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Old 01-23-2009, 09:40 AM   #1
rippedflesh89
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Tone Rows

after listening to some shostakovich, i have become really interested in learning more about this approach; i have a good understanding about 12 tone matrices and how to create them and i know all about the prime, inversion, retrograde and retrograde inversion forms...

but the question i have is how exactly does one compose by use of a matrix?? if could someone give me a possible example of how a matrix can be used to compose, that would be much appreciated
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Old 01-23-2009, 10:46 AM   #2
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I thought Shostakovich didn't really get (wasn't allowed?) to experiment with it that much, but based on what he did do with it, he doesn't seem as strict as Schoenberg.

I don't have what I would call an informed opinion on this topic, but as far as composing something like that, I just use my ear and try to come up with different ways to morph the rows and blend them together somehow. I wouldn't worry too much about Schoenberg's rule though unless that's what you're going for.

some quick 12 tone stuff that's towards the end of a tune I wrote: http://www.sendspace.com/file/1ul99p

EDIT: would be interesting to hear what Wieland has to say on the matter.

WHERE YOU AT?

Last edited by ChAAPY; 01-23-2009 at 11:25 AM..
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:04 PM   #3
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Interesting thread, I just started writing 12-tone music, as well.
I have nothing to add that has not already been said, but I think you could compose a matrix by dividing a 12tone row into four groups of three notes and morphing them like ChAAPY said.

For example:
Code:
first row:
E A# A|D# D G#|G C# C|F# F B(made out of semitones and tritones)
1.     2.     3.     4.

second row:
D# D G#|A A# E|B F F#|G C# C
2.     1.     4.     3.   (4. and 1. are inversed)
Creating some kind of invariance within the composition.

@ChAAPY
Really digging your tune, man!
I hope I can post something soon, even if it's just a midi.

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EDIT: would be interesting to hear what Wieland has to say on the matter.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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HA! my row in that clip starts out with E, A#, and A as well.

and yeah, that's exactly what I did in your example for the most part (when it comes to morphing, not the actual row)

Last edited by ChAAPY; 01-23-2009 at 12:53 PM..
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Old 01-23-2009, 02:35 PM   #5
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im not really trying to be as strict as schoenburg was, im just basically looking for some new compositional ideas.. something to keep me thinking outside the box...

and your right, shostakovich didnt use tone rows very much, but there are a few pieces in which he did.. ex. string quartet #12

i found some cool ideas on ron jarzombeks page about 12 tone composition, but instead of using a matrix, he uses a circle of tones
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:15 PM   #6
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You looking for how to do this? :




It's easier than it looks.

Last edited by Willith; 01-23-2009 at 11:23 PM..
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:53 PM   #7
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YES... this is exactly what im looking for... you possibly give me a link as to where you found this??
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:53 AM   #8
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damn I dont get the system
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Old 01-26-2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaitsabesWinklersson View Post
damn I dont get the system
its basically an organised way of composing atonal music.... its too much to explain in one reply, and if your interested, pm me and i can try to explain in greater detail;

but basically, you make your prime row; then..

retrograde = prime row played in reverse.. i.e. played back to front
inversion = prime row inverted.. i.e. turned upside down
and retrograde inversion is just what it sounds like, prime row played front to back and turned upside..

your prime row is used to create a matrix using a process that can be found here: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~krr2/12tone/12tone1.html

just read everything in the link... that should help clarify
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Old 01-26-2009, 03:33 PM   #10
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www.musictheory.net has an excellent matrix generator if you don't feel like writing it out yourself.
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Old 01-26-2009, 04:54 PM   #11
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Fuck, we have an actual composer on this board, who probably has something interesting to say about the topic, but he seems to be totally unaware of this thread.

Where are you Mr. new complexity? o.o
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:23 PM   #12
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PM him?
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:26 AM   #13
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Ah I see, it's for transposing them 12 tone rows. I only played around a little with them making out the 4 forms and moving them on the fretboard.
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Old 01-28-2009, 05:27 PM   #14
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Sorry, I didn't see this as I don't usually check out this subforum. I don't believe Shostakovich used 12-note rows though, he worked more with smaller cells, combined with modal and tonal frameworks. He was never completely atonal the way Schönberg was. What made the method so revolutionary wasn't simply the music that came out - Schönberg's free atonal works between 1910 and 1920 were actually more radical in many ways - but that it presented a new way of thinking about how to arrange and interact with compositional material. The idea of pre-structuring pitches without a tonal system in place paved the way for the developments of the 1950s, when composers like Boulez, Stockhausen and Nono had the idea of translating this practice into similar rows of rhythms (with the numbers referring to durational units rather than pitches) or dynamics (say from fff to ppp). In some works this was even extended to different kinds of note attack or tone. But they soon came to realise that different parameters have to be treated in different ways, and that mf on a trombone is not the same as mf on a harp - not just in terms of the decibel level, but also in terms of physical effort and tone. These questions began to be explored more in the 60s, both in purely electronic music and further explorations of instrumental techniques.

The basic idea of pre-arranging pitch material is still a fundamental part of my working procedures, though I also use smaller intervals like 1/4 tones and 1/8 tones, as well as other deviations from the tempered scale that result from natural harmonics. Obviously that stuff isn't quite as feasible on the guitar, though I'm writing a solo (classical) guitar piece at the moment that uses a microtonal tuning. One has to adapt this to different instruments; a piano can't do quartertones unless you retune it, but filtering a quartertone row through chromatic restrictions, where an A+1/4 tone can be interpreted as A natural or A#, can produce interesting variations on the same thing. What I don't adhere to, though, is the twelve-note law of not repeating any pitch until all 12 (or in my case 24) have sounded. I use all sorts of pitch structures, and many of them have certain pitches or intervals recurring many times. I'm interested in more diversity than what often happens in twelve-note music, where a kind of saturation and stasis set in as a result of all pitches being around most of the time.

I'd advise checking out Berg and Webern, Schönberg's most renowned students, as well. They both took the technique in quite different directions, especially Webern, who was interested in very short, fragile forms. Berg, on the other hand, was more indebted to the symphonic tradition of sprawling development.

Hope that's not too obscure.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:07 PM   #15
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Stravinsky was more into 'pre-structuring' music than Schonberg was. The example I posted was an excerpt from a Stravinsky piece.

This example shows the beginning of the formation of the matrix:



Which hopefully makes the previous example less confusing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by quartertone View Post

Hope that's not too obscure.
Not at all....in fact I was waiting for mention of Paul Pisk.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willith View Post
Stravinsky was more into 'pre-structuring' music than Schonberg was.
Yes, Schönberg essentially composed traditionally once he had the row material laid out. But Stravinsky only came to it decades later.

Quote:
Not at all....in fact I was waiting for mention of Paul Pisk.
Why? What's his significance, apart from the fact that he was your teacher's teacher (IIRC)? Schönberg had a lot of students over the years.

Last edited by quartertone; 01-29-2009 at 01:44 AM..
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:00 AM   #17
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@quartertone:

Short question:

Wasn't Berg way stricter than Schönberg?
His compositions seem to be more "extreme" regarding this whole approach.
He kinda took it more "serious" than Schönberg himself.
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Old 01-29-2009, 10:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruonitb View Post
@quartertone:

Short question:

Wasn't Berg way stricter than Schönberg?
His compositions seem to be more "extreme" regarding this whole approach.
He kinda took it more "serious" than Schönberg himself.
Well, not exactly. He was more liberal in the way he combined note-row pitches with other harmonies, and in some pieces also pushed the note-rows themselves in a quasi-tonal direction, for example in the Violin Concerto, where the row consists of three triads (in stacked thirds) and a whole-tone segment. There he also uses that quasi-tonal element as a bridge to introducing a Bach quotation, though he adds different harmonies to it. A very beautiful moment. Though Schönberg wrote one or two flat-out tonal pieces again in later life, he never really manipulated his atonal structures in the direction of tonality the way Berg did.

Where Berg was more structuralist than Schönberg was in formal proportions, i.e. section lengths etc., which he often derived from numerical structures. The Chamber Concerto and Three Orchestral Pieces take this the furthest.

So what gave you this impression about Berg?
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quartertone View Post
I'm writing a solo (classical) guitar piece at the moment that uses a microtonal tuning.
nice. is it for a six sting or ten string?

been jamming a lot stuff like that myself lately, like Maurice Ohana "Si le jour parait..." for example. great stuff.

do you have any recording of your classical guitar pieces by any chance?
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rippedflesh89 View Post
quartertone, could you possibly post an exerpt from a piece that you wrote and briefly explain how you manipulated the matrix in each section... i just dont completely understand how a 12 tone matrix can help you precompose a piece
I don't write 12-note pieces, so you'd be better of going to Wikipedia. Or the music theory page linked earlier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChAAPY View Post
nice. is it for a six sting or ten string?
Six. The guitarist I'm writing it for also plays ten, but I don't have one and I wanted to try out all the obscure techniques the piece calls for myself.

Quote:
Maurice Ohana "Si le jour parait..." for example. great stuff.
I don't know the piece. Ohana has never really caught my ear.

Quote:
do you have any recording of your classical guitar pieces by any chance?
I don't actually have any others (apart from one or two with a guitar in the ensemble). The fact that I play it myself really makes it hard for me to approach it with the necessary abstraction to dissect it compositionally. I've been working up to this piece for about 8 years in my improvisations...
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:35 PM   #21
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quartertone, could you possibly post an exerpt from a piece that you wrote and briefly explain how you manipulated the matrix in each section... i just dont completely understand how a 12 tone matrix can help you precompose a piece
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:33 PM   #22
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right on. whenever you finish your piece or get something recorded, hit me up.

here's an mp3 of that Maurice piece if you're interested. It's not 12 tone either.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/08ln1j

the more research I do on all these composers I admire, the more I'm finding out the majority of their stuff isn't strictly 12 tone, just atonal.

But yeah., I'm not huge on him either. Only because I haven't checked out a lot of his stuff yet. Brouwer plays this version, so that's how I found out about it. Love that guy.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:40 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChAAPY View Post
right on. whenever you finish your piece or get something recorded, hit me up.
Will do.

Quote:
here's an mp3 of that Maurice piece if you're interested. It's not 12 tone either.
Thanks, DLing now.

Quote:
the more research I do on all these composers I admire, the more I'm finding out the majority of their stuff isn't strictly 12 tone, just atonal.
Well yeah...12-note composition pretty much went out of fashion in the 60s, except for a few East Coast number-crunching geeks like Babbitt.

You really need to check out Takemitsu, if you haven't already. He's definitely a cut above Brouwer.
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:51 PM   #24
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Takemitsu? I here that name thrown around every time I talk to a professor about Cage or Webern.

I highly doubt I'll hear another classical guitarist I like more than Brouwer right now, but I'll check this guy out. Can you suggest a few pieces to start with?

EDIT: ah wait, I've heard a piece called "Equinox", and I think that's Takemitsu?
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:59 PM   #25
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Yes, Equinox is. The best piece IMO is All In Twilight (that's even on youtube somewhere), then there's also Folios, and a guitar concerto called To the Edge of Dream... He wasn't a performer-composer like Brouwer, just a composer. He got a bit soft towards the end (died in 96), but wrote some great pieces.
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