So, here I am composing a piece that I’ve never thought I’ll compose…
A 12 Tone Serialism Piece (more specifically, using Hauer’s Nomos Op.19 piece as my compositional model).
I first stumbled upon Hauer’s piece incidentally on YouTube. Clicking on the next recommended video on YouTube one after the other brought me to listen to Hauer’s Nomos Op. 19; a piece that seemed so surreal, open yet calming with moments of tension that were decorated with interesting melodic pitches.
(Listen to Hauer’s Nomos Op.19 to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpsibYXqKw4)
I was absolutely amazed. How can a composer create an intricate piece of composition that creates suspense by opening the phrase with only octaves?
I started to ask myself various questions:
‘Is it because of the piano’s low register that is creating this dark tone colour? Or is it because of the long held semibreves and minims? Or is it due to the soft dynamic level in the opening of the piece that gradually builds tension?’
“Or… is it a mixture of everything?”
Whatever it was, I was stunned. I didn’t know that 12 tone serialism pieces could sound so wonderful! Before I came across this piece, I thought that most 12 tone serialism pieces were hectic; almost as if words were jumbled up in random order to make a sentence!
My composition process
*Please see my baby steps on ‘Composing 12 Tone Serialism’ on iBooks.
Step 1: Creating a prime (P) tone row
After following steps 1A and 1B from ‘Composing 12 Tone Serialism’ that I’ve created from assignment 2, my prime (P) tone row looked like this.
Melodically, it sounded nice; it had semitones, minor and major 3rds as well as other intervallic leaps. However, I didn’t really like the idea of placing all my consecutive semitones together (G, Ab, A and Gb). So, I decided to change my tone row (but still keeping my first note Bb from step 1A).
Similarly to Hauer’s piece, I wanted to start really low and create a dark tone on the piano.
Step 2: Adding Rhythms
I’ve chosen to use Sibelius to compose my piece and decided to use semibreves for my opening melody like Hauer.
Rather than using octaves to create an open and resonant sound on the piano (see above), I wanted the semibreves to create this effect. Imagining that a piano (not the sound from Sibelius) was playing each semibreve note in a concert hall gave the piece itself an eerie sound; an effect that sounds like a bell ringing and resonating into the air off to a far distance.
Step 3: Dynamics
To create an effect of a bell ringing and resonating from a close distance and into the air, I’ve added in ‘f’ in the beginning which fades away through a decrescendo into nothing. An addition of a pedal (that is not retaken on and off) has also created this ringing effect. See https://drive.google.com/open?id=1XWVEKL1MZafo92pBDDCywbKUkivrhTNs
Here, students are able to see and hear clearly the first statement (opening) of the tone row and understand that they can use different registers to create musical interest. Students also understand that experimenting with various dynamic levels and rhythms (although I’ve only used semibreves in mine) enhances the musical content the composer wants to portray in his/ her piece.