Thread: Dodecaphonics
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Old 2006-11-26, 06:58
JonR JonR is offline
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 67
Originally Posted by Unanything
On John's point above, I first came across dodecaphonics in the magazine Guitar Techniques. It was in the Creative Rock section. The note-row they had in the example piece was cool.

[------------------------] [------------------------] [------------------------] [--4---2-5-1---------------] [----3-------5-2-3---1-----] [2-----------------4---5-2-]
That's not a strictly correct tone row. The 2nd note is the same as the first (octave up); two notes repeat (C and F#) before all the others have been used; F and C#/Db have not been used.

This is the point about the 12-tone system. It may seem too "systematic" to you, but if you don't follow those rules, you slip back into tonal music. If you "compose for melody" (which is also my favourite method), without an imposed system, you will be following your ear and intuition, which is likely to lead you down tonal paths, because we (all of us) are so used to hearing tonal music and its melodic intervals.
That's fine of course, but it's not really dodecaphonic music - it's a mish-mash of tonal with maybe some atonal suggestions - chromaticism, IOW.

IMO, music is aither tonal or atonal - it can't be both. If strict tone-row rules aren't applied, then tonal values will creep in: one note will start to dominate, or groups of notes will suggest a scale.
Of course, what matters is how it sounds in the end! We don't have to apply any kind of rules. But when defining it, it's important to distinguish true "atonal" music from "tonal-plus-chromaticism". We need to be clear what our goals are, IOW. "Tonal-plus-chromaticism" is great (my favourite type of music!), but it isn't atonal, or "dodecaphonic" as I understand it.

The fact that a piece uses all 12 tones doesn't make it atonal. There must be 100s of jazz tunes (all firmly tonal) that use all 12 tones. There's simply a hierarchy between a diatonic set of 7 and the other 5. Can that be called "dodecaphonic"? If so, what's the point of the term?
That's why Schoenberg imposed his tone-row rules, to prevent tonal bias happening.
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