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The Structure of Atonal Music

The Structure of Atonal Music

Allen Forte
Copyright Date: 1973
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 234
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  • Book Info
    The Structure of Atonal Music
    Book Description:

    "For some years now, a group of American composers and theorists including Babbitt, Teitelbaum, Martino, and Lewin, have been elaborating mathematically based procedures for the analysis of pitch structures in atonal music. In this book, Allen Forte expands the results of their work into a comprehensive theoretical survey illustrated with examples from a wide range of composers."-Times Higher Education Supplement"An attempt to 'provide a general theoretical framework' for the description and analysis of musical pitch-structures that resist interpretation in terms of conventional tonal or 12-note serial systems…. Not the least achievement of this book may be to establish the limits for a positive meaning for atonality…. Forte always moves forward with elegant clarity, explaining even quite conventional terms and illustrating his points with directness and care."-The Musical Times

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15672-0
    Subjects: Music, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Pitch-Class Sets and Relations
    (pp. 1-92)

    The repertory of atonal music is characterized by the occurrence of pitches in novel combinations, as well as by the occurrence of familiar pitch combinations in unfamiliar environments.

    As an example of a pitch combination, consider the chord at the end of the first song in Schoenberg’s “George Lieder” Op. 15 (ex. 1). This pitch combination, which is reducible to one form of the all-interval tetrachord, has a very special place in atonal music. It could occur in a tonal composition only under extraordinary conditions, and even then its meaning would be determined by harmonic-contrapuntal constraints. Here, where such constraints...

  5. 2 Pitch-Class Set Complexes
    (pp. 93-178)

    In the sections of Part 2 that follow, the concepts introduced in Part 1 will be brought within the purview of the set complex, which provides a comprehensive model of relations among pc sets in general and establishes a framework for the description, interpretation, and explanation of any atonal composition.*

    The earlier sections necessarily deal with some abstract materials in an effort to construct an adequate and–it is hoped–lucid framework for the analytical applications made in the final two sections.

    As will be shown, the set-complex model has a number of interesting and novel implications for many aspects...

  6. Appendix 1 Prime Forms and Vectors of Pitch-Class Sets
    (pp. 179-181)
  7. Appendix 2 Similarity Relations
    (pp. 182-199)
  8. Appendix 3 The Subcomplexes Kh
    (pp. 200-208)
  9. Glossary of Technical Terms
    (pp. 209-212)
  10. References
    (pp. 213-214)
  11. Index 1 Musical Examples
    (pp. 215-215)
  12. Index 2 Pc Sets in Musical Examples
    (pp. 216-222)
  13. Index 3 General Index
    (pp. 223-224)