Because there might be students who will use my model and want to extend their music composition capabilities, I thought “I’ll experiment with other tone rows by showing students a range of musical devices they can use even if it seems like the options are very limited and structured.”
As you might have seen from my previous drafts, I have been composing in a systematic manner, just like the piece 12 tone serialism piece itself! Rather than composing my piece from beginning to end, I realised that working through the cycle of pitch structures on each of the tone rows was more effective and idiomatic.
My composition process
As mentioned above, I’ve chosen to include three more tone rows in addition to the previous rows. They are retrograde (R) in Eb, retrograde inversion (RI) in E and retrograde inversion (RI) in A.
*Note: the order of these tone rows are all alterations from the prime (P) row. (I haven’t changed the pitch classes into a random order).
I think the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome was ignoring the alarm in my head that alerted, “Strange! Go back! Fix it NOW!” Luckily, the more I experimented with the sounds and the step by step baby steps procedure (esp.steps 1 and 2), the more I’ve come to appreciate the dissonant tonal qualities of 12 tone serialism.
Here, I’ve colour coded and annotated my composition to explain how I’ve integrated all five tone rows to create a flowing and lyrical section.
Step 1- Experimenting with other rows that derive from prime row
This was an extremely long process but something that was definitely worth the effort. At first, I didn’t really know what I was looking for or what pitches would go well with my prime and inversion row. The process of experimenting, playing and then selecting a few rows that I wanted to work with took so long that it took me around 4-5 days to be finally happy with it. On the final day of finalising the tone rows,
Step 2- Playing around with different rhythmical devices
Just like the composition I’ve created in draft 1, I wanted to go back and explore a more calmer and open tonal quality to create a lyrical melody. Now, that I had the pitches I want to use, I only had to figure out how to fit my melody with the harmony. Since I’m so used to composing the bass first and then the melody, I found it very unnatural to compose for both parts simultaneously. Taking my time by playing around with various rhythmical devices helped me understand the huge impact rhythms (or in terms of concepts of music “duration”) played in creating musical interest.
Step 3- Adding dynamics
Similar to the second section of Hauer’s Nomos Op.19 (listen to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpsibYXqKw4 from 3:13- 3:40), I’ve found that using subtle dynamic change in the lyrical section was desirable especially in a moderately flowing section. Here, my purpose is to not create tension but to portray an image of a protagonist daydreaming in the gardens. Until, a serious and grave emotional thought disrupts the daydreaming at b.11 with consecutive long chordal/ mini cadence like passages that prolongs and then quickly fades away into nothing.