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Serialism. The Second Viennese School. The Second Viennese School was the name given to the three most prominent composers of Serial Music – Arnold Schoenberg and his two students, Alban Berg and Anton Webern . Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951). Anton Webern (1883 - 1945).

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the second viennese school
The Second Viennese School
  • The Second Viennese School was the name given to the three most prominent composers of Serial Music – Arnold Schoenberg and his two students, Alban Berg and Anton Webern.
what is serialism
What is Serialism?
  • Arnold Schoenberg came to the conclusion that music should be completely free from the restrictions imposed of ‘being in a key’. In the 1920s, after going through his Expressionism phase after many experiments, Schoenberg discovered that if the 12 chromatic pitches of the scale were arranged in a particular order without repetition, it was possible to compose long movements of music without the need for tonality. This method of composition is called Serialism (sometimes referred to as Serial music or 12-tone music).
the note row
The Note Row
  • The 12 notes of the scale (C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B) are arranged in a particular order.
  • This is called a Note Row (sometimes called the Basic Series or the Prime Order).
  • The Note Row is then manipulated in different ways throughout the music.
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RETROGRADE - the note row played backwards
  • INVERSION - where the intervals between notes are altered symmetrically, as though using a mirror
  • RETROGRADE INVERSION - playing the inverted note row backwards
  • VERTICALISATION - harmony is created using the note row e.g. by putting 3 or 4 notes of the row on top of one another in chords, hence creating even more unresolved dissonances in the music.
  • TRANSPOSITION - shifting a note row up or down by any interval
other features of serial music
Other features of Serial Music
  • Unresolved dissonances throughout the music (when two or more notes are sounded together which clash with one another).
  • No clear metre/ no regular pulse. You cannot work out the time signature.
  • Large leaps in melodic lines. This movement is described as disjunct. You cannot whistle the melody.
  • Extremely complex rhythmic patterns
  • Augmentation – increasing the value (length) of all notes by an exact amount
  • Diminution – decreasing the value (length) of all notes by an exact amount
  • As the music is so difficult to play, it tended to be written for small groups of players (usually chamber music)
  • Total Serialism – composers put dynamics and rhythms (as well as pitch) in a fixed order or series
what was going on in the art movement
What was going on in the Art movement?

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)