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Serial Method
(Twelve Tone Technique)
Group: Karen, David, Michelle,
Patrick, Jody, Angie
Composer Timeline
12-Tone Serial Method
1
“The Method of Composing with
Twelve Tones Related Only to
Each Other” - Schönberg
(now known as the 12-Tone Technique or
Dodecaphony)
Tone Row




P - prime
I - inversion
R - retrograde
RI - retrograde inversion
12-Tone Serial Method
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The Definition of Serialism
A method or style of composition which a
parameter of the piece is subjected to a
fixed permutation or series of elements in
succession.
12-Tone Serial Method
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Serialism - A Basic Definition
A piece of music for which there is an
order to the progression of events.

Events are notes and/or aspects of the music
– Including: chord duration, rhythms, dynamics
– Twelve Tone only refers to the notes.

The order of events (series) are determined
by a numerical representation of a tone row
12-Tone Serial Method
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Tone Row - Definition
The arrangement of all twelve notes of
the equal-tempered scale so that each
note appears only once.

Each note has equal importance
– No tonic and dominant relations

The order of these twelve notes is to be
strictly followed throughout the piece
– Only four possible permutations on the row
12-Tone Serial Method
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Tone Row Conventions
Once a series is created it can be transposed
over all 12 notes
 There are four forms of a tone row for each
of the 12 transposition
 This allows for 48 forms for any particular
tone row
 With so many tone rows (479,001,600),
possibilities for music is virtually limitless

12-Tone Serial Method
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Tone Row Conventions (cont’d)

Intervals are a quality heard, not seen
– They are diatonic intervals - not exact
– Cb would become a B for transcription


Any particular tone row must be played in
whole, or as a part of one or more
statements of a series
There were no conventions for: changing
register, number of series played, etc.
12-Tone Serial Method
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Four Forms of a Tone Row

Prime form
– the original form of a twelve tone row or any of
its transpositions

Retrograde form
– the statement of a tone row in the reverse order
from which it was stated in prime form
12-Tone Serial Method
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Four Forms of a Tone Row (cont’d)

Inversion form
– Turning the prime statement of a tone row
upside down, mirroring all intervals
• minor 3rd up becomes a minor 3rd down

Retrograde Inversion form
– the statement of a tone row in the reverse order
from which it was stated in inversion form
12-Tone Serial Method
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Prime
Retrograde
Inversion
Retrograde Inversion
12-Tone Serial Method
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Tone Row Naming

The basic four shapes of a tone row are
usually labeled as follows (although there is
no standard naming convention) :
–
–
–
–
P for prime
I for inversion
R for retrograde
RI for retrograde inversion
12-Tone Serial Method
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Tone Row Naming (cont’d)

Subscript numeral is the pitch-class number
– interval by semitones from index number
• (This is not a standard either)


Index number is represented by subscript 0
and is set by the starting note of the prime
Example: Assuming P0 to be on C
– P10 represents a prime version of the tone row
beginning on Bb
12-Tone Serial Method
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Ideas Behind a Tone Row
Avoid melodic progressions which are too
traditional in character
– Arpeggio chords or scale association.
Bb: I iii V Ab: I iii V
12-Tone Serial Method
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Ideas Behind a Tone Row (cont’d)
Avoid using too many melodic intervals of
the same or similar size
– These may lead to melodic monotony
M3
M3
M3
12-Tone Serial Method
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Ideas Behind a Tone Row (cont’d)
Avoid chromatic combinations that result in
the resolution of a leading tone
12-Tone Serial Method
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Ideas Behind a Tone Row (cont’d)
Except in a deliberate design devoted to a
particular interval, a row generally contains
a balanced number of seconds, thirds,
fourths or fifths, and tritones
P5 st st m7 M2 st tt st P4 P5 M7
12-Tone Serial Method
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Terminology

Closed system - all the selected tone row
forms contain the same two notes for their
outer pitches

Twelve-tone aggregate - groups of notes
freely combined with each other to form the
twelve tone row
12-Tone Serial Method
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Terminology (cont’d)


Hexachord - the row divided into 2 groups
of 6 notes
Combinatoriality - “the simultaneous
presentations of two different forms of a
single row so constructed that the new
twelve-tone aggregates are created by the
combination of their hexachord”
12-Tone Serial Method
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Explanation of matrix creation
http://www.pcpros.net/~ntxawgl/music/12_tones_tech
nique.htm
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works

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



Josef Hauer (1883-1959)
Piano Piece, op.25 (1923)
Wandlungen (1927)
Over 1,000 Zwöftonspiele (Twelve-Tone
Games) after 1939
Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951)
Five Piano Pieces, op.23 (1923)
Serenade, op.24 (1923)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)

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




Suite for Piano, op.24 (1924)—first
completely twelve-tone work
Wind Quintet, op.26 (1924)
Suite for Seven Instruments (1926)
Third String Quartet (1927)
Variations for Orchestra (1928)
Suite in E , op.29 (1926)
Variations, op.31 (1928)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)

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Von heute auf morgen, op.32 (1928)
Piano Piece, op.33a (1929)
Moses und Aron (1930)
Accompaniment to a Film, op.34 (1930)
Fourth String Quartet (1936)
Violin Concerto (1936)
Piano Concerto (1942)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)



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
String Trio, op.45 (1946)
Phantasy for violin and piano, op.47
(1949)
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
"Schliese mir die Augen beide" (1925)
Lyric Suite (1925)
Violin Concerto (1935)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)


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


Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Kinderstücke (1924)
String Trio, op.20 (1927)
Symphony, op.21 (1928)
Quartet, op.22 (1930)
Concerto, op.24 (1934)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)






Nikoloas Skalkottas (1904-1949)
Third Piano Concerto (1939)
Fourth String Quartet (1940)
Ernst Krenek (1904-1968)
Karl V (1933)
Lamentio Jerimaiae Prophetae (1942)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)
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
Luigi Dallapiccola (1904-1975)
Il Coro degli zitti (1936)
Tre Laudi (1937)
Volo di notte (1939)
Canti di prigiona (1941)
Cinque Frammento di Saffo (1942)
Liriche greche (1945)
Job (1950)
12-Tone Serial Method
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Composers and Works (cont’d.)







Goffredo Petrassi (b. 1904)
Noche oscura (1951)
Second Concerto for Orchestra (1952)
Wolfgang Fortner (1907-1987)
Third String Quartet (1948)
Milton Babbitt (b. 1916)
3 Compositions for Piano
12-Tone Serial Method
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WWW sites:
http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/g_twelve_tone.html
http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/schonberg.html
http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/classmus.html
http://www.pcpros.net/~ntxawgl/music/12_tones_tech
nique.htm
http://www.futurenet.com/classicalnet/composers/feat
ures/schoenberg/arnie.html
http://music1.csudh.edu/Mus486/TwelveTone/
12-Tone Serial Method
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More WWW sites:
http://geocities.com/Vienna/9498/settheory.html
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~fields/gems/5.htm
http://arts.usf.edu/music/wtm/art-aw.html
http://www.music.princeton.edu/~ckk/smmt/serialism.
3.html
http://ananke.advanced.org/3343/webdocs/muglossary.html
http://www.encyclopedia.com/articles/13162.html
http://thumper.pomona.edu/~elindholm/web_op6.htm
12-Tone Serial Method
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