vrijdag 24 februari 2012

Serial Cereal

Somewhere along the way in the early twentieth century there was this movement of composers that felt all and every possibility in music had been explored by the hierarchy of classical composers such as Bach, Mozart et al. In a way they paved the highways and byroads with intricate pieces of architectural constructs based on the 7-tone scale, multiplied by the twelve keys of the chromatic scale.

Of course the simple developement at first was to use all those twelve tones, but that always just comes back to the 'tonal implications' of those twelve tones as related to the 7 tone scale. Next step to try loose that 7 tone scale alltogether, but that is just not that easy, for it is more or less a consequence of the physical properties of sound, to be precise the scale of harmonics that is in each and every note played by the musical instruments thusfar developed.

Example of basic Serial Music Theory, from WSU Math(!) website, short treatise on basics.
And therein lies the key to the next developement.  That whole 7- and further 12-tone system allways relates back to the harmonic content of one note.  the keynote, in other words the first, lowest note of the scale, onto wich all other notes are always heard in relation to.  The tonal center.   That center may change from time to time during a musical piece, but it always goes back to and ends on that common ground.  Tension relaxed.

So, how to loose that center, how to get the tonal biased mind to loose all track of fundament and regard all twelve notes equal, without preference.  The answer was: Serial music.  To start the piece with all twelve tones in succession as a basis, and work through the whole piece with all sorts of mathematical principles to give all these tones equal weight and not let that bias of tonality have a chance to get footing.

To do that, and still create meaningful music of course is a major challenge.  I have tried some bashfull steps on that technique, but to tell you the truth I just can't be bothered; it was a phase in musical developement, the way I see it not meant to be a viable way to make music once the experiment was fulfilled.

Now, back to this morning.  I was fed up with past weeks of tonal searchings, and decided to just intuitively play a sequence of twelve different notes, and from there on just play, with, as far as I am able to, no tonal center.

Now, I wonder, if this piece were to be analyzed, how much of it would indeed be within the parameters of those mathematically developed and tried methods of that group of composers way back then?  Considering 'intuitive' tonal music is usually totally analysable in the classical idiom, I'd suspect quite a lot.  I wonder.  And i really would like to know.  But I cxan't be bothered with all that hard work, besides, I do not have that amount of knowledge and experience in the field.  I'd rather just keep on playing.

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