The 30 Days Project: Day 13


Since today is Day 13 of the Project, I naturally started thinking about Arnold Schönberg, who is generally held responsible for the invention of 12-tone music, also known as serialism. He was also scared to death of the number 13 — I mean literally, as described toward the end of this brief biography. Poor Schönberg, he is also often identified as having ruined music by abandoning tonality, opening the door to the wild and crazy musical experimentation of the 20th century that was subsequently inflicted on unsuspecting classical music audiences who paid good money to hear something pretty, by gum! I believe that he is misunderstood and too easily used as a whipping boy, but that’s a subject for another post. I mean, he couldn’t have anticipated the development of Total Serialism. For that you can blame the French.

Anyway, a couple of people (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are McDoc and Andy 😛 ) have been urging me to write something using a tone row. So I decided today’s the day. But you didn’t really think I’d do it all serious, did you? Here’s the row I picked:


As you’ll hear in a moment, it’s far too conjunct and symmetrical to produce the kind of spiky, grouchy music that any self-respecting modernist would sign her name to.

The row can be used, as is, and it can also be played backwards (Retrograde), turned upside down (Inversion), and played backwards and upside down (Retrograde Inversion). Oh, and it can be transposed to start on any of the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. For those of you keeping score, that means there are 48 different versions of the row to choose from. Here’s a more thorough discussion of 12-tone technique, if that’s how you want to ruin your life, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You can play more than one note at a time, as long as you go in order. Here’s a series of pitch combos I used from a retrograde form of my row:


Okay, that’s more than enough blather. The bottom line is that I used these techniques in a very goofy way that, once again, smacks of minimalism. What is the universe trying to tell me?

By the way, the MIDI sounds I used claim to be marimba and vibraphone. Played through computer speakers, it kind of sounds like a bunch of music boxes. I like it either way.

Click play to listen:


Thanks for listening!


The 30 Days Project: Day 13 — 1 Comment

  1. I found this a great “start”….would love to know where you want to go? On the other hand, I don’t recall the graphics the last time I logged on. Is that new, or was I too busy listening the last time to notice. Did you take composition at Cal?
    Many of my freinds were music majors, and I used to listen to their compositions….my how things have changed in 50 years.