Tone-row music and serialism II

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 Schoenberg, 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).

[ back to Class Notes | back to Music 408 E | to Reserve list | to Syllabus | back to Courses | back to Sever Tipei's home page | Computer Music Project ]