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Dodecaphonic works you admire and adore


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Author Topic: Dodecaphonic works you admire and adore  (Read 2820 times)
guest54
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« on: March 05, 2012, 11:27:58 am »

Which ones do you find faultless and love unconditionally? Personally I can think of four I have come to know and of which I have few criticisms: Schönberg's Variations, Berg's Concerto, Webern's second Cantata, and (of all things) Banks's Divisions. But there must be thousands more candidates.

Wellesz's exposition though is off-putting: "A melodic skeleton has to be thought out, consisting of the twelve notes of the dodecuple scale . . . no tone should be repeated before the note-row comes to an end."

Why ever not?

Does not that method in its inflexibility tend to destroy the above-mentioned "melodic" quality rather than enhance it?

"The pattern appears 1) in its original form, 2) in its inversion, 3) in its cancrizans, and 4) in the crab inversion."

But WHY??

No truly inspired composer would wish to do all that would he?

"All the harmonies are built upon chords consisting of notes of the row arranged in the order in which they appear in the series."

Why why why??? No one ever says.

Just as in the first case (of the melody) this removal of the composer's freedom tends to destroy, not enhance, the harmonic interest and quality of a work.

Percy Scholes calls this "a highly artificial composing procedure," which could be praise but coming from him I do not think it is.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 11:55:33 am »

This will be a short thread, I feel?

The Berg Violin Concerto is the only serial work that is unequivocally excellent - and only because the composer shifts the goalposts to subvert the profoundly pointless idea of 12-note rows.
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 12:48:59 pm »

Not necessarily a short thread . . .

I have never warmed to Berg's violin concerto: I did hear it live a year ago and it seemed as impenetrable as it always has been. Indeed I've always found Berg's 12-note stuff difficult to get on with. Webern's concerto, on the other hand, would certainly get my vote. And I've always felt that Skalkottas was one of the very few pre-1950 composers to be able to write naturally with his version of the 12-note method, although I've never bothered to find out how or why. And I must admit a liking for some 12-note jazz - I find the nature of the contradiction engaging.


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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 02:12:26 pm »

I'd never really noticed that the score for THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 is actually dodecaphonic?  But thank you for pointing it out Smiley

Is anyone still writing serial music?  It's a bit like asking if anyone still has a BetaMax VCR  Smiley
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autoharp
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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 12:50:49 pm »

I'd never really noticed that the score for THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 is actually dodecaphonic?  But thank you for pointing it out Smiley

Indeed, the note row is not dissimilar to that of the Webern Concerto

Quote
Is anyone still writing serial music?  It's a bit like asking if anyone still has a BetaMax VCR  Smiley

The name may be a give-away, but I just bet that Elvis Schoenberg's Blue suede shoes is of the tendency. Some stuff actually does sound 12-note.
Amuses me at any rate.

http://www.myspace.com/osurreal/music/songs/blue-suede-shoes-77285975
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2012, 07:33:06 am »

I admire and adore quite a bit of American composer Charles Wuorinen's work, which is not 'serial' (Wuorinen actually takes exception to that term) but is definitely dodecaphonic. I'm especially drawn to his remarkable chamber works, including the saxophone quartet, his two piano quintets, the string sextet, his numerous trio pieces for different instrumental arrangements, etc...
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 12:35:01 pm »

I love Berg's Violin Concerto. Stravinsky's Movements, for piano and orchestra was a very influential work for me 25 years ago, and somewhat inspired my own Diffractions for Piano & Orchestra (1987). I've since forgotten how thoroughly I explored the note-row manipulation of Movements, I think I was more interested in the textural and rhythmic ideas in any event. Just reading again briefly about that work, it seems that Stravinsky's use of serialism was not that rigid. That's fine by me. Concerning my own work(s) I'd say I "dabbled" in serialism, if it was useful to inspire a theme that would be later freely developed then so be it, which is what I did with Diffractions.

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ahinton
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 01:12:59 pm »

I love Berg's Violin Concerto. Stravinsky's Movements, for piano and orchestra was a very influential work for me 25 years ago, and somewhat inspired my own Diffractions for Piano & Orchestra (1987). I've since forgotten how thoroughly I explored the note-row manipulation of Movements, I think I was more interested in the textural and rhythmic ideas in any event. Just reading again briefly about that work, it seems that Stravinsky's use of serialism was not that rigid. That's fine by me. Concerning my own work(s) I'd say I "dabbled" in serialism, if it was useful to inspire a theme that would be later freely developed then so be it, which is what I did with Diffractions.
Mention of your own work here prompts me to note en passant (at the risk of departing slightly from the topic, for which I trust I may be forgiven) that, although much of my earliest musial education (from a Webern pupil) centred on a quite rigid application of principles of serialism, not least the total serialist persuasions that briefly abounded in the demi-monde of Darmstadt and Donaueschingen at the hands of the cliques of Köln, I realised very early on that this was not the way for me in my own work; more recently, however, I have used 12-note themes from time to time in various pieces but never treated them serially.

I love Berg's Violin Concerto, incidentally! I could never make head of tail of Schönberg's, however, until I heard it in the revelatory recording by Hilary Hahn, after listening to which I had the temerity to take the grave risk of declaring to the distinguished Schönberg scholar Malcolm MacDonald that she plays it as though it's a piece of music...
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2012, 03:50:48 pm »

The name may be a give-away, but I just bet that Elvis Schoenberg's Blue suede shoes is of the tendency. Some stuff actually does sound 12-note.
Amuses me at any rate.
http://www.myspace.com/osurreal/music/songs/blue-suede-shoes-77285975

Elvis Schoenberg is a lot of fun.  I must admit I love the Live and Let Die/Carmina Burana hybrid.
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guest54
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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2012, 04:05:22 pm »

. . . I love Berg's Violin Concerto, incidentally! I could never make head of tail of Schönberg's, however, until I heard it in the revelatory recording by Hilary Hahn, after listening to which I had the temerity to take the grave risk of declaring to the distinguished Schönberg scholar Malcolm MacDonald that she plays it as though it's a piece of music...

I've unearthed broadcasts of a) Adès's and b) Birtwistle's, but have no idea whether either of them is serial. (In fact Adès sounds like Puccini warmed up.) Do those interest you?
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 10:14:17 pm »

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more recently, however, I have used 12-note themes from time to time in various pieces but never treated them serially.

Which reminds me: Benjamin Britten, certainly not a serial composer, used a twelve-tone theme at the outset of his Cantata Academica, and treated it very cleverly. I'm sure many other composers have used this trick as well.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 10:21:11 pm »

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more recently, however, I have used 12-note themes from time to time in various pieces but never treated them serially.

Which reminds me: Benjamin Britten, certainly not a serial composer, used a twelve-tone theme at the outset of his Cantata Academica, and treated it very cleverly. I'm sure many other composers have used this trick as well.

I  believe William Alwyn did a very interesting approach in his 3rd.  He used 8 tones in the first movement, the remaining 4 tones in the 2nd, and then all 12 in the third.
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2012, 03:42:55 pm »

I like the way Bernstein uses 12-note rows in the 3rd Symphony and his treatment of Beethoven's 'Ihr stürzt nieder' tone-row in the third Meditation in Mass.
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2012, 05:28:32 pm »

Can you please recall that easy, short rule how I can find out whether a work is dodecaphonic or not when I am just listening to a piece and have no idea of music theory? It must have slipped my mind...
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 04:28:32 pm »

I would nominate Lutoslawki's Livre Pour Orchestre and Symphony No 2. Thrillingly imagined music.

I have to admit to a liking for Xenakis and Ferneyhough.
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