Study Abstract

12-Tone Matrices: An Introduction to Music


In response to the demise of the tonal system of composing music, musicians in the early twentieth century looked for new approaches to composing that would restore a sense of coherence to music. One such approach was devised by Arnold Schoenberg, who formulated what is now known as the serial composition system, or "twelve-tone" method.

As a natural consequence of the increasing chromaticism of the time, the previous system of "functional tonality" which gave music much of its sense of order began to lose its effectiveness. A diatonic set of seven pitches which defined a key became so diluted by chromaticism that tonality lost its meaning. A mathematical system for achieving a sense of order was needed; complete equality of all twelve chromatic pitches and the emancipation of dissonance were also important objectives of the new system.

Concept Pitch Classes