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J3y the






for Students



John de Graff Inc.

Copyright 1954 by Vifilliams and Jforgate Ltd* in Great Britain

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153 157

is sub-titled "A Guide for Students"; that is to say, not primarily intended for scholars or musicologists, who can find fuller information on the subject elsewhere. I remember, when a student myself^ finding it difficult, if not impossible, to bridge the gulf between the traditional harmony and counterpoint taught in most colleges of music and the music that was actually being written by contemporary composers especially as one of the justly respected professors at the college where I was studying was famed for his use of parallel fifths and polytonal counterpoint in his own works. This book, then, is an attempt to bridge that gul an attempt to show how modern composers have come to write as they do, and perhaps to point out new paths which the student, if

THIS book
it is

a complete " guide to modern " it is a land of signpost on the way; music nor is it a discussion of the Hundred Best Contemporary Composers. Apart from limitations of space, such a compendium could easily degenerate into a mere catalogue of names and works. What I have attempted to do is to single out a number
This book



care to follow


for himself,

therefore, not only intended as

represent various different tendencies in work in some detail. I have also tended" to concentrate on those who have gone to the extremes rather than those who have chosen the middle path; this means, of course, that a good many well-known and distinguished composers are not mentioned at all, whereas some others who are less well known and more rarely performed find a place here. This is not intended to imply any criticism of the former; as composers and musicians many of them are certainly of far greater importance than some of those discussed here. But I have concentrated on the extremists because I feel it is important for the student to know the furthest that has been gone in any particular direction; whether he will wish to go so far himself is his own affair, but at any rate he should know

of composers


modern music, and

to discuss their




where the limits lie. And I have approached the subject more from the point of view of technical interest than musical value; what a student needs to acquire is technique and confidence in self-expression but nobody can make him into a genius if the

not there already.

In the final chapter, greatly daring, I have attempted to outline a method of harmonic analysis which may be applicable to most types of modern music. I am aware that it is an outline and not a complete system; but I feel that one should beware
of too much rigidity in matters of this kind, and if the ideas there put forward may be of service to another in the construction of a more detailed system of analysis, they will not have been put forward in vain. In conclusion, I should like to thank Mr. Richard Gorer for many helpful suggestions during the preparation of this book.



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Harold Lyches

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Is it really possible to give any general rules for modern contrapuntal writing? To many people modern music seems to be in a state of complete anarchy; there are so many methods and systems that it would appear hardly practicable to find any

common factor between them. We get composers who spice up normal diatonic writing with a skilful use of dissonance, like Stravinsky, those who go in for polytonality, like Milhaud, those who use peculiar scales derived from folk music, like Bart6k, and those, like Schoenberg and Hindemith, who have invented their own systems of composition and laid down rules which are chiefly followed by their own disciples. These are the main tendencies in contemporary music; but there are many others, and many composers borrow ideas from each or aU of the methods outlined above. Yet no one would seriously pretend that there are no rules at all; composers must instinctively feel what sounds good and what bad. Our purpose then is to try and discover why modern composers write as they do in fact to find what method there is (if any) in their variegated
student who wishes to become a composer is compelled goes to a college of music) to spend a great deal of time writing counterpoint exercises in the styles of Palestrina and Bach. He may object to this as a waste of time, pointing out (quite correctly) that all modern composers are continually breaking the rules which he is so carefully taught to observe. But in fact he is not wasting his time; by doing these exercises he is merely re-living the process of musical history. If Palestrina and Bach had not existed there would have been no Bart6k or Schoenberg; every composer must learn all the lessons of the past before he can embark on new developments himself. In fact there is no break between modern music and that of the past; every element in every work, written by every composer of
(if he


today has developed out of some feature of the music of his predecessors. It is only by understanding this that one can hope to dissect or analyse the different tendencies in modern music;
in fact, before embarking on a study of contemporary counterpoint it is absolutely essential for the student to have a thorough

knowledge of the procedure of past generations. It is no good trying to start reading a detective story in the middle, when one has no idea who is the detective, who are the potential criminals,
or even


has been murdered.

am therefore assuming that readers of this book will have a

good knowledge of classical harmony and counterpoint up to, say, Wagner's day. Where do we go from there? We must first
try to place ourselves in perspective with the musical history of the last four hundred years. This period may be divided into three great epochs. The first, beginning in the fifteenth century, and ending with the death of Bach in 1750, may be called a polyphonic period, in the sense that in general counterpoint rather than harmony was the dominant factor. The


which covers the period of the Viennese classics and also the romantic composers, ended about 1910; this was primarily a harmonic period, with the reverse tendency to its predecessor.

Our modern age


again predominantly contrapuntal;


there are reasons for this, as there are indeed for the predominant characteristics of the two previous epochs. TTiese are bound up with the question of tonality, which is perhaps the most formidable problem which we have to face in this

Bach saw the gradual dissolution of the seven medieval church modes, on which music had previously been based, and their fusion into the major and minor diatonic
scales; hence it was in a sense a transitional epoch. The period from 1750 to 1910, on the other hand, was a static period, based on the firm tonality of the major and minor scales, and it was only towards the end of the period that chromaticism gradually began to undermine these scales. Our modern period is again a transitional one, in which the diatonic scale of

enquiry. The period before

by a

sevea notes phis five "accidentals" is gradually being replaced twelve-note scale which has not yet taken a definite

We shall of course be considering this question of tonality in

detail as

proceed; but I should merely like to say at this point that in general a transitional age seems to be predominantly contrapuntal, whereas a static age seems to be predominantly harmonic. Harmony and counterpoint are of course the obverse and reverse sides of the medal, a-n.d it is impossible to treat them as separate entities; but it remains true that in different periods of history one or other of them tends to become the dominant factor for a certain time. The question of which will predominate is governed by the degree of solidity which tonality has acquired during that period. If a tonal system is securely established, as the diatonic system was during the major part of the i8th and igth centuries, it is able to build up a solid structure of chords with which to surround and accompany its main themes. In fact the idea of a tune and its accompaniment is only possible within the framework of such a system, and we can see that this procedure was employed by every composer from C. P. E, Bach to Wagner. Counterpoint there can be as well, of course, but it will normally be strictly governed by the harmonic scheme; i.e. in general -die counterpoint arises out of the harmonies rather than vice versa. (One has only got to compare the fugues of Mendelssohn, Schumann or Klengd with those of Bach in order to appreciate this). On the other hand in a contrapuntal period, such as that from Palestrina to Bach, and also today, the harmonies will generally arise out of the movement of independent parts. 1 I ayn. aware that I am generalizing considerably in m^Irmg this statement one can of course find tunes with accompaniments in Purcell, and even Handel and Bach, and there is plenty of contrapuntal writing in Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms* but I merely maintain that the outlook of the 'first. period was mainly contrapuntal, and that of the second mainly harmonic, and I think that our present period is also a contrapuntal one. In contrapuntal periods there is a far greater degree of harmonic experimentation, as the interweaving of a number of independent parts may often produce surprising results, like this (by now, I think, fairly well-known) example from Gesuakb's "Moro lasso", published in 1611:
*Ct "Apollonian Evaluation of aDwnyrian Epoch", Chap. "Structural Functions of Harmony" (London, 1954).


XII of Schoolboys



anticipates the "Kiss" motive in Die Walkiire, (as Philip Heseltine pointed out in his study of Gesualdo 1); yet each part moves quite simply and naturally, mostly by step, and there is only one diminished interval, of a

Here the sequence of chords

type allowed in every counterpoint treatise. Yet an eighteenth or early igth century composer would not have dared to write such a passage, as he would have envisaged it purely from the harmonic point of view. Similarly the extraordinary "false relation" clashes in the Elizabethans and Purcell arise from the Here is a typical logical contrapuntal movement of the parts. from PurcelTs "My heart is inditing". example
Ex. a





such progressions could be written meant that harmonic system based on a definite scale and tonality at that time. (The actual process of the dissolution of the church modes into the major and minor
fact that

was no

clearly established



far too

complex for

me to describe here, and in any case

not part of my subject; but it is sufficient to say that modal elements are found even in Bach and later composers) . Now we
KUarlo Gesualdo, by Cecil Gray and Philip Heseltine.




are in exactly the same position today; the diatonic system has been broken up by the chromaticism of Liszt and Wagner, and we are left with fragments of it, tossed like flotsam on a sea of

the diatonic system was undermined from within is by now fairly familiar to most readers, and there 1 is no need for me to recapitulate it in detail IJLJS^Jif&dient to that by 1910 composers so different from each other as say Bartok, Busoni, Schoenberg and Stravinsky .were all making a completely, free M&e, of all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, and jSchoenberg had even gone so far as to throw tonality overboard altogether, at any rate in theory. The whole change may be summed up by saying, as I mentioned earlier, that

new and strange sounds. The process by which

instead of regarding the seven notes of the diatonic scale as superior to the five accidentals, we can now regard all twelve as equals. This does not necessarily mean that all modern composers do regard the twelve notes as equals, nor that there is no tonality in modern music. In fact all composers use elements which are directly derived from the diatonic system, and, as I hope to show, a form of tonality is present in all music of the present day, even including that of Schoenberg and
his followers;


but the fact remains, whether we like it or not, we have nowfgot a twelve-note scale instead of a seven-note



can use

chromatically as

we wish

this twelve-note scale as diatonically that is according to our taste

or as


we cannot






show the different uses made of it by various modern composers, and to draw some general conclusions from these. This brings me again to the question of tonality in modern music. The diatonic system was firmly based on the major and minor triads, as we all know; but these are now replaced by far more complex chord formations. Nevertheless these new chords developed naturally from the old ones, usually by adding or altering notes in them, and there are very few (e.g. the chord built up of a series of perfect fourths) which appear to be entirely
new. The new chords are in fact distant cousins of the old ones; and though they may look different and do not usually behave hi the same way as their predecessors I have suggested that
X A concise account will be found in Mosco Garner's Century Harmony (London 1942).

Study of Twentieth-


in any case a good many of them arise as the result of contrapuntal movement they can still be related to a tonal centre corresponding to the old keynote. Even Schoenberg called his system "Composition with twelve notes related only to each other", meaning that for him there are twelve "tonalities" of equal importance which require to be balanced equally against one another.* In fact behind all the complications, variations, compressions and ellipses of modern music one still finds the conception of a tonal centre, not of course identical with the old tonic, and now related to a twelve-note instead of a seven-note scale. In fact the diatonic system has now been replaced by what I might call expanded tonality a conception -which I hope to discuss in more detail in the next few chapters. To sum up, then, we are living ha a transitional and predominantly contrapuntal period, in some ways parallel to the age between Palestrina and Bach; the diatonic system of the 1 8th and igth centuries has ceased to exist in its old form, but there is no complete break with the past; elements of the old music have continued to survive in the new, and we have a different conception of tonality, based on the twelve-note scale. We shall later consider these points in detail by exarnining the work of various composers who have brought about this revolution. But let us first trace briefly the steps which led up

*Cf. p.





As we have already seen, the steps which led to the eventual breakdown of the diatonic system in its old form were already

much earlier ages. The Gesualdo above shows an advanced use of chromaticism, example quoted and we can find similar examples in Bach and others. Here is a passage from the Fugue in B minor (Book I of the Wellpresent in the music of




it is



in the bass,




be seen that



notes contain all the twelve of the chromatic scale. Nevertheless

not harmonized chromatically, but is treated as a series of passing modulations, as indicated above. This is typical of Bach's harmonic procedure; however chromatic his themes may be, he never loses sight of the basic principles of tonality.


also the

Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, which



contains some astounding harmonic progressions, and also Bach's harmonisation of the chorale "Es ist genug'VThe fact that the twelve-tone composer Alban Berg was able to introduce the latter in its original harmonisation into his violin cbncerto without any sense of incongruity shows how "advanced" was Bach's use of chromatic harmony). From the example quoted above it is clearly only a step to this passage from Liszt's : Fantasy and Fugue on



(Liszt himself evidently felt this, for he found it necessary to follow this passage with a long dominant pedal on before introducing a later entry of the subject in minor). This kind of chromatic writing, consisting mainly of side-slips and based to a considerable extent on the chord of the diminished seventh, can be found in many works of Liszt's middle period, notably this Fantasy and Fugue, and also the Variations on the basso

and bottom parts respectively. The theme itself is similar to the Bach subject quoted in Ex. 3; but here is accompanied by chromatic counterpoint, and the result is modulation so constant that it almost amounts to suspension of tonality.

This shows the entry of the third and fourth voices, hi the top



from Bach's Cantata "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" itself an entirely chromatic theme. It was in fact Liszt, more than any other composer of the igth century, who seized on the chromatic experiments of Bach and developed them for his own purposes. 1 In this he was followed by several later composers, of whom the most important was Max Reger (1873-1916). Reger was pre-eminently a contrapuntal composer, and his style was considerably influenced by that of Bach in fact a good deal of his work is almost a pastiche of the older master. But he had also learnt the lessons of the chromaticism of Liszt and Wagner, and this extract from his Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme for Organ, Op. 73, is typical of his chromatic method
of writing

r* r

This shows the final entry of the fugue subject (in the pedals). It is noticeable that the first four bars show a constantly fluctuating sense of tonality, while the last two gradually approach a quite conventional cadence. It is this combination

A considerable use of chromatic harmony, chiefly for


purposes of modulation

and "side-slip" can

be found in the works of Spohr.



of chromatic and diatonic elements which makes Reger's style and often irritating; there appears to be no particular purpose in his passing modulations, and the chromaticism often only seems to be there for its own sake, without any real

structural function.

An even more typical example of Reger's methods seen in one of the variations from the same work

may be


Here each part moves quite logically, and each chord is consonant according to the rules of diatonic harmony; but the total effect is of uncontrolled and unnecessary modulation. Compare this with the Gesualdo example (Ex. i), which also produces chromatic modulations through the logical movement of the individual parts; but there the total effect has a dramatic and emotional purpose, which is lacking in Reger. Nevertheless Reger is of importance as one of those who contributed to the breakdown of tonality; his chromatic treatment of consonances was followed by other composers who used dissonances in the same way, as we shall see later on (p. 71).



Another composer of the same period who also made an advanced use of chromaticism was Richard Strauss. Strauss was primarily a tonal and even a diatonic composer, but as a contrast to his normal diatonicism he often used discords of a violent and chromatic nature, chiefly for dramatic effect. Though he certainly made use of polyphonic writing to a great extent, his counterpoint is primarily harmonic, and one would not regard him as a contrapuntalist in the normal sense of the term; i.e. with him the harmonic background came first, however many themes might be superimposed on it. typical example is this passage from Ein Heldenleben, from the section where Strauss introduces themes from some of his earlier works.


TL- j;





Though a number of different themes are most ingeniously combined here (no marks for guessing from which works they come!), the passage does not go beyond the normal rules of diatonic counterpoint, except for the occasional sounding of
appoggiaturas simultaneously with their resolutions. With very few exceptions, Strauss generally kept within the limits of this kind of contrapuntal writing. A more ambitious attempt, however, may be seen in the "Von der Wissenschaft" section of
Also sprach Zjarathustra


fiigally, with successive entries in G, G, example shows the final entry. The celli are divided into four parts, each being doubled an octave below by double basses. The four-bar Cello consists fugal theme

This passage begins

and A;






of 14 notes, which include all the twelve of the chromatic

scale; nevertheless it is not in the least atonal, being constructed out of a series of triads, and further is tonally harmonised

throughout; there is in fact a certain parallel with the Reger example previously quoted (Ex. 6) in that the counterpoint is predominantly harmonic, and that the chordal scheme does not seem to fulfil any very logical purpose, except that of accompanying the main theme; i.e. the subsidiary parts have very little real life of their own. This is exemplified by the somewhat automatic sequential treatment of the second and third 'cello parts in the first two bars quoted.
It is certainly unfair to dismiss Strauss*

contrapuntal writing

on the strength of a couple of examples, and no doubt a very good case could be made out for him as a contrapuntalist; all I am trying to suggest is that Strauss, in common with most
composers of his period, still thought primarily in terms of harmony, and however complicated the surface texture of his music may become, there is usually a fairly simple under-lying harmonic scheme. (Cf., for instance, the prelude to Act III of Der Rosenkavalier 1, which presents the appearance of a complicated fugato in six or more parts; but there is no real tension between the different parts, of the type that we find in Bach or Bartok) It was not until the early years of this century that the supremacy of harmony began to be disputed by the individuality of the different parts that composed it. There were,

however, some late nineteenth century composers who were striving in this direction, and perhaps the most important of these was Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). Mahler's contribution to music is of course too far-reaching to be summarised in a few words; as a conductor of genius, his unrivalled knowledge of orchestral effect led him more and more to explore the possibilities of soloistic treatment of instruments or groups of instruments, and to turn his back on the Wagnerian web of sound in which practically every instrument is doubled by another. Mahler, in fact, brought back clarity into orchestral writing; in spite of the enormous forces he used, each individual part can be heard without effort. His style tended to become more polyphonic with the years; whereas
*A typical quotation from this will be found in Eric Blom, (Musical Pilgrim series, London 1930).

The Rose




the earlier symphonies are constructed mainly in terms of a theme surrounded by subsidiary parts, in the later ones each individual part tends to greater equality with the others. This of the 8th Symphony is typical passage from the first movement

of his later methods.

This is a real piece of 8-part writing, with several of the voice parts doubled by instruments. Though the music is entirely diatonic, the individual parts are driven against each other with a complete disregard for passing clashes a method in some ways very parallel to that later used by Stravinsky. But in the case of Mahler the main harmonies remain comparatively



The example above makes some use of imitation between the parts; but a later passage from the same movement, a sort of
stretto uses all the classical devices of augmentdiminution and inversion, combined with modulation.

Ex. 10

Many other passages in Mahler show the same kind of treatment

quotation from "Das Lied von der Erde" in 51), and it would be easy to multiply op. examples. But I think it is clear from the above that Mahler did reintroduce into the Romantic tradition of purely harmonic writing the tendency to value individual parts for their own sake; i.e. with him the horizontal aspect of' music was as important, if not more so, than the vertical. In this sense he is the forerunner of the whole modern contrapuntal school. survey of this transitional period would not be complete
(see for instance the

Mosco Garner,

cit. p.



without some discussion of the early works of Schoenberg. His music from 1908 onwards (the date when he abandoned tonality), is discussed in Chapter VII, but his earlier compositions, while remaining within a tonal framework, carry still further the tendencies observed in Mahler. Schoenberg came to composition by way of chamber music he was an amateur violinist and 'cellist, but had little knowledge of piano playing in his younger days and as a result his approach is predominantly contrapuntal. Though in these early works he does not go beyond the post-Wagnerian harmonic scheme, his
chords are nearly always arrived at through the movement of independent parts. The following example of the simultaneous use of a theme and its inversion, from the string sextet Verkldrte Nacht (1899), though complex and chromatic, remains funda-

mentally tonal.

An even clearer example of this "Mahlerian" use of counterpoint may be seen in an extract from Pelleas and Melisande (1902) .


The music


at represents the meeting of Pelleas and Melisande the Melisande theme appears in fourfold the castle tower; imitation on the flutes and clarinets, and simultaneously augmented in octaves on two solo violins; against it is played a secondary theme, associated with Melisande, on ist clarinet

and bass
Ex. 12



also the Pelleas

theme on

solo 'cello.




his following works, the first

Chamber Symphony, the chromatic element

and the music the tonal framework

string quartets and the increases, is often in a perpetual state of modulation; yet


is still observed, and each part moves naturally and logically in its own way. Here is an example from the first string quartet (1905) :


Ex. 13


more homophonic, but still fundamentally contrapuntal shows an passage from the First Chamber Symphony (1906), advanced use of chromatic harmony, altered and substitute notes being used freely. The music modulates rapidly without ever altogether losing its tonal feeling.
Ex. 14
sehr auadrucksvoU

Chromatic harmony could hardly go further than this without overstepping the bounds of tonality altogether, and



in the finale of his next work, the 2nd/ String Quartet, Schoenberg wrote some passages which are almost impossible to explain from a tonal point of view. typical passage is quoted here; for the present it must suffice to say that this represents the logical conclusion towards which Schoenberg's ever-increasing use of chromatic elements was leading him.

Ex. 15



This chapter has dealt exclusively with composers of the school, because it is here that the use of chromaticism seen in its most acute form. Some French and Russian

composers, however, notably Debussy, Ravel



working on similar lines, chiefly in the free use of altered and whole-tone chords. Though partly used for impressionistic effect, these chords tended to remove the feeling of 1 tonality. As Schoenberg remarks , "Debussy's harmonies, without constructive meaning, often served the coloristic


purpose of expressing moods and pictures. Moods and pictures, though extra-musical, thus became constructive elements, incorporated in the musical functions; they produced a sort of emotional comprehensibility. In this way tonality was already dethroned in practice, if not in theory". It is, I think, unnecessary to illustrate this point by quoting examples, particularly as neither Debussy, Ravel nor Scriabine were fundamentally contrapuntal composers; but the student can find many passages in their works where tonality is either

ambiguous or suspended altogether.


Arnold Schoenberg. Style and Idea. (London 1951) p. 104.



We can now proceed to a more detailed study of various composers who have profoundly influenced contemporary contrapuntal writing, each in their own way. To begin with, I shall attempt to discuss five important figures Stravinsky, Milhaud, Bartok, Hindemith and Schoenberg each representing a different musical tendency.





we have



a firm believer in the diatonic

system, and throughout his life his work has been based on this system, no matter how many alien elements he has introduced into it at one time or another. It is usual to think of Stravinsky as a predominantly contrapuntal composer; but though he certainly thinks in terms of lines rather than chords on the whole, his counterpoint is in fact rather rudimentary, being a use which extensively based on the use of ostinato figures was no doubt suggested by the idioms of Russian folk music. It is important to remember, with Stravinsky as with many modern composers, that a single part may in fact take the form of chords moving hi parallel, as in the following example from

Ex. 16


This is, in effect, merely two-part writing, with each part thickened out in common chords; it is also based on an ostinato effect. A more complicated example of the same type of thing may be found in Le Sacre du Printemps:
Ex. 17

fundamentally diatonic, in spite of the chromatically descending middle part; and again we have an ostinato. The famous opening section of Le Sacre a again, is not truly contrapuntal; it really consists of one main theme with a chromatic accompaniment and a certain number of

Here the thought

decorations, cleverly written so as to suggest contrapuntal development. The nearest it gets to true counterpoint is in again based on an ostinato. passages like Ex. 18 [p. 24]


not contrapuntal in the true sense is bars, unaltered for the elaboration of one part; i.e. here Stravinsky except thinks rhythmically and dramatically, rather than contrafact that this

shown by the immediate repetition of these two

puntally. " "Les Noces (1917) deliberately attempts to paint a picture of Russian peasant life, and therefore there is naturally an almost continuous use of ostinato. There are however occasional imitative passages such as Ex. 19 [p. 24].

Here again the counterpoint


extremely simple, and the

ostinato provides a solid background*

Ex. 18


Ex. 19



"F" n



(1918) do provide writing; but as they are intended more or less as parodies, Stravinsky is careful to avoid what would be the normal diatonic harmonisation of the theme.


chorales in "L'Histoire

du Soldat"

some genuine four-part


Ex. 20


quite simple and almost entirely diatonic; carefully arranged so that the parts do not "fit" together in the accepted classical sense. This is the socalled "wrong note technique" of which Stravinsky is an adept master. It consists in substituting for what the ear expects

Here each part but the writing



something different which sounds more "interesting" but has


may be found in the second movement of the Symphony of Psalms (1930), which is in the form of a double fugue though of a fairly free sort. All the usual contrapuntal devices are found here, and the movement certainly gives the effect of counter* point, though it hardly has the architectural solidity of Bach. For 'example take the beginning of the exposition of the second
subject (in the sopranos):

real logical function. more serious attempt at contrapuntal writing

[Ex. 21, p. 26].



the orchestra;

round a Note also the tendency of the orchestral alto and tenor parts to do the same thing; it is this that gives Stravinsky's counter-

subject (hi the bass) has previously been exposed by it is typical of Stravinsky in that it goes round and few notes and never seems to progress anywhere.

point its curiously static character. It goes through all the formal motions of being contrapuntal, but the essence of counterpoint, the interweaving of independent parts which will also create harmonic tension and progression, is almost entirely absent.

The harmonic style, it will be seen, is fundamentally diatonic, with a few clashes of passing-notes and some false relations. The whole movement is well worth studying as a compendium of Stravinsky's contrapuntal devices. Two passages from a later work of Stravinsky's, the Mass (1947) show how little his contrapuntal style has changed with





the passage of time. The first is a simple imitative passage, diatonic throughout with an ostinato-like accompaniment.
Ex. 22




The second

against a chorale-like

the voices imitatively passage again introduces figure on the brass.




As a final example we may take this passage from the Interlude before the Bacchantes dance in "Orpheus" (1947).
Ex. 24


This again is very typical of Stravinsky's methods, and evokes a comparison with Ex. 21; there is no actual ostinato, but the bass descends by step throughout (a feature of the whole interlude). Against this the upper parts move within a mainly diatonic framework, but with a certain number of false-relation clashes arising out of the movement of individual

This in fact



main contribution

writing; his parts


freely against

to contrapuntal each other within the



diatonic scale, without any regard for the older ideas of accented passing notes or dissonances that have to be resolved. It is true that concords tend to appear at the more important points in the phrase, but in the intervening chords Stravinsky has a
predilection for unresolved sevenths and ninths, which he treats as normal concords. This tendency can be seen as early as P&rouchka (Ex. 16); our example merely consists of two lines of chords clashing against each other. In Exs. 20, 21, 23 and 24 we have four or more single lines moving against each other in the

same way, with the added complication of a number of



These false relations normally arise out of the natural movement of the parts, and do not constitute any threat to tonality; they are in fact usually of the type which one finds in Elizabethan music, arising out of the remnants of the medieval

modes (flattened and sharpened third, sixth or seventh, perfect and augmented fourth heard simultaneously, etc.). As stated before, Stravinsky is essentially a diatonic composer, and any
chromatic elements are definitely regarded as foreign to the



this appraisal make it clear that I

of Stravinsky as a contrapuntalist, I must

am not discussing his place in modern music


a whole. Clearly his influence on the music of today has been enormous, and rightly so; but this is due to the dramatic and rhythmical elements in his music and to his command of orchestral effect rather than to his contrapuntal technique. As Constant Lambert rightly said in "Music Ho!" 1 , "his melodic style has always been marked by extreme shortwindedness and a curious inability to get away from the principal note of the tune .... The essence of a classical melody is continuity of line, contrast and balance of phrases, and the ability to depart from the nodal point in order that the ultimate return to it should have significance and finality/' Judged by this standard, Stravinsky is a singularly poor melodist, and as
Ex. 21 shows, his counterpoint only too often falls into a pastiche of eighteenth-century passage work spiced up by a few harmonic clashes. It is by endless, primitive repetition of
1 London, 1934. (at present available in Pelican Books). The whole of Part Two, "Post- War Pasticheurs", is an excellent account of Stravinsky's aims and methods, and though Lambert only dealt with Stravinsky's music up to 1930, Stravinsky has written nothing since which contradicts his judgments.



short phrases that Stravinsky makes his effect, not by the flowing polyphony of classical composers, and therefore I feel justified in my claim that Stravinsky is not a contrapuntalist in the true sense of the word.

Nevertheless he

with advantage.

a composer whose methods can be studied is a very important part of counterand no one can deny that Stravinsky is a master of


effect. (Note for instance the placing of the stresses in Ex. 25 below) The student, therefore, who feels so inclined may undertake the following exercises hi this style. (Following the example of Schoenberg in his Harmonielenre, I feel it is better not to give the student examples to be "worked", but to





from the beginning composing




in the style given).


Write some 4-part chorales, of 4 or more phrases, in the style of Ex. 20. (N.B. The student should write his own melody, rather than attempt to harmonise an existing
chorale in this style).
Is it possible to analyse classical harmony?


Ex. 20 according to the rules of

Alternatively, how few alterations are necessary in order to harmonise it in the orthodox manner? (e.g. supposing the second and third notes in the bass part were B[? and A

instead of B and Bb, etc.). The student is recommended to study the Grand and Petit Choral from L'Hfistoire du Soldat




Write some pieces of 4-part imitative counterpoint in the style of the vocal parts of Ex. 22 (i.e. purely diatonic, without false relations), but at greater length. Write also some 4-part vocal counterpoint with a 2-part accompaniment (not in the form of an ostinato!).
Analyse the second movement of the (published by Boosey and Hawkes).



of Psalms


Write some 4-part fugal expositions in the style of the opening of this movement (i.e. including both diatonic

and false



Here are the
Ex. 25


three entries






POLYTONAUTY, or the use of several keys simultaneously, is not a new device; in fact in all essentials it is as old as music itself. Edwin Evans once -wrote that "in spirit every canonic conies at an interval other than the octave and every fugal answer constituted tentatives towards bitonality" 1 and in a sense the struggle between tonic and dominant or other related keys in every classical work partakes of a bitonal nature, in that the rule of the one key is disputed by the other. It was clearly only a matter of time before the rival disputants were presented simultaneously, and there are a number of examples from the early years of this century onwards which show this happening

in a fairly radical manner; e.g. the ending of Strauss' Also sprach ^arathiistra (B major chords in the upper wood-wind alternating with C's in the basses); the famous passage from Stravinsky's Petrouchka:
Ex. 26

and the almost equally well-known one from one of Bart6k's

early Esquisses (1908).

^ff, ground of bitonality and polytonality.


Mosco Garner,






account of the historical back-


Ex. 27


But other composers treated this problem more radically. In the often-quoted Scherzo of Szymanowski's First String Quartet (191?) the first violin part is written in the key signature
the second in F#, the viola in Eb and the cello in C up to a diminished seventh. However, if we take a typical passage from it and write all the parts out in with accidentals, the fourfold tonality does not seem G


A major,

in fact adding

so apparent, especially if












One does not really hear the simultaneous use of four keys; instead one gets the impression of constant enharmonic modulation what Schoenberg called "schwebende Tonalitat" or fluctuating tonality. This is because the ear will always try to relate the sum total of the sounds it hears to a definite tonal basis; it is only really possible to listen to and distinguish between two separate tonalities at once. Nevertheless the use of complex polytonal schemes of this
kind can produce some interesting
exploited this idea in the fourth of his "Cinq


of his earlier works.


and Milhaud The finale of

Symphonies" (1921)
strings, it is

a good example



Written for ten solo

entitled "fitude"



on the




Violin Violin Violin Violin







2nd subject



Viola Viola
'Cello 'Cello



and subject.
subject subject



ist subject
ist subject



D. Bass i D. Bass 2

ist subject ist subject










Violin Violin Violin Violin






Viola Viola


'Cello 2 D. Bass i


ist subject ist subject

ist subject ist subject

ist subject



D. Bass 2

2nd subject 2nd subject 2nd subject and subject


It is a strict canon in ten parts on two subjects; each subject exposed successively in five different keys, the second subject entering in the same key as the final entry of the first subject and reversing the order of keys in its exposition. This process




carried out twice, once starting from the bottom of the

and once from the top with closer entries; then a coda of two bars rounds off the movement. Though this scheme may appear a purely mathematical one, musically this movement is a most effective piece. Here are the final three entries towards the end of the movement (bars 38-40). Note that the canon here is at two bars' interval in the upper five parts, at one bar's interval in the lower five.
Ex. 29

Bartok in the (Incidentally a similar scheme was adopted by of his Music for Strings, Celesta and Percussion first movement see p. 48). (1936)

36 In


example again one cannot
really hear the five different

keys, except perhaps at the moment of entry of each voice; the general effect is of diatonic music -with a number of "false

relation" clashes, and the movement (which is well worth studying in totoj ends quite consonantly in F. The first movement of the same symphony makes a fairly consistent use of bitonaliry,

the pairs of keys being varied throughout the movement. This is the opening!

Here it is quite possible to hear both keys at once; and a similar scheme is carried on throughout the movement. This is a rough
analysis of the key-changes:
15-22 23-4 25-7



32-5 3^-7 38-43 44-S 49-51


Middle Bottom


Middle Section


There are of course more variations of detail than it is possible to indicate in the above table; but it will be seen that the keys of G and [7 are in general associated with the first

C and F# with the second. The student make a detailed analysis of the movement for himself (Publishers, Universal Edition). The slow movement of this symphony is mainly based on a tritonal scheme; the top and bottom parts begin on block chords of F minor and Eb
group of themes, and





minor respectively, and move outwards chromatically, while the middle parts hold a chord which wavers between E minor and the dominant ninth of C.

These methods are typical of Milhaud's processes at that period, and they are carried even further in other works, such as the opera "Les Eumenides" (1922). Here Milhaud makes use
of several overlapping ostinatos in the orchestra, against which the voice part pursues its own independent course, as in this
extract from Orestes' aria hi Act II
Ex. 32



pa.s ?

En vengeance dt mon pc^e

Here we have four chromatic orchestral parts, three thickcJned out with double fourths and one with fifths; the voice part partly coincides with the top line.



of the same opera provides an even more startling of polytonal writing. Conceived on a gigantic scale, example it is a kind of perpetually-moving ostinato. This extract is typical of the texture:

The finale


Reading from top to bottom, we have first the triple voice of the statue of Athena (three parts in B major); then a chorus in four parts which are respectively in B, A, E b and b (the fact is apparent from the two bars that the alto part is really in before those quoted here). The first orchestral stave has a twobar repeated pattern of chords in Eb; the second also has a a two-bar pattern, but in Db, while the third has a three-bar pattern in B. The upper part on the fourth stave has a three-note


pattern in


of seven crotchets' duration; the lower part

similarly repeats itself every seven crotchets. The fifth stave contains a D-flattish rhythmical figure which is repeated every
six crotchets, while the bottom part, in A, comes round every fourteen crotchets. Note the separate accentuation of each part,

which provides a constantly changing rhythmical

effect, similar to the perpetual variation of the contrapuntal complex. It can be argued that to construct such patterns needs no more

than a knowledge of mathematics, and certainly passages like sound forced and ugly when taken out of their context and played coldly on the piano. Nevertheless when performed by

singers, chorus

no denying


and orchestra as part of an operatic scene, there immense dramatic effect my strictures on

Stravinsky's use of ostinato in the previous chapter do not imply that his music is thereby devoid of all interest. Milhaud was using this kind of style for a particular purpose, in this

case to give the feeling of an immense popular gathering, and personally I feel he was entirely justified in doing so. This period of Milhaud's activity certainly shows his style at its most complex, and in later years he simplified it considerably. Nevertheless he continued to write polytonally for some time, and in his huge opera Christopher Columbus (1928)
L! A tear



du b*.-tra.- AinirA,


y * un

there are




passages of considerable complexity. Ex. 34, extract from the scene where the ancient gods of stir up the sea in order to wreck Columbus' fleet





passage (Vol. I p. 220-239 of the vocal score, published by Universal Edition) is a 6-part canon which is exposed and then played backwards in toto (from bar 1370 onwards. This refers only to the orchestral parts, the voices being independent) . The extract quoted here comes just after the entry of the sixth part and shortly before the turning point. It will be seen that the writing here is far more flexible than in the extracts from Les Eumenides: again the effect is of constantly changing tonality rather than of true polytonality. This passage is followed by a chorus (pp. 240-251) accompanied by the figure in the second orchestral stave of Ex. 34, but with a varying number of crotchets between the demisemiquaver group in each part. Against this the first six bars of the theme of the canon appear as a two-part double palindrome. Here is the central turning-point (bars 1420-1):

The whole

u-pe dessus I

mords (est






that, of the four parts figure, the top part has five crotchets
It will


be seen

quaver group, the second four, part two. The part on the lowest stave is another statement of the canon theme, which has come in two bars previously. For the sake of completeness, here is the theme in extenso (here quoted from the earlier passage, p. 221):
Ex. 36

which have the ostinato between each demisemithe third three and the bottom

played twice forwards and twice backwards in each of the two parts, while the bass, entering ten bars later, plays it top once each forwards and backwards; meanwhile the ostinato scheme is strictly carried out in the other parts. Here again the mathematical rigidity of the plan is justified by the enormous dramatic tension which is built up, and the final resolution on to a "B-majorish" chord sounds perfectly logical. The whole passage (pp. 220-251) is well worth studying in detail. Note that each entry of the canon (in the earlier part of the passage) is six bars after the previous one, and a major seventh higher;
It is



note also that the ostinato figure (cf. Ex. 35) actually forms part of the canonic theme, which repeats it five times and then continues on its own course. It is one of Milhaud's most


successful constructions.

In view of the fact that in most of his recent works Milhaud has more or less given up polytonal writing, the question remains whether this type of composition is still worthy of study today. Personally I believe that it is; almost every modern composer has made some use of the simultaneous combination of different keys, though naturally the method of approach varies considerably between them; I have chosen to analyse Milhaud's methods in some detail, as his approach seems the most radical and logical, and therefore provides the best basis of study. Most composers of course do not use polytonality with such consistency; often they only combine elements belonging to two different keys for a few bars at a time, and they do not usually have two parts continuing remorselessly in two different keys for any length of time without modulating or at any rate introducing chromatic elements. In fact polytonality, like the whole-tone scale, has now been absorbed into the general language of music, and there is no need to practise it

any more in actual composition, unless a special effect needed for some particular purpose. Nevertheless, in order that the student may have a good grasp of what can be done within this style, I have included at the end of this chapter some suggestions for exercises to be worked; later the student will be able to select for himself such polytonal elements as he needs and incorporate them into his normal writing. The other question, a much more fundamental one, still

remains; does polytonality really exist at all, or, is it merely a "paper tiger"? We have already seen from our examples that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to hear more than two at once with any kind of continuity, though of course keys occasional new entries or elements may impose themselves for a brief time as alien to the general fabric. But in general, as we saw, the ear tends to try and resolve the total effect of what it hears into one main tonality plus a number of incidental notes, however complex the fabric may be, and therefore Ex. 33, for instance, cannot be regarded as a four-cornered contest between four different tonalities, all equally important; one of them is



bound to predominate, and in this case it is B major, which has the upper hand both in the vocal and instrumental parts.
Bitonality is the only form of this procedure which can really represent a see-saw between two different keys, and even this becomes wearisome after a short time; in fact the ear prefers to regard the music as constantly modulating in toto rather than being pulled simultaneously in different directions. (We shall come back to this in the discussion of twelve-note music, where the problem occurs in a more acute form). Therefore, polytonality is chiefly useful to the composer in helping him to create an elaborate and complex texture; but it is in itself too rigid a concept. When the musical fabric as a whole is so chromatic and "dissonant" (in the old-fashioned sense) as most polytonal works are, there is really no reason why one part should stick firmly to the diatonic scale of one particular key; it would lose nothing (and in fact would probably gain something) by being allowed to move freely and chromatically. This is what most composers have realized in recent years, and that is why polytonality of the orthodox Milhaud type, as exemplified in this chapter, is hardly ever practised nowadays. Nevertheless it has had an important influence on the development of contemporary music, and therefore I would advise the student to undertake the following exercises, noting carefully that it is not enough merely to write one key against another without any thought for the total musical effect; the total result of all the parts must also be satisfactory as music.

Write bitonal movements on schemes similar to that of the first movement of Milhaud's Symphonic No. 4 (cf. p. 35). (N.B. Each key can be represented either by single lines or


p. 34).

Write polytonal movements on schemes similar to the finale

of the same symphony


Write polytonal passages on the lines of Ex. 33


(i.e. including chorda! parts as well as single lines if desired), but not necessarily using repetitive ostinatos. Write canonic passages in several parts on chromatic themes similar to Ex. 36 (but not necessarily including an ostinato figure) , and following a similar scheme regarding the distance



and their key





a unique phenomenon,

in contempor-

ary musical history. /He has remained throughout an entirely solitary and individual figure; and though he has influenced others, and though it is possible to find external influences in his own works Liszt, Debussy, Hungarian folk music, etc. he has always stood completely apart from the rest of the musical world. This is chiefly due to his own dynamic personality, which has enabled him to digest ideas and recreate





new and personal way.

Onejcouldnot describe Bart6k as primarily either a contrapuntal or a hafmorile composer;" Ke ^\v^7A7^^ster"oCbioilL

i^aethods of writing, and^used either^ pxJbothJn combmation, according to J^aee&^.p^^j^TO^.TT^Ttf.^, good* deal of his music makes use of violent percussive or rhythmic effects, which are not our concern here; but side by side with these there has always been a strong contrapuntal element. The first movement of his first string quartet (1907) for instance is a fourpart fugato which has been compared to the first movement of Beethoven's late G sharp minor quartet; in Ex. 37,

me third and fourth entries (in cello and viola) be seen that, for its period, this is much more far-reaching than anything we have so far come across, except perhaps the last Schoenberg example in Chapter II (Ex. 15). Though one
[P- 45] are

It will


could hardly call the writing atonal, it is yet so chromatic that is little definite sense of key it could best be described

as "fluctuating tonality", in Schoenberg's phrase. It is in fact Bart6k*s unusual handling of tonal relationships that gives his music a good deal of its individuality, and this is particularly apparent in his earlier works, where familiar chords and phrases are given a new twist by Bart6k's unexpected handling

of them.

The early piano works, such as the Esquisses,





motto e$f>ves$



though not always primarily contrapuntal, tendency to a marked degree, and are well worth exemplify as they provide the key to Bartok's later development. studying, A simpler example of Bartok's chromatic counterpoint may be seen in this passage from the first Elegy for piano ( 1908)
Elegies, Dirges, etc.,


Also typical of Bartok at this period are the bars from ^ the last of the 7 Esquisses (1910); they show a characteristic "false-relation" (major-minor) harmonic effect. [Ex. 39, p. 46.]
Bart6k*s approach at Perhaps the best way of describing to say that he had made tonality morei this time would be fluid: that is to say, that while still upholding the supremacy




of a tonal centre, he would combine this with the free use ofall the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. It is true that in a good many works of this and later periods he made use of unusual scales derived from Hungarian folk music; but this element is, I think, not so important as his free use of chromaticism. One can best sum this up by saying that his music invariably expresses tonality, but avoids normal diatonic elements. This can be seen clearly in this extract from a work of his middle ana (1934). This passage begins in period, the Cantata Prof and ends on the dominant of Bfr; but the parts move freely and

chromatically throughout.



In another work of the late middle period, the Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion (1932), we find this four-part fugato, of which the final entry is quoted here (in Pf. i, R.H.):

Here each entry is a fifth above the previous one, and the passage is written as a strict four-part canon. The whole section (Boosey and Hawkes miniature score p. 40 onwards) is well worth studying in detail. The music cannot be described as strictly polytonal in the sense that Milhaud's often is; but each part is constantly moving from one key to another, and there is certainly the feeling of the opposition to each other of four parts in different keys. This is chiefly achieved by means of the clarity and economy of writing. From bar 360 onwards there are various entries of the main theme (Pf.i R.H.) and its
countersubject (Pf.i L.H.) in inversion, and finally (bar 368) the theme is split up into its two component parts (a & b), which are played simultaneously against their own inversions. In the Fifth String Quartet (1934) (Finale, bar 202 onwards)



occurs a passage which starts as a two-part canon, first at the fourth and later at the third. On the entry of the two lower parts, also in canon, the two upper ones move more freely but


Ex. 42

This passage, which also

more and more simple

in unison

worth studying in detail, becomes proceeds, and eventually ends up a good example of Bartok's use of classical devices






for Strings, Percussion a very instructive example of Bart6k's later contrapuntal methods. It is built up on a series of entries arranged in the following pattern :


movement of the "Music









notes given above are the first notes of the theme on each From the central climax (Eb) onwards, the theme has again been reached, there appears in inversion; and after is a short coda in which the original and inversion are heard together. 'JBut the movement is not just worked out in terms of





variation in the treatment of pure mathematics; there entries only state a fragment of it), there are the theme, (some many subsidiary parts and short connecting episodes, and the to the central climax is much longer than the descent




is in fact a very fine and moving piece of one of Bart6k's greatest inspirations. This short music, and extract -will give some idea of the texture.

to the coda. It




Here again the music

purely chromatic; but in Bartok


and always know that tonality will ultimately be asserted, the movement ends with a very definite cadence on to A. In the slow movement of the Violin Concerto (1937) we
a canon at close find another of Bart6k's favourite devices distance. In this case it is a four-part canon for pizzicato strings with a counter-melody for the soloist; curiously enough, the four string parts enter in the same tonalities as in the

Szymanowski example above (Ex.

Ex. 44



D #, G

and A.


The whole

variation (bars 105-117)


worth studying as an

example of Bartdk's ingenuity in this respect. An even closer canonic passage may be found in the finale of the same work; here we have a canon not only at a crotchet's distance, but with each entry a semitone apart; the purpose
being, of course, to build

up a

violent dramatic plimax.


A simpler

type of three-part canon occurs in the finale of the Divertimento for strings (1939); here the tonality is modal F (with flattened seventh), and the three parts simply repeat each other ha a perpetual round.


Ex, 46



All that

intended, of course, is a cheerful, pastoral effect, up to a climax. The last movement of the sixth string quartet (1939) may well be compared with the first movement of the first quartet Ex. 37); these two examples show the development of (c Bart6k's lyrical writing over a period of thirty years. The later work is of course tenser, more concentrated, and shows the hand of a master as opposed to that of a young innovator; but the same lyrical impulse is there, in a sparer frame-work which

gradually building


all inessentials.

Our final example, from the finale of the Concerto for Orchestra (1943), provides an interesting contrast with the fugato from the Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion (Ex. 41)* Here again there is the same scheme of entries, each a fifth above the previous one; but the passage is not strictly carried out as a canon, and the music is far less chromatic and is more



tonally a tendency observed in many works Bartok's last years. These are the third to fifth entries:



The examples given above (apart perhaps from Ex. 44) do not show Bartok's use of dissonance at its most violent. There are long passages in many of the middle period works composed of chords consisting of a number of adjacent semitones sounded percussively together and sometimes endlessly repeated. But these are not primarily of contrapuntal interest; their purpose is dramatic, and for this an ostmato effect is eminently suitable. In contrapuntal writing, however, as we have seen in the case of Stravinsky, ostinatos are rarely effective, and Bartok wisely avoids them for the most part. What he does often do, however, is to combine a number of parts with little regard for the vertical result, as in Ex. 41, where he deliberately wishes to create a feeling of tension between the parts; but though he often appears to allow the individual parts to go their own way without much thought for their combined



effect, in fact his sensitive ear saw to it that the total musical can see this both in his result was always satisfactory. early works (e.g. Ex. 37) and in his later ones (e.g. Ex, 47);


and in the first movement of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (cf. Ex. 43) we find him varying the countersubjects with each entry of the main subject in order to obtain the maximum flexibility and freedom. It is this flexibility of mind which sets Bart6k apart from the mechanical procedures of Stravinsky or the mathematical methods of Milhaud, and gives him a claim to true genius. This having been said, it is obvious that I cannot recommend
the student to attempt to write exercises in the style of Bartok, when Bart6k himself used new methods for each piece. True, Bartok has certain mannerisms which can be imitated (and only too often are), particularly in his use of rhythmic and percussive effects. But I have hoped to show that these represent only one side of Bart6k's genius, and that the other, the more contrapuntal and often more lyrical side, is of equal importance, if not greater in the end. I will therefore merely suggest that the student makes a thorough study of the following passages

from Bart6k's works

First movement (Zenomukiado) String Quartet No. i Cantata Profana, bars 1-58, 132 if, (ist movement); 1-25 (3rd movement) (Universal). Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion, bars 332385 (ist movement) (Boosey) String Quartet No. 5, Finale, bars 202-350. (Boosey) Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, First movement

(Boosey) Violin Concerto. First movement, bars 56-68. Violin Concerto. Second movement, bars 105-117. Violin Concerto. Finale, bars 297-319. (Boosey) Divertimento. Finale, bars 192-247. (Boosey) String Quartet No. 6 Finale (Boosey)







6. (Boosey)

There are, of course, many other passages which are also worthy of study; but the above should give a fairly representative conspectus of Bart6k's contrapuntal methods. "Mikrokosmos", a collection of over 150 short piano pieces, is also an



excellent introduction to Bartok's compositional methods; written towards the end of his life (1926-37), the pieces provide a kind of modern Gradus ad Parnassum, both for pianists and composers. Each piece illustrates a particular idea or method of writing, sometimes of pianistic, sometimes of compositional interest, and in them Bartok gives a kind of "break-down" of his technique. His use of modal and other unusual scales may be studied in them; there are also pieces based on particular intervals, such as fifths, sixths, sevenths or seconds, and others

demonstrating some particular pianistic effect, e.g. harmonics, or some unusual rhythm, like the Bulgarian dances which end the collection. The first three books, though extremely interesting as examples of Bart6k's methods of writing, are mainly elementary in character; the last three venture into more experimental directions. Not all the pieces are primarily of contrapuntal interest, of course; but the collection provides as it were the raw stuff from which Bartok's major works spring. The 44 Duos for 2 violins are also interesting as showing Bart6k*s contrapuntal methods in their most direct form.



WITH Hindemith we
arrive, for the first time in this survey, at the case of a composer who has actually worked out and 1 published a theoretical book on composition, This important


work, which should be digested by all students, is a brave attempt to give a logical and consistent explanation of all types of modern compositional procedure, and even if, as we shall see later, the attempt cannot be said to be entirely successful, it was certainly worth making. The problem which Hindemith attempts to solve, as will be clear to all who have followed me so far, is that of the free use of all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale within a tonal framework. We have seen how this to problem arises in the case of Bart6k, and how difficult it is any real theoretical explanation of his procedures; but give Hindemith felt that some explanation of this type of chromatic one. He writing must be possible, and he set himself to find and started, naturally enough, from the harmonic series, to find the order and degree of relationships of each attempted note in the chromatic scale to a central keynote (hi this case, let us say C). He takes the first six overtones of the harmonic scale:



the vibration

(The overtone numbers are given below the notes, numbers above). By means of a somewhat mathematical, but the vibration numbers by the quite logical process of dividing overtone numbers of the preceding notes in the series, he
arrives at the following table:

Hindemith. The Craft of Musical Composition. Schott, London, 1942.


Ex. 50


(The whole passage (op. cit. pp. 32-43) is worth studying in. an example of Hindemith's analytical method; see also his table opposite p. 48). It will be seen that this series (which Hindemith calk "Series i") contains all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale; the further a note is to the right
detail as

of this series the less strong is its relationship to the keynote G. It should be made clear at once that this is neither a scale nor a Schoenbergian note-series (see next chapter); it is simply a table of the relative order of relationships between a keynote and the remaining notes in the chromatic scale, and it does not show the relationship of these notes to each other. This latter relationship is shown in Hindemith's Series 2, which is also derived by him in a somewhat complicated way, in this case from the differential notes. These notes (which 55 Hindemith, by the way, calls "Combination tones ) I have used the English "note" rather than the American throughout or German "tone" in quotations, except in the case of "twelvetone composition" 3 which has now become a recognised formula are produced, as "Grove" says, "when any two loud and sustained musical sounds are heard at the same time. The differential note is so called because its number of vibrations is equal to the difference between those of the generating sounds". (See article, "Resultant Tones", in Grove's Dictionary, where the matter is more fully discussed). further differential note is also produced between the original differential note and one of the directly sounded notes; Hindemith calls these "combination tones of the second order". (See op. cit. pp. 5?ff). By using these two series of differential notes he is able to evolve a second table which shows the relative harmonic value of the various intervals;


calls this "Series 2".


intervals in this table




puts these intervals are invertible (still by using the differential notes), and is also able to determine the root of each interval (shown by arrows in the table above) from them. But in the cases of the minor third and major and minor seconds (and their inversions) he admits that his decision as to which note is to be regarded as the root is based more on past compositional practice than on any theoretical justification derived from the
differential notes.


we move from

to right.

pure", as Hindemith Hindemith shows that

The tritone, he says, has no theoretical but for practical purposes he regards the note in it which proceeds by the shortest step to the root of the chord on which it resolves as the "root representative**. It should be noted in the whole discussion of the table above that Hindemith does not refer to "consonant" or "dissonant" intervals; he is in fact following the practice of most modern composers in regarding this distinction as no longer valid, in view of the collapse of the diatonic system in its old form. The above discussion may appear to be primarily of harmonic, rather than contrapuntal interest; but as harmony and counterpoint even today remain the two sides of the same medal, it will be necessary to consider Hindemith's remarks on harmony a little further before we can discuss his approach to contrapuntal writing. He first discusses his Series 2 from both the harmonic and the melodic point of view; "harmonic force", he says, "is strongest in the intervals at the beginning of the series, and diminishes towards the end, while melodic force is


distributed in just the opposite order (pp. 88-9) .... The has no definite significance, either harmonic or melodic"; it needs a third note added in order to determine its


Hindemith next attacks the harmony, on four grounds


traditional theory of



old theory that chords are constructed by the superimposition of thirds cannot explain many chords, e.g. those



based entirely on fourths, Chords cannot now be considered invertible, as this would often completely alter their character, The conception of "altered chords" is out of date now that harmony is chromatic and no longer related to a diatonic



The same chord could bear
various interpretations in the old system according to the key it was related to; it is illogical to continue this practice.
shall see,
it is

As we

by no means

certain that



right in all these strictures, particularly as regards point (ii); but they do give him a working basis on which to build up a new system of chords which includes all possible formations. The question then arises of estimating the relative harmonic

value of these chords; and as a chord may contain several different intervals, Hindemith states that the harmonic value is determined by the 'best' interval in it, i.e. the one furthest to the left in Series 2. In the same way the root can be found.


'best' interval is the perfect fifth A-E, and therefore the root of the whole chord. Similarly, says Hindemith, in the second chord the 'best* interval is the perfect fifth C-G, and its root G is therefore the root of the

In the


chord the



whole chord. Traditional harmony would probably agree with Hindemith in his analysis of the first chord, regarding it as an minor chord A major chord with major seventh + an (first inversion) with added sixth. (An alternative, though not so satisfactory explanation, would be to regard it as a 4/3 chord with F as the root, with added sixth (Db for C#) and minor third (Ab for G#) as well as major third; but the doubling of the 7th (E) is against this) But on the second chord traditional harmony would undoubtedly disagree with Hindemith, and

I think rightly; it



A E as tie fundamental interval, and to regard the whole an A major-minor chord with flattened seventh and added



logical to take the other perfect

(The student may try these chords for himself, putting under them in turn the alternative roots suggested, and make


own decision). This illustrates the danger of adopting a purely mathematical system of harmonic analysis; Hindemith attacks the "Procrustean bed" of the traditional inversion system, but his own system can be equally Procrustean.


I have devoted some space to this discussion of Hindemith's harmonic theories, as it is essential to understand them before approaching his method of contrapuntal analysis. He begins

with his theory of the "two-voice framework, constructed


by the bass voice and the most important of the upper

regards the bass part as the most decisive for the development of the harmony; the next most important line may be entrusted to any one of the upper parts, or may move about from part to part. If either of the outside parts has a long holding note or pedal point, then the next part below or above it becomes the upper or lower member of the framework. Hindemith next tackles the question of chord progressions in some Series 2, p. 56) that as the harmonic detail, observing (c tension of chords increases, their harmonic value decreases; this "up-and-down change of values and tensions" he calls "harmonic fluctuation". By means of the methods set out above he is able to determine the relative degree of harmonic value and harmonic tension of all chords in any given progression. For this purpose he divides all chords into two groups, those without and those containing a tritone; each group is again subdivided into three (see table at the end of Hindemith's book).



(condensed) groupings are as follows;

A. Without Tritone

B. Containing Tritone

Without seconds or sevenths 1 Root & bass note identical 2. Root lies above bass note. (i.e. major & minor triads & their

Without minor 2nds or major


Minor yth

only; root



note identical


"dominant sevenths")

With major ands or minor

HI With



sevenths or

or both


Root Root


bass note identical


above bass note

Root & bass note identical Root lies above bass note With more than one tritone

Indeterminate (Chords built of major srds or 4ths


IV With minor
or both

ands or major 7ths


Root Root


bass note identical


above bass note


Indetenninate (Chords built of minor 3rds only)



Hindemith then proceeds to work out the relative value of root-progressions in some detail, basing his method on his Series i. From this, by taking the 'best' interval (see Series 2) in the succession of roots, he is able to determine the tonic of any progression. Chords containing a tritone, he says, tend to resolve on to chords which do not contain one; and the root of the chord of resolution is the tonic in this case. In progressions where all chords contain a tritone, (and therefore none are resolved) the tonal centre of the progression is to be regarded as the dominant of a tonic lying below it. (op. cit. p. 136, Ex. 97). Hindemith next gives rules for these successions of roots, or "degree-progressions" as he calls them; he regards as detrimental to them "the absence over a long period of the strongest intervals, the fourth and fifth; the melodic interval of the

broken chords of any easily recognised species, except major and minor triads; chromatic progressions, i.e. too many minor seconds close together; and explicitly melodic treatment,

the use of passing notes, anticipations etc." The presence of modulation can also be established from these root-progressions:

through which a piece moves themselves form a succession of roots which shows the construction of the piece as a whole; and the tonal centre of this secondary root-succession is thus the tonic of the whole piece. shall see shortly how Hindemith applies this method to the analysis of both classical and modern works, including even twelve-tone music. Hindemith next delivers an attack on atonality and polytonality. "Tonality", he says, "is a natural force, like gravity." . There are but two kinds of music; good music, in which the tonal relations are handled intelligently and skilfiilly, and bad

p. 151, Ex. 116). Further, the different tonalities




music, which disregards them and consequently mixes them in an aimless fashion". He says, however, that there are two
types of music, "which, although they cannot be called atonal, yet by the accumulation of harmonic means of expression place too great a burden on the listening ear for it to be able to follow

them completely." One

of these is based on "a multitude of dominant relations, alterations and enharmonic changes"; the other makes a continuous use of chords based on seconds and sevenths, and "produces an opaque kind of harmony which in



its avoidance of any chord resembling a triad seems to fly in the face of Nature. Neither of these types can be made reasonable by the logic of its degree-progression; both are too crowded with material to be enjoyed." He goes on: "there are today a

issue works that they extent the atonality of these compositions rests upon the lack of a convincing degree-progression and to what extent it is a more or less developed tonality concealed by an uninterrupted succession of sharp sonorities, the reader himself can determine by extracting the degree-progressions of such pieces." Thus Hindemith would appear to say that, according to his method of analysis, any music in which the tonal implications are not clear is badly constructed; i.e. he is not prepared to extend his system in order to cover all the elements actually manifested in contemporary music though his system in itself is certainly capable of such extension. This strikes me as unnecessary prejudice; surely all that one wants


number of composers who

call atonal.

To what



do is to examine all contemporary phenomena and if possible an explanation for them, rather than exclude or dismiss them if they do not happen to fit well into a preconceived scheme. It is quite probable, as we shall see in due course, that twelve-tone music does often exhibit a "developed tonality", as Hindemith calls it in fact, Hindemith himself finds considerable elements of tonality in Schoenberg's Piano Piece, Op. 33a (cf. p. 67). I do not therefore feel that Hindemith is

only justified in saying "the existence of this style seems to to lend final confirmation to the fact, everywhere to be observed,
sense in the field of music."


of the disappearance of understanding judgment and critical On the other hand, in his discussion of polytonality, he says quite rightly (as we have seen in Chapter IV) "the game of letting two or more tonalities run along side by side and so achieving new harmonic effects is, to be sure, very entertaining for the composer, but the listener cannot follow the separate tonalities, for he relates every simultaneous combination of sounds to a root and thus we Since organic work, growing see the futility of the game out of natural roots, will always stand on a firmer basis than the

arbitrary combination of different elements, polytonality

is not a practical principle of composition." Hindemith now takes a practical example in order to show



method of working of his

system. Though this concerns a chordal progression, it will be useful to follow it in purely detail, as it exemplifies Hindemith's contrapuntal as well as his harmonic approach. He takes the following progression:


have somewhat simplified Huidemith's analytical table from original, omitting certain points of purely harmonic Hindemith says that this progression "sounds interest). horrible", and sets out to offer criticisms and improvements.



but one; he says there

dicts the intention to

finds the linear construction poor, except for the top part is no plan in the two-part framework,

and that "the weak fourth


G-C in the fifth chord flatly contrathis the harmonic climax". He

regards the harmonic fluctuation as an "aimless zigzag"; he arrives at this conclusion from his own method of grouping of chords, (cf. p. 59). As regards the succession of roots, he says "the combination of chords from the fourth to the eighth chord does not allow any harmonic life to unfold, while a further brake is provided by the repeated Eb of the sixth and seventh chords." Personally I should be inclined to disagree with some of his diagnoses of the roots of these chords, and in

IX (p. isGff.) some alternative suggestions will be these would appear to fit better with the principles of found; traditional harmony, which (as I suggest there) can still be exChapter
tended to cover more recent developments. The tonality he regards as G$ (Ab), which appears twice, and is confirmed by the repeated fifth E|? and the leading note G, as well as the minor

HINDEMITH AND DIATONICISED CHROMATICISM 63 third B; but a case could be made out for the first four chords
being in A, he says.
discussion (pp. 160-3) Hindemith produces version of this progression, as follows: "improved"





Personally I cannot see that this is any improvement; admittedly the chords increase in harmonic tension towards the middle according to HindemitKs chord-table (p. 59) and then decrease again; but do they do so in actual sound? Here again Hindemith's root-diagnosis is open to question: surely the roots

of chords 7 and 8 are E and F# respectively. And I cannot see any objection to the original chord 5 (without tritone) coming after a series of chords containing tritones; to my mind it the provides a welcome contrast and does actually produce harmonic climax which the composer intended. It would appear that Hindemith, having worked out a methodical scheme for

grouping chords, insists that music can only be good if it complies with this scheme; i.e. he is working a priori instead of a posteriori. Surely if any such scheme is to have universal validity it must take into account all possibilities of expression; we are in fact back again at the old idea of the Procrustean

However, it is clear that Hindemith's methods of analysis contain the elements of something which might well be developed into a universally applicable scheme, and it is worth After a short pursuing his exposition of them to its conclusion.
chapter on inessential notes (changing notes, passing notes, Hindemith more or suspensions, anticipations, etc.) in which less agrees with the classical method of treatment of these, he
to a melody, he says, proceeds to discuss melody. In listening the ear always seeks triad formations; hence it is always




possible to establish the "degree-progression" (root-succession) of any given melody (p. 185, Ex. I56) 1 The root-succession of a melody follows the same rules as the
root-successions of chorda! progressions: but is of course, quite independent of the main root-succession upon which the joint harmony of the several voices of a piece rests. In a piece made up of several simultaneous melodic parts, as many root-

successions are possible as there are parts, and these may all the other hand the rootbe independent of one another.


melody may fully coincide with that of the harmony. general Hindemith then discusses in detail (pp. 187-193) the interrelation of the various major and minor seconds within the compass of a fifth an important passage which I have not space to give in detail here, but which the student should read
succession of the

He calls seconds "the real building units of melody"; they act as the measuring units and content of the briefest melodic sections, and also as regulators of the larger melodic connections. "A rising interval creates tension and a falling interval resolves it", he goes on. But if a rising or falling interval takes place between two members of the same chord, there is no feeling of either rising or falling tension. Hindemith then analyses the falling intervals in detail, remarking that "to know the effect of the rising ones, we need only change the minus sign in our result to a plus sign". Next Hindemith discusses "step-progression" in melody; as opposed to the roots of the chorda! groups which form the "degree-progression" of a melody, "more important are those notes which are placed at important positions in the two-dimensional structure of the melody: the highest notes, the lowest notes, and notes that stand out particularly because of their metric position or for other reasons. The primary law of melodic construction is that a smooth and convincing melodic outline is achieved only when these important points form, a progression in seconds. The line that connects one high point to the next, one low point to the next, and one rhythmically prominent note to the
for himself.

The page- and example-references in the remainder of


(unless otherwise stated.) to Hindemith's book; unfortunately it has possible to obtain permission to reproduce more than the handful of

chapter apply not been

quoted above.



next, without taking into consideration the less important parts of the melody lying between these points, is called the stepprogression" (p. 194, Ex. 174). In simple melodies like the above, "the step-progression consists

of a single succession of upward and downward steps of major and minor seconds"; but in more complicated melodies there

may be many more step-progressions going on simultaneously. The notes forming a step-progression are sometimes in direct
and sometimes widely separated (p. 195, Ex. 176). Further points are that sevenths and ninths can take the place of seconds in step-progressions (cf. the methods of the twelvetone technique, discussed in the next chapter) : a melody may move quickly from one register to another by means of a broken chord and not by seconds: and "the prominent notes of a melody may not belong to either a chord or a step-progression, when the need for intense expression requires that the attention shall be riveted by the conspicuous strangeness of

such notes"

(p. 196,

Ex. 179).

Clearly step-progressions may conflict with the root-progressions of a melody or the former may be completely subservient to the latter. But in most modern melodies it is the conflict



more apparent.

clear that Hindemith's schemes of root- or degreeIt progression and step-progression do provide a useful basis for

the analysis of melodies of all types. How far they can be applied in the exact way that Hindemith uses them must be left for discussion later; but it is at any rate something to have a point of departure. Hindemith concludes his discussion of melody by talking firstly of those themes in which the root-progression

satisfying but the step-progression is faulty (and he quotes a motive from D' Albert's Tiefland) "such melodies give no more than a certain pleasant impression". On the other hand melodies which "strive for the most definitely linear character, may have a well worked-out step-progression and a poor rootprogression. Such melodies make the listener restless, since he can follow the vague harmonic connections only with difficulty." This latter type of melody of course brings us close to the central problem of modern composition the reconciliation of its linear and harmonic aspects. We shall be able to



return to this problem in our discussion of twelve-tone music and afterwards. Hindemith finds the perfect balance between the two elements, root- and step-progression, in the main theme of the Andante of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. He ends by quoting a melody of which he finds the root-progression unsatisfactory and the step-progression insufficiently developed: (p. 199, Ex. 182).



he produces an "improved" root-progression, and

inserts further step-progressions (p. 200, Ex. 184). I think it cannot be denied that this second melody

shape, and

has a better that therefore to this extent Hindemith's methods are justified; but it remains to be seen how far they can be

applied to more chromatic themes. The final section of Hindemith's book consists of a number of analyses, carried out according to all the principles enunciated up to now, of passages from various classical and modern works. The student is recommended to study the analyses of the "Dies Irae", Guillaume de Machaut, Bach, Wagner (the "Tristan" Prelude), and the opening of Stravinsky's Piano Sonata. All that I have space to discuss here are the analyses of passages from Schoenberg's Piano Piece Op. 33a and Hindemith's own "Mathis der Maler". (Concert of Angels, Allegro, bars 1-16). will take the Hindemith example first, as it presents fewer problems. The composer remarks: "the strongly chordal design of the degree-progression is based upon the effort to organize chord-groups as closely as possible around a tonal centre, while leaving the greatest freedom to the individual parts. The fact that the notes of the degree-progression in bars 9-13 form a broken chord of group VI* results in a gentle but very noticeable cadencing towards the B of bars 13-16. The tonal scheme shows the same effort. Here, too, a large group of tonal centres is chordally related, so that great activity of details takes place against a smooth and gently restful background." Of the three pedal points in the passage, the first and last are disregarded in the harmonic analysis; the second (bars 9-12) is reckoned in. With the aid of the examples given earlier, the student should find no difficulty in following Hindemith's analysis; he should note how the degree-progression of the upper part sometimes


*Cf. table

on page



varies from and sometimes coincides with the degree-progression of the passage as a whole.

With the Schoenberg example we reach more debatable

ground. Hindemith gives a purely harmonic analysis; but it is discussing, as the fundamental problem of tonality is bound up with it. By his own methods Hindemith arrives at a somewhat complicated system of root-progressions, but I fear that I must disagree with his analysis to some extent. One can, I think, adopt Hindemith's rule that chords containing tritones are normally felt as dominants of tonics a fifth below (cf. p. 60). Now the root notes of the two chords which alternate in the bass part of bar 19 are clearly B and C; we can therefore regard the B as an augmented fourth in F leading on to the dominant, G; and the bar is therefore in F. Further, the passage which begins at the end of bar 19 and continues through bar 20 has a bass part centring round D, the dominant of G, which is therefore the tonality of the passage. Bars 21-22 begin as if on the dominant of F; but the presence in the bass


part of F, Bfc] (=Cb) and Bb show that the passage is really based on the dominant of Bb. For the remainder of the passage my analysis corresponds more closely to Hindemith's in that the main tonalities are Db (C#) and Gb (F#), but there is also a clear movement towards the dominant of D at the end of the quotation. I would therefore prefer to suggest the following analysis for the whole passage:






of course obvious that Schoenberg would have objected both Hindemith's and my analysis, in that this piece was written purely according to the rules of twelve-tone composition and without any regard for tonality; but it is, I think, still possible to relate a good deal of twelve-tone music to a tonal
It is


I believe that that


does in practice;

is what the listener's ear actually instead of "atonality" we have constantly


tonality. I


method of chordal

to discuss this concept (and also analysis employed above) in a later

chapter (cf. p. 136 ff.). Before proceeding to discuss twelve-tone music in detail, let us sum up what we have learned from Hindemith's theories. It is clear that he has been at great pains to build up a system of both harmonic and melodic analysis which will if possible
explain all apart from

modern developments and will provide technical, artistic, standards by which a composer can judge his own and others' works. Where it appears to go wrong is in dealing with more advanced chromatic music; here Hindemith's system of root-diagnosis leads him to conclusions which do not correspond with reality and the fact that he finds difficulty in analysing music of this kind tends to make him diminish its artistic value. The fact that such music uses chords

which are low down in Hindemith's table of harmonic values does not necessarily make it bad music. For the present then

we may in principle accept Hindemith's system of analysis as valid for music of a more or less diatonic type (such as his own, or that of Stravinsky and the later Milhaud, for instance), but we must make some reservations when it comes to discussing more chromatic music, and will try in due course to see if a better solution can be found. Nevertheless every musician must be grateful to Hindemith for having tried to tackle these
problems at all; and he has certainly put forward some valuable ideas which may well serve as stepping-stones for the future. I do not propose to suggest any exercises in Hindemith's has published a style to the student, as Hindemith himself

volume of "Exercises in Two-Part Writing" (Schott, London, in three-part 1948), which is to be followed by further exercises The exercises so far given are mainly diatonic in writing. character. In addition, in the German edition of his composition in treatise, Hindemith gives a list (for some reason not included

TWENTIETH CENTURY COUNTERPOINT the English edition) of various works of his own which particuOf these I quote the following larly exemplify his principles.

published by Schott



String Quartet No. 3, Op. 22 (1922) 2 Kleine Kammermusik, Op. 24 (1922) Concert Music for viola & chamber orchestra, Op. 48 (1930) Concert Music for piano, brass and harps, Op. 49 (1931) Concert Music for strings and wind, Op. 50 (1931) Das Unaufhorliche, Oratorio (1931) Philharmonic Concerto (1932) String Trio No. 2 (i933) Symphony, Mathis der Maler (1934) Mathis der Maler, Opera (1934) Der Schwanendreher, for viola and small orchestra (1935).

Since then Hindemith has of course published a number of important works, including three more string quartets; but perhaps the most useful for our purpose is the "Ludus Tonalis" for piano (1943). This is sub-titled "Studies in Counterpoint, Tonal Organisation and Piano Playing" and consists of a Praeludium, 12 Fugues in all the keys (alternating with Intermezzi), and a Postludium, which is the Praeludium played backwards and upside-down. Incidentally the order of keys of the Fugues is that of Hindemith's Series i (Ex. 50). The \vhole collection should be studied as a compendium of

Hindemith's contrapuntal technique.




WE may now return to
him in Chapter II
Schoenberg at the point where we left is to say in 1908, the year in which he composed his first "atonal" pieces. So much has been written both for and against "atonal" and "twelve-tone" music no other methods of writing seem to have aroused so much

discussion in this century that I think it best to try to clear the fog of controversy aroused by Schoenberg's more doctrinaire supporters and opponents by seeing what Schoenberg himself had to say on the subject. This information is contained in a lecture, "Composition with Twelve Tones", delivered at the University of California on March 26, 1941, and published in Schoenberg's collection of essays, "Style and Idea'*. Study of this is essential for anyone who wants to understand Schoen-

berg's methods.

Schoenberg begins with a short preamble, in which he says "Formjn ^^artSa^^and^^pecially in music, aims primarily at coinprehe^biHtyJ': and that alone isTthe aim of composition wifH twelve tones, surprising though this may seem in view of the lack of understanding shown to works written in this style. He then traces the development of chromatic harmony (cf. Chapter II); tonality gradually developed into what he calls "extended tonality", and simultaneously there arose the "emancipation of the dissonance." The ear had gradually become acquainted with a great number of dissonances, and

of their "sense-interrupting effect". One no preparations of Wagner's dissonances or longer expected resolutions of Strauss' discords; one was not disturbed by Debussy's non-fdnctional harmonies, or by the harsh counteruse point of later composers. This state of affairs led to a freer of dissonances, comparable to classical composers* treatment of diminished seventh chords, which could precede and follow


lost the fear




any other harmony, consonant or dissonant, as if there were no dissonance at all. Schoenberg goes on to say that discords are distinguished from concords not by beauty but by comprehensibility. In his Harmonielehre he suggested that the ear was less intimately acquainted with dissonant notes than with consonant ones because the former appeared later in the harmonic series; but "this phenomenon does not justify such sharply contradictory terms as concord and discord". (Cf. Hindemith's treatment of the same problem, p. 57). Closer acquaintance with the more remote consonances i.e. the dissonances gradually eliminated the difficulty of comprehension, and finally admitted not only the emancipation of dominant and other sevenths, but also the emancipation of Wagner's, Strauss', Mussorgsky's,

Debussy's, Mahler's, Puccini's and Reger's dissonances. 1 This meant in fact that what

more remote were formerly

regarded as discords could now be treated as freely as the traditional concords; and, as we have seen, that is what most modern composers do in practice. The other, and more difficult, side of this problem is the question of tonality. This is what Schoenberg has to say on the subject: "Very soon it became doubtful whether [a basic note or root] still remained the centre to which every harmony and

harmonic succession must be referred. Furthermore, it became doubtful whether a tonic appearing at the beginning, at the end,

had a constructive meaning. Richard Wagner's harmony had promoted a change in the logical and constructive power of harmony." He then goes on
or at any other point really
to discuss Debussy's impressionistic use of harmony (quoted in Chapter II, p. 20), ending, as we have seen, by saying: "in this way, tonality was already dethroned in practice, if not in theory."

Schoenberg thus takes the opposite point of view to Hindemith's statement (cf. p. 60) that "tonality is a natural force, like gravity". Which of the two is the more justified will have to be discussed later; but meanwhile let us follow the further develop-

ment of Schoenberg and

his first pupils,

Berg and Webern.

Starting from their twin conceptions of the dethronement of tonality and the free use of the former "discords", they produced
Incidentally Janacek in his treatise on harmony also held that "the history of harmony is, in fact, the history of the gradual tolerance of dissonances".




of pieces of which "the foremoot oharacteriaticB ;wgre their extreme expressiveness and their extraordinary brevity." This phase of development covered the years 1908-1923; that is to say, up to the discover)- of the twelve-tone" technique. The principal works of this period were Schoenberg's Piano and 19, 5 Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16, the Pieces, Op. dramas Erwartung and Die gliickliche Hand, and Pierrot Lawaire;

Op. 3, Three Pieces for Orchestra, 6 and the opera Wozzeck;\ Webern's 5 Movements and 6 Op. Bagatelles for string quartet, Op. 5 and 9, two sets of pieces for orchestra, Op. 6 and 10, Four Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 7, and several collections of songs, accompanied by various combinations of instruments. 1 Now it will be seen that nearly all these pieces are comparatively short, except where they are settings of literary texts; and Schoenberg gives the reasons for this. "Formerly harmony had served not only as a source of beauty, but, more important, as a means of distinguishing the features of the form", e.g. the necessity of ending a work with a concord. "Harmonic variation could be executed intelligently and logically only with due consideration of the fundamental meaning of the harmonies. Fulfilment of all these functions comparable to the effect of punctuation in the construction of sentences, of subdivision into paragraphs, and of fusion into chapters could scarcely be assured with chords whose constructive values had not as
Berg's String Quartet,

yet been explored. Hence, it seemed at first impossible to compose pieces of complicated organisation or great length." In fact the music written by Schoenberg and his followers at this time was primarily experimental; they had rejected the traditional methods of manipulating the elements of music, but had not yet found a new and sound method of organising
these elements.

Schoenberg continues: "A little later I discovered how to construct larger forms by following a^ text or poem. The differences in size and shape of its parts and the change in character and mood were mirrored in the shape and size of the composition, in its dynamics and tempo, figuration and accentuation, instrumentation and orchestration. Thus the


For more detailed discussion of these works, see Ren Leibowitz, Schoenberg his School (Hinrichsen, London, 1954).



parts were differentiated as clearly as they had formerly been by tHe tonal and structural functions of harmony." Clearly music, if it was going to develop at "all, could not

continue to be merely subservient to a literary text, and remain unable to create larger forms of its own; but before we study the further developments which made this expansion possible, let us consider sonic typical passages from the music written by Schoenberg and his followers during this transitional period. These bars are taken from the first of Schoenberg's Three Piano Pieces, Op. 1 1 his first atonal compositions.


Here we have a free use of chromaticism and an avoidance of definite tonal feeling, combined with the normal classical devices of repetition and imitation. The first three bars do in fact contain all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, though



there are some repetitions of the same note. Bars 4 6 show another characteristic of this type of music the perpetual shifting of the rhythmic accents; this follows the principle of "perpetual variation" which became more and more important to Schoenberg and his followers as time went on, leading eventually to the complete avoidance of sequential figures and direct repetitions of any type. similar preoccupation may be seen in the first of Webern's Five Movements for String Quartet, Op. 5, written in 1909.



Here again we have imitative figures combined with a perpetual

dislocation of the rhythm, while the chromatic nature of the phrases precludes any tonal feeling.
Ex. 58



f IpjqjiE





With "Pierrot Lunaire" (1912) contrapuntal problems begin to dominate the scene. The eighth piece in it, "Nacht", is a passacaglia, based on a three-note phrase which appears in every conceivable form throughout it. 1 [Ex. 58, p. 75].
piece is worth studying in detail as an example of Schoenberg's methods at the time. Similarly the i7th piece, "Parodie", begins with an imitative passage between the viola and the speaking part, while the clarinet plays the same figure in inversion: later the theme is heard in imitation between speaker and piccolo, while clarinet and viola have a separate

The whole

canon by



Win -





"Der Mondfleck", is even more remarkable. a double mirror canon, between piccolo and clarinet on the one hand and violin and cello on the other; from the middle of the tenth bar all these parts go backwards note for note. To this is added a three-part fugato on the piano
1 8th



It consists of

(which does not, however, reverse) and a free voice "part.

1 Cf. Envin Stein, New Formal Principles, in "Orpheus in New Guises," London, 1953; also Leibowitz, Introduction L la musique de 12 sons, p. 46.

(Paris 1949).


In a slightly later work, Die





Schoenberg left unfinished and unpublished at * get a premonition of twelve-tone composition.

his death,


See Ren6 Leibowitz, Introduction



musique de 12 sons, pp. 49^, for a fuUer

discussion of this passage.


From bar 6 onwards we have a held chord of six notes, against which the other parts play the other six notes of the chromatic
scale, in

varying orders. Scene 4 of Berg's opera Woz&ck, written between 1917 and 1921, is a Passacaglia, based on the following twelvenote theme.


The scene consists

of 21 variations, in which this theme appears in a great diversity of shapes; but apart from the theme itself, the general texture of the music is not based on a serial technique. In addition Berg's increasing preoccupation with formal problems is sKbwn by the construction ol the opera as a whole. TheTIrst act consists 6Fa~"set of pieces representing the various characters in their relations to Wozzeck: these are a Suite, a

Rhapsody, a Military March and Cradle Song, a Passacaglia



and an Andante affettuoso, quasi Rondo. Similarly the second act forms a Symphony in five movements a movement in sonata form. Fantasy and Fugue, Largo, Scherzo and Rondo con introduzione. The last act consists of six Inventions on a theme, on a note, on a rhythm, on a chord, on a tonality (Interlude) and on a regular rhythmical figure.

More definite steps towards twelve-tone composition may be. found in various works of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern written about 1923-4; these are Schoenberg's 5 Piano Pieces Op. 23 and Serenade Op. 24, Berg's Chamber Concerto and Webern's Canons Op. iG. 1 The first four pieces of Schoenberg's Op. 23 are based in general on the exclusive use of certain intervals, and there are some passages which use an actual
Schoenberg's first twelve-tone work. Similarly the first half of the theme of the variations in the Serenade consists of fourteen notes, of which eleven are different notes; and the second half consists of the same notes
serial technique; tile-fifth piece is

played in reverse order.





canon of Webern's Op. 16 also shows the use of a technique which is atonal but is not based on a twelvefirst



[Ex. 63, p. 80].

As will be seen, this

fuller analysis

is a strict canon with one part an inversion, the voices entering at ever closer intervals towards the climax.



tendency see Josef Rufer, Composition with

Twelve Notes, London 1954.







also contains elements which are characteristic of twelve-tone composition. It is written in a complex form, which I have no space to 1 analyse here in detail but we may note, for instance, that the second variation in the first movement presents the theme in

Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto (1923-5)


Sec Willi Reich, Alban Berg (Vienna 1937 English translation in preparation) ; The Gramophone, Dec. 1950, for a fuller analysis.



mirror form, the third in inversion and the fourth in retrograde inversion. Similarly the second half of the slow movement is the first half in mirror form. In addition the principal themes of both the first two movements consist of twelve-note series:


while the third movement introduces no new material but consists of a combination of the material of the first two movements. It will be seen from the foregoing that this transitional period, Awhile starling with a mainly harmonic revolution against older methods of writing, became progressively more preoccupied with contrapuntal problems. Schoenberg thus describes the developments which led to the evolution of twelve-tone composition: "Formerly the use of the fundamental harmony had been theoretically regulated through recognition of the efiects of root progressions. This practice had grown into a subconsciously functioning sense of form which gave a real composer an almost somnambulistic sense of security in creating, with utmost precision, the most delicate distinctions The desire for a conscious control of of formal elements the new (italics mine, H.S.) means and forms will arise in every artist's mind; and he will wish to know consciously the laws and rules which govern the forms which he has conceived "as in a He must find, if not laws or rules, at least ways dream" to justify the dissonant character of these harmonies and their successions." It should be pointed out that, as we have seen,



the works ofjSchoenberg and his followers were tending more andlriore tcTthe equal use of all the twelve notej^oftibie scale, often arranged in serial form; and therefore, when Schoenberg discovered twelve-tone composition, he was rationalising methods that were already in practical use rather thanlmposing

a purely theoretical discipline from outside. He calls this procedure "Method of Composing with Twelve Tones which are related only with one another", and goes on: "This method consists primarily of the constant and exclusive use of a set of twelve different notes. This means, of course, that no note is repeated within the series and that it uses all twelve notes of the chromatic scale." Schoenberg pointk out that this is not a "system" but only a method of working; "a method can, but need not, be one of the consequences of a system." Twelve-tone composition, then, is founded on a i2-note series; Schoenberg calls it a "basic set", but it is also often known as a "tone-row", from the German Tonreihe; for English readers "note-series" would seem to be the most convenient term. The series below is the basis of Schoenberg's Wind
Quintet, Op. 26:
Ex. 65

Basic Set (O)

Retror*dc Set (R)

Inversion (I)


In version


Such a


act as a "substitute for some of the unifying and formative advantages of scale and tonality." Like a scale, a series "is the source of many figurations, parts of melodies and melodies
themselves, ascending and descending passages, and even broken chords". Further, as will be seen later, "the association of notes into harmonies and their successions is regulated by

should not be regarded as a scale, though


the order of these notes. The series functions in the manner of a motive". Hence a new series has to be invented for each

and from it every note

in the piece


derived, whether

by using



it horizontally as a melody, or vertically as a chord-succession or by a combination of both methods. No note in the series should be emphasised at the expense of the others, as this would

create false associations of tonality; for the same reason, only one series should be used in each piece it would also lessen the

unity to have

of its of the chromatic scale. 1 The ultimate principle, for Schoenberg, is "the absolute and unitary perception of musical space/' Much ink has been spilt on the question of whether the whole method is a purely "abstract and mathematical cerebration," as some have called it; I feel that it is profitless to discuss this until we have seen how it works in practice and what results it can produce. All I will say now is that the method grew out of actual compositional practice (and not vice versa) ; that it does satisfy the principle of unity which all serious creative artists demand; and that a number of works have been produced with its aid which are generally acknowledged as masterpieces. The earliest works of Schoenberg in which this method was used were, as we have seen, the Five Pieces for piano, Op. 23,

more than one series, for obvious reasons. The be used in inversion or in its mirror forms, and any may four forms may be transposed so as to start on any note

and the Serenade, Op. 24; it appears here, however, in a somewhat rudimentary form, and for his first examples of its use Schoenberg quotes his Wind Quintet, Op. 26, written in 1924.
[Ex. 66, p. 84].


notes each

Ex. 65) is here divided into two halves of six a frequent practice with Schoenberg, as wejshall. see. The first six notes build the main theme in the upper part, while the other six provide a chordal accompaniment; then the position is reversed. It should be noted that pieces written in this style normally begin with a clear and direct statement
series (cf.

of the





form and on



'basic" degreejof


*In the musical examples in this chapter the four forms are shown as Original Inversion (RI). Their (O), Inversion (I), Retrograde (R) and Retrograde transpositions are indicated by numbers, as follows: tritone higher or lower 1 Basic level 7 lower 8 fifth 2 Semitone higher, major 7th lower higher, fourth , major 3rd Whole tone 9 =B Minor 6th , minor 7th 3 10 SB Major 6th , minor 3rd minor 3rd , major 6th 4 whole tone Minor 7th , , minor 6th major 3rd 12 , semitone Fourth Major 7th , fifth

= = =

= =


Thus RI 9 =Retrograde Inversion a minor 6th higher than the

basic level.




the scale; further that the notes in the series may appearjln any octave (c Hindemith's methods, p. 65) ; but octave doublings are normally" avoided, though, as we shall see", there _.are
exceptions to this rule.
last movement of the same shows, as Schoenberg says, that the same series" of notes work, "ca*n produce different themes, different characters."

The next example, taken from the




In the top part we have the original series on its basic degree; the lower parts begin with the inversion on its basic degree and continue with the inversion transposed a fifth down. On
other occasions the main theme of this Rondo uses the notes of its retrograde or retrograde inversion, but by maintaining its original rhythm is still easily recognisable (see Style and Idea, p. 121).




more complicated procedure



in the following



,iE^Q~ 1



based on the retrograde, transposed a tone down, and repeated three times. The bassoon has three-note phrases, while the accompaniment uses groups of six notes, so that the series overlap the phrases, giving adequate variety; yet there is a definite plan throughout. simple example of two-part writing comes from the Andante of the same work: [Ex. 69, p. 85],

series is split up between horn and bassoon in such a way as to give a definitely contrapuntal effect. In another example, from the Scherzo of the same work, we have a further method of using the basic series. The accompaniment plays the first three notes of the series; the main theme enters with the fourth note. The accompaniment then continues with the notes of the series, but never at the same time as the theme.

Here the basic

Ex. 70


and retrograde
Ex. 71


Schoenberg's final example from this work shows inversion inversion played against each other.


The transposition is a major third higher than the basic degree. The Suite, Op. 25, for piano is based on the following series:
Ex. 72









diminished 5th.)




This is divided here into three four-note groups, as opposed to two of six notes (in the previous work) In the Praeludium we have the basic series in the right hand combined with its transposition a diminished fifth away:

In the Gavotte the third group (notes 9-12) appears before the second (notes 5-8).

on two grounds: (i) as the Gavotte movement of the Suite, the series has become familiar by now; (ii) each group is treated as an independent unit and does not change within itself and there is a resemblance between the first and second groups in that the interval between the last two notes of each is a diminished fifth. A
justifies this

the second

similar procedure is followed in the Intermezzo, in which group s and 3 overlap. The Menuet with the fifth note





entering later.




Schoenberg's final examples are taken from his Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31, one of the finest works of his maturity. He prefaces his remarks by saying that in orchestral writing "many composers can manage with a small number of parts by doubling them in many instruments or in octaves, by breaking and doubling the harmony in many ways sometimes thereby obscuring the presence of a content, sometimes making Its absence clear." He is against the use of colour purely for its own *c sakea preferring to be coldly convinced by ihe transparency of clear-cut ideas." And he recommends the avoidance of octave doublings, though (as we shall see) he afterwards somewhat changed his standpoint on this subject. In order to facilitate this, the first six notes of the basic series, together with their inversion starting a minor third below, make up the twelve notes .of the






jj*'^ third





The theme

(basic series) is announced against chords constructed from this transposition of the inversion.



followed by (a) retrograde inversion at this transposition retrograde original (c) inversion, transposed as above, thus completing the four forms. Similarly the accompaniment to each phrase is derived from a different form of the



In the first variation Schoenberg uses additional transpositions of the original and inversion to obtain parallel thirds






In variation 5


independent parts are derived from, one

transposition of the inversion.



set against

In Variation 6 inversion and original are

other in two-part canonic imitation.
Ex. 80







bar from the Finale the upper parts consist of the first by the remaining six in retrograde order; the lower parts are derived from the inversion.


six notes of the basic series followed

Ex. 81


Finally Schoenberg even introduces the theme as a countermelody, taking the notes from the retrograde inversion.





These examples may give some idea of the contrapuntal and harmonic variety which is possible by the use of this method; and before going on to consider some of Schoenberg's later
works, as well as those of his pupils Berg and Webern, we may quote his concluding words on the subject. "The main advantage of composing with twelve tones is its unifying effect . . . . Prior to Richard Wagner, operas consisted almost exclusively of independent pieces, whose mutual relation did not seem to be a tnusical one. Personally, I refuse to believe that in the great masterworks pieces are connected only by the superficial coherence of the dramatic proceedings ... In music there is no form without logic, there is no logic without unity, I believe that when Richard Wagner introduced his Leitmotiv for the same purpose as that for which I introduced my Basic Series he may have said: 'Let there be unity.*" Before discussing Schoenberg's later works, let us consider the rather different handling of tKe twelve-toner method used by Berg and Webern, which will further exemplify the varied possiBiEties provided by it. Berg first used the method in his Lyric Suite for string quartet 1925-6^; of its six movements, two and two half movements axe written according to the principles of twelve-tone composition, while the remainder are not. Yet I defy any listener to detect any stylistic difference between the movements, or even to tell which use the twelvetone method and which do not, unless he has previously been



^om^j^J^^p^jstA. the

score. (The twelve-tone movements' are ui fact the first, the outer sections of the third, the middle section of the fifth, and the sixth movement). The design of the work as a whole again shows Berg's

for symmetrical arrangements; the titles of the as follows:


predilection are


Allegretto gioviale


Andante amoroso
Adagio appassionato
Largo desolato

3. 5.

Allegro misterioso
Presto delirando


i.e. the fast movements became successively quicker, and the slow ones slower. In addition each movement contains some material from the preceding one, and the circle is closed the


movement containing a reminiscence of the



In the

third movement, which is in the form of a Scherzo and Trio, the Scherzo is repeated backwards note for note after the Trio, but in a slightly shortened form. All these devices, however^ are of little importance compared to the dramatic and

emotional significance of the work, which is among Berg's achievements; as the title implies, the form is lyric and dramatic rather than symphonic, and the Suite has aptly been called a "concealed opera". It is well worth studying in detail

(score published by Universal Edition); I will not give any actual quotations, as Berg's individual handling of twelve-tone composition may perhaps be more clearly seen from his opera Lulu and his Violin Concerto. (Berg's only other twelve-tone work, the concert aria Der Wein, a fine work and well

worthy of study, does not do not also apply to Lulu]


though any technical problems which

Like Schoenberg in his opera Moses and Aaron (which remained unfinished at the composer's death) Berg in Lulu attacked the problem of creating a whole full-length work from one single note-series. The dramatic structure of the work is again built on a symmetrical basis (see Willi Reich, Alban Berg, for an analysis of this) and just as all the other characters
revolve round the central figure of Lulu, so Berg derives from
his original series:


Ex. 83


a.-juimber of other scries which represent the various perdrama. One of Lulu's themes is arrived, at by taking in turn the upper, middle and lower notes of the four three-note chords into which the original series can be gro'jpeH
$onalities of the

(Ex: 83b):




by taking ^i\ates-aX stated intervals from the original get t&is theme of "minor" character, representing

Ex, 85




characteristic of the

In the same way the pentatonic music

Countess Geschwitz



"p r


also the

theme of Dr. Schoen:




AlUgro trur^ico (J




It will


be seen that a good many of these themes have a "tonal" character; and in the last act Berg actually introduces a perfectly diatonic song composed by Wedekind, the author of the plays on which the libretto of Lulu is based. This is used as the theme of a set of variations in an orchestral interlude:

This brings us back again to the question of expressing tonal

feeling within a twelve-tone framework, which, arises in an even more acute form in Berg's last work, his Violin Concerto.



basic series of this actually consis-s solely of major triads plus a whole-tone scale:


Whole- tone sca\e_




Further, in the last movement, Berg introduces the Bach chorale "Es ist genug" as the theme of a set of variations; the opening four notes of this chorale are the same as notes 9-12 of the basic series, and the last four notes of the chorale are the same as the inversion of notes 8-1 1.
Ex. 90




use of a "tonal" series means that a good many passages the work have a "classical" sound; e.g. this one from the in


Ex. 91


wavers between B flat general tonality of the concerto and it ends with a chord of the added sixth on and minor, B flat; nevertheless the writing is strictly based on twelve-tone methods, though there is some use of octave doublings. Tonal composition is thusjclearly possible within a twelyetone^framewoA; TjutTis "it" desS-ableE^Schoenberg's remarks, avoid emphasising any quoteH ea3FHer7aBbut the necessityto one note at the expense of the others, would appear to be against as his statement that by 1908 "tonality was already it, as well dethroned in practice, if not in theory." On the other hand, his standpoint appears to have undergone a slight modification in later years, as may be seen from this appendix, dated 1946,

to his

Tones". This essay on "Composition with Twelve was published in the French magazine Polyphonic (4me Cahier, Le Systeme Dodecaphonique, 1949); as for some reason, it is

not included in "Style and Idea" I reproduce it here in extenso. "In the course of the last ten years, certain strict rules fundaconcerning octave doublings and the use of certain mental chords of the older harmony have been relaxed to a certain extent. In the first place, it became clear that such isolated happenings were not in a position to transform the "non-tonal" style into a tonal style. There still remain the formal melodies, rhythms, characteristic phrases and other elements which were born together with the style of the

emancipation of the dissonance. of "Also* if the complete avoidance "" a tonal centre is found w ^"J ***>. !/* to be ccmira^ctedT^oK occasions and jin a provisional way,





such a contradiction docs not necessarily destroy the stylistic merits of a composition. "I must admit that Alban Berg, who was perhaps the least orthodox of the three of us Webern, Berg and myself in his
operas mingled pieces or fragments distinctly written in a given tonality with other pieces or fragments which were "non-tonal". He explained this by saying that an operatic composer, for reasons of expression and dramatic characterisation, could not always renounce the contrast provided by the change from major to minor. Though as a composer he was right, from the point of view of theory he was wrong; I have proved in my operas Von Heute aitf Morgen and Moses and Aaron that every kind of expression and characterisation can be produced in the style of the free dissonance." This point of view explains the greater "tonal" feeling which can be found in many of Schoenberg's later works; but before considering these we must first discuss the use of the twelve-tone method made by Schoenberg's other prominent pupil, Anton Webern. Webem went in exactly the opposite direction J. Berg; his use of this method reduces it to its simplest and
conciscst terms, and is, if anything, "purer" than that^ofjus. master Schpenberg. We can see this already iifhis first twelvetone wor% the Sacred Songs Op. 17.

In the String Trio, Op.

larger scale

on a 20, we find this method used and in a more complex manner: here Webern



it is

returns to the classical forms, the

and the second in sonata form. But

which perhaps

movement being a rondo the Symphony, Op. ai,

Webern's methods.

gives us the best insight into


The first movement is a 4-part double canon in contrary motion,

except for the Coda, which opening:

a 2-part canon. Here


It will

be seen that the order of entry


basic series; inversion

a major third lower; inversion major third higher. Further,

at original pitch; basic series a as the interval between notes


1 1



and 1 2 of the series is the same as that between notes i and Webern takes the last two notes of one series as the first two

of the next and thus forges a perpetual chain of series. In addition the notes of each series are always leaping from one instrument to another and also from one octave to another, so that the canon cannot be heard as a continuous line. This texture, however, is typical of most of Webern's later works; and his extraordinarily acute ear enabled him to make the exact choice of octave and instrumental colour required for each note, so that the effect in sound is ravishing. The second movement, in the form of a theme and variations, shows a slightly less fragmentary method of writing. The theme, which is the inversion of the series of the first movement is announced by the clarinet, accompanied by its own retrograde version on harp and two horns; but as the retrograde consists of the same intervals as the original, one can say that the theme is in fact accompanied by itself another example of Webern's of means. economy
Ex. 94


which follow show the same contrapuntal the first is a 4-part reversible double canon in contrary control; motion, the second is also a canon in contrary motion, while the fifth variation, based on repeated chords, treats the series from the harmonic point of view. (For a fuller analysis see



Leibowitz, Introduction pp. 232-8 and Schoenberg and his School* Webern remained faithful to the principles exposed here for the rest of his compositions; though in his choral works, like Das Augenlicht and the First and Second Cantatas, Op. 29 and 31, the style is often less rarefied and there is considerable use of dramatic and emotional effect, there is the same quest for absolute purity and transparence. Here is the first entry of the chorus in Das Augenlicht:

Ex- 95




The vocal parts form a mirror canon between sopranos and tenors; and there is another mirror canon in the orchestra (up to the middle of bar 13). Each of the four parts uses one
of the four different forms of the series. Lest it be thought that Webern's later works consist of

nothing but academic contrapuntal devices, let me quote this passage from one of his last works, the Variations for Orchestra, Op. 30; it is the beginning of the final variation.
Ex. 96

The four-part harmony is made up of three statements of the basic series and one of the inversion, the latter starting in the tenor part. Such expressive passages are often to be found in the works of Webern's final period; and the remarkable
quality of these works is their combination of extraordinary aural beauty of sound with strict formal control. The key to Webern's approach may perhaps be found in a letter 1 to Willi Reich dated 23rd February, 1944 the year before Webern's tragic and untimely death: "To quote freely from . Holderlin: To live that is to defend a form. . Imagine what an impression it made on me, when this passage occurred in the notes to Holderlin's Oedipus translation: 'Also, other works of art lack reliability, as compared with those of the

Greeks. They have, the impression they and otter methods Webern was ruled natural law; he felt

at least up to now, been judged more by convey than by the artistic considerations " through which their beauty is created. throughout his life by a strong sense of that by exploring the nature of these laws he was also aiming at the creation of beauty; i.e. beauty can only come through the fulfilment of a natural principle. Works which ^im solely at beauty without _any regard for

Quoted*5i "Tempo", London, March 1946.



the_means by which_ this beauty is produced tend to "lack one only has to think of, say, Tchaikovsky to see reliability" what he means. As a result Weberh devoted' his life to tEe the cdndTensedr" and ""concentrated "fornrj-nevery e3cpI6fafion of note in his music has its own meaning, and it would be impossiblejto omit or alter a single one without damage. He eschewed works of long^duration his longest atonal work, "tEe Secpn5

Cantata, Op. 31, is in six moyements and lasts for 15 minutes,. Nevertheless Webern can say more in two minutes than most other composers in ten; his method of approach is entirely different to theirs. No wonder then that his music has either met with complete incomprehension or has been wildly acclaimed by those who have ears to hear it; by his ultra-

sensR^?Hai^uIaHon oTpe^ct^normal elements of sonority Webern has created music quite unlike any written before.
It is interesting too that many young composers are now seeking to adopt his methods rather than the more "normal" ones of Schoenberg or the expressive technique of Berg; but without

Webern's aural acuteness

successfully, Webern. as

his technique is

not easy to master

and I feel personally that history will regard an isolated figure of extoordmary^ importance rather than as the direct ancestor of a new technique of composition. (For a fuller discussion of Webern's work, which I Have only been able to treat here in a very superficial manner, the student is referred to the two books of Leibowitz previously mentioned, especially Schoenberg and his School, which contains an important section on Webern; I have also contributed a short
analysis of Webern's last three works (which are not discussed in Leibowitz' books) to the Monthly Musical Record for Dec. 1946).

In 1933 Schoenberg left Berlin and settled in the United he produced a number of works, of which the majority use twelve-tone methods, though some are tonal in character. These latter include a Suite for strings,
States. Thereafter

written in 1934 for high school performance;

traditional Jewish


a setting of the theme Kol Nidrei for reciter, chorus and Variations on a Recitative for organ, based on a

twelve-note theme, but treating

tonally for the .most part;

a Second Chamber Symphony, which in fact merely represents the completion of a work begun thirty years earlier; and a set of Variations for military band. Schoenberg explained his



reasons for his occasional returns to a tonal style in a short essay, On Rsment Toujours, published in "Style and Idea". He felt that just as the classical composers from Haydn to Wagner often felt the need to interpolate strict counterpoint

own essentially homophonic style, perhaps because they considered the art of their predecessors superior to their own, so he himself sometimes felt the longing once again to try to achieve, in the older style, what he was sure of being able to produce in his own style. There is thus no question of Schoenberg definitely "returning to tonality" in these works; they were written because as he says, "a longing to return to the older style was always vigorous in me; and from time to time I had to yield to that urge." But all the other works written in this period are strictly dodecaphonic, including his last composition, the Fantasy for violin and piano (1949) apart from one exceptional work, which deserves special consideration, the Ode to Napoleon, for speaker, string quartet
into their
(or string orchestra)

and piano.

very freely derived from a note-series but its effect is entirely "atonal", apart from its final E flat major chord. It is based on a logical and consistent use of certain intervals contained in its opening chord (F sharp C sharp E) ; i.e. minor second or major seventh (F-E); major third or minor

This work



(F-C#, E-G#); minor third or major sixth (F-G#, C#-E); and fifth or fourth (C^GJ). The following extract shows the use of these two latter intervals:

I* V



Here we have fifths in the first violin and cello; parallel sixths second violin and viola; and both leaping a fourth hi the

elements in the piano. The passage also contains all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. Elsewhere, in view of the fact that the opening chord contains the constituent notes of both a major and a minor triad, Schoenberg makes some use of common chords, but not in a "polytonal"

superimposed manner. The whole work, which




Notes, appears

is worth studying in score 1 discussed in Rufer, Composition with Twelve fully to show a new kind of compositional tech-

to be of historical importance; nique which may well prove but Schoenberg himself did not attempt to use this method again in any other work. Of the strictly twelve-tone works composed during this are the Violin Concerto, the Fourth period, the most important Trio and the Quartet, the Piano Concerto, the String String and piano 2 All these follow the same basic Fantasy for violin have discussed in connection with the principles that we Variations for Orchestra, but there are certain new elements which are worth noting. The Violin Concerto, one of Schoena method which Schoenberg inberg's masterpieces, uses

the first six notes of creasingly adopted in his later years the original series, together with their inversion a fifth lower, make up the twelve notes of the chromatic scale.
Ex. 98



A recording


*The scores of his very book went to press.

also available (Esquire and French "Classic"). late choral works [Op. 50] were not available


The opening


of the work exposes these two series in succession:

r ^^ i*









bars which follow consist of the basic series in the violin then the accompanied by chords derived from the inversion; violin plays the inversion and the accompaniment is derived

from the basic series. The end of the whole work introduces another point.
Ex. ioo

In spite of the "polytonal" appearance of this passage, it will be seen that it is in fact strictly based on the inversion (Ex. 98b), and with a slight variation starting from both ends at once,
in the order of the notes (Bb before E in the retrograde form). The opening of the Fourth String Quartet, Op. 37, shows



us another

method of exposing the basic material. The series played by the first violin; it falls into four three-note groups (a, b, c, d), which are simultaneously used as accompanying

Ex. 101


Note that the relation of the melody to its accompaniment logically arranged in the following manner:

Melody Accompaniment




his School:, also

A similar procedure is carried on for the rest of the theme

fuller discussion see Leibowitz, Schoenberg

Josef Rufer, Composition with Twelve Notes. The Piano Concerto introduces a still



element, in that although it strictly based on twelve-tone methods, it contain passages which have a definitely "tonal" effect. An instance is the opening of the final Rondo. [Ex. 102,


p. 109].^

in fact derived from



and two of the



transpositions of the original right hand first plays the

first six

notes of the inversion (I6 1 ) ; the left hand plays the whole of the same series. Meanwhile the right hand plays the last six notes of the original (Oi) in retrograde form. But the first six notes of 16 are the same as the last six of Oi, in a slightly different order (similarly the first six of Oi are the same as the


refers to the

degree of transposition of the

series; cf. p. 83.


Ex. 102

of 16), so that Schoenberg does not use the remaining these notes are already in the notes of the retrograde of Oi left hand part. Instead the right hand begins 04, which is completed by the left hand, while the left hand begins Ig, which later crosses to the right hand. Though the whole passage shows how a "tonal" effect (including the middle pedal on F#) can be obtained by strictly twelve-tone means, it does not -here all the really imply a "return to the older methods" for
last six

twelve notes of the scale are strictly and logically used. One can therefore conclude that while twelve-tone music need not

aim is the necessarily avoid a feeling of tonality, its principal of the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. equilateral exposition The same approach applies to the use of octave doublings, which are also occasionally present in this work; cf.
Schoenberg's remarks on this subject quoted above (p. 98). If the Piano Concerto and the Prelude to a "Genesis" Suite to COIltain certain tonal reminiscences, this J 945) inay k e sa ( a is certainly not true of the String Trio (1948), which adopts more "radical" style. Here Schoenberg uses the same method as in many of his later works, of dividing the series into two each of which, together with the corresponding half




of the inversion transposed a fifth lower, makes up the twelve notes of the chromatic scale. But he carries this process even further making frequent alterations in the order of the notes


within each six-note group; that is to say, that as long as all twelve notes of the scale are exposed in close sequence (six from the original series and six from the inversion) their actual order is not considered so important. (For a detailed analysis see "Music Review", Vol. XI, No. 3 August 1950). This method again opens up new possibilities which are clearly In "A Survivor from Warsaw" capable of further exploration. we again have the use of a series plus its inversion a (*947) fifth below, in this case coupled with the use within the series of an augmented triad which can act as a "pivot chord" between three transpositions of the series and three of the

Ex. 103

This work (which is fully analysed in Leibowitz, Introduction p. 322ff) is one of Schoenberg's most moving and dramatic pieces; apart from the chorale at the end, it is chiefly built up from small "athematic" fragments, the only motive of importance being the four-note theme with which it opens.
returns to

and piano (1949), Schoenberg an almost classical simplicity while exploring every possible method of variation technique. Its basic series is mainly founded on major and minor seconds (B[j, A, C#, B, F, G, Eb, Etl, C, D, Ab, Gb), and there is a considerable use of sevenths and ninths. It is essentially a work for violin and piano and not vice versa; the piano part is largely accompaniFinally, in the Fantasy for violin




This survey of twelve-tone writing would not be complete without some discussion of the first handbook to be published in English on the subject. This is a short treatise called "Studies in Counterpoint based on the Twelve-Tone Technique" by
Ernst Kfenek (published in 1940 by Schirmer, New York). Kfenek says in his introduction: "The idea of tonality emanates from a basically harmonic conception of music. The essentials
of tonality such as the key, the dominant-tonic function, the tonal cadence are harmonic phenomena. In so far as atonality

depends for its organisation on motif-relationships, it apparently brings melodic phenomena to the fore. Thus, the new idiom is based on an essentially polyphonic conception of music, very much related to the angle from which music was viewed in the Middle Ages, before tonality (in our sense of the term) had developed. Therefore it seems sound to approach atonality and
facts in atonality

technique by way of counterpoint. Harmonic have but a secondary significance, at least in the present stage of atonal development." Explaining that his book "does not pretend to sum up or codify the practice of the twelve-note technique as it appears in the works of Schoenberg, his disciples Alban Berg and Anton Webern, and several other composers", but merely "to set forth the elementary has principles of the twelve-tone technique as the author

applied it in a number of his own works", Kfenek ends by saying "the knowledge of strict (Palestrina) counterpoint is recommended as prerequisite, though not indispensable.*' Two points should be noted from this: (i) that the views expressed in this book are Kfenek's own, and not necessarily those of Schoenberg or any other members of his school (ii) that Kfenek tends to discount the importance of harmony in twelvetone writing, though (as we shall see) he does give some rules in regarding harmonic relations. These points should be borne mind by any student who wishes to use this book for the purpose of technical exercises; unfortunately Kfenek's somewhat mathematical method of analysing twelve-tone writing tends
to give the impression that this style can be approached a priori, without any previous knowledge of music, whereas

know that of classical these composers thorough knowledge harmony and counterpoint (including both Bach's and Palesevery pupil of Schoenberg, Berg and



on a



trina's styles) as an essential prerequisite before embarking on twelve-tone writing. Even twelve-tone music still has its roots in the past; and one cannot completely disregard the importance of harmonic laws which are based on the nature of music itself. If any note could equally well be played against any other note, music would cease to have any meaning at all. If the student will bear these provisos in mind, he may find Kfenek's book useful as an exposition of twelve-tone methods. He begins with hints on the construction of a series, recommending the avoidance in it of more than two major or minor


formed by consecutive notes,

principles of atonality"

though, as

as "incompatible with the we have seen. Berg has

made use of such a series, and so have other composers. He then gives some rules for melodic construction, remarking quite rightly that "the protracted use of unaltered rhythmic patterns results in a monotony less admissible in this style than . in any other idiom Symmetric periods are not consistent with the contrapuntal character of this music." The student may profitably study this section, and decide for himself whether or not he agrees with Kfenek's methods of melodic analysis. The next chapter, Two-Part Writing, of course brings in the question of harmony, and here Kfenek gives the following
. .



Octaves and parallel unisons are not allowed berg's remarks on this, p. 89).




The following are consonances:

third, fifth,

Unison, minor and major

minor and major




"Mild" dissonances are major second and minor seventh. "Sharp" dissonances are minor second and major seventh. The fourth may be either consonant or dissonant, depending on the context.


The tritone is neutral,


as it divides the octave into

this, p. 57).

two equal

Hindemith on

"Culmination-points", he says, should be introduced "by accelerated motion and increasing sharpness of dissonances. Where the composition, however, tends to decrease in intensity,

a slowing-down of the motion^ milder dissonances and con-



sonances will be adequate." Personally I do not feel that it is still necessary to divide chords into consonances and dissonances Hindemith's table of harmonic tensions seems a more nor does Kfenek satisfactory method of analysis (cf. p. 56) attempt to give any explanation of harmonic progressions. The student is, momentarily at any rate, left completely in the air, with only the sentence quoted above to help him. And why such coyness in the treatment of the perfect fourth? After a discussion of two-part writing, including imitation, which the student may find useful, Kfenek introduces the derivative forms of the series (inversion, retrograde and retrograde inversion), and shows various methods of handling them; this again is worthy of study. Next comes a chapter on three-part writing, which explores the harmonic problem further. "Atonality", Kfenek says, "has neither rules for a special treatment of dissonances (as in Palestrina counterpoint) nor does it formulate a harmonic theory comparable with that of tonality. The only characteristic of a chord that has to be taken into consideration is the degree of tension that the chord shows by virtue of its constituent intervals." He does not consider it possible to form as definite a harmonic system in this style as the rules of either strict counterpoint or tonal harmony, "Music written in the twelve-tone technique as well as music organized by any other principle rests, in the final analysis, upon imagination and inspiration." But let us first follow

Krenek a


further in his harmonic analysis.


divides three-part chords into six groups, consisting of:

(e.g. perfect

Three consonances

or augmented triad),




4. 5.

consonances and one mild dissonance. One consonance and two mild dissonances. Two consonances and one sharp dissonance. One consonance, one mild and one sharp dissonance.

One mild and two

sharp dissonances.

(In the above the intervals between all and each of the three notes are of course reckoned in). Chords containing perfect fourths or tritones may be

consonances or mild or sharp dissonances, depending on the third note in the chord apart from the fourth or tritone.




of a triad E.g. a second inversion triad:

consonant; so


a diminished

Q Q> >-ea J


b "



* n^ ^^ -^

"*" rtfl"^B



^ S8= H^




The above


may be

useful as

an indication of

just as Hindemith's table is; but Kfenek quite rightly points out that different inversions of chords in his Group 6:

harmonic tension

Ex. 105

different effects of sharpness or mildness. Similarly the same chord in the same position may make quite different effects through variations of dynamics and orchestration. One only has to think of the first chord of Ex. 105 played successively

may produce

by violins,

clarinets and trumpets (and, if you like, successively in loudness) to realise this. increasing The point about dynamics is one that has been with music since the beginning of time; and though dynamics of course vary the surface colour of a musical progression, they do not in fact alter the harmonic structure. The other point, regarding

more important; Hindemith, as we have disregard them altogether, but, I think, mistakenly. It is true that in complicated chords it is not always easy to recognise inversions as such, or even to see what the root is the chord discussed here (Ex. iO5a) consists of three equal intervals, and therefore it is impossible to determine its root without the context. But I still think that it is possible to adhere to the inversion principle in analysing at any rate

of course
tries to


(p. 57)



the vast majority of chords, and I hope later to give a practical demonstration of this. Having thus presented us with a method of chordal analysis, Kfenek leaves us to get on with it, making only the same remark as before (cf. p. 112) regarding the use of sharper dissonances towards culmination, points; he does add however that consonances "should be used with great caution, for the same reason that excludes the use of the octave interval. It is, however, admissible to use such consonant chords occasionally if the context does not obtrude their latent tonal implications"

Kfenek now gives some (cf. Schoenberg's remarks, p. 98). practical examples of three-part writing, which the student should study for himself. He then deals with the grouping of notes of the series so as to form chords, on the lines discussed


He follows
we have


with a note on the repetition of


chords; this, as


sound the remaining notes of the

Ex. 106

permissible if the other parts series at the same time.

Next comes the question of the transpositions of the basic series and its other forms; Kfenek recommends that these should not be used haphazardly, but rather according to a certain plan that emerges from definite musical purposes of Schoenberg and Webern quoted above, (cf. the methods
pp. 89, 100,
1 06).



obvious that endless variety



from these means; and Kfenek gives further hints in his final the pattern chapter, "Disposition of Larger Forms," though his use of transpositions of the series in his Piano quoted for on the surface, at any rate, Variations, Op. 79, would appear deals to be mathematical rather than musicaL An Appendix used by Webern), allwith symmetrical series (frequently
interval series

and symmetrical

all-interval series.




little more than scratch the does provide some useful hints for students, and I would certainly recommend its use as a textbook for those who will approach twelve-tone writing from a musical rather than a mathematical point of view. For this reason I do not propose to include any exercises of my own; but I do repeat that it is useless for a student to handle this book unless he has a thorough grounding in classical and romantic harmony. That is to say, he should approach twelvetone writing from the point of view that Schoenberg approached it, from the development of chromatic harmony. (Schoenberg's 1 Theory of Harmony is the best book for analysing this particular but the student should also examine and analyse development; the works of Liszt, Wagner and Strauss from this point of view). He will see that a great number of chords used in twelve-tone music are not very different from those used in chromatic harmony, but they are used with more freedom that is to say, with less feeling of attachment to a root. Nevertheless the feeling of attachment still persists to a great extent, and the listener cannot help hearing it. Instead of twelve-tone music floating in a completely non-tonal world, it is rather modulating rapidly from one point to another (one can hardly talk any more of "key" in the old-fashioned sense), and the student, with his knowledge of the tonal past, should be able to recognise the points through which it is floating. I hope to discuss this in a more detailed manner in a later chapter; meanwhile I would suggest that the student should analyse for himself as many twelve-tone works by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern as possible, particularly those mentioned earlier in this chapter,

Though Kfenek's book does

surface of the subject,




Functions of

tonality and harmonic analysis in twelvefollowing are significant extracts : "My school does not aim at the establishment of a tonality, yet does not exclude it entirely. . . . Evaluation of (quasi-) harmonic progressions in such music is obviously a necessity. . . . But as such progressions do not derive from roots, harmony is not under discussion. . . . (These progressions) are vertical projections of the basic set, or parts of it, and their combination is justified by its logic. . . . There exists no definition of the concepts of melody and melodic which is better than mere pseudo-aesthetics. . . . One day the structural evaluation of these sounds will again be based upon their functional potentialities. But it is improbable that the quality of sharpness or mildness of the dissonances which in fact is nothing more than a gradation according to lesser or greater beauty is the appropriate foundation for a theory. . . . From such gradations one cannot deduce principles of construction."

some illuminating remarks about

tone music.

Harmony" (London,

also discussed in considerable detail in Schoenberg's "Structural 1954). In the final chapter Schoenberg makes



and thereby gain a practical knowledge of the methods of these great masters. It is only by studying the methods of the present in relation to those of the past that one can acquire the
"musicality, taste

and imagination" which Kfenek demands

of composers. 1

How can one then sum up the achievement of twelve-tone music? It is clear that the "emancipation of the dissonance" has conferred complete harmonic freedom on music, and that it is now possible to make a free and equal use of all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale; on the other hand the use of a serial technique has imposed a control which prevents freedom
from becoming chaos. Further,

we have

seen, this


of control did arise out of compositional practice, and was not imposed a priori; and it does fulfil a genuine compositional need. On the other hand, the fact that composers have recently felt the need to relax some of its provisions shows that it may not remain as a permanent ideal; all revolutions begin with rigid precepts which are later relaxed. In particular, the doubt whether it can really be said to have abolished tonality has led composers to experiment more and more with the introduction of tonal elements within its framework; and further, it has not yet produced a harmonic system to replace the one which it has dethroned. We are back again then at the crucial question of tonality, with the problem still unsolved; but we have travelled a good deal further along the road, for we have found a method of handling the chromatic scale not only systematically but in fact a method which has not yet realised its realistically full possibilities, and may even be only in its infancy, for all we know. Here at least we have fertile soil; for we have a completely new and self-contained method of writing with unlimited capabilities, and yet containing a possibility of ultimate reconciliation with the past. That reconciliation it is our task to try and find./JBut before making such an attempt we may profitably examine the contributions made by some


who have worked on more

and have on
methods so

or less independent lines, the whole not been greatly affected by the various

far discussed. further valuable information on Schoenberg*s methods and aims will be found in Josef Rufer's Composition with Twelve Notes (London, 1954)? &** k00^ It contains some suggestions appeared too late to be discussed in this chapter. for exercises to be worked.



FERRUCGIO BUSONI (1866-1924) might alraost be regarded as the prototype of an independent composer. Of mixed Italian and Austrian parentage, he spent a good deal of his life touring the world as a concert pianist; a man of restless and enquiring mind, he absorbed influences from many directions Bach, Liszt and the Italian operatic tradition being prominent among these and synthesised them in a number of compositions of great originality. In his "Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music", published in 1907, he clearly pointed out the shortcomings of the traditional diatonic system; what is the point of transpositions, he asked, when a piece sounds exactly the same when transposed into another key "when a well-known face looks out of a window, it matters not whether it gazes down from the first storey or the third". And how can one divide consonances from dissonances, when we have an octave composed of twelve equal intervals? He worked out 113 different sevennote scales within the compass of an octave, and also examined the possibilities of using thirds and sixths of a tone. (The whole of this little book, though it does not claim to lay down any formal principles, is full of stimulating remarks, and is well
worth reading) In his compositions Busoni, though using the background of the diatonic system, made within it a free use of chromatic elements. His thought was essentially linear, and most of his works are not "abstract" music, but aim essentially to convey a mood, picture or idea. Hence his most important work is to be found in his operas; and these quotations from his last opera, Doktor Faust, may give some idea of his individual methods. [Ex. 107 and 108, p. 119].

The first is an agitated dramatic passage; the second comes from a symphonic interlude (Prologue II). It will be seen that in the latter, though the thought is certainly linear, the back118

Ex. 107

hJ""n r





t> M




ground is harmonic; but the progressions are of an unconventional type. The student is also recommended to examine Busoni's Second Sonatina and Fantasia Contrappuntistica for full his tendencies. piano, which will give a further idea of account of the career of this extraordinary man may be found in Edward J. Dent's usom 9 (London 1933), and there is also a long essay on Busoni in Bernard van Dieren's Down Among


Dead Men (London


Van Dieren himself (1887-1936) was an interesting composer

whose tendencies were mainly contrapuntal. Just as Busonfs Second Sonatina showed him to be going in much the same direction as Schoenberg's Piano Heces Op. ri (Busoni actually made a "concert arrangement'* of Schoenberg's Op. n No. 2), so van Dieren in his early Sketches for piano adopted a more or less atonal style. Later he somewhat modified this, and his maturer work, though based almost entirely on chromatic



harmony, shows much more tonal attachment. Though each part moves freely and contrapuntally, and often the texture
extremely complex, as in the "Chinese Symphony", the harmony produced by the movement of the parts is normally of the Wagnerian "altered chord" type. This is clear from this extract from van Dieren's setting of Sonetto VII of Spenser's Amoretti (1921):


Ex. 109



Van Dieren was a most cultured and sensitive musician, and not
little of the originality of his music rests in the handling of individual instrumental colours. This may be clearly seen from the extract above; merely to play it on the piano gives no idea of the continuous crossing and changing of the parts. This method is in itself an integral part of modern counterpoint; though, as we have observed, it is not fundamental to the harmonic or contrapuntal structure, it can make a considerable difference to the final effect of a piece. Both Busoni and Schoen-

berg realised this at an early stage, and their methods have had a profound effect on modern music. A more radical use of this method of splitting up the parts between individual instruments may be seen in the extract from Webern's Symphony quoted above (Ex. 93, p. 100). An early example of this type of orchestration is of course Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony (1906); the student should also examine Webern's remarkable orchestration of the six-part Ricercar from Bach's Musical Offering, in which the instrumentation is continually changing in a kaleidoscopic manner. Another composer of this period, Karol Szyinanowski (1883-1937), though not primarily a contrapuntalist, is interesting in combining the influence of Debussyan impressionism with a modern contrapuntal technique. That is to say, that though his orchestral writing is brilliant and complex, it
often contains a good deal of decoration and accompaniment which is not of strictly contrapuntal interest. The passage on of the slow movement of his Symphonic p. 122, the (climax

Goncertante, Op. 60) illustrates this point. [Ex. no].

Here the piano and wind parts decorate the


theme and

holds the support the harmonies, while a solid bass pedal structure together. This kind of writing is typical of many modern works which appear complex in sound, but in fact rest on a very simple and firmly tonal basis. It would be easy to multiply examples, as it is a favourite method of many modern composers, some of whom write even more complithere is nearly cated-looking arrangements of chords but means of a sustaining note of always a firm underpinning, by some kind, which makes the whole complex easily assimilable. see Ex, 28, p. 33). (For Szymanowski's use of "polytonality"




Another Slav composer, Leos Janacek, used an almost exactly opposite method to Szymanowski; primarily a dramatic composer, he based his style chiefly on continuous repetition

of short, simple phrases, coupled with striking and unusual The texture is usually entirely transparent, and the voice parts follow the natural rhythm of speech against a continuous orchestral background; this passage from his last opera, "The House of the Dead" is typical.



o-ci 5M

n \nw
-je -

I'nmEff Tf u* tj^VV





Occasionally, however, Jandcek did make use of normal contrapuntal devices, but always in his own unusual way. The third movement of his First String Quartet ("The Kreutzer Sonata") begins with what looks like a double canon:

Ex. 112

Con tnbto




However, instead of "developing" this in the normal way we simply have the opening phrase (ist violin and cello) and its successor (2nd violin and viola) repeated one after the other several times, still in double canon, but in slightly varied forms. Just before the end of the opening section all four parts take up the "successor"; but thereafter completely new material appears, and it is only at the end of the movement that the opening phrase returns, this time without the canon, though its successor remains in canon as before. Yet, though Janacek is certainly not a normal contrapuntal composer, the freshness and originality of his approach and his directness of musical speech make him deserving of much more consideration than he has so far achieved outside his own country. Janacek, as we have seen, remained faithful to the tonal, and even in a certain way to the diatonic system, but the remaining three composers who will be discussed in this chapter have all in different ways experimented with atonality. None of these however have studied with Schoenberg or any of his disciples, and they may all well claim to be completely independent figures. The oldest of the three was Charles Ives, (1874-1954), of Connecticut. Working without any knowledge of Schoenberg's experiments, he produced, chiefly between 1895 ^cl 1916, a number of extremely original works in a highly complex chromatic idiom which borders on atonality.

The following
Places in

New England"

example, from an orchestral suite called "Three written between 1903 and 1914, gives

fair idea of his style.

Ex. 113


be seen that the texture is harmonic style is developed from

It \vill

consistently polyphonic; the late igth century chromatic

harmony, but used in a

far bolder

manner. There


no use of



a serial technique; and in general Ives' music corresponds to, without resembling, the works produced by Schoenberg and his followers between 1908 and 1923. Another interesting parallel is that though Ives* music is not fundamentally pictorial in character, nearly every work of his is based on a "programme" of some kind, whether it be the description of a place or person or the evocation of some past or present happening; this in some way corresponds to the necessity felt by Schoenberg during the same period to have the shape of his works controlled by a literary text. 1 As might be expected, Ives, though regarded with considerable respect in the U.S.A., did not found a school or system of composition, and remained an

isolated figure.

even more extraordinary personality is Edgar Varese 885) He was born hi Paris and underwent a normal academic education (Schola Cantorum with d'Indy and Roussel,


Conservatoire with Widor) and developed an early interest in old polyphonic music. However, after some years in Berlin and Prague, he went to the U.S.A. in 1916 and has since made that country his home. He has become known through a series of intricately written compositions which have made new experiments in harmony, rhythm and timbre and it is not surprising that he has devoted a considerable part of his time in recent years to the study of acoustics and of new electronic instruments. He has always been interested in the nature of

sound for its own sake, and has never let himself be bound by any academic formulae. He has thus created an entirely new type of music, which is without parallel in our time. The extract from his Octandre for wind, brass and contrabass is
typical of his methods. [Ex. 114, p. 127],

be seen that this is based on (a) the use of extreme discords (groups of adjacent semitones) constantly and violently repeated (b) instruments constantly changing in compass and often playing in unusual parts of their compass (c) phrases consisting of constant repetition of the same few notes (d) a subtle use of rhythm. more be seen in
It will

his Integrales (1931) for [Ex. 1 15, p. 128].

complex example may chamber orchestra and percussion.


1 Ives also made considerable use in some of his works of hymn tunes songs, often treated in the chromatic style exemplified above.


Ex. 114



repetitions of the same at varying times; the percussion adds further contraphrase puntal parts, and the whole is firmly founded on a discordant pedal for bass and double bass trombone. It must be admitted

Here each instrument has constant

that this

little possibility

is extremely static, and allows of development and perhaps for that reason, most of Varese's pieces are comparatively short. The complex of sound is, moreover, an extremely violent assault on the ears it can hardly be called "music" in the normal sense of the word. On the other hand there is no doubt that as a noise it is extremely powerful and exciting, and it has a kind of "abstract" new in quality at the same time which is something quite music. (Stravinsky's "abstraction" usually means meaningless whereas with Var&se one's attention is riveted

method of writing

padding, throughout, and every note is there for a purpose) "lonisation", for instance, a work for 41 percussion instruments, is an extremely remarkable study in purely rhythmic counterpoint,

Ex. 115


its fascinating use of sonorities. Varese's ultimate contribution to music may be is a question that must remain in abeyance for the present especially as his more recent works do not seem to be generally available but there is no doubt that in him we have a


and holds the attention by

who has added new elements to the musical language. The last of these three independent atonalists 1 is


work of the Czech composer, Alois Haba, lies rather outside the scope of this book, as he has mainly devoted himself to writing music in f and 1 tones He has however, also composed some works which show an individual handling of twelve-tone methods, such as the Fantasia quasi Toccata, Op. 38. He has also been an exponent of athematic" writing, and had at one time a considerable influence among the younger Czech composers.



Valen [1887-1952], a Norwegian pupil of Max Reger. For the last thirty years of his life he composed works based on a serial technique of his own. Though his series normally contain all the twelve notes of the chromatic scale, he did not stick to strict twelve-note series repeated round and round; each piece is based on a number of different serial themes which recur sometimes complete, sometimes in fragments,
Ex. 116



usually without transposition. That is to say, his use of was at once freer and more "thematic" than Schoenberg's, he did not normally derive his harmonies from his series*



in fact his methods were predominantly linear, and it is only in certain works, notably those for piano and organ, that he used chords as such at all. He made an occasional use of inversions and mirror forms; here is an example of the former


a whole, for it gives a good idea of Valen's contrapuntal methods) is written in the form of a fugue; after the fourth entry of the theme, on the cello, the inversion is heard on the first violin, while the accompanying figures are mainly derived from fragments of the theme & typical process with Valen.
[Ex. 116, p. 129].

Second String Quartet, Op. 13 (published by Norsk Musikforlag, Oslo). This movement (which is worth studying

Mirror forms are rarer on the whole, but here is an example from the Kano Variations, Op. 123; the theme consists of a
twelve-note series followed



retrograde form.

However, in the variations which follow the theme is varied and decorated in the usual classical manner, and the accompanying harmony is not derived from the series. Valen thus developed a free atonal style of his own, in which serial technique provided a constructive element. But the effect of his music on the whole is rather static, partly perhaps because the texture is so continuously contrapuntal without any very strong rhythmic impetus, and partly because there is a good deal of continuous repetition of themes or

thematic fragments without transposition as if all parts moved an unending ostinato. Nevertheless Valen's sensitive handling of this linear technique did produce some very successful results,
particularly in his orchestral works,

where he had the aid of



instrumental colour. The student is recommended to examine the scores of "Sonetto di Michelangelo" (Norsk Musikforlag), "La Isla de las Calmas" and the Violin Concerto 'both published by Lyche, Oslo the latter is also available on Norwegian H.M.V. records). The Violin Concerto in particular makes a clearer use of its thematic material than many of Valen's other compositions, and is a very powerful and moving work. Nearly the whole of the material is derived from the two opening
Ex. 118




BEFORE trying to sum up the lessons which may be learnt from our survey, I must point out again that I have not attempted to give an account of what all contemporary composers in all countries are doing in the field of counterpoint. Such a task, apart from needing a book several times this size, is not my purpose; all I have attempted to do is to analyse certain have had varying effects on almost significant tendencies which all modern composers, and I do not imply that the composers mentioned in this book are better as composers than those who
are not. The former are discussed here because they exhibit certain tendencies in an easily appreciable form; many of the latter also exhibit the same tendencies, but hi most cases they have inherited these from the original pioneers in the field and adopted them to suit their own personalities and methods of expression. The music of Vaughan Williams, for instance, becomes easy to analyse when we realise that it is mainly based on the use of (a) modal scales derived from mediaeval and folk music (b) block chords moving in parallel (cf. the quotation from Petrouchka, Ex. 16) and (c) polytonality (Flos Campi, Pastoral Symphony; cf. Chapter IV). But though Vaughan Williams has invented no specifically new technique, that does not affect his stature as a composer; Mozart was a greater composer than C. P. E. Bach, but C. P. E. Bach was a pioneer of the style in which Mozart wrote. This survey, then, is solely concerned with the assessment of new techniques as such, and with the evaluation of general tendencies; and the student should be able, by comparing the examples given here with the works of other composers, to see what use the latter have made of the principles here enunciated, how far they have followed them and how far deviated from them. I have no wish to labour this point; I feel there is no need for me to make a catalogue of composers by schools and influences the student may (if he feels inclined) undertake this task himself.

This having been



what conclusions, if any, can be drawn regarding the present and future development of music, and whether it is possible to outline a system of harmonic and contrapuntal rules for it. At first sight this might seem impossible in view of the chaotic complex of opposing tendencies which contemporary music appears to present. As we have seen, this is mainly due to the disintegration of the old rules of harmony through the breakdown of the diatonic system; but further factors have entered in through the increased complication of musical texture. This was partly due to the greater virtuosity in orchestral playing which became
possible during the nineteenth century; just as Paganini revolutionised the technique of the violin and Liszt that of the 5 piano, so Berlioz orchestral writing introduced new effects of

we may now

sound which could only make their mark if played by the instruments for which they were intended, and became meaningless if transcribed for another medium. (One has only to think of the flute and pedal trombone chords in Berlioz' Requiem to see the point of this). This tendency was carried
successively further by Liszt, Wagner, Strauss and Mahler, until we reach examples of the complexity of the Szymanowski and Ives quotations above (Ex. 1 10, p. 122 and Ex. 1 13, p. 125). It tends increasingly towards the use of sound purely for its own
sake, without

any harmonic and contrapuntal control of the older sort. (Gf. also Debussy's impressionistic effects in La Mer and the orchestral Images , for instance). are thus confronted simultaneously with a breakdown of


harmony and an



of surface

even more serious consequence of the breakdown of harmony is that it undermines the foundations of the musical structures which were based on the diatonic scale the sonata form, rondo, fugue etc. All these were based on the contrast between a main tonality and its nearer or remoter neighbours; if tonality is removed, how can one continue to use the form? The Schoenbergian transpositions of the noteseries do not help in this matter, for they axe not really felt as "modulations", in spite of the efforts of Schoenberg, Webern, and others to create a new sort of tome-dominant relation Schoenberg by his use of the original series combined with its inversion a fifth lower, and Webern by his employment of the K

And an



a kind of dominant. Nevertheless, composers have continued to use the old contrapuntal forms as representing some method of imposing order on chaos but the canons of Webern, for instance, are more noticeable to the eye than the ear, however exquisite their musical result may be. What would appear to have been the logical solution to the problem, the Lisztian system of transformation of themes in the symphonic poem, has fallen into disrepute; perhaps because Liszt was rated more highly by his contemporaries and successors for his
tritone as

imagination than for his symphonic construction (which admittedly could often be weak), the form he devised 1 degenerated into the pure impressionism of Debussy and others and the "Fantasies" of the older generation of English
composers. This system of "thematic transformation" is of course very akin to the methods of Schoenberg and his followers and in England Alan Bush uses a similar system, though not based on twelvenote series. The difference between Liszt's and Schoenberg's methods (apart from the question of tonality) is that Liszt's themes are recognisable as such in their various transformations, whereas Schoenberg's note-series are not necessarily so. In fact the tendency of a good deal of modern music is towards athematism and the avoidance of repetition of any kind; which can of course be combined with the use of a note-series which is there as a unifying background, but is not consciously heard as a theme. Theme, no theme or transformations of theme? That is one of the problems of modern music; and another is the question of movement from one musical region, to another. This is the whole basis of the diatonic system one has only to think of the wonderful effect of Schubert's modulations to see that. Busoni may have been logically right to say that a face seen at one window does not differ from the same face seen at another; but he would not be right to say that dress makes no difference to a woman's appearance and the position with the diatonic is more like that. On the other hand chromatic music system which is modulating so constantly that it gives us little or no sense of position has little or no feeling of movement either; it can indeed be dramatic, lyrical, expressive and moving,

am speaking here of form, not of music per se.

135 but does it always give a sense of direction? In dramatic works, such as Berg's Lulu, the alliance of words and music does help to create a directional feeling; but this cannot be done by transpositions of the note-series alone. As we have seen, Schoenberg latterly admitted the possibility of "tonal references" in twelve-tone music, provided that they are "not in a position to transform the non-tonal style into a tonal style." This rather careful point of view would seem to date back to the early days of atonality, when, in order to complete the break-up of the diatonic system, tonal references were deliberately avoided. But now that the diatonic system has definitely been dethroned in favour of the chromatic system (by which I mean not atonality, but the free use of all the notes of the chromatic scale in relation to a tonal centre), is such caution still necessary? And is it really always necessary to play every note-series complete and always in the same order? The fact that twelve transpositions of each of the four forms of the series are always available means that it is easy 'to introduce any notes one wants at any given moment by using one or other of these forms; but one may not want thereafter to use the whole of the rest of the series thus introduced, and in that






particular order of notes. The experiments made by Schoenberg in some of his later works (consistent use of certain intervals
loosely based

on a series in the Ode to JfcpoLox, variation of the order of notes within six-note groups in the String Trio) seem to foreshadow new possibilities which other composers


exploit further.

add yet another to the numerous systems and methods employed by present-day composers; but I would like to suggest a possible method of analysis which may be applicable to most types of modern music. It is clear that what is needed is some system of classifying harmonic relations; admittedly this book is intended primarily as a study of counterpoint, but to study contemporary music purely from the horizontal point of view would merely give the impression that no holds are barred and that any part can do anything it likes against any other part. It is clearly only possible to see what is in fact happening by using some method of harmonic analysis, i.e. by studying the vertical complex produced by the movement of
I hesitate to

the various parts.



then is (i) a means of analysing chorda method of determining the relative value of structures (ii) neither of these do I suggest anything root-progressions. For in fact I think it is best to depart from a traditional spectacular; chords as far as possible according viewpoint, and to analyse

What we need

to the traditions of classical harmony. After all, music still remains based on the harmonic series, which is a fundamental law; we are merely making more use of notes higher up in the series at the expense of those nearer the fundamental. If we turn back to Hindemith's chordal progression (Ex. 53, p. 62) we can perhaps see a method of applying this. The first chord can be analysed in two ways: (i) as a first inversion of sharp minor (B flat minor) with two added notes (flattened fifth, or (ii), as Hindemith prefers, Efcj, and flattened seventh (G#), root position of C sharp, with both major and minor thirds

and E#) and added sixth (A#). The latter explanation solid basis, as being a root certainly puts the chord on a more but historical tradition would probably favour the position, former, regarding the so-called "added sixth" as one of the inversions of a seventh chord (6/5) Here then, at the very outset, we are confronted with a chord capable of bearing two different our task will not be an interpretations, which shows us that as many such easy one; but there is no need of great alarm,

chords with double meanings can be found throughout classical and romantic harmony. Then- meaning may be decided by- the general tonality of the passage, sometimes by the theme they accompany, or by the root progressions many hi fact are deliberately treated as "pivot chords", being introduced as bearing one meaning and left with the meaning changed German and Neapolitan (e.g. the use of the so-called French, sixths in igth century modulations). In this case, however, there is no change of tonal region, A sharp being the relative minor of C sharp. must then consider if the root-progression will help us.



his Harmonielehre


ed, p. I4off ) (English ed, p. 6gff )

Schoenberg gives some rules on this subject for diatonic harmony which may well be expanded to suit chromatic harmony. The following are "rising" or strong steps: fourth upwards, third downwards; "falling" or weak steps are fourth downwards, third upwards. Seconds upwards or downwards



are "super-strong" steps, for they consist in essence of two strong steps (see loc. cit. for a fuller explanation of the theoretical basis of this). The step which has the most powerful effect of all is the rising fourth (or falling fifth) , for it corresponds most closely to the harmonic series; next after it in power is the falling third (or rising sixth). The step of the second, though superstrong by nature, has not in fact such a powerful effect, simply because it is too strong for everyday use: "Allzu Scharf macht schartig" (Too sharp makes notches), as the German

proverb goes. If we adapt these principles to chromatic harmony, we get

the following results:






.P^TTT^ -" bii



u~ OC

=z===^==^- iK>-4 i*J






(The step of a

divides neither rises nor falls). Schoenberg recommends a judicious mixture of strong and weak progressions; not too many strong ones in succession (and especially not too many superstrong in conjunction ones) , and weak ones to be used sparingly, chiefly with strong progressions (see loc. cit. for further details). All of this still applies in chromatic music to a considerable extent; and so let us return to the Hindemith progression (Ex. 53)
see if it helps us.

tritone remains neutral, as we have seen before; the octave into two equal parts, and therefore

sharp doubtful if the root of the first chord is the root of the second is certainly B, as Hindemith sharp; states (B minor chord with both flattened and sharpened and Bb) so the root-progression does not help us seventh, a super-strong step in either case. Let us then leave here, being

We are still



question for the moment the general tonality of the this in due course and passage will probably help us to decide continue with the analysis of the remaining chords. The root of the third chord is given by Hindemith as in the middle of it. sharp, on the strength of the fifth G#-D# This does not strike me as possible, as the remaining notes all contradict this interpretation the bass note is Bb (A sharp) which is the "supertonic" in old-fashioned parlance, and the others are the augmented fourth (D) and the minor sixth E or Bb; the latter has (E). Two alternatives are preferable the advantage of being the bass note, which always tends to preponderate, and in that case we should have a B flat chord containing major third, perfect fourth (D#), diminished fifth (E) and flattened seventh (G#). If we take the root as E, which would probably be the "classical" method of analysis, we should

have major third, diminished fifth (Bb), and both major and minor sevenths (D# and D); in favour of this is the movement of the root a fourth upwards from the previous chord (B E) This chord too, then, is doubtful; it is based on two pairs of major thirds a tritone apart (Bb-D, E-G#), and therefore we can only decide its root from the remaining note in the chord

(Dfl) and the root-progression in general; let us therefore note the alternatives (Bb and E) and return to it later. The root of the fourth chord is given by Hindemith as A, and this is probably correct; in this case it would contain both

major and minor second, perfect


and minor



only alternative is B flat the third inversion of a major seventh with B flat as its root but the Bfc] and Etj are against this interpretation. (It should be remembered, however, that if arranged for orchestra this chord could be scored in such a way that the Bb would predominate and thus alter its whole

I feel,

states; in

root of the fifth chord is certainly G, as Hindemith the old days it would have been known as an eleventh. however, that Hindemith is wrong in calling the root of

the sixth chord Eb; it is surely an Ab chord with Bb as appoggiatura for Ab and Etq for Eb. The seventh chord he correcdy bases on Eb, with augmented fourth, perfect fifth, major seventh and minor ninth (or minor second, if you prefer) ; Chord 8 is merely another position of Chord 5 and is of course

based on G; and Chord 9



a triad of A flat minor.

Our analysis

thus gives us the following root-progression:

Ex. 120


The general tonality is Ab; and therefore it would appear more

logical to regard

as this

Chord i as based on C sharp (Dj>), especially a triad in root position. As regards Chord 3, obviously it is better from the point of view of root-progression to regard the root as E, which gives us the best type of strong progression (root moving upwards a fourth) between Chords 2, 3 and 4; if we take Bb as the root we have nothing but superstrong steps from Chords i to 6. A further factor is that the major seventh E-D# acts as a better limiting or defining element than the perfect fourth Bb-D#, which tends to suggest the tonality of EbI am aware that the above method of analysis is open to criticism, but I think it better to advance slowly and cautiously, a recognising our difficulties as we go, rather than to impose scheme which may not be in accordance with the preconceived facts of the case. The progression analysed above is of course not a very "good" one musically, as Hindemith justifiably remarks, but it will serve as a starting point. Let us now examine a simple example from twelve-tone
music, the
66, p. 84). I
Ex. 121

main theme of Schoenberg's Wind Quintet (Ex. would analyse the root-progressions as follows:

The first chord of bar i is clearly based on E; the movement of the bass to F# on the fourth beat, together with the D and A D as the next root. The hi the parts, clearly indicate

root on the fourth beat of bar 4 is more debatable; the C has entered on the third beat as a minor seventh above the root be construed D, and the appearance of E b and under it could



this is

as Implying a classical 6/4 chord;

and C#, building up the by the entry of the lower parts on neutral chord consisting of two major thirds a tritone apart, and Eb- It is only in the middle which has two possible roots, of bar 5 that C emerges as the root of this chord, confirmed by in the top part. (Incidentally in the "neutral" the Bb and as the root, both chord above, Eb is clearly preferable to

soon negatived

through the context and as giving a stronger root-progression.) The passage is not of course long enough for us to be able to place it in a definite tonality. The next quotation for the same work (Ex. 67) gives an even clearer example of tonal implications within a twelve-tone framework. I would suggest the following analysis of the rootprogressions:
Ex. 122

It will

be seen that this gives a succession of descending thirds, strong steps, and very much in the classical tradition. In the following example (Ex. 68) the harmonic basis is also
1-2 Root

perfectly clear, as follows:


3-4 5-6


Again we have a


of superstrong and strong steps, if we in bar 7. The student may now disregard the preparatory attempt the analysis of some of the other Schoenberg examples given in this chapter, and see what he makes of them. He may for instance, study the theme of Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra (Ex. 77, p. 90) ; here he will find constantly changing roots, e.g. Bars 34-5, G-C; bars 36-37, E-Bb; bars 39-40, C amounting to a kind of 6/4 chord; bars 41-42, A~D; bars 43~45> Bb, etc. In fact, instead of regarding this type of writing

as having



no tonality at all, it is truer to say that it is constantly moving from one point to another within the twelve-note scale. Whether such a passage as a whole can be said to have a general tonality will of course depend on the root-successions; this theme has a definite ending rooted on B (bars 56 -7), but one certainly could not say that the whole theme is "in" B; B is
merely the

from Schoenberg's Op. 33a,

of rest. (Of. also the analysis of a passage p. 67 above). are thus approaching a new conception of tonality in which root-progressions move freely within the twelve-note scale, not following the classical laws of preparation and resolution (in most cases the resolution of what would be a discord in traditional parlance is simply taken for granted and omitted) but still governed by the old principles of strong,
final point


superstrong and weak progressions. Note for instance, as a further example, the series of root-progressions hi the firat half of Ex. 77 G, G, E, Bb, G, A, D, Bb respectively strong, weak, neutral (altering the significance of a held chord), superstrong, and three successive strong progressions. What could be nearer to classical procedure? We may then lay down then as a harmonic provisional method of analysis for predominantly root note of each chord, which will (i) find the passages normally be the same as in the traditional method of analysis, and (ii) set out and analyse the root-progressions. From these it will be possible to discover the general tonality of a passage or a piece if any; for a composer, whether he uses twelvetone methods or not, may engender a general feeling of tonality by emphasising one particular root note, or he may avoid it as far as he can by using as many different roots as possible. I am certain that it is by this means that tonality is suggested or avoided, and not by the mere use of note-series, which of themselves neither engender nor suppress tonal feeling.

Let us now see if this method can be applied to predominantly take a simple example first, contrapuntal passages. We will Bart6k's ist Quartet (Ex. 37, p. 45>- Here the quotation from we have music moving chromatically in four parts; the roots
are as follows:

Bar Roots

F Ab

(Ab) Bb F

G (Bb)


(E) etc,



roots in brackets in bars 2


and 3

are used only in passing.

be seen that a good many of the progressions are weak ones, which may account for the slightly indeterminate effect of this passage, as well as the fact that the music is constantly moving from one point to another. A more complex example may be seen in Ex. 80 (from Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra). In the first half bar the successive E, Bb and Gff suggest E as the root of a "dominant" chord of A; but this is immediately contradicted by the Gfc] which is clearly the root of the first half of the next
It will

are the roots of the third and fourth quavers respectively, though on the last semiquaver the bass has already moved to B. Ex. 8 1 also presents some complications. may take the roots of the first two semiquavers as C# and B, and of the third and fourth as F; but the second group is not so easy. Though the main tonal centre is E, the roots of the individual semiquavers would appear to be E, G, B and G; so that we are back at the old classical concept of 'inessential" or "passing" notes, but in a different form. Our next examples are taken from Webern (Ex. 93 and 94, pp. 100-1). Here tonality is so attenuated that it is very difficult to give any analysis of root-progressions, especially in Ex. 93. style which is based to a large extent on the use of adjacent semi-tones and which also contains so few actual notes marks the nearest approach to atonality that we have yet met. At the best one can say that the roots are constantly changing a

C and D



scheme might be as


Bar Roots But



G Ab B







Bb C




admit that such an analysis


by no means

not quite so complex. Bars 1-2 are rooted on B, a kind of "dominant" to the E of bars 3-4. Bars 5-7 alternate between Bb and E the "neutral" tritone again ending on E; in bars 8-9 we have successively C, F# (tritone again) and D, acting as "dominant" of the G which is the root of bars 10-1 1; so here the root-progression tQQ

Ex. 94


acts as

a symmetrical shape.




As a final example let us take the passage from Valen's Second Quartet quoted above (Ex. 116). Here there is a use of a various ostinato-like figures which somewhat confuse the picture; but one can say that the main root of bar i is E and bar 2 B; in bars 3-4 we move from A[> (G#) via G and D to Bfr. Admittedly this sort of music is difficult to analyse from a tonal point of view, as there is a considerable use of what one might call "inessential" notes; but if one can keep the main lines of the harmony clear, it is not difficult to
discover the root-progressions. I do not think it is necessary to continue to give further examples, as I hope the method of analysis will be clear by now, and the student may amuse himself by applying it to other examples in this book. The chief principle is of course to discover the main harmonic complex, strip it of its inessentials, and discover its root. The root may not necessarily be in the

very often is; the presence of a fifth or fourth in may be a help to its discovery, but this cannot be applied as an automatic rule in the manner of Hindemith, as we have seen. It is a question mostly of common sense and experience, but I think it can produce useful results if properly applied. In very complex combinations, such as the Milhaud examples above (Ex. 33-35) it may be necessary to find the predominant chord or note, and derive the root from that e.g. B in Ex. 33, C# in Ex. 34, E in Ex* 35. 1 fear that I cannot be more precise than this; the subject is an enormous one, and has not yet been folly explored by any means. It should be emphasised that the root notes in themselves do not always add up to a general tonality; as we have seen, it is up to the individual composer to decide how much or how little tonal feeling he wishes to present, and he does this by his handling of the root progressions. If, as in Webern, his roots are constantly changing, and are accompanied by other notes which



the chord

sharply contradict them, he will approach very close to true can certainly accept a table of the type of atonality. Hindemith*s Series 2 (Ex. 51, p. 56) as showing the relative degree of tension (or "dissonance" in traditional parlance) in various intervals, and the more intervals contained in a chord or harmonic complex which appear towards the lefthand side of this table, the easier it will be for us to analyse it




traditional methods. must however extend our theory of traditional harmony by admitting the emancipation of the dissonance and removing the traditional distinction between concords and discords; intervals in a chord which are further to the right of our table may be less consonant or less essential, but they are not dissonant or inessential. Nor does this imply that the major triad is the "best'* chord musically; it is certainly the nearest to the harmonic series, but we may not want to stick to the harmonic series. It is purely an aesthetic matter whether we use more concordant or less concordant material; all one asks is that each piece of music shall be consistent with itself. One cannot lay down any formulae for artistic values;



one can merely analyse technical processes and try to see how they work. Similarly, though we cannot speak any longer of dominants, subdominants, mediants, etc., we do have a number of roots in each piece which may revolve round a main tonal centre or may move freely from one point to another; or one can of course combine both methods, i.e. having a main tonal centre which is only stressed at crucial points, with the roots moving freely in between these. These roots now move within a twelvenote instead of a seven-note scale, but the relations of the roots to each other still remain the same, as we saw in our discussion

of strong and weak progressions; and the strongest progression still that corresponding to the old dominant-tonic step (V-I). It does not matter if both the "dominant" and "tonic" chords contain innumerable altered or additional notes the underlying movement is still there. So that in a sense there is no real division between the different methods used by contemporary composers; some of them have a "main root" which they exalt by repetition or other means of emphasis into becoming a "tonal centre", while others do not.

Most composers do not, I imagine, consciously analyse their when they are writing music; their unconscious ear, trained in the classical past, will help them to produce the
want. Nevertheless the study of root-analysis will

results they

show us how to produce effects which many people complain are missing from the music of today; one can emphasise one root as a tonal centre, perhaps leaving it for short stretches and then returning to it; then a decided move to and dwelling




on another root will give an effect comparable to modulation from one diatonic key to another no matter how chromatic the complex above each root may be. Admittedly the more chromatic the complex is, the more it will contradict the root; but this method of procedure is at any rate possible, and we at any rate know the relative value of the different rootprogressions.

Can we

which depend on modulation?

also retain the old forms, sonata, fugue, rondo, etc., It can, I think, be done, though

modulations of this kind will not perhaps have the incisiveness or effect of the classical modulations, simply because they are likely to be carried out with more complex means; but in
theory they are certainly possible. But I think also that the freer forms engendered by the Lisztian transformation of themes may have a good deal to offer us; if we can forget the pictorial

which they were given by nineteenth-century composers and treat them organically, as Liszt did in his piano

sonata, for instance,

we may find that new possibilities are Personally I feel it is better to control our material opened up. itself and enlarge the forms rather than to put into the tight framework of the canon and fugue a type of music for which
they were never designed. Our last point concerns melody; if we have found some glimmerings of a method of evaluating the vertical basis of contemporary music, what about the horizontal? Here again we have tradition to guide us; the traditional values of the different intervals are not necessarily upset by the more

can complex system of harmony in which they partake, and we a melody in relation to the root of the chord or complex still hear in which it participates. The relations between a melody and its accompanying harmony may have become more abstruse, but it is a question of degree, not of a fundamental revolution. And this brings me to my conclusion; the fundamental basis of music is still the same. The harmonic series is still there, however much we get away from it, and it remains a strong, unseen power in the background. We are perhaps making that come less use of its fundamental notes and more of those in the series; but the fundamentals are still implied, higher and all that we are doing is to work at a remove from them.
I believe therefore

in the free use of all the twelve notes of the



chromatic scale; I also believe that every harmonic and contrapuntal complex contains a root note which can be discovered. The root note may lie still for a long time or it may change rapidly; and the more any one root note is emphasised the more "tonal" will the music sound and vice versa. "Tonality" and "atonality" are thus questions of degree, not of fundamental difference; the consistent and equal use of all the twelve notes of the scale can still produce a feeling of tonality if required. Music cannot get away from its roots, and it is through the variation in the movement of its roots that it produces its varied effects. If in this survey I have concentrated on the more extreme and chromatic handling of the roots, it is because this is the most difficult to analyse and reconcile with the


if I

it is

historical past. But though also fundamentally an


may have


evolutionary art,


to show that the same forces which processes in the past are still at work today, albeit substantially different form, I shall have achieved my

have helped




THIS book has been some time in the press; and corr.scsitio:: has naturally not stood still during this period. Schoenberg has died; and the remaining three leading figures of the old guard of revolutionaries Stravinsky, Milhaud and Hindemith have not shown any signs of launching out in new directions, apart from some use of a serial technique (of a kind) and a Webernlike texture in

some recent works of Stravinsky, like the Septet and the Shakespeare Songs. Meanwhile the younger comfirst

posers have been consolidating the territory by their predecessors; here again there has been




new development

apart from one which affects a number of the younger twelve-tone composers, and which appears to contradict my statement in Chapter VII that Webern is

unlikely to

become "the

direct ancestor of

all at present in their twenties, and belonging to several different countries, are experimenting with a style which clearly steins from

of composition."

a new technique

group of young composers,

later technique; they are, however, attempting to carry this further by a much more complex use of rhythm and sonority, in some cases based on mathematical principles; that


to say, they appear to be aiming to impose the same type of formal control on the rhythm, tone-colour and pitch of the music as the twelve-tone method imposes on the notes themselves. typical example is taken from the "Kontrapunkte " No. i by the young German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

[Ex. 123, p. 148]. (The ties over the bar-lines indicate that the notes are held on). It will be seen that this is pre-eminently


contrapuntal, and the student may be interested in seeing the note-series run through the different instruments. Other composers who are tending in this direction include

Pierre Boulez (France), Luigi



Giselher Klebe


and Jacques Wildberger (Switzerland).

obviously too early to




as yet only in

generalisations about a movement infancy, but certain points can be





(N.B. All notes sound as written.)

noted regarding

this style. Tonality is clearly avoided as rigorously as possible, rhythm is dislocated to the utmost (Stockhausen's "Kontrapunkte" contains several passages of even greater rhythmical complexity than the one quoted here),



there is no question of the use of themes longer than small motifs of the type seen above, and isolated notes provide the main basis of the music; in addition there is a tendency to use the extreme registers of the instruments as much as possible and also to pass rapidly from one (cf. Varese's methods) extreme to the other the trumpet part seen here is a good example of this. The difficulty of this sort of music is to avoid lack of continuity; it is hard to see any overall form or design in many of the works in this style, though each individual passage is logically constructed within itself. That is to say,

the music gives a predominantly static effect, and one cannot feel that it is normally aiming towards a goal or conclusion. However, there is no doubt that it presents some new elements from the technical point of view, and its future development will be interesting to watch. of an important Finally, I should mention the appearance his pupil and assistant analysis of Schoenberg's methods by London Josef Rufer, Composition with Twelve Notes (Rockliff, This may be regarded as the authorised exposition of 1954). "classical" twelve-tone technique, and it also discusses the innovations made by Schoenberg in his last works. Unforbe discussed in tunately its publication came too late for it to the main body of this book, but its contents may be briefly summarised here. After chapters devoted to general theoretical discussion and to an account of the break-up of the majorminor tonality, Rufer deals with the concept of the Grundgestalt this is the musical phrase which is the (literally, basic shape) basis of each work and is its "first creative thought", in Schoenelse in the work is derived, berg's words from it everything itself. This concept applies equally to including the series Beethoclassical music, and Rufer shows how all the elements in ven's Sonata Op. 10, No. i are derived from the Gnmdgestati in its first four bars. Rufer then deals in detail with Schoenberg's

full "transitional" works, Op. 23 and 24, before giving a account of the principles of twelve-tone composition itself: to base a in this chapter he discusses whether it is legitimate more than one series, and whether twelve-tone music work on

some should tend towards athematism, as has been suggested by the special uses of melody, harmony writers. He next describes and rhythm in twelve-tone music, and gives a detailed exposi-

methods of inventing thematic material the final chapter deals with problems of form, including an analysis of Schoenberg's Fantasy for a most valuable violin and piano. Op. 47. The whole book is of Schoenberg's own approach to the subject, in both account is contributed by a number theory and practice: an appendix of contemporary composers, describing their individual methods
tion of Schoenberg's

from a twelve-tone


of twelve-tone composition.

Books and articles on contemporary music are legion I have only chosen those which are likely to be of most use to the student. As far as possible, all are written in English, though in certain cases, where no other equally valid sources are available, I have mentioned books in French or German. They are arranged in the order of subjects discussed in this booL

ABRAHAM, GERALD. This Modern Stuff. London 1939. GARNER, Mosco. A Study ofzoth Century Harmony. London 1942. DYSON, SIR GEORGE. The New Music. London 1924. GRAY, CECIL. A Survey of Contemporary Music, London 1924. LAMBERT, CONSTANT. Music Ho/ London 1934. MELLERS, W. H. Studies in Contemporary Music. London 1947. MYERS, ROLLO H. Music in the Modern World. London 1939. PISTON, WALTER. Counterpoint. SLONIMSKY, NICHOLAS. Music since igoo. New York 1949.


life. London 1936. London 1947, ofMusic WHITE, ERIC WALTER. Stravinsky. London 1947.

Chronicles of my


BECK, G* L'Oeuvre de Darius Milhaud. Paris 1949. COLLAER, PAUL. Darius Milhaud. Brussels 1948. MILHAUD, DARIUS, Notes sans musique. Paris 1949.

HARASZTI, EMIL. Bela Bart6k. Paris 1939 (in English). Bela Bart6L London 1953. HALSEY. The Life and Music of Bela BarttL London STEVENS,




HINDEMTTH, PAUL. The Craft of Musical Vol. I, Theory. London 1945.


Vol. II, Exercises in Two-Part Writing.

Twelve-Tone Music.



KRENEK, ERNST. Studies in Counterpoint. New York 1940. LEIBOWTTZ, RENE. Introduction d la musique de 12 sons. Paris 1949
Qu'est-ce que la musique de 12 sons? Li&ge 1948. Schoenberg and his School. London 1 954. NEWLIN, DIKA. Bruckner , Mahler, Schoenberg. London 1947.

REICH, WILU. Alban Berg. Vienna 1937.*

ROGNONI, LUIGI. Espressionismo e Dodecafonia. Turin 1954. RUFER, JOSEF. Composition with Twelve Notes. London 1954. SCHOENBERG, ARNOLD. Harmonielehre. Vienna 1921*
Theory of Harmony.*

New York


London 1954. STEIN, ERWIN. Orpheus in New Guises. London 1953. WELLESZ, EGON. Arnold Schoenberg. London 1924.

Style and Idea. London 1951. Structural Functions of Harmony.

BUSONI, FERRUCCIO. A New Esthetic of Music. Von der Einheit der Musik. Berlin.*

New York



DENT, EDWARD J. Ferruccio Busoni. London 1933. VAN DIEREN, BERNARD. Down Among the Dead Men. London


AP!VOR, DENIS. Bernard van Dieren. Music Survey. Vol. Ill, No.

JACHIMECKI, Z. Karol Szymanowski. London (School of Slavonic

MULLER, DANIEL. Leos jfandcek. Paris 1930. BELLAMANN, HENRY. Charles Ives. Musical Quarterly, Jan. 1933. GoWELL, HENRY. Charles Ives. Modern Music, Nov. 1932. HELM, EVERETT. Charles Ives. Musical Times, July 1954. COWELL, HENRY. The Music of Edgar Varise. Modern Music,
Jan. 1928.

KLAREN, J. H. Edgar



Tbis, unfortunately, is only a translation of extracts from the Harmonielehre; most of the important theoretical discussions are omitted.

^English translation in preparation.

A GOOD many records of contemporary music are now available,
especially in the United States since the advent of the longplaying record. These are useful adjuncts to the study of the works discussed in this book, but the student is recommended to follow them with the score where possible. The following list does not pretend to completeness, and should be supplemented by enquiries at gramophone shops etc. regarding upto-date recordings1 (N.3B. LP long playing, 33 All other records mentioned are 78 r.p.m.)


Most of Stravinsky's major works have been recorded, readily available, both on 78 and 33 r.p.m.

and are


Creation du Monde (Columbia) Miniature operas (Columbia)

Extracts from the Oresteia (including Les Eumenides) (Fr.


Columbia) i, 2, 3 and 5 of Cinq Symphonies (Concert Hall, U.S.)

Suite, Protee (Victor)


good deal of Bartok has been recorded, including all 6 quartets (U.S. LP; some also available on 78 r.p.m.). Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 3, Concerto for Orchestra, Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion, and a series made for U.S. LP. in collaboration
with the composer's son, including The Wonderful Mandarin, Two Portraits, Dance Suite and Viola Concerto.
*The Record Gwdc, by Edward Sackville West and Desmond Shawe-Taylor (London 1951), together with all its regular supplements, provides an up-to-date guide to records available in Great Britain. Exhaustive information about all types of records will be found in Clough & Cuming's The World's Encyclopaedia, of Recorded Music (London 1952), which is also kept up to date by regular supplements.



Here too, a certain amount has been recorded, of which the most important is the Mathis der Maler Symphony (TelefunkenDecca), and some of the chamber works.

Verklarte Nacht

(HMV and Capitol LP) and Melisande (Capitol LP)



Chamber Symphony No.

Pierrot Lunaire (U.S.)

(French Classic)

Piano Pieces, Op. and 19 (Danish Quartets Nos. 1-4 (U.S. LP)


Ode to Napoleon


Complete Piano Works (Esquire LP) Serenade (U.S. LP)

Suite Op. 29 (Classic) Prelude to Genesis Suite (Artist, U.S.) Survivor from Warsaw, Kol Nidrei,


2nd Chamber


(U.S. LP)

Songs, Op. 2 (Esquire-Classic) Three Fragments from Wozzeck (Columbia)

Chamber Concerto


Lyric Suite (Polydor-Decca) Violin Concerto (Columbia LP)

Seven Early Songs (U.S.) Piano Sonata (U.S.)

String Quartet

Op. 3


complete opera (U.S. LP) Lulu complete opera (U.S. LP). Der Wein (Capitol LP)
Selection of


Chamber Works
Op. 5

(including 5



string quartet,

U.S. LP)

String Trio (Decca)



Cello pieces Op. 11 and Saxophone Quartet (U.S. LP)



Die Ndchtlichen (Polydor) Sonatina 5 (Friends of Recorded Music, U.S.) Fantasia in memory of his father (Columbia) and several other piano works recorded by Egon Petri.

Van Dieren
Nothing, unfortunately, seems to have been recorded.
Stymanowski otherwise seems to ist Violin Concerto (Parfophone) be represented only by some unimportant pieces The Fountain of Arethusa and Theme and Variations in

B flat (both Columbia): also Mazurkas, Op. 50 (HMV) and fitudes, Op.33 (U.S. Columbia)
Jandcek Concertino for Piano and 6 Instruments (Supraphon) String Quartet (Kreutzer Sonata) (Supraphon) Overtures, Mafcropoulos and Katya Kabanova (Supraphon)

Music from "The Cunning Vixen" (Supraphon) Taras Bulba (Supraphon) Laski Dances (Supraphon) Capriccio for Piano (left hand) and Chamber Orch.
(Supraphon) Various smaller choral works (Supraphon)


Diary of a Young

Man who Disappeared

Mass (Supraphon)


Glagolithic Festival

Concord Sonata (U.S. Columbia) 2nd Quartet (Nixa, Period) No. 3 of Three Places hi New England (Artist, U.S.) Violin Sonatas 2 and 4 (Alco and NMQR, U.S.)
Holidays, Suite

Concert Hall, U.S.)


(NMQR and

Octandre, Integrates, lonisation, Density. 217 (U.S. LP)


Violin Concerto (Norwegian HMV) Le Cimetiere Marin (Norwegian HMV)

Symphony No.

3 (Norwegian


Various works in J and

tones (Supraphon



d' Albert,

Eug&ie, 65

d'Indy, 126 Ives, Charles, 124-6, 133

Bach, G. P. E., 3, 132 Bach, J. S., 1-4, 6-9, 13, 25, 66,
III, Il8, 121 Bart6k, i, 5, 13, 21, 32, 35, 44' 54, 55, I4 1 2




Beethoven, 3, 66 Berlioz, 133 Berg, Alban, 8, 72-3, 78-81, 938,

Klebe, Gisclher, 147 Klengel, 3 Kfenek, 111-117




112, 116,

Lambert, Constant, 29 Leibowitz, Ren<, 73*, 77*, 102,

104, Liszt, 5, 8-9, 44, 116,


Blorn, Eric, 13/1

18, 133-4*

Boulez, Pierre, 147 Brahms, 3 Busoni, 5, 118-9, IJ Bush, Alan, 134


Machaut, Guillaume

Garner, Mosco,




de, 66 Mahler, 13-15, 16, 72, 133 Mendelssohn, 3 Milhaud, i, 21, 34-43, 47, 53, 69, 143, 147

Debussy, 20, 44, 71-2, 121,

133-4 Dent, Edward J., 119 Dieren, Bernard van, 119-121

Mozart, 3, 132 Mussorgsky, 72


Luigi, 147

Gesualdo, 3-4, 7, 10 Gray, Cecil, 4*1

Paganini, 133
Palestrina, i, 3, 6, Puccini, 72
Purcell, 3-4

in, 113


Alois, 128/1

Handel, 3

Haydn, 105
Heseltine, Philip,



21, 55-70, 72,


Ravel, 20 Reger, 9-10, 72, 130 Reich, Willi, 94, 103 Roussel, 126 Rufer, Josef, 7971, 106,


Hdlderlin, 103



Szymanowski, 33-4, 50, 121-2,

i, 3/1, 5-6, 16-21, 30, 34, 44, 61, 66-9, 98-9, 104-111, 115-6, 119, 121, 124, 126, 130

Schubert, 134

Valen, 129-131, 143 Varese, 126-8, 149 Vaughan Williams, 132

Schumann, 3
Scriabine, 20

Spohr, gn Stein, Erwin, 76*2 Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 147-9 Strauss, Richard, 11-13, 3 2 71-2, 1 1 6, 133
Stravinsky, i, 5, 14, 21, 22-31, 32, 52, 53> 66, 69, 127, 132,

i, 3, 5, 9, 66, 71, 72, 93* !05> n6, 120, 133 Webern, 72, 73, 75, 79-80, 93, 99-104, in, 115, u6, 121,



42 14

Wedekind, 97 Widor, 126

Wildberger, Jacques, 147


Great XZiritam by