Tone-row music and serialism

September 29 & 30, 1997

"Alban Berg - Violin Concerto". The tone-row of this work is made out of ascending thirds and a whole-tone scale fragment.

As in the case of the Variations for Orchestra by Arnold Schoenber, the tone-row here reflects complex and multiple compositional reasons some of which preceed the writing of the actual notes in the piece (pre-compositional work):

The 10 bar Introduction constructs the row in front of our eyes (or ears). The solo violin plays sounds 1-3-5-7 of the row (open strings) in bar 2 while the orchestra fills in the other sounds (2-4-6). The procedure is repeated in bar 4 starting with sound 2 and continues every other bar until the entire row is swept from left to right.

Meantime, in the even-numbered bars, the orchestra performs the same "sweeping" of P3. In these 10 measures, Alban Berg seems to introduce his audience to the (pre-)compositional process itself by constructing the row from scratch and offering this insight as part of the musical object itself (the Concerto).


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