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Topic: OT: Atonal Harmony

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  1. #1

    OT: Atonal Harmony

    Hi everyone,

    I love Stravinsky's works so, I recently purchased the Allen Forte's book, The Harmonic Organization Of The Rite Of Spring, and I discovered the amazing world of atonal music. I found several webs with Pitch Class Set calculators and stuff like that, but I wonder if somebody of you has composed some kind of piece based in atonal harmony and they would share it with me/us.

    All comments are welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Harmony and atonality are not compatible. The Rite of Spring is a tonal work. Neo Classical, as they say. If you want atonal, you’ll have to go to later Stravinsky. Or Schoenberg.

  3. #3

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Quote Originally Posted by Sr_Velasco
    Hi everyone,

    I love Stravinsky's works so, I recently purchased the Allen Forte's book, The Harmonic Organization Of The Rite Of Spring, and I discovered the amazing world of atonal music. I found several webs with Pitch Class Set calculators and stuff like that, but I wonder if somebody of you has composed some kind of piece based in atonal harmony and they would share it with me/us.

    All comments are welcome.

    Thanks in advance.
    Didn't TROS stop just short of Atonality? It was more bitonality that Stravinsky explored at that time. At least that is what I have read in several books. Arnold Schoenberg was the first to go truly Atonal, wasn't he? (don't know for sure).

    Any way TROS is a fabulous score to study!

    (edit: Bill (above), answered my question.)

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill
    Harmony and atonality are not compatible.
    Yes, you are right, I should have said Atonal Music.

    Maybe the entire piece can not be labeled like that but The Rite Of Spring has passages based in atonal music.

    Anyway, has somebody composed a piece based in atonal music?

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    About Rite of Spring, it's "tonal" (and closer to "bitonal" or "polytonal") in the sense that he's organizing his harmonies into tonal collections; the famous example of this is at the beginning of the Auguries of Spring section, where he has the perpetual 8th note chords with syncopated accents (he uses an Eb dom6/5 superimposed over an E major chord). Another scholarly opinion of Stravinsky's "Russian Period" music (Rite came before his neoclassical period, btw) is that he was basing his harmonies/bitonalities on the octatonic mode, creating chords and melodic lines that saturate the octatonic in some form.

    I've written some atonal music and even brought it into my videogame soundtracks from time to time, for scenery and to portray nightmarish haze. I wouldn't go so far as to say that "harmony and atonality are not compatible", though - to say something's atonal simply means that it doesn't gravitate towards any central pitch(es). The harmonies themselves can still be significant in evoking a specific sound for a passage - just as we might think of major as "happy" and minor as "sad", you could also say that a triad like <026> is "confused" and <014> shows "anxiety".

    I can email you one of my atonal excursions in game music if you wanna hear, it was a fun and very evocative cue.

    By the way, how is Allen Forte's book? I actually studied music at Yale (where Forte teaches), but never got a chance to meet him or take his class.
    Wilbert Roget, II
    Composer
    Rogetmusic.com

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    I'd have to respectfully disagree with the comment above that harmony and atonality aren't 'compatible'. There is certainly a blurring between the supposed extremes of tonal and non-tonal music, they aren't as different as sometimes they are made them out to be. A collection of notes like [C,E,G] is just as much harmony as [C,C#,G,G#].

    Since you just read the Forte book, don't be fooled into thinking that you can magically compose great music just by using lots of the same set like 025 or 014. Listen to and study some of the music that prompted this way of thinking about music, for example Webern's lieder 'Wie bin Ich Froh' whose vocal line is a 12tone row consisting of 014 segments. Look and see what is happening in the music first and use theory as a supplement to that. I'll be glad to help with any questions.

    There scores and mp3s on my site that you might be interested in looking at/hearing.

    Hope this helps!
    Jeremy David Sagala
    www.jeremysagala.com

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Schoenberg never liked the expression "atonal" anyway, he prefered "floating tonailty".

    I invite you to listen to the composition redrum on me site web (see below). This music is not tonal, nor stricly "atonal", the inspiration is rather from Ligeti, Penderecki and Varese, using mainly clusters, microtonality and noises, but maybe it's the kind of composition you are looking for.

    Best,
    Markus.

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Quote Originally Posted by Diriger
    I'd have to respectfully disagree with the comment above that harmony and atonality aren't 'compatible'. There is certainly a blurring between the supposed extremes of tonal and non-tonal music, they aren't as different as sometimes they are made them out to be. A collection of notes like [C,E,G] is just as much harmony as [C,C#,G,G#].
    Indeed. Charles Ives, IMO the first great truly American composer, was mixing harmony and atonality in the first 20 years of the twentieth century. Stravinsky's music before 1940 was more tonal overall. Atonality really begins with Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern (or as my teacher called them, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
    Composer, Logic Certified Trainer, Level 2,
    author of "Going Pro with Logic Pro 9."

    www.jayasher.com

  9. #9

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    It's all a misnomer. Atonal, tonal.


    If you look at the definition of harmony it just simply means the arrangement of something in a pleasing or unified whole. So you can be tonal and harmonic or atonal and harmonic.

    I think a lot of people confuse atonal with overly dissonant nonharmonic music who's notes don't really belong together. Thus you get a confusion as is evendent in most of Schoenbergs works and in Webern's work. Some how Berg manage to escape that and wrote antonal music that is harmonic and quite beautiful in a way that Webern and Schoenberg never did.

    Bach wrote atonal music at times that was very harmonic and beautiful but did lack an overal tonal center. I think most great composers have.

    What killed music in the 20th century is the idea that atonal=unpleasing dissonance. It really doesn't mean that. It just means lacking a definate central tone. But if done with the idea of harmony in mind then atonal is very beautiful. Just don't abandon the idea of harmony.

    For example you could have a chord d-c-e-g#-b-dflat. There really is no one tone that's going to stand out as the tonic of that chord. It's quite atonal but if you played it on the piano the arrangement of 3rds sound quite pleasing in the right context and the minor ninth will give it enough tension to make one feel auneasy.

    When I hear music that people consider "atonal" in this day and age I only hear improperly handled dissonance. Or organization based on some slide rule formula rather than using judgement, your ears and taste. I don't think it has to be that way. Atonal can be and is beautiful if done properly.

    btw, who's saying that Right of Spring is atonal? Never heard of that piece classified in that way.

    Ars

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Atonal Harmony

    Quote Originally Posted by ArsNova
    It's all a misnomer. Atonal, tonal.


    If you look at the definition of harmony it just simply means the arrangement of something in a pleasing or unified whole. So you can be tonal and harmonic or atonal and harmonic.

    I think a lot of people confuse atonal with overly dissonant nonharmonic music who's notes don't really belong together. Thus you get a confusion as is evendent in most of Schoenbergs works and in Webern's work. Some how Berg manage to escape that and wrote antonal music that is harmonic and quite beautiful in a way that Webern and Schoenberg never did.

    Bach wrote atonal music at times that was very harmonic and beautiful but did lack an overal tonal center. I think most great composers have.

    What killed music in the 20th century is the idea that atonal=unpleasing dissonance. It really doesn't mean that. It just means lacking a definate central tone. But if done with the idea of harmony in mind then atonal is very beautiful. Just don't abandon the idea of harmony.

    For example you could have a chord d-c-e-g#-b-dflat. There really is no one tone that's going to stand out as the tonic of that chord. It's quite atonal but if you played it on the piano the arrangement of 3rds sound quite pleasing in the right context and the minor ninth will give it enough tension to make one feel auneasy.

    When I hear music that people consider "atonal" in this day and age I only hear improperly handled dissonance. Or organization based on some slide rule formula rather than using judgement, your ears and taste. I don't think it has to be that way. Atonal can be and is beautiful if done properly.

    btw, who's saying that Right of Spring is atonal? Never heard of that piece classified in that way.

    Ars
    Wow. I almost don't know where to begin. "Improperly handled dissonanc"e? So you are unable to appreciate any of the IMO great work by Schoenberg, Webern, Stockhausen, Berio, Boulez, etc.?

    You are of course totally entitled to not like this music but for you to describe the music i.e. of Pierre Boulez who is a man capable of conducting and composing convincingly in the styles of all the great masters as "improperly handled" is perhaps just a little presumptious possibly?

    You are correct however that Rite of Spring is certainly not an atonal work.
    Composer, Logic Certified Trainer, Level 2,
    author of "Going Pro with Logic Pro 9."

    www.jayasher.com

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