Talk:List of dodecaphonic and serial compositions

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Merge proposal[edit]

I see that it has been proposed that this list be merged with the List of pieces which use serialism. This seems a sensible proposal, since neither list is especially long (at least, not at the moment), and there is considerable duplication, especially in the list of Schoenberg's compositions. However, as the article Serialism indicates, there are different senses of that term, and by no means are all serial pieces twelve-tone (at least two of the pieces presently in the list of serial pieces, the Calonne and Tremblay, do not use twelve-tone technique, for example). For this reason, it would be best to merge the lists under the "serialism" heading, and possibly to indicate in that list which pieces fall under the smaller heading "twelve-tone pieces".--Jerome Kohl 00:36, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree. I should have taggedo it as It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into List of pieces which use serialism. Twelve-tone is a specific subcategory of serialism. --S.dedalus 23:35, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Merge but distinguish Twelve tone compositions are serialistic by their very nature, but they use a special type of serialism in which all 12 tones/notes are present without duplication. Other serialist works will either duplicate or miss out some of the notes, or both, in the series they use; they are also not nessecarily atonal. For now both lists should appear on the same page but with 12t in one list, and all other serial works in an other. I will be easier to spot mistakes that way, too. Jubilee♫clipman 04:53, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
It is more complicated than that. Twelve-tone compositions only became "serialistic" in 1949, when René Leibowitz first applied the word "serial" to twelve-tone technique, so it is purely tautological to say they are "by their very nature" serialistic. "Other serialist works" do far more (and far less) than simply "duplicate or miss out some of the notes, or both". You are assuming that there is still a recurring referential ordered set, but this is not true for, say, Pousseur's Quintet in Memory of Anton Webern or Scambi, Stockhausen's Klavierstück I, Zyklus, or Stimmung (a sterling example of non-atonal serialism), Boulez's Le Marteau sans maître (apart form the "Bourreaux de solitude" movements), or Goeyvaerts's Nr. 5 with Pure Tones. Simply dividing the list into two both presupposes a priority for twelve-tone music and assumes that all others share some common trait (which, if true, has not been explained to date, so far as I am aware). It seems to me that, before merging these two lists, it would be well to decide what "non-n-tone-row" serialism might be, especially if it comes to nothing more than "someone once said this piece is serial, but I don't understand what that means".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 05:37, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
Done. I combined the two into a new article, which now of course needs a lot of work. Jminthorne (talk) 06:03, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Category question[edit]

Due to a recent edit by an anonymous editor, my attention is drawn to the fact that this list is categorized under Wikiproject Classical Music Articles. Because this recent edit involved adding a punk-rock album to the list (and I notice a number of film-score entries, as well), it should be clear that, like serialism, "twelve-tone" is a technique, not a genre or style. What are other editors' views on this? Should this list be restricted to "classical" music? (If so, should the title be altered to reflect this, and a new list begun for Twelve-tone popular music?) A further thought: to what extent should WP:Notability be applied to this list which, at the moment, seems to be a bit indiscriminate?—Jerome Kohl 01:41, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

I find it very had to believe that there is any twelve-tone music in existence that is not classical art music. Any popular music piece that was added to this list I would view with extreme skepticism unless it was well sited. If there really is a rock song that actually uses twelve-tone technique though I don’t see why it should not be added. It seems unlikely that this list will ever be taken over by pop music. --S.dedalus 03:02, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, check the recent addition to the list of Greg Ginn's "The Process of Weeding Out". Some time earlier, you will find someone added items by Benjamin Frankel, David Shire, and some bloke named Sculptured. None of these appear to be "classical art music." Not long ago, I learned of a British heavy-metal band called Twelve Ton Method, who claim to be advocates of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. However, a quick listen to some of their allegedly 12-tone pieces made it plain that they either had no idea at all of what 12-tone technique involves, or they are sending us up. This brings me to the issue of WP:RS. It is all well and good for someone to claim that Brahms's Lullaby or "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (or, indeed, Greg Ginn's "The Process of Weeding Out") is a 12-tone composition, but a mere claim by any editor is, I trust, insufficient to establish such a claim. Naturally, none of those pieces by Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, etc. are documented in this list with published analyses demonstrating twelve-tone technique, but I expect there is little doubt that they could be. The film scores, Mr. Ginn's work and, in fact, the (unnamed) works of Josef Matthias Hauer might be a little more difficult to verify in such a way. I personally would welcome the addition of pop songs using this technique (and I believe it would not be difficult to find jazz pieces that do so), but the problem of reliable sources remains. Then there is the issue of notability.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:46, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I’m not entirely convinced that this article should even be kept, but I don’t think it would pass an AfD review. I suppose with a great deal of effort this could become a passable list. --S.dedalus (talk) 22:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)


Shouldn't this article be moved to "List of pieces that use serial and twelve-tone techniques"? Toccata quarta (talk) 15:48, 7 October 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps, and perhaps it should also somehow indicate that these "pieces" are in fact musical compositions and not, for example, pieces of jigsaw puzzles. It would make the title longer, though. Please develop your reasoning.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 20:33, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Does "pieces that use twelve-tone" make any sense? Toccata quarta (talk) 20:51, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't know. Does it?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:05, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Of course not. "List of pieces that use serialism and twelve-tone" is nonsense, just as "pieces that use Baroque forms" is. Toccata quarta (talk) 21:30, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
That's more like it! Well, "serialism" is certainly credentialed as a noun, and as long ago as 1959 Heinz-Klaus Metzger (in Die Reihe 4: "Reports, Analyses") documented "the twelve-tone", although it is true this was in a list of music-criticism terms that "do not grasp a subject" and are therefore "abortive concepts". While I agree that this title looks like it went for a long walk on a short dock, would it not be preferable to recast it in a shorter, rather than a longer form? For example: "List of serial and twelve-tone compositions", or "List of serial and twelve-tone musical pieces"?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 21:50, 7 October 2012 (UTC)
Are you (and others) OK with the new title? Toccata quarta (talk) 17:21, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
What's with this long Greek word "dodecaphonic"? I don't recall it ever came up in the discussion.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:30, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I went for "dodecaphonic" as Twelve-tone technique claims that British English prefers "twelve-note" to "twelve-tone". But I may be wrong in thinking that "dodecaphonic" is used in both the UK and the US. Toccata quarta (talk) 17:37, 16 October 2012 (UTC)


Here goes another dumb question: aren't Babbitt, Dallapiccola and Wuorinen misplaced? Toccata quarta (talk) 17:29, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

How so? They composed twelve-tone music, unlike most of the composers listed under "serialism".—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:32, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
OK, I'm getting lost. I've always thought that "dodecaphonic" means "uses twelve-note rows as the basis for musical construction", while "serial" means "treats dynamics, note values, etc. as tone rows". I've also believed that Webern was a precursor of serialism, and Babbitt the first to use it (in 1947). So how many lies have I been told? Toccata quarta (talk) 17:46, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
No, not necessarily. Serialism is a very broad concept (possibly so broad as to be meaningless), but does not necessarily even have anything to do with dynamics, note values, etc., and only in some cases treats these dimensions as tone rows. As the article on the subject says, the word "serialism" is often used (especially in English) as a synonym for "twelve-tone technique", but in other languages (particularly German) actually started out with the sense of "not twelve-tone". Hence the subsequent confusion about what the term actually means. The works in the "serial" list by Jean Barraqué, on the one hand, do not present "rows" of dynamics or durations, and for pitches use a concept the composer called "proliferating series", where one twelve-tone row engenders a new one, that in turn produces a third, and so on—and not according to the "canonic operations" of twelve-tone technique. On the other hand, Barraqué uses (at least in the Piano Sonata) a system of musical shapes derived from Olivier Messiaen's idea of "rhythmic neumes" or cellules, but these are not presented in a fixed, recurring order, but rather are permuted, regularly or irregularly. Boulez and Stockhausen use this approach also, in works like Le marteau sans maître and the Klavierstücke I–IV, respectively. While Boulez does use fixed-order rows in Le marteau, Stockhausen does not in the Klavierstücke, which are examples of what is sometimes called "permutational serialism". The serialism of Pousseur's Scambi is even more literally permutational, since the tape modules of which it is composed are intended to be re-ordered for every performance, more or less at the whim of the listener/performer. The example by Luigi Nono come closer to fitting your idea, as do the Structures for Two Pianos by Boulez (the first book of which is the actual basis for the "textbook" definition which you cite). I have no idea at all how the cited pieces by Ernest Gold and Jerry Goldsmith fit into this picture. They are there because a source describes them with the word "serialism", though I suspect in their cases it means simply that they used twelve-tone rows—in other words, they are in the wrong part of the list, but I can't demonstrate that this is the case, so for the time being they stay where they are. To understand how many other works qualify as "serial" (for example, Stockhausen's Aus den sieben Tagen, or the music of Richard Barrett, who is not in this list but should be) requires more in-depth explanation and analysis than can be gone into here—I can only refer you to the bibliographies in the linked articles.
Ironically, Luciano Berio is often quoted as a composer who "renounced serialism" in about 1958 (and a recent article by Christoph Neidhöfer in Music Analysis 28, nos. 2–3, from 2009, reinforces this idea), but his published pronouncements on the subject make it clear that what he really meant was twelve-tone technique and its analogues, such as are found in Boulez's Structures, while analysis of his compositions straight through the rest of his career show the same serial compositional principles being used as are found in contemporaneous works by Stockhausen and others. This in turn raises the question of what the difference might be between "strict serialism" and "free serialsm", but that is another huge can of worms.
As for the three composers you have named, as far as I am aware, Dallapiccola never indulged in serial durations, dynamics, etc., but was a thoroughly dedicated employer of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique. Babbitt and Wuorinen, on the other hand, use techniques of relating multiple twelve-tone-rows into web-like structures called arrays, which is a sophistication and development of twelve-tone technique for which the other composers I have mentions have shown little or no interest. Consequently, I would say that they fall naturally into the category of twelve-tone composers, despite their use of serial devices in other musical parameters (especially rhythm).
I think this all gives some idea that you have not been lied to, exactly—rather, people have just been a little too economical with the truth.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:44, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
OK, I was not expecting that. If the word "serialism" can encompass dodecaphony, then this page could be moved to "List of serial compositions" and the division employed in it done away with. What say you? Toccata quarta (talk) 20:10, 16 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that is a very good idea, for the simple reason that one definition of "serial music", as I mentioned, is music that is "not twelve-tone". It is somewhat like including modal music under the heading of tonality, simply because some loose definitions allow the word "tonal" to be applied to any music with any sort of hierarchical organization amongst its tones, despite the fact that "tonality" properly has a more precise, narrower definition. Wikipedia needs to make distinctions (where they exist) clear. Blurring topics together does not further this goal.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:56, 16 October 2012 (UTC)