View Poll Results: Was serialism a move forward or backward?

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  • Forward

    23 41.82%
  • Backward

    6 10.91%
  • ...both?

    17 30.91%
  • i hate atonal $hit

    9 16.36%
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Thread: Was serialism a move forward or backward?

  1. #1
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    Default Was serialism a move forward or backward?

    I have actually always been under the impression that Schoenberg's concept of 12 note technique, music based on developing the various permutations of a 12 note row, was really something quite old hat. As in, Bach had already been writing music in a similar way:



    But recently I have begun to wonder if this was actually something quite novel in itself......the notion of developing a motif in this way had been around for centuries but it had never before been used to actually provide guidelines for harmonic unity and structure. In the past, CP harmony was in some ways a separate deal from motific development even though they were used simultaneously for different purposes. Schoenberg in some ways re-introduced this way of composing but applied it to a pitch-based motif—the 12 note row and its many permutations—which solves the problem of finding order and structure in post-tonal music, thus establishing a fully developed and almost entirely new world of composition separate from CP harmony, separate from Renaissance polyphony, separate from Mediaeval polyphony and separate from plainchant.

    But is it truly a move forward if it is essentially using the same tools of motific development which had been used for centuries? What about other methods of working with the 12 notes of the chromatic scale which were becoming abundant in the 20th century? Why even focus on pitch in this way anyway if that was what was most prominent in music of the bygone eras?

    I hope this proves for an interesting discussion if one like this is not going on at the moment anyway.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dim7's Avatar
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    First poll in the music theory subforum... History has been made!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    As a listener, I could not care less what techniques a composer uses, as long as I am captivated by the result. And that happens both with serialism and non-serialism - just like there are pieces in both rechniques that I don't like.
    I treat my music like I treat my pets. It’s something to own, care about and curate with attention to detail. From a blog by hjr.

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  5. #4
    dogen
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    I voted "Neither"

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  7. #5
    dogen
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    I'm saying this in utter ignorance: Atonality and Serialism have separate entries in Wikipedia (albeit they make references to each other)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonality

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serialism
    Last edited by dogen; Jul-07-2015 at 11:18.

  8. #6
    Senior Member Pantheon's Avatar
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    Looks like I'm the first one to vote...
    I laughed at the "atonal $hit" option

  9. #7
    dogen
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    What is the opposite of atonal? Is it aatonal?

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  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogen View Post
    What is the opposite of atonal? Is it aatonal?
    Maybe you're right, but sometimes I just prefer using the terms aaatonal and aaaatonal. Of course, these aren't widely accepted terms; the ones used in academic circles have a number of As which can only be determined by multiplying all possible combinations of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale by 12....and then adding 1 to that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dogen View Post
    I voted "Neither"
    I already have an option for that!

  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    I already have an option for that!
    Not on the screen I'm looking at!

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  16. #11
    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Yes, I wanted a "neither" option as well. It expanded music more than moved it.

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    Senior Member Nereffid's Avatar
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    I also vote for "neither".
    The idea of "progress" in music and the other arts is an unhelpful one, I think. Sure, music is always changing, and that's a good thing, but the change doesn't occur along some imaginary straight line in which movement can only go forward or backward.
    Mahler, Glass, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams, Wolfe, Liszt, Reich, Bach, Nyman, Schubert

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Yet another procedure mislabeled "ism". Without that 'ism' stuck on the end, the acolytes would faint - and wake up being practitioners. A great mass of posts here would wither and disappear in a cloud of phantasmagorical smoke. I would

    Praise The Day
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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nereffid View Post
    I also vote for "neither".
    The idea of "progress" in music and the other arts is an unhelpful one, I think. Sure, music is always changing, and that's a good thing, but the change doesn't occur along some imaginary straight line in which movement can only go forward or backward.
    Add my vote to the neither camp. The notion of linear stylistic evolution was a largely 20thc fairytale insecure people told themselves when they doubted their place in the grand historical drama. ("No, I am the true prince of the magical kingdom foreordained and anointed by the gods Ludwig and Richard and Anton, whereas you are a dybbuk as yet uniformed of your own demise!") If one wants to invoke evolution, I think the notion of ecological niches is more apt because it captures a central truth: Eventually, all niches get filled. All that could conceivably be called music eventually is. All that can be — and a good deal that can't — inevitably must be. Serialism was inevitable. Minimalism was inevitable. Aleatory was inevitable. It's all inevitable. A billion years ago on a dismal gray planet in galaxy M38, all of it has already happened. And there, as here, the inevitable regression to the mean kept millions of concert goers listening happily ever after.

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  23. #15
    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    Neither.... Progress is a social construct so this question doesn't add anything because atonality is what it is. This is all relative to one's viewpoint.
    "if a horse could sing in a monotone, the horse would sound like Carly Simon, only a horse wouldn't rhyme 'yacht', 'apricot', and 'gavotte'. Is that some kind of joke?"
    --Robert Christgau
    "there's a fine line between having an open mind and having your whole brain fall out"
    --Anonymous

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