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Twelve-tone technique and the lack of harmonies
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danielrast



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 3:04 am    Post subject: Twelve-tone technique and the lack of harmonies Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello electro-music forum,

I'm very interested in the twelve-tone technique, but i'm also like colorful harmonies. Is there any chance to connect both? I know it's against the idea of Schoenbergs twelve-tone technique/dodecaphony, but without chords there is something i'm missing. Has anybody made experience in using chords and the twelve-tone technique? Or does anybody know a classical/avantgarde/jazz composer who made attempts in this direction?

thanks & greets
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread



the theme of T.T.T. by Bill Evans is a twelve tone row harmonized with chords Exclamation the guy was a genius Very Happy

and welcome to electro-music.com Wink

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject: Re: Twelve-tone technique and the lack of harmonies Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

danielrast wrote:
Hello electro-music forum,

I'm very interested in the twelve-tone technique, but i'm also like colorful harmonies. Is there any chance to connect both? I know it's against the idea of Schoenbergs twelve-tone technique/dodecaphony, but without chords there is something i'm missing. Has anybody made experience in using chords and the twelve-tone technique? Or does anybody know a classical/avantgarde/jazz composer who made attempts in this direction?

thanks & greets


Schoenberg's student Alban Berg: Violin Concerto, Lyric Suite, and the (fantastic!!) opera Lulu are major 12-tone works of his (but if you didn't know that ahead of time, you might not guess it by ear).

James

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danielrast



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the Tips!

The Bill Evans tune is a little bit different, it has not the distinctive dodecaphonic sound to me. But it's always nice to know who made experiments and innovates jazz. I'm also like Coltrane, his circle-of-fifth progressions or interval cycles are not soo far away from (12tone) tonerows. I discovered the music of Wilson Gomes a few days ago. Very reduced tunes only played by guitar, but very smart. He combines short played and sustained tones, so he creates a "illusion" of harmonies. That's another possibility.

I do some own experiments in harmonisation of 12tonerows in the next weeks. Maybe i'm post it here if it sounds good... :)

greet daniel
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Samuel Barber is known to have experimented with that. I wouldn't know what specific pieces though.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Chords are just notes sounded simultaneously. You can choose to assign the notes of the chords serially from the same row, or in a row dedicated to each voice. At one time I spent a great deal of time with 12 tone music and faced this harmony issue, as you are now. It is well worth the effort because it forces you to "accept" harmonies you would never have dreamed up your self. You can help your acceptance along by changing voicing, arpeggiation, or whatever. After a while, in my case at lease, I learned to be more tolerant and accepting of what the rows did by themselves.

12 tone proved to me to be a lot of work. Then I got interested in John Cage. His stochastic methods were much easier for me and the results weren't all that different for my purposes. So, I switched to his methods.

Now, I use the subconscious selection method. I pick notes for melodies and chords by instinct, personal choice, cosmic consciousness, blind luck, trained musicianship, or whatever you might choose to call it.

The lesson "this is 12 tone, learn to like it" was a good one for me. Now my musical tastes have expanded tremendously. Recently, I've found that I like Romantic music.

I'm not completely enlightened yet, however; I still don't care for Rap music too much. I guess I need to listen to some more Anton Webern. Wink

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I recommend checking out the music of Fartein Valen.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fartein_Valen
This is not 12 tone music, but is rather the alternative route to Schoenberg as Valen developed his own systems.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

An example of his music:



and..





There is more on Youtube.


BTW:Bill Evans is a genius too. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I should add that Valen writes in a way that applies polyphony and contrapuntal techniques. Thus there aren´t really a lack of "harmonies" even though what you are hearing isn´t quite within the traditional frameworks.. or quite what you think you are hearing or whatever Shocked Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the links to Farteir Valen. Wow, I really like this music.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Henri Pousseur, you should check him out too. Specially his opera Jeux de miroir de Votre Faust. Here is a part of the opera (it evolves to serialism towards the end):




You should also check out Scriabin. His music is not twelve-tone, but it's in some way atonal, his music is "colorful" in a way since he associated keys with specific colors.



And definitely you should check out Webern, the Glenn Gould version of the concerto for nine instruments blows my mind, and it's very colorful in my perspective. But he doesn't use diatonic harmony per se.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
Thanks for the links to Farteir Valen. Wow, I really like this music.


Did you search youtube for more of his stuff? I think you can find at least 5-8 more pieces there, including one of his piano pieces.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Pousseur and Scriabin, excellent suggestions.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BTW. Glenn Gould was a big fan of Fartein Valen.

He plays Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 38 on "Glenn Gould Plays Contemporary Music".

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As for 12 tone, Ernst Krenek is worth listening to. But in general I rather listen to Valen.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:19 am    Post subject: Re: Twelve-tone technique and the lack of harmonies Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

danielrast wrote:
I'm very interested in the twelve-tone technique, but i'm also like colorful harmonies. Is there any chance to connect both?


Are you interested in tone rows in particular, or atonality in general?

I'm also a fan of music with complex and unusual harmonies - tonal and otherwise. There are lots of ways to do it atonally that don't necessarily depend on tone rows.

A current favourite of mine is to build chords from intervals other than the thirds you usually find in tonal chords. Or to build a massive multi-octave chord where every interval is the same sumber of semitones (can sound very mysterious) - then you can control the texture by assigning those notes to different instruments and varying the volume of each one separately. By (de-)emphasising individual notes at the beginnings and ends of chords, you can get away with chord changes that would fail epically as tonal progressions.

Once I took it to the extreme and tried mapping images of strange attractors directly to a musical score, with no tonal considerations at all. So you've got cluster chords that occasionally use every semitone over a range of almost 3 octaves. Here it is - Polar Transform. I think the only reason it works at all is because I spent so long choosing which instrument part would play each note.

I reckon the master of non-tonal chords was Giacinto Scelsi - his Aion is probably my favourite piece by any dead composer...

Gordon
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:19 am    Post subject: Re: Twelve-tone technique and the lack of harmonies Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EDIT:

danielrast wrote:
I'm very interested in the twelve-tone technique, but i'm also like colorful harmonies. Is there any chance to connect both?


Howard Hanson's Harmonic Materials of Modern Music Resources of the Tempered Scale explores harmonies other than those based on thirds. Developing a sense of such alternate harmonies might be useful.



This replaces an earlier post that through a mix of technology and incompetence was scrambled

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Last edited by bachus on Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Off topic:
Clusters might be of interest too. Actually, I do find clusters and groups of clusters by be way more useful in composition than the plain vanilla serialist rows.

Anyways, I´m sorry to be throwing in stuff that doesn´t conform to the 12 note topic. Won´t do that again.

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danielrast



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

No Problem, every non-tonal related ideas are welcome.

Yes, i like clusters too! The octatonic scale is predestinated for dissonant clusters, Olivier Messiaen has used it a lot in his birdsongs. "Small Sketches of Birds" are my favourite among this. But i'm also like and use pentatonic cluster in my music. Sometimes i have problems with to hard dissonances, i like more the beautyful but interesting soundcolors.

bachus wrote:
Howard Hanson's Harmonic Materials of Modern Music Resources of the Tempered Scale explores harmonies other than those based on thirds. Developing a sense of such alternate harmonies might be useful.

Thanks for the tip. I've done a lot of own experiments in harmony in the past three years. I used a lot of different scales as my material for building harmonies. I've done stravinskylike bitonal chords, dissonant chromatic chords, wholetone chords, pentatonic chords, and many different variations of 7th/8th/9th chords/voicings.

Btw: I've found this book a few days ago. Looks promising, i ordered my copy yesterday...

http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521863414

mosc wrote:
Chords are just notes sounded simultaneously. You can choose to assign the notes of the chords serially from the same row, or in a row dedicated to each voice. At one time I spent a great deal of time with 12 tone music and faced this harmony issue, as you are now. It is well worth the effort because it forces you to "accept" harmonies you would never have dreamed up your self. You can help your acceptance along by changing voicing, arpeggiation, or whatever. After a while, in my case at lease, I learned to be more tolerant and accepting of what the rows did by themselves.

12 tone proved to me to be a lot of work. Then I got interested in John Cage. His stochastic methods were much easier for me and the results weren't all that different for my purposes. So, I switched to his methods.

Now, I use the subconscious selection method. I pick notes for melodies and chords by instinct, personal choice, cosmic consciousness, blind luck, trained musicianship, or whatever you might choose to call it.

The lesson "this is 12 tone, learn to like it" was a good one for me. Now my musical tastes have expanded tremendously. Recently, I've found that I like Romantic music.

I'm not completely enlightened yet, however; I still don't care for Rap music too much. I guess I need to listen to some more Anton Webern. :wink:

That's really interesting to read, thank you for posting!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

danielrast wrote:
I used a lot of different scales as my material for building harmonies. I've done stravinskylike bitonal chords, dissonant chromatic chords, wholetone chords, pentatonic chords, and many different variations of 7th/8th/9th chords/voicings.

have all your experiments been based on the division of the octave into 12 equal parts? If so now it's time to move on and try different tuning systems Wink

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Carlo, that is really a grand idea! I really like what you are doing and I just might want to look into working with microtonality. Thing is that you write in a very powerful and convincing way. You microtonal music is fully aware of whose ass it will kick and where it is going. Good stuff. That is not easy to do at all.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
danielrast wrote:
I used a lot of different scales as my material for building harmonies. I've done stravinskylike bitonal chords, dissonant chromatic chords, wholetone chords, pentatonic chords, and many different variations of 7th/8th/9th chords/voicings.

have all your experiments been based on the division of the octave into 12 equal parts? If so now it's time to move on and try different tuning systems Wink

I'm not sure how to use it with a standard sequencer and keyboard. I made some small attempts with quartertones in the past, but the results wasn't pleasing.

There are so much different microtonal scales around, i have no idea which one is worth a closer look. Confused
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Carlo, that is really a grand idea! I really like what you are doing and I just might want to look into working with microtonality. Thing is that you write in a very powerful and convincing way. You microtonal music is fully aware of whose ass it will kick and where it is going. Good stuff. That is not easy to do at all.


thanks a lot Stein and with my new isomorphic keyboard I hope to further develop new xenharmonic strategies Exclamation

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.
Wink

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

danielrast wrote:
I made some small attempts with quartertones in the past, but the results wasn't pleasing.

There are so much different microtonal scales around, i have no idea which one is worth a closer look. Confused


I have never liked quartertones either Wink but that should not stop you Idea

check these links out. I just created a new category called "Lists/Forums"
Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

danielrast wrote:
I made some small attempts with quartertones in the past, but the results wasn't pleasing.


I think the main reason quarter-tones have come to be seen as the obvious first (or only) step into microtonality, is that it's easier to find instruments that can play them. Nothing to do with the qualities of the scale itself.

As it happens there are a few quarter-tones scattered about in the piece I just posted, but I've never taken the time to learn to do it properly. The only music that's really convinced me that this tuning is any use at all, is by Gloria Coates, especially her (rather humorous) 14th symphony - I wish I'd had a chance to play it to my grandmother just to see the look on her face... Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In the world of maqam (aka "Arabic") music, the quarter-tone system was settled upon as a means of preserving musical traditions in adapted Western musical notation.

What has happened in actual practice is that while maqam musicians don't seem to have a problem using the Western tuning for the 12 chromatic notes, the exact tuning of the quarter-tones, which reside somewhere between the chromatics, vary by region.

A similar situation apparently exists in Indonesian gamelan music, where even neighboring villages will tune their instruments differently.

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