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Thread: 12-tone (dodecaphony, serial) help!!

  1. #16
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    Hey, perhaps this book will help you, too. John Coltrane and other Jazz Players but although Steve Vai, Buckethead etc. said that they had studied it.

  2. #17
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmsstudios
    Zog - thanks, I will check it out!

    Pop - thats a cool sample - and very atonal & chaotic. I see what you mean. Some systems work and some dont. I've been thinking about it for years now and garbage is STILL the only thing I can make of it. But, I'm not giving up yet.
    I think if you hate the sound of Schoenberg and Webern (and I can't say I know enough of their music to be a fan or not), then anything you make with true 12-tone music will sound like "garbage" to your ears.
    This is because I'm guessing you prefer the sound of tonal music. You want the music to "make sense" in some way that is more obvious than full-blown serialism (which does make sense, but is more impenetrable).
    I think the other guys here are being very polite and helpful, but I think you're on a loser here, a wild goose chase. What you want to do (or rather what you SAY you want to do) IS undoable - simply by definition (as we've pointed out repeatedly above).
    But I'm not suggesting you "give up" - simply redefine your quest.

    What Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis did (2 guys I AM fans of) was not serialism, in any fashion. What they DID do was use a lot of chromaticism.
    John Coltrane - a highly intellectual guy with a restless mind - experimented extensively with new harmonic ideas, but always within a tonal context. His "sheets of sound" might sound atonal, but they weren't.
    Later you had free jazz guys like Ornette Coleman (whose "harmolodic" system was a little reminiscent of 12-tone ideas in some ways, AFAIK - I could be wrong...). A lot of free jazz is going to sound like "noise" to the uneducated ear. Free improv players certainly use all the sounds available from the instrument, even beyond the 12 tones - but then they strictly avoid any tonal background - which is (I take it) not what you want to do.

    Deliberate chromaticism is - IMO - more the kind of thing you're after. And people like Monk, Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, Frank Zappa even - these are the guys you should be listening to.

    IMO, you're making what I think is called a "category error", attempting to combine serialism with tonal music. As I said before, it's like trying to put wheels on a horse (or legs on a car). Wheels are great on cars. Legs suit horses. (I mean, it can be fun to put together some kind of hybrid like that - but it won't get you very far...)
    If you'd said you really enjoyed the music of Schoenberg, then your quest (to combine that with popular tonal music in some way) would make more sense. But you can't say you hate Schoenberg, but want to use serialism.
    Again, I think what you're really after is some kind of intensive use of chromaticism.
    As soon as serialism is watered down in any way (as soon as it acquires tonal elements) then it isn't serialism any more - as I understand it anyway. It becomes tonal music with chromatic additions, because the notes fall into a hierarchy.

    (But hey, Poparad knows more than I do about this kind of thing... )

  3. #18
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Tell me more about these wheeled horses.

    I can see a distinct advantage there. I mean they must be green to run right? And they roll smoothly like a car.

    I just don't understand the drive train. how does the horse transfer the energy to an axle based drive train system?

    Will there be gears?

    It's friday.

    I am distracted.

  4. #19
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    From my unlearned perspective, reading this thread and listening to the sample Poparad posted leads me to a notion or two.

    The sample sounded, to my untrained ears, similar to some forms of jazz I have been exposed to (almost certainly, it was Monk). However, I am more than willing to accept the academic posters' explanation that Chromatic elements of jazz are not all that is required to be playing serialized music. But I can definitely see why many people would hear serialism and assume that it is on par with some genres of popular jazz.

    Upon a closer listen to the sample, I found nothing to release me from the edge provided by the chromatism. That is, when listening to Monk, for instance, one is presented with what I term "wild" phrases which take us away for a moment, leaving us with an expectation of resolution, and a final reward.

    Serialism strikes me as controlled noise for control's sake. It seems to me to be an academic exercise far more than listenable and enjoyable music. It strikes me that an academic can indeed flex their muscles for other academics by exhibiting their excellence and understanding of it, but will gain little positive feedback from laymen.

    As far as any non-academic commentary, I can only offer that once one abandons tonality, one must then address the other elements available. That is, a "good" serialized piece, to my mind, would include expressive timing rather than a steady refrain of 16'th notes, and well-placed repetition to provide what a lack of resolution provides. "Drums on guitar," available only to those trained well enough to deliberately avoid tonality, as it were.

    But what do I know? I just play 70's blues rock.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  5. #20
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    (dmsstudios said): I know that Miles Davis & Thelonious Monk used partial serial rows a lot - which sounds great! Love those guys. (and Poporad responded): I don't know where you got that from, but they weren't using tone rows.
    "Aura" by Miles Davis (which wasn't actually written by Miles), is what you're referring to, would be my bet. "Serialistic" would probably be a better word than "serialism", because it has highly serialistic elements without strict use of Schoenberg's techniques.

    I actually prefer latter-day Miles Davis, and love "Aura", "You're Under Arrest", and "Tutu". Gotta go buy "Doo-Bop" - what I've heard of it just drips cool.

    That said, is it the "outside" elements that you like about serialism? You might thumb thru a copy of Jean Marc Beldaki's "Outside Guitar Licks" where he discusses 4 methods of playing outside: chromatic, superimposed, symmetrical, & 12-tone. The first 3 tend to blur into each other, but he treats 12-tone in a separate chapter. In truth, I don't particularly care for the book, but it should give you some ideas on using serialsim for short bits of outside playing.
    IMO, you're making what I think is called a "category error", attempting to combine serialism with tonal music....You can't impose one on the other. (Well, you can, but it would make no sense.)...etc.
    I disagree with these assessments. It depends on how you use it and in what context. Everyone said Coleman was "wrong", too...right up until they didn't. The challenge is (since you dislike the "flowless-ness" of known examples of serialsim): can you make it flow?

    You have to answer questions yourself about WHY you like the sound and in what context you want to hear it. Try recording a groove over which you'd like to solo with these ideas. Then record yourself HUMMING or singing these outside licks with no regard for whether they follow strict rules or not. Then learn the licks that you like. Then analyze them.

    THEN experiment with formal tone rows and such.
    Serialism strikes me as controlled noise for control's sake. It seems to me to be an academic exercise far more than listenable and enjoyable music. It strikes me that an academic can indeed flex their muscles for other academics by exhibiting their excellence and understanding of it, but will gain little positive feedback from laymen.
    I have to disagree with this, too. For a non-serialism example: Listen to Ornette Coleman. Probably sounds a little wacked out (if you're listening to the "harmelodic" stuff). Now go watch the movie "Naked Lunch" and those crazy ideas suddenly seem to fit. In fact, not only do they fit, but they sound downright familiar - and we realize that his notions of "the equal importance of all voices/lines" has become a standard in soundtrack production.

    Similarly, serialism is first a part of a larger philosophy. That philosophy can be actualized utilizing certain strict techniques as delineated by Scoenberg (Scheonberg outlined 12-tone music/dodecaphony, which is not synonymous with serialism) and others. *Arguably, Schoenberg & Hauer did this first, and it was followed by serialism. Arguably.*

    Anyway, a "punk" version of this philosophy (admittedly mashed in with Xenakis & Cage concepts) is that your ears are brainwashed and so anything outside of 5-note or 7-note classic conservative tonalism sounds wrong. Thus, certain steps must be taken to deprogram your brain/ears.

    Regardless of the merits of this opinion, utlizing 12-tone elements is much more than just ivory tower acedemics showing off for each other...though I'm certain there is plenty of that, too.

    The public, even without undergoing rigorous "deprogramming", can easily find value in it given the proper context (like movie soundtracks).

    As you've propbably guessed, I was mildly obsessed with these ideas in my wayward youth.

    PS: Blut, when are we gonna get together and jam?
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  6. #21
    Registered User dmsstudios's Avatar
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    MatthiasB - I've got that book. I'm presently working on deciphering the 12-tone chapter and looking for patterns. Thanks



    JonR & Poparad - It's sinking in now. Is it safe to say that 12-tone and chromatics have similar mechanics and movements, except one has a key and the other doesn't? The form seems to be moving about the same way.

  7. #22
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    PS: Blut, when are we gonna get together and jam?
    Oh, Hell, Dave, I can't play any more. I just provide insights into the world of bands, gigging, and the finer art of rocking. But get Romp to set something up for us all and I am sure he can nag me until I give in. I don't remember any songs, though.

    But thread derails aside...

    The public, even without undergoing rigorous "deprogramming", can easily find value in it given the proper context (like movie soundtracks).
    If you are claiming that we are conditioned from birth to accept/enjoy certain things and to find other things cacophonous, then sure, I cannot argue with that.

    I will, however, argue with the need to "Deprogram." Nothing is gained but an equally conditioned taste, eh? That is, if you strip away your conditioning to enjoy <insert meaningless preference here> and replace it with <insert equally meaningless preference here>, you've gained nothing but the ability to claim success in shaking off conditioning. A rather Pyrric victory, really. Such devaluation of a shared taste we all love so well can only dilute the meaning we all ascribe to music. Why force the ephemerality and arbitrary nature of tastes into a spotlight?

    As far as cacophony being potentially "good" in a soundtrack, I agree. It might even be good in a commercial jingle, given the right circumstances. I was speaking only of standard, standalone musical recordings, though.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  8. #23
    Registered User tedmaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmsstudios
    Is it safe to say that 12-tone and chromatics have similar mechanics and movements, except one has a key and the other doesn't? The form seems to be moving about the same way.
    It's more that 12-tone is a particular way of organising the chromatic scale - usually using a very strict set of mathematical principles.

    The thing i always found most interesting about writing atonal music was something Blutwulf touched on in his post - the need for musical development and expression through means other than just a catchy melody. You really need to work harder to create striking sounds using rhythm and texture to keep the attention of the listener.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkinnyDevil

    Regardless of the merits of this opinion, utlizing 12-tone elements is much more than just ivory tower acedemics showing off for each other...though I'm certain there is plenty of that, too.

    The public, even without undergoing rigorous "deprogramming", can easily find value in it given the proper context (like movie soundtracks).
    Personally i instantly loved the sound of atonal music when i first starting hearing Webern, Varese, Boulez, Ligeti and so on when i was about 15/16. I found it way more expressive than the horrible Bach/Mozart/Beethoven nonsense i'd been force fed in all my music classes up until that point. That just sounded like the musical equivalent of painting by numbers to my ear, whereas Boulez just seemed to hold my ear completely (ironic really given that some of Boulez serial pieces contain more number crunching than the average mathematics convention!).

    But then i'm probably quite weird in that respect.
    Last edited by tedmaul; 05-04-2007 at 05:51 PM.
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  9. #24
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    what about Giacinto Scelsi?

    I really like pieces like "konx om pax" "aion" or "quattro pezzi per orchestra"..

    would this be considered straight serialism? is it tonal?

    i kind of have the impression/idea forming in my head, that perhaps it is 12 tone music, with some notes acting as tonal centers but changin that center from time to time.. maybe in periods as short as from one note to the following, or as long as one entire piece..

    btw i certainly hear a lot of tritones and octaves there, on scelsi's music... it sounds a bit like the fundamental construction of reality.. or de-construction.. with a considerably deep pallette..

  10. #25
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedmaul
    ...the need for musical development and expression through means other than just a catchy melody. You really need to work harder to create striking sounds using rhythm and texture to keep the attention of the listener
    Beautifully put.
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  11. #26
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    I studied Hindelmith's book (as a matter of fact I am still studying it). And it seemed to me he offered a new system of tonal organization, not really serial and definitely not tonal as we understand it.

    Poparad, remember the interval hierarchy and "combination tones"? Those were the concepts that stroke me the most. Those two concepts also seem (to me) to be the main point throughout the book, he just elaborates on them a whole lot.

    Maybe that's what the original poster is thinking of? Using different system of tonal organization with some kind of a center. (The octave and the fifth in the case of Hindelmith). If that's the case that's not serialism.

    Interesting discussion in any case.
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  12. #27
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    You might also be interested in George Perle.
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  13. #28
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    Hello,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Mj9tVy6kE
    Perhaps could you make an analysis of this, it's quite interesting. Not really atonal or dodecaphonic, but...

    @+!!

    Thierry

  14. #29
    Registered User dmsstudios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teepee
    Hello,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2Mj9tVy6kE
    Perhaps could you make an analysis of this, it's quite interesting. Not really atonal or dodecaphonic, but...

    @+!!

    Thierry
    That guy is awesome! Love the way he flows through it. No idea what he's doing, although there seems to be a shape that he's working while moving keys in some serial method.
    Dan

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  15. #30
    Sa Sekhem Sahu MorningStar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poparad
    I can't think of a single well known player who does.
    Robert Fripp has used the 12 tone system on more than one occasion and I consider him somewhat well known

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