Thread: Dodecaphonics
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Old 2006-11-28, 14:53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonR
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.


Actually, the 4 should be where the 3 is. And I agree with you in that dodecaphonics is systematic. It compromises on expressiveness, and the reason Beethoven and Mozart are so huge is because they balanced formal structure with expressiveness prefectly. And you get very tonal rows as well. They just sound like they are constantly modulating. I just use dodecaphonics for finding rows that actually sound good, I don't stick by it for anything. What you are saying is very true, I understand perfectly. But you've made me realise that perhaps we should probably stop distinguishing between atonality and tonality. Every row is just lots of mini-tonalities thrown together and inaudible due to their rapid modulation.
And considering melody in DM sometimes, I think you can be far out of tonality and still not be doecaphonic.

There needs to be a new tonal system I think. I've had ideas about constructing one for a while now. This major/minor thing is annoying. I hate it. I always use modes, I only use the key sig' to show the set of notes the thing's in. Who dare declare the obsoletion of modes!

I've more or less given up with dodecaphonics (already). I've found that the height of all this modern stuff came and ended with Debussy. He wrote for sound rather than system or philosophy. If I hear a piece, I don't hear it's philosophy or it's sytematics. I externally read or find out about it's sound. I hear it's sound, it's rhythms and it's pitches and it's textures and timbres. Debussy did the weird stuff for the weird sound. I do similar. I actually like Cage and Boulez for the SOUND rather than the philospshy. And guys like Takemitsu did it probably for the weirdness of sound anyway. I mean, what's with getting flute players to speak French translations of Japanese poetry down the flute?

Oh, and Scriabin's music sounds awesome. I would like to hear an insight into the world of a synaesthetic. I bet he was like one of these pointillist composers.
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