to Stravinsky. both types of invention employ serialism as a way of removing from the rational intellect the burden of inventing possible candidates for ?next note<. for instance) is very different to the way Boulez' scheme works out in Structure la. As Savage (1989:37) notes. Roger Savage argues that such criticisms in the 1950s and 1960s directed attention away from the serial >pro- gramme< towards such composer-specific minutiae. but he counterposes this to >>inventionwhich can be brought on rationally by creating for oneself the conditions necessary to stimulate it<<(IBID:101). it is not. it seems to me that those very minutiae can direct us to the larger problem I am outlining here. seems to be employed to >>throwup images< (harmonic rather than motivic) in which the series is em- bedded. Gerhard places himself on the rough end of Babbitt's words. however..A.. essentially unrelated criteria of organization to each of the com- ponents. There is. While Savage's point is well taken. resulting in the most literal sort of >programme music<<. the latter >>controlled<pre- dominates over the former ?spontaneous? approach for Boulez.19.or.for example . so to speak: Mathematics . arithmetic. MOORE. Gerhard himself accepts that ?the Schoenbergian tone-row does in fact offer in itself the necessary and sufficient basis for pitch-time correlation. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS.

Gerhard comments on one further aspect of serial composition in two of these articles. This content downloaded from 200.19. He is able to do this because of his employment of all-interval series. F MOORE. they never quite succeed in obscuring the fact that the specific operations of the pitch-set. and. it can beappliedas independentlyas thepitchsystem. How- ever. thereby pre- serving the idealist identification of a pitch-duration continuum (STOCKHAUSEN 1959:13).88 A.. The notion of . there are clear grounds for arguing that the discrepancy between serial treatments of pitch and duration undermines another of the premises of serialism itself (see also SAVAGE 1989:40-2). a fortiori. and be used. implies a one-to-one compositional application of the two systems. (GERHARD 1956b:67-8) 5 Gerhard deploys this term throughout his writings. thematic correspondences belongs (I think) to a pre-do- decatonic [sic5] mode of thought ... SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS.130. for all the stress Schoenberg lays on the surface and internal tracery of his motivic ramifications. constitute in reality what is vitally new in Schoenberg's con- tribution: an ars combinatoriawhich as a mode of sound-organization is en- tirely unprecedented. as Schoenberg says. achieving patterns of connectedness through a network of mo- tivic or. to call attention to the fact that >dode- caphonic< is literally >twelve-voiced<t rather than >twelve-note<<. he does appear to concur with them. the original consecutive order of the series . IRASM 26 (1995) 1. he has clearly changed his mind: To my mind the claim put forward by Schoenberg that the series >is meant to function in the manner of a motif<< raises a conceptual difficulty . (BABBITT 1962:70-72) Although we have a measure of practical agreement here.. that concord would not stretch to Stockhausen. >>inthe manner of a motive<<. The rhythmicsystem is closed. (GERHARD 1952:34) Four years later. he avers: From the standpoint of the permutational treatment. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . namely the role of the series as theme.157 on Sun. as its structure is independent of pitch clarifi- cation. Babbitt identifies the interval betweensuccessivepitches. In 1952. merely because it is equivalent to the twelve-tone pitch system.. It has its own specific laws. and granted that his written investigation is more thoroughgoing than either Gerhard's or Boulez'. discussing the then state of the serial art. can be allowed a privileged position as thematically significant. a practice Gerhard does not share.. 77-95 In his own later article devoted to >>twelve-tonerhythm<..rather than the interval betweencurrentand initial pitches (as GERHARD 1956b:65 prefers) as the most useful analogue to relative durational length in constructing a durational series. thus going against his earlier pronouncement: It must not be inferred that this time-point system. Indeed.. and for the purposes of explana- tory simplicity has been described by analogical reference to the pitch sys- tem. considered in themselves and apart from the >motivic work< they are made to do as well. who argues against the imposition of a simple arith- metic scale of durational values in favour of a logarithmic scale.

which I would suggest are intended to communicate in at least two very different ways. What we have is a number of contradictory interpretations concern- ing the >>serial<<. superimpose a >>series< upon traditional models of form and process.130. 77-95 89 Thus. Whether the cognitive or perceptual accuracy of these latter can be shown is a separate matter.19. and nevertheless pick up quite a good sense of the row-structure's operation in the long run. but interpretations which nonetheless are integral to the method which Schoenberg invented. Gerhard's conception does not rely seriously on the constructive powers of the aggregate. is plain. and >meaning<. and it is this area that becomes properly significant.157 on Sun. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. that there is no single identification of the practices of serialism. perhaps. such as Apostel or Jelinek. then. This position is. to an unbridgable gap between what he terms the >>compositionalgrammar< and the >listening grammar<<. although we should note that David Lewin is convinced of the possibility of >>listeningbetween one and three intervals back<. F. pitch is clearly at something of a discount. MOORE. his conception of the method hinges on three factors: the employing of re-orderable. This content downloaded from 200. the durational analogy. and the irrelevance of the audition of serial operations. In short. identity and ordinal permutation. nor on those of an invariant ordered series. That is. throughout serialism. even from this discussion which circulates broadly around Babbitt and Gerhard. Gerhard has moved from the position which is held by >>lesser<serial composers6 to a front rank. In a recent discussion. the function of constraint upon the composer. we are led to believe that Gerhard espouses nothing so unsystematic as a >>freetwelve-tone technique<.A. but the in- tention. Indeed. And yet. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. How. one both has his cake locally (immediate uncertainty) and eats it too in the large (long-run perception of row structure) (LEWIN 1968:73). in four years. four broad techniques or methods. of course. without the accretion of foreign ele- ments. the >aggregate<. combinatorially-related hexachords. Lerdahl (1988) suggests that this gives rise. wholly contemporary position which attempts to take serialism on what he sees as its own merits. The practicability of this may remain open to question. It is this which causes me to find serialism itself contradictory: we appear to have. IV It should be plain. supported by pieces such as Gemini or the fourth symphony. Babbitt clearly intends to communicate via what Gerhard calls >serial sig- nificance<. Dibben (1994) argued that >>Lerdahltakes this to mean that there is 6 Those who. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . then. drawn from the method itself. if one listens in this way [paying attention to immediate preceding intervals]. does Gerhard intend to communicate? If the registering of the series and its operations are of no im- port. so that one is usually somewhat uncertain as to what will happen next.

>articulation<<.. . This view is now gaining some critical acceptance.157 on Sun. Hilary Bracefield's comments on the 1983 revival of Stockhausen's Grup- pen are noteworthy.130. 77-95 a failure of communication. E MOORE. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . it would have a profound effect on our understanding of the qualities of music. If these elements of rhetoric are present in Gerhard's music (and I have argued that they most certainly are. >theme< or >form<<itself) derived.. Were this intrinsic relationship to be denied. And yet.. on the evidence of .such problematic terms as >ges- ture<<. as Lewin perhaps implies. And yet.e.. She declared: I am inclined to decide that though I admire the sheer panache of the 29- year-old Stockhausen's writing for orchestra.musical sense is not confined to the designs that signs make with each other. which proves o.< (EHRENZWEIG 1973:47) Indeed.. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. from the listener's standpoint.. If this is what Ger- hard is claiming. not intrinsically meaningful) note-sequences are merely overlaid with surface rhetoric.< (LI- DOV 1981:196) Of course. that the situation is that otherwise uninterpreted (i... The case is succinctly put by the semiotician David Lidov: o. are probably best discussed in terms of musical >rhetoric<<.. below the level of conscious recognition. The musical equivalent of these. Ehrenzweig considers both visual and aural data to be clearly subject to this engages an unlimited semantic field. Savage has argued that This content downloaded from 200.Lerdahl's position then becomes an unwarranted assumption. at least with respect to the late chamber works . an order which he does not grasp intellectually may all the same condition his listening. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. presumably.even >phrase< (but not. The hold on listeners of such traditional rhetorical models as >>build-up<.see MOORE 1990). he is describing what the psychologist Anton Ehrenzweig termed >unconscious scanning<. the cues this process tends to use are the gestalt laws such as >shape<<and >formo. [3 live performances in 1983] the design doesn't quite come off.. for Gerhard is reaching for something both more subtle and far more crucial.. but is the >>surface<of underlying processes in tonal music. those factors that shape the elements to which we are listening. because the structure a composer puts into his or her work is not perceived by the listener<<. it is normally held that this >rhetoric< is not super- imposed on.90 A. declaring that the serial method o.< (IBID: 48). this surely suggests that they may have a pertinence to all (not only tonal) music. meant to defeat conscious powers of appreciation.. in some way. still according to Ehrenzweig. wind- down< and >catharsis< would seem to be too great to allow even such a com- mitted modernist as Stockhausen to escape. The build-up to group 114 loses its way.>climax<.19.<< (GERHARD 1952:29). from tonal music.. the result of both Gerhard's arguments and his compositional practice suggest that this is a possibility that must be seriously considered. I think the only way we can take seriously a statement such as this is to assume that an order does become known. of course. In this context.. and more importantly the composer has misman- aged the final wind-down after the cathartic moment (BRACEFIELD1983:50).to be capable of scanning serial structures and gathering more information than a conscious scrutiny lasting a hundred times longer. He claims that >.

MOORE. There is. 77-95 91 When the listener believes that the music he hears is based on a rigorous use of compositional techniques.157 on Sun. It is not part of the modernist aesthetic for its products to have communication as an aim. if each piece is hermetic... one has also described the composition itself. in a bold emphasis). This is why a rhe- torical overlay is necessary. he equally believes.. back where we began. no matter how dif- ficult the music. Such a condition is convention- ally traced back to its articulation in the Economicand PhilosophicManuscripts of Karl Marx (see e. however. finally..A. states this explicitly: >one of the parameters that obviously cannot be controlled by premeditation . F. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . for many recent pieces. for it is the rhetoric which forms the substance of the >>communication(<and also the Greenian >>style((. The construction of the system has itself become an essential and inseparable component of the creative act. We are now. It does this by expressing the relevant central values of culture in abstractedform (NETTL 1983:159 .. is to control humanity's relation- ship to the supernatural.We thus have not a failure of communication. with some justification..g. in a sphere where there is nothing concrete to communicate (below the rhetorical surface). has suggested that the function of music in human society .19. the possibility that competence can be acquired. (SAVAGE 1989:26) It is also the import of a recent comment of Robert Morgan.. in that the processes which give it sub- stance are not transferable to the experience of other pieces. He points out that. MILNER 1994:50-53).. for one. and yet he cannot perceive their structural significance. once one has described how the piece was made. so that communication can once again take place. Krenek. and modernism in turn as an embodiment of those central values of modernity. based on what codes can signification take place? V With this we are. The ethnomu- sicologist Bruno Nettl. and to support the integrity of individual social groups. (MORGAN 1977:39) The piece therefore becomes hermetic. it so happens that serial composers are not thinking in such terms<<(KRENEK 1960:231).. but frequently towards the products of modernism itself (to which I referred earlier). nonetheless. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. Alienation is taken to be one of the results of the >condition of modemity<<. but its re-interpreted presence.130. mediating between people and other beings. for if there is no >agreed(( syntax. is the communicative aspect of music . then the demise through internal contradiction of serialism strengthens the arguments of those who cele- This content downloaded from 200. IRASM 26 (1995) 1.. that any attempt to relate the two is futile. of that which (logically) succeeds the modem. If serialism can be taken as quintessentially modernist. and this feature is undeniably one of the definers of the postmodem. an alienation felt not only towards modernity. but becomes particularly prominent in the aftermath of the Second World War (see GROSSBERG1992). We can go further.

StephenDembski and JosephStraus. TheListener83.WisconsinUniversity Press. only over a much shorter time-scale. Indeed. Perspectivesof New Music 2. Reginald Smith BRINDLE: 1966 Serial composition. RichardRodney Bennettand Susan Bradshaw.Perspectivesof New Music 1. in the music of Babbitt. Milton BABBITT: invariantsas compositionaldeterminants<. It also puts the idealist tone of my argument on the same footing as an idealist vision of tonality. 22. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. Reginald Smith BRINDLE: 1975 Thenewomusic. particularly. There.. we can say that tonality itself was undermined by its harmonic contradictions. counter the notion I have put forward that the contradictions are inherent in serialism.19. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. for example that founded upon the augmented sixth. as Harvey (1989) so eloquently demonstrates.130. 77-95 brate the end of the modem project.157 on Sun. BIBLIOGRAPHY Milton BABBITT: 1955 >>Someaspects of twelve-tone composition<. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . with serialism. 1970 >>Musical PierreBOULEZ: 1975 Boulezon musictoday. Milton BABBITT: 1988 Wordsaboutmusic. Cambridge University Press. as another ethnomusicologist John Blacking pointed out. It is this very ambiguity which is abhorred. is necessary for people to make sense of musical communication<<(BLACKING 1987:52). Pierre BOULEZ: invention<. but which required a certain amount of historical time for its realisation. I think. >> The same has happened. John BLACKING: 1987 A common-senseview of all music. F. Hilary BRACEFIELD: 1983 >>Gropingtowards Gruppen<<.92 A.. TheScore12. Milton BABBITT: 1963 >>Remarks on the recent Stravinsky<<. This historical trajectory does not. 1960 >>Twelve-tone Milton BABBITT: 1962 >>Twelve-tone rhythmicstructureand the electronicmedium<<. MOORE.Oxford University Press.Faber. Contact 27. does provide grounds for asserting the postmodern condition.Oxford University Press. which is present in the system of relationships itself. and that compression of experienced time. MusicalQuarterly46.ed. This content downloaded from 200.1.

Lev KOBLYAKOV: 1977 >>Boulez' 'Le Marteau sans maitre': analysis of pitch structure<<.157 on Sun. Pluto. Dent.Duke University Press. David HARVEY: 1989 The condition of postmodernity. Holt.130. Music Review 29. Roberto GERHARD: 1956b >>Developments in twelve-tone technique<. Musical Quarterly 77. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. Jiurgen HABERMAS: 1985 >Modernity . Martha HYDE: 1985 >>Musical form and the development of Schoenberg's twelve-tone method<.Blackwell. Paul GRIFFITHS: 1981 Modern music: the avant garde since 1945. SERIALISM AND ITS CONTRADICTIONS.Zeitschrift flir Musiktheorie 77. Otto DERI: 1968 Exploring Twentieth-centurymusic. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .an incomplete project< in Hal Foster (ed. Roberto GERHARD: 1958 >>Apropos Mr Stadlen<<. Anton EHRENZWEIG: 1973 The hidden order of art. Journal of Music Theory29. Paul GRIFFITHS: 1984 Modern music. reprinted in CriticalMusicology Newsletter 2.A. Nicola DIBBEN: 1994 >Music perception and critical musicology<<. The Score 17. This content downloaded from 200. Lucy GREEN: 1988 Music on deaf ears.The Score 6.The Score 16. The Score 23.): Postmodernculture. Thames & Hudson. 77-95 93 Martin BRODY: 1993 >>Music for the Masses: Milton Babbitt's Cold War Music Theory<<. F. Matei CALINESCU: 1987 Five faces of modernity. Lawrence GROSSBERG: 1992 We gotta get out of this place. Paladin. Rinehart & Winston. Routledge. Jonathan HARVEY: 1968 >Stockhausen: theory and music<.19.paper presented at 2nd Critical Musi- cology seminar. Manchester University Press. Roberto GERHARD: 1952 >>Tonalityin twelve-tone music<<. Oxford. MOORE. Roberto GERHARD: 1956a >The contemporary musical situation<<.

MORGAN: 1977 >On the analysis of recent music<. Roger SAVAGE: 1989 Structure and sorcery: the aesthetics of post-war serial composition and indeterminacy. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . D.157 on Sun.Blackwell.): The sign in music and literature. David LIDOV: 1981 >Technique and signification in the twelve-tone method< in Wendy Steiner (ed. Margaret A. ROSE: 1991 The post-modernand the post-industrial. Robert B. thesis. E MOORE.19. SERIALISMAND ITS CONTRADICTIONS. Andrew MEAD: 1984 >Recent developments in the music of Milton Babbitt<<. Kahn & Averill.): Style and Idea.University of Texas Press. Allan F. Garland. LEWIN: 1968 >>Someapplications of communication theory to the study of twelve-tone music<<. Gyorgy LIGETI: 1960 >>PierreBoulez<.University College London Press. 77-95 Ernst KRENEK: 1960 >Extents and limits of serial techniques<<.Cambridge University Press. style and idea< in Leonard Stein (ed. The Score 16. Faber. MOORE: 1990 On the late chamberworksof RobertoGerhard. Arnold SCHOENBERG (1946): 1984 >New music.): Cognitive processes in music. Critical Inquiry 4.130. Arnold SCHOENBERG (1941): 1984 >>Composition with Twelve Tones (1)< in Leonard Stein (ed. Open University Press.94 A.Ph. Fred LERDAHL: 1988 >Cognitive constraints on compositional systems< in John Sloboda (ed. Oxford University Press. University of Southampton. Bruno NETTL: 1983 Thestudy of ethnomusicology:twenty-nine issues and concepts. This content downloaded from 200. John ROCKWELL: 1985 All American music. outmoded music. Peter STADLEN: 1956 >Serialism reconsidered<. Journal of Music Theory 12.Illinois University Press. IRASM 26 (1995) 1. Robert P. PIPPIN: 1991 Modernism as a philosophicalproblem. Die Reihe 4.Musical Quarterly 46.Musical Quarterly 70. Richard MIDDLETON: 1990 Studying popular music. Faber. David B.): Style and Idea. Anthony MILNER: 1994 Contemporarycultural theory:an introduction.

serijalnosti Bouleza i Stockhausenau kojojje funkcijasveukupnostiispod vrijednosti.Zaristese potom pomite spram pojma >seri- jalnogznarenja<.<<.A.19.Gerhardove>permutacij- ske< serijalnostii >slobodnedvanaesttonsketehnike<.Tajse raskidsmatraposljedicomrazvitkaotudenjainherentnogmo- dernizmu i utvrdujese kao doslovan postmodernistiekifenomen. Janet WOLFF: 1987 >The ideology of autonomous art<<in Leppert & McClary (eds. MOORE. Die Reihe 3.): Music and society.Calder. Cambridge University Press.a zakljutakse razvijapremaGerhardusugerirajudidubok raskidizmedu serijalnog procesai >>povr'inske<< retorike. STRAUS: 1990 Introduction to post-tonal theory. This content downloaded from 200. Joseph N. Sa•etak SERIJALNOSTI NJEZINA PROTUSLOVLJA Serijalnostse zbog njezinanagla'avanjaautonomijesmatraidealno modernistidkom. STUCKENSCHMIDT: 1977 Arnold Schoenberg:his life. F.157 on Sun.Atodovodi do ustanovljenjaminimuma od. 11 Oct 2015 21:28:59 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .SERIALISM AND time passes.etiri mogude >>verzije<< poslijeratneserijalnosti:Babbittovestroge >>sveukupne serijalnosti<<.tako da njezinopreminudei preminudemodernizmaizgleda kakoda se uzajamnopotpoma'u. Pojavljujuse sumnje o standardnimdefinicijamaserijalnosti. Prentice-Hall... world and zoork. 77-95 95 Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN: 1959 >..130. H. IRASM26 (1995)1. H..