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Pitch-Class Set Analysis Today

Author(s): Allen Forte

Source: Music Analysis, Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Special Issue: King's College London Music Analysis
Conference 1984 (Mar. - Jul., 1985), pp. 29-58
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/854234
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It appearsthatduringthepasttwentyyearspitch-classsetanalysishas become
quite widelyaccepted, particularlyin the United States. Indeed, a recent
observerhas describedthistypeofanalyticaltheoryas 'normal'.'Althoughitis
not possible to determinewhetherthis is a fairassessment,pitch-classset
analysisdoes seemto be more'normal'now thanit was fifteen yearsago. This
positive view was not alwayswidelyrepresented, nor is the pitch-classset
theoreticapproachuniversally accepted, as will be evident when I quote from
reviewsof TheStructure ofAtonal
Music and The Harmonic OrganizationofThe
AlthoughI am wellawareofthecontributions ofotherstothisgeneralareaof
musicresearch,I willrestrict myremarkshereprimarily tomyownworkandto
workcloselyrelatedto it. In justification
ofthisegocentric but,I trust,notself-
servingposition,I remindyou thatI have been describedon occasionas a
'pioneer', a designationwhich conjuresup a vision of Daniel Boone in a
coonskin cap, axe in hand, making his way throughthe wildernessof
Kentucky,ratherthanthatof an academicclad in a T-shirtand seatedat a
typewriter in an air-conditioned
roomin southernConnecticut.
The planofmypaperis as follows.FirstI shalldiscussthescopeand domain
of pitch-classset theoryand analysisand review some interestingrecent
applications.I shallthenexaminesomeofthemajorcriticisms ofpitch-classset
analysisin an effortto clarifyand possiblyrebut. Althoughsome of those
criticismsmayhave lost validity(as indicatedby thevitalityand diversity of
ongoingand recentwork),othersare stillextantand continueto be expressed,
hencedeserveseriousconsideration.In conclusionI shalldo someanalysisin
connectionwitha discussionofproblemsofsegmentation in atonalmusic.And
finally,I shalloutlinewhatI see as interestingfutureprospectsforpitch-class

In confronting
thequestionofthescopeand domainofpitch-classsetanalysis,

MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2,1985 29

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Ex. 1

Miialige 2) rit.-
W"- _ m N.IN,,
An i
? jI'
,I, . . . . FE L
" i i i i

Used bypermission
Los Angeles,California

Motive a (b.1)
6-5: (8,9,0, I,2,3}
16: {8,9,1,3)

Db A Eb/Ab D C Eb Db


7-/z18: 5,8,9
{0,, ,2,3,

itseemsappropriate to beginbyaskingwhethertheuse oftheproceduresofset

analysisis, in anysense,obligatory.The answeris straightforward: Certainly
not.I needonlymentionWallaceBerry'sexcellentstudy,StructuralFunctions in
Music,whichincludesmuchmaterialonatonalmusic(thenormative of
application),butmakesno use whatsoever ofpitch-classsettheory.3
In similarfashion,JonathanBernard'sfineresearchon thestructure ofthe
musicofVarese4does notinvokepitch-classsettheory,nordoes Christopher
Hasty'sinnovativeand valuablestudyofthegeneralproblemofsegmentation
innon-tonalmusicmakeextensiveuse ofit.5AndDouglas Jarmanhasmanaged
to writean excellentbook on themusicofAlbanBergwithoutinvokinganyof
There are, however,publishedstudiesin whichpitch-classset analytical
techniquescould have been useful,if only by relatingseeminglydisparate
musicalconfigurations. A case inpointis illustrated
inEx. 1,whichpresentsthe

30 MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2,1985

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Ex. 1-cont.


Used bypermission 90049
Los Angeles,California

Motive b (b.4) 6-5:{8,9,0,1,2,3}

5- 18: {8,9,0,1,3}

4-16: {8,9,1,3}

A B D C# C

F# A [G# A Eb Db

E Eb F

Bb G D

t 4-16
t 4-16
t 4-16

7-Z18: {0,1,2,3,5,8,9}

openingmusicof Schoenberg'sOp. 11, No. 2, in scoreat the top withsome

analyticalmaterialplacedbelowit. ReinholdBrinkmann has commentedupon
theseadjacentpassagesas follows:
The procedure ofdeveloping outofonekernelis also
usedinthispiece.Thepointofdeparture istheopening


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section, ormotives, atthebeginning,
whichhavea closeconnection

This particular observer does nottellus, however, anything specificabout

the 'close connection'. Thereare, in fact,explicitstructural relationsbe-
tweena and b, as indicated on Ex. 1. Thereis a hintofthisin thefactthat
botha and b end withthedyadEb-Db. But thecorrespondence does not
endwiththatcommondyad,forthefinalhexachord in b is thesame,with
respectto pitchclass,as theuppervoicemelodyofa: set6-5. Thus,when
theostinatofigureD-F returns at theend of motiveb, theentireopening
set,a formof7-Z18,is repeated, in 'unordered' form,creating a miniature
aba form,so typicalof Op. 11, and providing a lucidinstanceof Schoen-
berg's'developing variation'.
Thereareothersignificant correspondences between motives a andb inEx. 1.
The first lineartetrachord in a is set4-16: [Db-A-Eb-Ab].Thisthenrecurs
as thelast lineartetrachord in motiveb, reordered as [G#-A-Eb-Db]. Set
4-16alsoappearsinthevertical dimension, as showninthesecondpartofEx.
1 bytheup arrows.Butperhapsthemostinteresting correspondence between
thetwopartshas to do withpitch-class set 5-Z18, which,becauseof the
redeploymentof 6-5, now occurs as the inner-voicesuccession
G#-A-Eb-D6in motiveb. This analyticalobservation is relevantto the
immediate contexts,motivesa and b, since5-Z18 is thecomplement ofthe
largeset,7-Z18,whichcomprises theentirety ofmotive a, as showninEx. 1.
As butoneinstance ofthefurther significance ofpitch-class set5-Z18inthe
composition, Ex. 2 givesa partialreading ofthecanonicpassagethatbeginsin
b. 43. Therewefindset5-Z18as theheadmotiveofthecanon.In thisroleit
reflectsthelargeharmonic grouping oftheopening music,towhichitrelates as
complement (tobemoreprecise, as a transpositionoftheinversion oftheliteral
complement of7-Z18 in itsfirst manifestation). Indeed,therelation ofthis
musictotheopening musicofthemovement becomesevenmoreexplicit as the
return oftheb motivein b. 46 nears.As shownat theendoftheletter- name
andnumerical representation belowthemusicalexcerpt in Ex. 2, motiveb is
preparedby the reappearance of pitch-classset 4-Z15, in its original
disposition. Mostextraordinary, however, is therecurrence ofhexachord 6-5,
thehexachord ofmotivea justpriortothis.Again,thetwoforms of6-5 inthis
passagearedisplayed in letter-name andnumerical notation at thebottomof
Ex. 1. Moreelusive,becauseoftheabsenceofexplicit intervallic orrhythmic
cues,is theappearance of6-16inthiscontext, a reference tooneoftheprimary
hexachords in thefirstmovement, specifically,to thehexachord whichfirst
appearsas thetwoleft-hand trichordsat thebeginningofthatmovement(see
Ex. 4c on p. 43).
As forthedomainofpitch-classsetanalysis- themusictowhichitmightbe
appropriately applied- I am temptedto saythatitis determined
sense'.Atthesametime,one mustrealizethatcommonsenseis oftenoverrated

32 MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2, 1985

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Ex. 2

pp cresc..

44 45f iti
--I - -1L
rT.-1 -M-

....... ,AIId-- :A
Used by permissionof BelmontMusic Publishers,Los Angeles, California90049
5-218: {7,8,11,0,21

G C B G# D DG# C# C A Eb Eb A D C# A# E E
F# B Bb G C# C# G C B G# D D G# C#

5-Z18: {6,7,10,11,11


C# F# D G G

B G Eb Cb E/C F Db A
D F i/ F# G F#


(Motive b)
6-5: {0,1,4,5,6,7} {4,6,9,10}


as a guideline;one person'scommonsenseis another'sfolly.(The sameapplies

to Schenkeriananalysis:one wouldhardlyexpecttofindSchenkerian graphsof
Japanesekoto music,yettheyexist.8)Pitch-classset analysiswas developed
witha specificmusicalrepertoire
in mind,theatonal(non 12-tone)musicofthe
firstpart of the twentiethcentury.Now, however,it has been applied in
unexpectedways,forexample,tosomeofthemusicofBart6k,inPaul Wilson's

MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2, 1985 33

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extendedstudy,or to thetransitionalmusicof thelater19thcentury.9 In my

ownrecentwork,whichinvolvesstudiesoftheinnovative musicofLiszt,I have
foundtheconceptoftheunorderedpitch-classsetto be ofconsiderablevalue.
More willbe said aboutapplicationsofpitch-classsetanalyticaltechniquesin
thenextsectionofthispaper,whichis devotedto thattopic.

As I have just suggested,recentapplicationsof pitch-classset theoryand
analysisarehighlydiversified, rangingovera widefieldofresearchactivities.I
Martha Hyde's recentdetailed study providesa radicallynew view of
Schoenberg'stwelve-tonemusic, dealing with the supposed anomaliesand
criticizedby earlierwriters.Amongotherachievements,Hyde
shows'how Schoenberguses theharmoniesofthebasicsettointegrate two-or-
more simultaneousdimensionsof harmonicstructure'.o?In analysingthe
harmoniesof the basic set and the music fromwhichit is derived,she uses
pitch-classsetnomenclature and definedrelationsto demonstrate thatSchoen-
bergincorporated many ofhis atonalproceduresintohis twelve-tone musicin
specificways.In theprocess,sheprovidesa detailedand convincing exegesisof
Schoenberg'stwoimportantwritings,'CompositionwithTwelve Tones' and
Workingwitha somewhatdifferent musical repertory, JeffPressing,an
Americancomposer,jazz pianistand ethnomusicologist livingin Bundoora,
Australia,has writtenan extremely essayentitled'Pitch-ClassSet
Structuresin ContemporaryJazz', which presentsextensiveanalysesand
theoreticalmaterialon such familiarworksas Thad Jones's'Big Dipper' and
JohnMcLaughlin's 'The Dance of Maya'.12 Also somewhatunexpectedwas
thepaperwhichAlanChapmandeliveredat therecentYale Conference on the
Music of Kurt Weill (Autumn1983), whichimpressively demonstrated the
harmonicmaterialsto the music of the avant-gardecomposersof his time,
notablyto thatofSchoenberg.'3
One ofthefinestoftherecentstudiestoemploypitch-classsetanalysisis Paul
Wilson's as yet unpublishedwork on music fromBart6k'smiddle period,
1908-1922, with concentrationon the Three Etudes for Piano, Op. 18,
completedin 1918,and theImprovisations on HungarianPeasantSongs,Op.
20, completedin 1920. The studybeginswiththefollowing statement:

Bela Bart6k'smusicis generallyregardedas representing traditions

separate thosewhichgaverisetotheclassicatonalmusicoftheSecond
VienneseSchool. But Bart6kwas notunawareof thatschoolor itsmusic,
andfora periodinhiscareerhecomposed
understanding and structure.14

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Large-scalestudiesin progressat thepresenttimewhichemploypitch-class

set analysisinclude Philip Russom's workon the music of Maurice Ravel,
whichpromisesto delineatein novelfashiontheharmonicproceduresof that
composerand todeal witha numberofproblemswhichhismusichaspresented
to studentsin thepast, such as thematterofcentricity(to use GeorgePerle's
term) and the interpretationof scalar and
structures such familiarharmonic
constructsas the'ninthchord'.15
However,it will be difficult to matchJanetSchmalfeldt'stourde force,
whichentaileda completepitch-classsetanalysisofBerg'sWozzeck.'6Douglas
Jarman'strenchant reviewin theTimesLiterary Supplementstates:

The realcontribution whichthisbookmakestotheliterature on Wozzeck

lies less in its attemptsto arriveat someoverallconclusions
musicallanguage oftheoperathanintheextenttowhichitprovidesa more
detailedstudythanhaspreviously ofthemotivic
beenavailable of

It seemstome thatthereviewermissesa majorpointofSchmalfeldt's study,

whichis thatunorderedpitch-classsets,as motivesin largeand small,comprise
theorganizationoftheworkin itspitchaspects.These pitch-classsetsoccurin
multiple harmonic and melodicconfigurations in a workwhichis one of the
most remarkableachievementsof modernmusic. Schmalfeldt'sanalytical
techniquesare sufficientlypowerfulto enableherto generalize.An especially
fineinstanceof thisis her characterizationof the 'familyof origin'sets,sets
whichbelongto thepersonaof Wozzeckand 'providethe fundamental pitch-
RichardS. Parks's ongoinglarge-scalestudyof themusicof Debussy also
employspitch-classset analyticalprocedures,togetherwithothermethods.
Parks'sapproachis wellrepresented in hisrecentarticle,'PitchOrganization in
Debussy: Unordered Sets in "Brouillards" ', in which he examines musical
in thatworkin considerabledetail,concluding:

To a ratherlargeextent,Debussy'smusic(ofwhich'Brouillards' maybe
consideredtypical)reveals,in its pitchresources, combinations
lyingbeyondtraditionalnotions ofharmony,voice-
leading,anda referential
toneandsonority (tonic).'9

With the reader'sindulgence,I will includemy studyof Stravinsky'sThe

Rite ofSpringas anotherinstanceof an investigation
oflargerscale (although
lilliputian,compared to Schmalfeldt'swork). This resultedfroma plan of long
standingto analyse a major work by using pitch-classset analyticaltechniques
to provide a picture of its overall organization. Those familiarwith the study
will recallthatstandardpitch-classset constructs,
thatof theset complex,in
particular,underwent modificationin thefinalstagesofthepresentation
study,whichattempted tosynthesize theanalysesoftheindividualmovements.

MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2, 1985 35

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Despite my fondesthopes, however, the study was not received with

unanimousapproval. In an extensivereview,RichardTaruskin,aftersome
laudatorycomments,concludes:'But it seemstome thatForte'sapplicationof
hismethod,at leastin thiscase, is unnecessarily
and one-sided,and
has concealed as much about The Rite of Springas it has revealed'.20 The
author'smaincomplaintis thatthepitch-classsetanalysisdisregardsfeaturesof
the musicwhichhe viewsas exemplaryof ordinary'functional'tonality.He
presents,forinstance,an alternative readingofthemusicoftheRitualofTwo
RivalTribesat R60 (Ex. 3a) and comments:

If... onelooksatthepassagefrom thepointofviewoffunctional harmony

(andprettysimplefunctionalharmony atthat,allowingStravinskyhisfair
shareofdoubleinflectionsandaddedsevenths), thereis no problem.
combinationsinthemiddleofmeasures one,two,andfouraretheresult of
linearfunctions (accentedpassingtones),withparalleldoublingat the
majorthird.... The shiftoftonalcenter, involvinga progressionto the
submediant,is standardRussianfare.21

Whatsuggestsa tonalanalysisofthepassage,ofcourse,is thescalarmelody,

whichcan be regardedas a segmentoftheB majorscale- a factofwhichI am
aware. This use of diatonicmaterialsin TheRite ofSpringis hardlyunusual.
Stravinsky, however,invariablydoes something unusualin his settingofsuch
'commonplace'melodies,in thiscase harmonising themelodywithtetrachords
whichappearfrequently in otherpartsofthemusic.22The reviewer'sanalysis
(Ex. 3b) is heavilydependentuponthe'doubleinflections' and 'added sevenths'
in whichhe asksthereadertoindulgethemaster.Thus, thechordlabelledI in
b. I of Ex. 3b is a verypeculiarcreature:a tonicwithno root,twokindsof
thirds,and, presumably,an 'added seventh' (A). The other readingsof
'functional'harmoniesin Ex. 3b revealsimilarproblems,all ofwhichhavethe
samesource:ad hocanalyticaltechniques.If we acceptas validthisreadingof
'functional'harmonyin TheRite ofSpring,an important historicaldiscovery
ensues:thatStravinsky studiedthewrongfunctional harmonytextbooks.I will
notpursuethesepointsfurther here, but willreturnto a similarinstanceofan
attemptto forcea tonal readingof some kind upon, in thatcase, an atonal
composition, atwhichpointI willmakea fewadditionalobservations.23Finally
on TheHarmonicOrganization ofTheRiteofSpring, however,I quotea reviewer
ofperspicacity, judgement and taste:

[The]bookis ofcapitalimportance
becauseit provides
analytical harmonic systemcanbe under-
stood and at the same timethrowsnew lighton his mind, showing,for
instance, that what seemed to be most immediatewas often most

To return to a final example of current work involving pitch-class set

analysis, I want to cite a particularlyinterestingextension, which is its use in

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Ex. 3

Tpt t
4-18:L2,3,6,91 4-7:[11,0,3,4] 4-17:.11,2,3,63 4-7

4-18. 9 10
1,43 4-18: 10,i1,2,514-8:t6,7,11,01(4-18)

B Used by permission.
copyright1978 by Yale University.

8 tp. .t.


B:I G:i _T V (VII)

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conjunctionwithSchenkerianor quasi-Schenkerianlinearmethods.JamesM.
Bakerhasprovideda convincingand originalinstanceofthistypeofworkin his
article,'Schenkerian andPost-Tonal
Analysis Music',in whichhe setsforth
cogentcriteriaforexecutingan analysisof thistypeand thenillustrateshis
viewsin a studyofa latetonalworkbyAlexanderScriabin,entitled'Enigme'.

Although'Enigme'... constitutesperhapsScriabin's
tonalityin themusicofhis transitional
arenevertheless inlargepartfortheoverallcoherence
responsible of
the work.At the same time,the retention of whole-tone elements
in theprolongation
participates of thedominant function, whileother
nontonal in
relationships,particularthosebased on complementation,are
bondsbetween thecontrastingsections

The diversity of applicationssuggestedby thesefewstudies,out of many,

demonstrates thatunorderedpitch-classsetanalysis,farfromlockingindivid-
ual analystsintoa rigidinterpretation
or beinglimitedto a smallrepertory of
music- specifically, themusicoftheVienneseatonalschool- offers a flexible
resource,one which,whenproperlyinterpreted, producesnewand interesting

Since it firstappeared on the scene in 1964,26 and, in particular,since the
publicationof TheStructure ofAtonalMusicin 1973,unorderedpitch-classset
analysis has received a good deal of criticalattention,perhapsmorethanit
needed, I havefelton several occasions.I wouldnowliketoreviewsomeofthat
criticism,excluding from this briefsurveythe detailedessaysby Benjamin,
Browneand Regener,notbecausetheyare unworthy of seriousconsideration
- farfromit- butbecausetheyarenotreviewsin theusualsense,butarticles
thatused TheStructure ofAtonalMusicin largepartas a pointofdeparturefor
presentation of the authors' ownideas.27In thecourseofthisreviewI hope to
touch on certainissues of a generalnature,issues involvingcontemporary
theoryand analysis which transcendthe immediateobject of attention,
Pitch-classsetanalysishas been criticizedas beingtoo abstract,too formal.
An important case in pointis thesetofsetsknownas the'Z-collections'.It will
be recalledthattwopitch-classsetsin theZ relationhavethesametotalinterval
content,butarenotrelatedbytransposition or inversion.Each memberofthe
pairis calledthe'Z-correspondent' oftheother.Whyis itnecessarytomakethe
distinctionbetweenthe membersof such pairs,whentheyare intervallically
equivalent?One outragedcommentatorhas even described such sets as
'... specialtiesof the music theorydepartmentof Yale University',in an
apparenteffortto banish these sets foreverto the Arcadia of Southern

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Connecticut,'flushing'them,as itwere,fromthepristinestreetsofNew York

City.28The simpleanswerto GeorgePerle'scriticism is thatZ-relatedsetshelp
to explainharmonicusagesin a wide varietyofnon-tonalrepertories. Indeed,
theyare oftenwell-nighindispensable.For example,the hexachord6-Z29
oftenoccursin thecontextof Stravinsky's octatonicmusic,yetit is notto be
found in the octatonicscale. However, its Z-correspondent, 6-Z50, is a
component of that scale. Without knowing the relation between 6-Z29 and
6-Z50, theformer appears to be an anomaly.29
The musicalevidencein the atonal repertory thatsupportsthe Z-pairsis
overwhelming in sheer quantity. To takeas an exampletheworkwithwhich
our exasperatedcriticwas concerned,Berg's Wozzeck,we findthatset 5-Z 18
representsthe Drum Major, whileits Z-correspondent, 5-Z38, is associated
withWozzeck's hallucination,and set 4-Z15 is one of Marie's tetrachords,
whileits Z-correspondent, representsthe Doctor. OtherZ-pairsare
6-Z 17 and 6-Z43, bothconnected withtheDoctor(especiallyin Act 1,scene4,
thepassacaglia),6-Z 19 and 6-Z44, representing Marieand Wozzecktogether,
and 6--Z25and 6--Z47,linkingWozzeck,Marieand theCaptain,withthelatter
setpredominant in thedrowningscene. The musical-dramatic significance of
many of thesecombinations is discussedat lengthbySchmalfeldt, and itwould
be presumptuous to attemptto relateherdetaileddiscoverieshere.
While rejectingthe Z-relatedsets, our criticapparentlydoes not fully
understandthe nature of the relationship,as indicatedby the following

Thatthe'z-relationship' thetwohexadsofthetonerow
ofSchoenberg'sThirdQuartet doesnotimplyanawareness ofthisproperty
on thecomposer's is present
part,sincethisrelationship between thetwo

The latterstatementis not true. By definitionZ-relatedhexachordsare

complementary hexachordswhichcannotbe relatedby transposition or by
inversion.Furthermore, theimportance ofthesehexachordsis indicatedbythe
factthatofthefifty hexachordsin thetwelvepitch-classsetuniverse,thirty are
oftheZ variety.
Misunderstanding of the notionof 'equivalence' as it pertainsto the Z-
relatedpitch-classsets, the hexachordsin particular,persistsin the profes-
sional literature.In The Structure ofAtonalMusic equivalenceof two pitch-
class setsis definedas follows:'. . . twopc setswillbe said to be equivalentif
and onlyif theyare reducibleto the same primeformby transposition or by
inversionfollowedby transposition'(p. 5). This is not the same thingas
sayingthatanytwo setswiththe same totalintervalcontentwill be regarded
as equivalent. Yet a recent reviewerperpetuatesthe confusion.Jarman
expressesdoubts about two of the criteriaupon which musical relations
(accordingto pitch-classsettheory)are presumedto exist.The firstoftheseis
. the beliefthatany two collectionswhich,while beingdistinctin pitch

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content,share the same total intervalcontent . . . are equivalent.... 31

Whateverhis disagreementmight be with this assumption, it is not a
disagreement with the definitionof pitch- class set as
equivalence expressedin
TheStructure ofAtonal Music, which is based upon thepitch-classcontentofa
setand notitstotalintervalcontent.
Occasionallycriticshavesaid thattheproceduresand conceptsofunordered
pitch-classsetanalysisderivefrom12-tonetheoryand aretherefore inappropri-
ate when applied to non-twelve-tone music. For example,Richard Swift's
recent extended article on the 12-toneaggregatecontains the following
observation:'That aggregatecompositionmay well be a viable means of
approachto the analysisof much twentieth-century music has not failedto
attracttheattention ofsometheorists'.To thisstatement is attacheda footnote:
'TheStructure ofAtonalMusic (Yale, 1974 [sic]),is a recentattempttoforcesuch
aggregates into a twelve-tone theoretical mold'.32 Clearlythereis a misunder-
standing here. Unordered set
pitch-class theory was not developedwithin'a
twelve-tone theoretical mold', but was derived independently and inductively
through the intensive study of a good deal of music. Indeed, as I indicated
earlierin my commentson the workof MarthaHyde (p.34), pitch-classset
analysisilluminates12-tonemusic.The orderedsetconceptsof 12-tonetheory
areonlyperipherally relevanttothestudyofmusicinwhichtheunorderedsetis
thebasicstructural unit.
Some criticshave said thatwhen music is analysedusing techniquesof
unorderedpitch-classset analysisimportantaspects of thatmusic, such as
timbre,maybe overlookedor ignored.The complaintis specious,ofcourse.
Howevertransparent thisploy of the criticmay be - and, of course,music
analysisis not its exclusivefieldofapplication- ithas temptedmorethanone.
For example,a reviewof TheStructure ofAtonalMusicin a Frenchperiodical
criticizedtheuse ofa reducedscoreofSchoenberg'sFive PiecesforOrchestra,
Op. 16,thirdmovement, becausetheanalysiswas thenfocusedsolelyon pitch,
whereas, in the reviewer's words, '. . . the basis of this piece is a timbral
ambiguity. .'.33 Now, everyoneknows that timbre is a fundamental
componentofSchoenberg'sOp. 16,thirdmovement.Whattheanalysisin The
Structure of Atonal Music revealed,however,is that the work is canonic
throughout;the canonic structureis concealed by the timbralsurface,but
unambiguous.The same reviewercomplainsabout theuse ofa reducedscore
forthe'Danse sacrale'movementof Stravinsky's TheRiteofSpring,claiming
thatwhat he termsthe 'global structure'of the music is 'assured ... by
rhythm'.34Here the practicalrequirements of presentinga quasi-scoreof a
large segment of music dictated the omission of rhythmic notation,inviting
criticismofthetypelevelledby thiswriter.However,thecriticism is justified
insofaras The HarmonicOrganization of The Rite of Springdid not discuss
rhythmicfeaturesof the music; indeed, it explicitlyexcluded them from
systematic consideration, as mightevenhavebeensuggestedbytheverytitleof
The extenttowhichone can generalizeaboutnon-tonalmusicsis a matterof

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somedisagreement. There are thosewho feelthattheterm'atonal'has onlya

limitedapplicability.For example:

Atonality delimits a widerangeof compositionalpractices
whoseonlyfeaturesare the absenceof thenormative and interrelated
procedures tobe
atonality musicalcategory.35
is a usefulorrelevant

This view,likethecommenton theabsenceofrhythmic analysiscitedearlier,

thecurrentstateofresearchon twentieth-century
reflects musicin generaland
earlytwentieth-century musicin particular.Here theauthorssayit remainsto
true.Much workremainsto be done. However,a
be seen,and thatis certainly
considerableamountofrelevantanalyticalworkhas been completedin recent
years- muchofit afterthearticlefromwhichI extractedthequotationwas
written- and thisworkstrongly suggeststheexistenceofa 'commonpractice'
in theearlytwentieth century,a practicewhichincorporates a largeand varied
repertoryof non-tonalmusicthatis notcoextensivewiththeatonalworksof
Schoenbergand his students.Even thatrepertory, the atonal music of the
'secondVienneseschool',has beeninadequatelyunderstoodwithrespectto its
historicalposition.ReviewingThe Structure ofAtonalMusic, one writerhas

It will be arguedby some thatto applyset theoryto, forexample,

Schoenberg's its'free'natureand
LittlePianoPiece,Op. 19/6is tofalsify
reduceit to a mereanticipation of a twelve-tone composition.On the
contrary,however, Forte's
system clarifies
what is uniqueabout themusic,
and theindissoluble complexityand coherence ofthoseworkswhichhe
examines in detailhaveneverbeenmoreconvincingly demonstrated. In
particular, contrastswiththeprinciplesof
tonalpastandtwelve-note futurecanbe preciselydefined.36

To movealongto anotherissue, and one thatwillundoubtedlycontinueto

generateconsiderableheatin thefuture,I summonforthwithsomereluctance
thetwo-headedmonsterwhosenameis 'Tonal oderAtonal'.
There are many, perhaps very many, who believe that non-tonal,in
thatall musicis, in some sense,
particular,'atonal' musicis a misperception,
tonal.To applypitch-classsetanalyticaltechniquesto atonalmusicis thenipso
factoillegal at worstand suspect at best. This view may take a mild and
mediatingform,as expressedin thefollowing quotationfromJimSamson:

approachto 'atonality'
Ananalytical [i.e.,notas does
The Structureof AtonalMusic] by acceptinga wide rangeof interacting
functionsin an oeuvre where traditionand innovationare inextricably
interwovenand whereemphasislies as muchon theexploration
as ontheirorganization.37

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AlthoughI am not totallyunsympathetic to thispointof view, whichmay,

indeed,havesomemeritin certaintransitional worksbySchoenberg,Scriabin
and others,I believethatatonalityrepresentsan historicalfactthatdetermines
analyticalpriorities.The verynamewithwhichthismusicaldevelopmentwas
supplied by some unknown critic, with its connotationsof 'amusical',
'agnostic',even 'atheistic',has encouragedan ultraconservativestance.This
extremeview is well representedby Will Ogdon, authorof a recentstudyof
Schoenberg'sOp. 11,No. 1,a beleagueredand somewhatpetulanttonalistwho
writesas followsnearthebeginningofhisessay:

The competitionamongthosewillingto venture diverseopinionson the

tonalityofOpus 11 is lively,to saytheleast,whilethescornful,
led by
GeorgePerleandAlan[sic]Forte,offer motivicandsetanalysis

The authorofthisstudyis extremely

It is alsoirritating
toreadtheworkofreputable theorists
Forte]whodo notbother todiscussstructural
Opus 11eventhough theyabstract

Now, whileI do not wish to speak forGeorgePerle- he is quite able to

represent himself,as he has amplydemonstrated overtheyears- I willpoint
out thatboth Perle and I used the beginningof Op. 11, No. 1, to illustrate
specificpoints,notintendingto providecompleteanalyseswhichwouldhave
led toconsiderations of'structuralrelationsand functioning'.39
I did publish,however,a relatively comprehensive pitch-classsetanalysisof
Op. 11, No. 1, in the same issue of the journalin whichthe studyby this
unreconstituted tonalistappeared. (I hastento add thathe had not seen my
analysisat thetimehe preparedhis,nordid I readhis untilit was published.)
Withtheidea thatitwouldbe interesting, and, I trust,notoverlyirritating,
comparerepresentative portionsof the tonaland the atonalanalyses,I have
providedexcerptsin Exs 4b and 4c.
BeforeI commentupon these,I would like to establishin an informalway
what I take to be threereasonableand straightforward criteriawhich any
analyticalundertakingshould satisfy:(1) completeness;(2) consistency;(3)
By 'completeness'I simplymean thatall componentsof thepitch
structurebe includedin theanalysis.By 'consistency' I meanthattheanalytical
proceduresbe appliedconsistently, withoutintroducing ad hocmethods.And
by 'testability'I mean thatdifferent analystsusing the same methodwould
produceresultsthatintersectin significant ways. The lattercriterionis, of
course,worthyoffarmoreextensivediscussionthancan be accordedit here.
Ogdon apparentlyfeelsthatit is of no importance,forhe welcomes,or so it
seems, 'diverseopinions'.WhetherOp. 11, No. 1, is in E minor,Phrygian
mode,or Eb is ofno concern,as longas itis 'tonal'.

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In orderto readthetonalanalysisand compareitwiththeatonal(pitch-class

setanalysis)oftheopeningmusicofOp. 11,No. 1,itis necessarytounderstand
the author'ssymbolson his example.Melodic placementwithinthe G scale,
whichtheauthorcontendsis 'theprimetonalaxis' ofthetheme40,is symbolized
accordingto the table in Ex. 4a. Arrowsin his analysis(Ex. 4b) 'point to
harmonicroots'(p. 171). Pitchesmaybe renotatedtoclarify the'voiceleading',
by which theauthor means scale-degree tendencies or something of thekind.
Thus, the secondnotein theupper-voicemelody,G#,is rewritten as Ab and
in this way 'clarifiesthe tonal priorityof G in measure 2 . . .' (p. 172).
Similarly,the inner-voiceDb in b. 3 of Ex. 4b is renotatedas C#,thus
becomingscale degree#4,with leading-noteimplication.These notational
changesencroachuponthecriterion ofconsistency, sincethereareno rulesfor
determining when and how they should be made. The analystdoes, however,
make the same changefromG#to Ab in the bass of b. 4 and in the upper
voice of b. 1, thuspreservingthenotationalcorrespondence betweenAb and
B whichformintervalclass3, providinga linkbetweenthetwomomentsin the
Let us nowreadthetonalanalysisoftheopeningofOp. 11,shownin Ex. 4b.
I havecombinedtheanalyst'sExs 1 and 4 fromthepublishedarticlein orderto
show the same span of music as shownin the firstpart of my Ex. 5 in the
publishedarticle,a spanwhichhe regardsas a unit,as do I. The uppervoiceof
thisanalysisdescribesa descendingpathfromscaledegree+ 3 toscaledegree6,
thenskipsupwardfromscale degree6 to scale degree1. Accompanying this
melody are the functional harmonies indicated by theRoman numerals below
thestaffin Ex. 4b: I-II altered(V ofV) and I. How I is formedbythepitches
thatcomprisethismeasureis notexplained.In particular,thefunctionof F#
in thisconstellation, especiallyas it relatesto itsuninflectedcounterpart,F, is
left shrouded in mystery,nor is the designationof roots buttressedby
theoreticalargument.(In this connection,it is perhapsworthnotingthata
Hindemithian wouldcallB theroothere,sinceitis therootofthebestinterval,
thefifth.) The harmonicprogression is mostpeculiar,especiallythesuccession
V of V to I. What becameof the dominant?Althoughtheauthorcould have
evoked 'elision', availinghimselfof an escape hatch alwaysat hand to the
shrewdanalyst,he does not do so, nor does he offerany explanationforthis
progression.Finally, the progressionends on I in bs 4-5, but a I that is
different, withrespecttopitchcontent,fromtheI in b. 2. This secondI is not
unequivocal,as indicatedbythethreelevelsofsymbolsbelowthelowerstavein
bs 4-5, whichare describedby theauthoras a 'cubistcadence' (p. 172). I will
not quote or attemptto paraphrasehis explanationof this remarkable
formation, sinceit is highlycondensedmaterialwhichis difficult enoughto
It wouldbe hardtoimaginea readingofthismusicthatdiffers morefromthe
tonalreadingjustsurveyedthanthepitch-classsetreadingshownin Ex. 4c. In
Ex. 4c, thefullmusicnotationis givenat thetop,in itsoriginalform,without
enharmonic substitutions,and belowthatis a letter-name diagramcorrespond-

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Ex. 4

G G# Ab A A# Bb B C C# Db D D# Eb E IF F# Gb
1 #1 b2 2 #2 -3 +3 4 #4 b5 5 #5I -6 +617 #7

+32 1 27 7 6 +61
rfP s3p 3
...... . ?' 5 2
,I ' ' ,1I ' -
"2 2

G: (Vof V) IVor II 1
7 2
0 P-2 5


B DbG C Bb B r B

F A I D F#A A# B

Bb Bb G# G#

6-21 6-16 B5-Z37

-6-Z39 (complement of 6-210)

ingtothemusicnotation,withpitch-classsetcomponents indicatedbyboxesto
whichare attachedsetnames.Perhapsthemostbasic difference betweenthis
readingand the tonal readingis the way in whichthe music is segmented.
Instead of followingthe bar-by-barsegmentationof the tonal reading,this

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interpretationadoptsa simplerstrategy: theuppervoiceofbs 1-3 is takentobe

one musicalunit,theaccompanying lowerpartsanother.The upperpartthen
presentsthe hexachord6-Z10, a favoriteof Schoenberg's,while the ac-
companying partssum to 6-16. Analyticalproofthatthisis thecorrectwayto
segmenttheopening- withrespecttoitshexachordalcomponents - is amply
providedby the restof the piece, whereboth hexachordsrecurin multiple
forms.Indeed, repetition,Schoenberg's'developingvariation',is the basic
musicalprocessin thiscomposition.
Bars 4-5 (Ex. 4c) againsegmentnaturallyintoupperand lowerparts.The
lower parts present a new hexachord, 6-Z39 (F#-G#-A-A#-B-D,in
normalorder).Remarkably, thissetclassis thecomplement ofset-class6-Z 10.
Thus, theaccompaniment oftheconsequentphrasederivesfromthemelodic
themeof the antecedentphraseby complementation (followedby transposi-
tion,witht=8). I do notwishto suggesthere,nordid I do so in thearticle,that
Schoenbergwas thinkingin such systematictermsat thisearlypre-12-tone
stage; however, he certainlyknew about complementationand interval
content,evenin themosttraditional terms.The relationmaybe 'abstract',but
it is nonethelessreal. Later in thispaper I willoffera briefdemonstration of
waysin whichcomplement-related setsmaybe associatedin moreimmediate
The upperpartsofbs 4-5 presentthepentad5-Z38, whichalso has multiple
manifestations in thesubsequentmusic.In fact,itis immediately replicated,as
shownin Ex. 4c, by the configuration consistingof F#-G-G#-B-D(normal
order),an invertedtransposition (specifically,IT6). The twoformsof 5-Z38
intersectin thedyadG-B, a significant axisintervalbecauseofitsroleas a major
componentof the initialmelodicgestureand, in thiscontext,as partof the
durationally and rhythmically distincttrichord,fromthe bass up, G#-B-G,
whichis identical,withrespectto pitchclass, to thefirstmelodictrichord.I
offerthisanalyticalobservation to theauthorofthetonalanalysisin supportof
his G-tonalitythesis;note,however,thatI am givinghimnota completetriad,
butonlythelowerthirdofa majortriad.He willno doubthavelittledifficulty in
locating required additional element.
Otherfeaturesofthe set structure of theopeningmusicmaybe mentioned
briefly.First,the hexachord 6-21 is a componenthere,and thissubsequently
surfacesas theupper-voicemelodyofthemusicthatbeginsin bs 9-11, whereit
has the same rhythmic shape as 6-Z10 in the openingphrase. Set 5-Z38 is
strongly associated with thepentad5-Z18, discussedin connectionwithExs 1
and 2, since it is the Z-correspondent of thatset, hence has the same total
intervalcontent.Set 5-Z37, the tenormelodyof bs 4-5, foreshadowsits
complement,7-Z37, which is expressed at the very beginningof the
developmentsection,whereamongits principalconstituents are 6-Z10 and
6-16, the principalforeground componentsof the openingmusic,as I have
indicated.Andfinally, in thisopeningmusicofOp. 11,No. 1, wefind,as we do
in all the music afterthe 1905 songs of Op. 6, Schoenberg'ssignature,
Es-C-H-B-E-G, here transposedup six semitones,forSchoenbergalmost

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neverpresentedthehexachordin itsliteralform.
I submitthatthepitch-classset reading(whichshowsonlyone levelof set
structureand is notintendedtobe a 'finished'analysis)is complete,inthesense
thatno pitchcomponentsare omitted,and consistent, in thesensethatad hoc
methodswerenotbroughtintoplay.It also observesthecriterion oftestability,
sinceanytrainedanalystusingpitch-classsetproceduresin theentirepiecewill
comeup withresultssimilarto thosepresentedhere.
To continuewithmy survey,I notethatsome observershave feltthatthe
proceduresofpitch-classset analysisare too mechanicaland theconceptstoo
complex.While I agree,in principle,thatan analysisshould not be overly
complicatedin itseffortto elucidatethemusic,I findit difficultto understand
objectionsto elementary theoreticalstatements thatare requiredforanalytical
work.Considerthefollowing excerpt:

Andso we arriveat thefollowingparagraphofgobbledegook:'The total

contentofa pc setis represented
bytheinterval anordered
numerical thatdisplays
array thenumberofintervals

AnthonyMilnercontinues:'(If this book was not writtenwiththe aid of a

computerit shouldhave been)'.41 The reference to 'a computer'is, ofcourse,
disparaging, and it is assumed thatthe readerwill sharethereviewer'snegative
opinion of such devices.42 My onlyresponse to such commentsis to speculate
upon the habitat of the writer
during recent In
years. thiscase it seemslikely
thathe has been dwellingundera verylargerockin OuterMongolia. Surely
everyoneknowsthatmanypeoplenowroutinely workwithcomputingdevices
- a topictowhichI willreturnbriefly at theendofthispaper- a paperwhich,
as I will now reveal,was writtenwiththe aid of a computer!Here we have
anotherinstancein which,as I have learned,musictheoryand analysiscan be
highlychargedwith emotion,especiallywhen ideas are presentedwhich
threaten cherishedbeliefsand well-ingrained pointsofview.
In a similarvein,ithas beenassertedthatpitch-class setanalysisdoesnotdeal
withcompositional processand is onlyremotely relatedtomusic.In a reviewof
TheStructure ofAtonalMusicentitled,amusingly,'The Rules of Scrabble',an
anonymous writer frameshis critique within the arena of international
relations:'What sets the Americanapproachapart . . . is its total lack of
concernforhow the composerworksor what he may intendhis music to
express.. . .' Furtheralong,thereviewerenlargesthehistoricalperspective,
exclaiming:'We are witnessingfroma distancea Puritanbacklash against
Europeanmusicaldevelopments sincethewar'. Then,in an ecstaticmixtureof
geologicaland culinarymetaphors, he proclaims:

Notcontenttoregardmusicas onlythatwhichisnotatable,
toa gritty ofnotesfrom

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Perhapsthisis thetimeto say, once and forall, thatno book on analytical

theorycan coverall thegroundthatneedsto be coveredin theanalysisof an
individualwork.That TheStructure ofAtonalMusicdoes notdeal exhaustively
with'instrumentation, accentuation,rhythm',and so on, does notimplythat
itsauthorregardstheseaspectsas 'unimportant'. WereI totakesuchcriticisms
seriously,I would immediatelyseek employmentas an operatorof heavy
equipmentin thenorthofAlaska. I dismissthem,however,as beingshallowly
as unworthy
rhetorical, ofprolongedconsideration. Moreover,thequestionof
'compositionalprocess'as it relatesto analysisis knottyat best(evenwhenthe
composeris hisownanalyst),and onewhichcanhardlybe dismissedin a casual
way, as did our reviewer.The extent to which any analyticalprocess
correspondsto compositionalprocesswill alwaysbe moot to a considerable
extent, I feel, especially in the absence of strongevidence concerning
compositionalmethod,as is the case withatonalmusic. Howevermuch one
mightdeplorethefactthatSchoenbergdid nothave theprivilegeof studying
The StructureofAtonalMusic at thetimehe composedhis fir.st path-breaking
worksaround1908,itis, nevertheless, a fact.

Concluding Remarks
Where,then,does unorderedpitch-classsetanalysisstandtoday?Have all the
negativeopinionsbeen laid to rest?Does nothingremainto be done? I have
alreadysuggestedmygeneralresponsesto thesequestionsat severalpointsin
the foregoingdiscussion.More specifically, in answerto the firstof these
questions,it is clearthatalthoughpitch-classsetanalysishas beenutilizedin a
varietyof fruitful waysby a numberof different individuals,thereare those
whohaveabsolutelyno use foritwhatsoever, forvariousreasons.
If one seeksa generalreasonfortheexplicitly negativeresponses,however,
thereis a threadthatrunsthroughthem,a misperception thatresultsfromthe
failureto disengage theoryfrom analysis in an appropriateway and at
appropriatemoments.A dichotomythatseemsto me to be basicin thisarea of
musicresearch,and one thatI willexpressin thesimplestterms,is this:Music
theoryis abstract;musicanalysisis concrete.The powerofa theoryresidesin
itsabilitytoprovidea generalbackgroundagainstwhichan analyticalstatement
maybe measured.Whilea theorymaysuggesta rangeofsignificant analytical
interpretations at variouslevelsof structure,includingthe level of minutest
detail,it muststillpreserveitsgenerality and itsaloofnessfromanyparticular
musicalexpression.Much of the criticismof pitch-classset analysisis based
upon a confusionofthesetwofacetsofthestudyofmusicalstructure, theone
theoretical, theotheranalytical.Evenat thesimplestleveltheprogression from
theory analysis has sometimes been ignored. One reviewer of TheStructureof
AtonalMusic,forexample,complained:'The "name" stilltellsnothingabout
thesetexceptitssize and itspositionon a list.That's acceptabletoa computer,
perhaps'.44Of course- thederogatory reference to 'a computer'quiteaside-
setnamesweredeliberately designedto be abstractand neutral.Nothingcould

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havebeenworsethantohaveburdenedsetnameswithdescriptors ofparticular
attributes,such as indications ofspecialsubsets theymightcontain,a strategy
thathas oftenbeenadopted.45
In goingfromabstracttheoryto theparticulars ofanalysis,theanalystmust
decide preciselyhow much of the theoreticalapparatusto applyand how to
interpretitso thatitfitstheimmediatemusicalsituation.Clearly,thisdepends
upon individual judgement.I mightdecide to stresscomplement-related
hexachords, as in myanalysisof the openingof Schoenberg'sOp. 11, No. 1,
presentedearlier, since I knowthatthisfeatureis important throughthemusic
in a varietyof ways thathave to do directlywiththe surfacecomponents.
structures but mightdecide at some pointnot to emphasisethe complement
relationor to deal with sets of magnitudessmallerthan six. Still another
approach- say, via the conceptof the 'basic cell' - mightyield totally
differentresults,perhaps not involvingthe hexachordas a set at all. The
evaluationofsuch'alternative' analyses,is, ofcourse,a matterforprofessional
cogitation judgment.
I would now like to deal with some importantresidual considerations,
includingproblemsin pitch-classset analysis- or, moreprecisely,problems
raisedbypitch-classsetanalysis- and possiblenewdirections, in responseto
thequestionI raisedaboveas towhetherthereremainsworkto be done.
First,I would like to deal withthegeneralproblemof theinterpretation of
analytical results obtained byperforming certain basic in
operations pitch-class
setanalysis,in particular,theoperationofsetidentification.
Set identification, simpleas it appearsto be, usuallyengagesa numberof
morecomplexanalyticaldecisions,primarily in thedomainof segmentation:
thedetermination ofthosemusicalunitsthatare to be regardedas structural.
Thus, in the analyticalprocess set identificationand segmentationare
inevitablyintertwined. Generalrules of segmentation are hard to come by,
althoughguidelines, based upon experience with the music of a particular
composer, always availableto thehardened analyst.PerhapsSchoenberg's
atonalmusicstilloffersthemostdifficult cases.
A briefexcerptfromthefirst pieceofPierrotlunairewillservetoillustrate this
point(Ex. 5a). Ex. 5b an
(p. 50) provides analysis based upon the notion ofbasic
cell, a pitch-interval unit which servesin a motiviccapacityand in other
capacitiesin theworkto provideunityand continuity.46 Thus, thefirstbasic
cell, markedb.c.a, is theaugmentedtriadin thepiano configuration whichis
repeated four times in the opening music. Basic cellb (b.c.b) is the ostinato-like
dyad F#-D#played by the violin.47 Basic cells largerthan the dyad or
trichord arelabelledtetradson Ex. 5b. For instance,thefirstofthese,tetrada,
comprisesthelast fournotesin the seven-notepiano figure(7-28). Withthe
entranceoftheflutein b. 3 on A, basic cell b, theminorthird,is now doubly
represented,while the succession consistingof basic cell a and tetrada
continuesbeneathit in the piano part. The tail of the fluteline in bs 4-5
incorporatesbasic cell b as A-F4(-A). The trichordhere is basic cell c,

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*4 . .........



Bewegt(JL --C=F
Suit Dlmpter
Violo 1P _ _ _ _
A _. -

BEw ( Den Wein4enmnmit trinkt, gist

eeo) An.gn

am I I I

li I V- I I..
IlI !_

dr M Wo
- - pa
i- " "ie, -
n"ht - "ond
G. Ii
IN L M', "L -

Used bypermission
Los Angeles,California

transposedup eightsemitones.Furtheranalyticaljustification ofthisreadingis

providedbytherecurrence ofthistrichordtype(3-3) - nottheliteraltrichord
- twicein the violinline thatbegins at the end of b. 5 on A6, wherethe
originalformof basic cell b, F#-D#,in register,serves as an axis in this
symmetrical constructwithina hexachordalfigure.As the basic cell analysis
proceeds,however,certaindifficulties beginto creepin. There occursa new
tetradinthepianoinb. 5, corresponding, withrespecttoposition,totetrada in
b. 1. This is labelledtetradb. Noticethatit containsbasic cell a in itsoriginal
form,G#-E.In thepiano in b. 6 a new tetradappears,labelledtetradc. It is
connectedto the previousbasic cells, however,since it containsbasic cell c
(transposed).(It shouldalso be observedthatthetetradis ofthesame typeas
the tetrad(4-7) formedby interlocking formsof basic cell in violin,bs 5-6,
pointedoutin thepreviousdiscussion.)Finally,stillanothertetradappearson

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Ex. 5b


b.c.b* (b.c.b)

Vn. iF# D# F# IF# D# F#1

Pno. G# E C 1D Bb C# GIG# E CI iD Bb C# G

b.c.a /tetrad a (b.c.a) (tetrad a)

b.c.c b.c.c
b.c.b ib.c.b
Fl. A A A iBbA F#

Vn. F# D# F# F# D# F#

Pno. 7G#E C ID Bb C# iGIG# E C D Bb C# G

(b.c.a) (tetrad a) (b.c.a) (tetrad a)

b.c.c b.c.c
b.c.b b.c.a b.c.b tetrad d

Fl. A C C C# B F#l

Vn. Ab G EI D# F# D

Pno. G# F# AG# E D# F E F Db C D Bb C# G

# E D# /
tetrad b tetradbc c tetrad a

*b.c. means basic cell

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thescene,labelledtetradd, theend oftheflutefigurein b. 6. It willbe difficult

to fitthesefeaturesintoa completedanalysisoftheentiremovement.
This basic cell analysis,otherfeaturesofwhichare indicatedon Ex. 5b, but
willnotbe discussed,is effective as faras itgoes,butitdoes not
and interesting
showthe'background'featureswhichgovernthemovementas a whole.Ex. 5c


Fl. 6-21
6-21 6-217 6-Z44
/6-21 6-z17
Vn. F# D# F# F# D# F#

Pno. GL E C D Bb # G G#E C D b C# G

6-Z36 6-Z36
Fl. A A Bb A F#

Vn. F# D# F# F# D# F#

Pno. G# E C D Bb C# G G# E C D Bb C# G

(6-21) (6-21)

6-Z43 6 Z17*

Fl. A C"C C# B F#]

Vn. Ab G =F# D# F# D c]

Pno. D-E
F#A G# #Fie F DbC D 1b C#G

63 6-Z3
G F# E

6- 3 6-Z3
6-Z10 *6-Z17 follows
in flute


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attempts todo thatandin theprocessallowsfora segmentation thatis a good

dealmoreflexible thantheprimarily 'foreground' segmentationthebasiccell
analysis.This is
segmentationjustified by reference toan analysis oftheentire
movement, wayin a which I willindicate further It
along. proceeds from some
basicobservations. Forexample,boththefluteandviolinpresent hexachords
- set-class 6-Z36influte andset-class 6-Z43inviolin- a strong hintthatthe
hexachord is thefundamental unitin thismusic.Segmentation ofthepiano
figure doesnotfollowtherest-determined procedure ofthebasiccellanalysis
(Ex. 5b), but in view of the circularnature of theline - duetotheimmediate
repetitions permits a differentreading. Also the analysis inEx. 5ctakesinto
accountthattheinstruments interactandcombine invariousways.Thus,ifwe
readthefirst hexachord formed bypianoandviolin,thisprovestobe set6-21.
The samesetclassis represented bythefirst hexachord in pianoalone,and
again as the second hexachord formed by the two instruments. The opening
musicistherefore saturated withthesoundofthisspecialhexachord, oneofthe
'almostwhole-tone' hexachords.48 Hexachord 6-Z17follows 6-21inthepiano
as indicatedon theexample.The relationbetweenthishexachord and its
complement, 6-Z43,as itoccursin theviolinlinein bs 5-6 willbe shownin
connection withEx. 5f(p. 55). Finally,in theopening musica formof6-Z44
appears, a hexachord whichsubsequently assumesan important rolein the
music,together withitscomplement, 6-Z19.
Aftertheonsetoffluteon thesustained A (b. 3), whichbeginsthelinear
statement ofhexachord 6-Z36, thereis an echoingaccompanimental occur-
renceofthesameset,formed byall threeinstruments. The samesetrecurs
beginning withBb in pianoin b. 4. Here thetwoformsof 6-Z36 connect
exactlyby meansof whatwas calledbasic cell c in Ex. 5b: the trichord
F#-A-Bb. In thisanalysis thetrichord gainsconsiderable significance becauseit
is readinthecontext ofa setwhichis fundamental throughout themovement.
Theupperpartofthepianoconfiguration inb. 5 nowhasa completely different
aspect.It is readas 6-Z3, thecomplement of6-Z36.Thereading is supported
bya criterion as yetunvoiced,oneso 'simple'thatitmightbe overlooked or
takenforgranted: thecriterion ofrepetition. In thecaseofSchoenberg, itcan
surelybe claimedthatrepetition is a fundamental musicalprocessin all his
music,notrepetition intheobvioussense,butrepetition ofthemostartistic and
subtlekind.Here6-Z3 is represented notonlyin thepianolinebutbythe
segment formed bytheentirepianopartandthefirst noteoftheviolinline,
whichis thesamepitchclassas thefirst noteintheright handofthepiano.(In
thisshortexcerpt I havedeliberately suppressed manyotheroccurrences ofthe
basichexachords inordertoavoidpresenting anoverly complex analysis which
woulddivert attention from general issues.)Asshownontheexample(Ex. 5c),
6-Z3 is representedtwicemore.
As 6-Z43 is completedin theviolinpart,itscomplement,6-Z217,occursas a
segmentformedby all the instruments. Justbeforethis,hexachord6-Z10
appearsas thefirst
hexachordintherighthandofthepiano,b. 6. Again,thisis a
hexachordthefunctions ofwhich- withrespecttoitscomplement as wellas to

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theotherhexachordsinthemovement - becomeclearinthesubsequentmusic.
Whereasthe basic cell analysisshownin Ex. 5b was developedin a light-
hearted,spontaneousand 'contextual'manner,theanalysisshownin Ex. 5c is
aboutas spontaneousas a cookinglessonon television,in whichtheinstructor
shows,stepbystep,theingredients andcombinations, knowingfullwellthatthe
completed dish is in
safely the ovenand ready tobe photographed attheendofthe
programme. In a similar the
way, reading of the setsin Ex. 5c is conditioned bya
detailedcompletedanalysisoftheentiremovement, presentation of which inthis
settingwould most certainly result
in massive indigestion. I will say,however,
thatthemovementis based upon exactlysixhexachords- notan insignificant
numberin Schoenberg'scase - togetherwiththeircomplements.49 Of these,
twoofthemostimportant aregivenintheopeningmusic:the'almostwhole-tone'
hexachord6-21 and the 'almostchromatic'hexachords6-Z3 and 6-Z36. The
sixthhexachord,6-Z 13,incidentally, does notappearuntilb. 8, whereitis the
basis of the canon there.As will be obviousnow, segmentation in Ex. 5c is
strongly determined by repeated occurrences of these six fundamental
hexachords.A segmentationof this kind, which seems to be especially
appropriatein the case of Schoenberg'satonalmusic,but may be applicable
elsewhere,may be termeda 'top-down'segmentation, as distinctfromthe
'bottom-up'segmentation illustrated
byExample 5b.
It should be clear that the two typesof segmentation are not mutually
exclusive.Ex. 5d illustratesthis: What was called tetrada in the basic cell
Ex. 5d

Vn. i F# D# F# F#

Pno. G# E C D Bb C# G G# E

44-' /4-18

analysis(Ex. 5b) is identifiedin Ex. 5d as set4-18, theprimeformofwhichis

[0,1,4,7]. Not only does 4-18 occurin thehorizontalplane here,but it is also
formedas a segmentby piano and violincombined.As shownin Ex. 5d, it
also occursa thirdtime,again in the horizontalplane, linkingb. 1 and b. 2.
The otheraspect of tetrachordalorganizationshownin Ex. 5d is the dual
occurrenceof set 4-24, twotranspositionally-related formswhichsharebasic
cell a, the 'augmentedtriad'. This tetrachordis prominentthroughoutthe
movement,forexamplein b. 10, whereit setsthetextword'Horizont',a bit
of word paintingwhichexploitsthe symmetric and stable propertiesof the
Ex. 5e providesa further refinement of thetetrachordalanalysisin Ex. 5d,
approachingthetreatment ofindividualpitchclasseswhichwouldbe essential

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to a relatively
completeanalysis.This examplefocusesupon b. 1, ignoringthe
elaborateoverlappingstructures oftheprevioussegmentations. It dividesthe
seven-note intotwotrichords,
pianofigure thefirst
D inthe
middle,a symmetric positionwhichit occupiedin thetetrachordal analysisin
Ex. 5d as well. In thisreading,D is connectedto therhythmically symmetric
componentbasic cell b (thatis, rhythmically symmetric withrespectto the
seven-notepiano figure)to formbasic cell c. This divisionof the seven-note
piano figurerevealsbasic cell a again in contrastto basic cell b. Here it is
represented twice,becominga 'diminishedtriad',a representative ofsetclass
3-10, to use thejargonofunorderedpitch-classsettheory.
Ex. 5e

Vn. 1 --V

Pno.IG# E C D Bb C# G

b.c.a b.c.c b.c.b (2x)

(3-12) (3-3) (3-10)

In thefinalexample,Ex. 5f,correspondences betweenZ-relatedhexachords

are displayedin demonstration of the significancethat such relationsmay
exhibit- but do notnecessarilyalwaysexhibit- at thelevelofdetail.Exact
pitch-classcorrespondences are indicatedby double-headedarrowsthatjoin
the two dyads. Thus, the two Z-correspondents are associatedstronglyby
intervalclasses1 and 2. Intervalclass3 in6-Z43 is matched,however,notbyan
adjacency in 6-Z17, but by the non-contiguousC# and E. Basic cell
components,the 'majorthird'frombasic cell a and the 'minorthird'of basic
cell b, are shownon theexampleas well.
In conclusion,I expressmyregretthatit is notpossiblehereto coverall the
subtopicsthatcome to mindin connectionwiththegeneraltopic,'Pitch-class
Set AnalysisToday'. These includethequestionof 'auralrelevance',whichis
closely associated with the importantmatterof ear-training pedagogy-
especiallyimportant inthecase ofearlytwentieth-century atonalmusic,withits
rich harmonicvocabularyand intricatestructures,of which the music of
Schoenbergis surelythemostcomplexrepresentation.
I wouldliketo saya word,however,aboutfutureprospectsfortheuse and
developmentof pitch-classset analysis.First,a recenttechnologicaldevelop-
mentoffersinteresting possibilitiesforresearch.I speak of the adventof the
microcomputer,which renders computationalfacilitiesaccessible to any
scholarwho is interestedenoughto learnhow to use them.Many aspectsof
analysismayundergoconsiderabledevelopmentby virtueof theexistenceof
thistechnology and itsinteractivecapabilities.One canenvision,forexample,a

54 MUSIC ANALYSIS 4:1/2,1985

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E jmit Dmptfer
Bw ( ) Den Weinaden
manmit An.gen trinkt, gielt

Kiavier. pp

de1r; Mond i o gen ae-
Used bypermissionofBelmontMusicPublishers,Los Angeles,California

ici ic2
6-Z17 in piano
bs 1-2: C# G G# E C D


b.c.b b.c.a
6-Z43 in violin
bs 5-6: b G, F# D#1F# D
/ C
icl ic3 ic2

C#-E (ic3) corresponds to F#-D# (b.c.b)

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powerfulset-complex analyserwithartificial aspects.Second,there

remainto be investigated manymoregeneraland interesting questions,suchas
thedefinition of 'centricity'
in, forexample,theatonalmusicoftheViennese
classicists.Finally,thereis muchmusicstillto be studiedusingpitch-classset
methods.Two repertories come to mind:(1) thetransitionalmusicofthelate
19thcentury, a repertory towhichI referredat thebeginningofthispaper,and
(2) morerecentmusicthatmightbe studiedin a fruitful wayvia pitch-classsets
and relations.
1. MatthewBrown,'ConferenceReport',MusicAnalysis,Vol. 3, No. 1, March1984,
pp. 91-5. In thisreporton theSixthAnnualMeetingoftheSocietyforMusic
Theoryat Yale (November,1983),theauthorwritesof the'greatdiversity
subjectmatter',thengoeson to saythat'. . . therewas considerableconformity in
method- to somedegreeor other,thevastmajorityofpapersdrewuponForte's
theoryofunorderedsetsand Schenker'stheoryoftonality'.
2. Allen Forte, The Structure ofAtonalMusic (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1973). Idem., TheHarmonicOrganization ofTheRiteofSpring(New Haven: Yale
University Press,1978).
3. Wallace Berry,Structural Functionsin Music (Englewood Cliffs:Prentice-Hall,
4. JonathanBernard,'Pitch/Register in theMusic of EdgardVarese',Music Theory
Spectrum, 3, 1981,pp. 1-25.
5. Christopher Hasty,'Segmentation and ProcessinPost-TonalMusic',MusicTheory
Spectrum, Vol. 3, 1981,pp. 54-73.
6. Douglas Jarman,The Music of Alban Berg (Berkeley:Universityof California
7. ReinholdBrinkmann,ArnoldSch6nberg: Op. 11: Studienzur
Drei Klavierstiicke
friihenAtonalitatbei Schonberg(Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner,1969), p. 98: 'Das
Verfahren,alle Gestaltenaus einemKern zu entwickeln,findetauch in diesem
SttickAnwendung.Ausgangspunkt allerAbleitungen istderEr6ffnungsabschnitt
mit seinen zwei gleich am Beginn exponiertenThemen bzw. Motiven, die
untereinander wiederengenKonnexhaben. Sie m6genmita bzw. b bezeichnet.'
8. David Loeb, 'An AnalyticStudyofJapaneseKoto Music', TheMusicForum,Vol.
IV, 1976,pp. 335-95.
9. Paul F. Wilson,'Atonality and Structure inWorksofBela Bart6k'sMiddlePeriod'
(Yale University: Ph.D. dissertation,1982),and JamesM. Baker(see n. 25 below).
10. MarthaM. Hyde, Schoenberg's Twelve-Tone Harmony:The Suite Op. 29 and the
Compositional Sketches (AnnArbor:UMI ResearchPress,1982),p. 11.
11. ArnoldSchoenberg,'CompositionwithTwelve Tones (1)', in Styleand Idea, ed.
Leonard Stein (New York: St Martins Press, 1975), and Claudio Spies,
'Vortrag/ 12TK / Princeton',Perspectives ofNew Music, Vol. 13, No. 1, Fall -
Winter1974,pp. 58-136.
12. JeffPressing,'Pitch-ClassSet Structures
in Contemporary
Jazz',Jazz Forschung,
Vol. 14.
13. Alan Chapman, 'Crossingthe Cusp: The SchoenbergConnection',Kurt Weill
Conference,sponsoredby The Music Libraryof Yale Universityand the Kurt
WeillFoundationforMusic, New Haven, Connecticut, 2-5 November1983.

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14. Paul Wilson,op. cit.,p. i.

15. PhilipRussom,'StructuralLevels in Post-TonalMusic as Exemplifiedin Works
byMauriceRavel', Dissertation-in-progress, Yale University.
16. JanetSchmalfeldt, Berg's Wozzeck: Harmonic LanguageandDramaticDesign(New
Haven: Yale University Press,1983).
17. Douglas Jarman,TimesLiterary Supplement, 20 January1984,p. 56.
18. Schmalfeldt, op. cit.,p. 121.
19. RichardParks, 'Pitch Organizationin Debussy: UnorderedSets in Brouillards',
Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 2, 1980,pp. 119-34:p. 134.
20. RichardTaruskin,Reviewof The HarmonicOrganization of The Rite ofSpring,
Current Musicology, No. 28, 1979,pp. 114-29.
21. Ibid., p. 123.
22. Taruskinis inaccurateor misleadingwhenhe states:'He findsthechordmarked
withan arrowinExample3 "anomalous"andletsitgo atthat'(ibid.,p. 123).What
I wrotewas: 'Set 4-8 remainssomewhatanomalousherebecauseitdoes notfitinto
the similarityscheme [which had been discussed], but its relationto 5-6
(mentionedabove) willbe recalled'(Forte,HarmonicOrganization. . . , p. 59).
23. It shouldbe pointedoutthatnowherein TheHarmonicOrganization ofTheRiteof
Springis itstatedthattheworkis atonal.
24. RobertCraft,'Crafton Forte', The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4, October
1978,pp. 524-35.
25. JamesM. Baker, 'SchenkerianAnalysisand Post-Tonal Music' in Aspectsof
Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983),
p. 179.
26. AllenForte,'A TheoryofSet ComplexesforMusic',JournalofMusicTheory, Vol.
7, No. 2, Fall-Winter1964,pp. 136-83.
27. The threereviewsof TheStructure ofAtonalMusic to whichI referare: William
Benjamin's in Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 13, No. 1, Fall-Winter1974;
RichmondBrowne's in Journalof Music Theory,Vol. 18, No. 2, Fall 1974,
pp. 390-415; Eric Regener'sin Perspectives ofNew Music, Vol. 13, No. 1, Fall-
Winter1974,pp. 191-212.
28. GeorgePerle, CommunicationssectionofJournalof theAmericanMusicological
Society,Vol. 35, No. 2, Summer1982,pp. 373-7.
29. See Allen Forte, 'Harmonic Syntaxand Voice Leading in Stravinsky'sEarly
Music' in Stravinsky: Centennial Essays,ed. JannPasler(Berkeley:University of
30. The rowhexadsare6-Z46 and itscomplement, 6-Z24. See JanMaegaard,'Sch6n-
bergsZw6olftonreihen', Die Musikforschung, Jhrg.29, Heft4, 1976,pp. 385- 424.
Maegaardtakesthistobe themainrowandreferstotwovariants,hisNos 86 and 87
(p. 389, ibid.),bothofwhichhavethesameunorderedhexachordalcontent,viz.,
31. Douglas Jarman,Reviewof JanetSchmalfeldt, op. cit.,Music& Letters, Vol. 65,
No. 3, July1984,pp. 294-6. On p. 295 he refersto 'recentJAMSexchanges',by
whichhe apparently meansGeorgePerle'scommunication in responseto Martha
Hyde's reviewofhis book (see n. 28).
32. Richard Swift,'Some Aspects of AggregateComposition',Perspectives of New
Music,Spring-Summer 1976/Fall-Winter 1976,pp. 236-48.
33. DennisCollins,ReviewofTheStructure ofAtonalMusic,RevuedeMusicologie, Vol.
61, No. 1, 1975, pp. 143-5: '. .. alors que le fondementde cettepi&ceest une

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ambiguitede timbres. . .' (p. 144).

34. Ibid., p. 144: 'Meme atrophiede la partitionde la "Danse sacrale", ou' cette
structureglobaleestassuree,de touteevidence,parle rythme'.
35. GeorgePerle, Paul Lansky,'Atonality',The New GroveDictionary ofMusic and
Musicians,Vol. 1, p. 673.
36. ArnoldWhittall,Reviewof TheStructure ofAtonalMusic, Tempo,No. 109, June
1974,pp. 41-3.
37. Jim Samson, 'Schoenberg's "Atonal" Music', Tempo,No. 109, June 1974,
pp. 16-25.
38. Will Ogdon, 'How TonalityFunctionsin Schoenberg'sOpus 11, Number 1',
JournaloftheArnoldSchoenberg Vol. 5, No. 2, November1981,pp. 169-
81: p. 169.
39. See George Perle, Serial Composition and Atonality(Berkeley: Universityof
CaliforniaPress, 1962), pp. 10-16, and Allen Forte, 'Sets and Nonsets in
Schoenberg'sAtonal Music', Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 11, No. 2, Fall-
Winter1972,pp. 43-64.
40. Ogdon,op. cit.,p. 170.
41. AnthonyMilner, 'Botanizingon music', Recordsand Recordings,Dec. 1979,
pp. 128-9,a reviewofTheHarmonicOrganization ofTheRiteofSpring, withmany
referencesto The Structure of Atonal Music. As penance for this intemperate
outburst,I suggestthatMr Milnerbe requiredto memoriseArticleQuatrieme,
ChapitreHuitieme,LivrePremierofRameau's Traitede L'HarmonieReduitea ses
PrincipesNaturels(Paris: 1722), 'De l'Accordde la Septieme. . .', an eminent
contribution to the ancientand honourabletraditionof gobbledegookin music
42. At theend ofhis vitriolicreview,Mr Milnerstates:'Perhapsthemostfavourable
commentthatcan be made on the book is thatit servesas the mostcompelling
argumentagainsttheuse ofcomputersin musicalanalysisthathas yetappeared'.
He refersto The HarmonicOrganization of The Rite ofSpring.In pointof fact,
althoughI have writtenmanycomputerprogramsin connectionwithanalytical
and theoreticalstudies,thatbookwas executedentirely byhandmethods,savefor
an electrictypewriterand a high-tech electriceraser.
43. Anonymousreviewof TheStructure ofAtonalMusic, TimesLiterary Supplement,8
March 1974.
44. RichmondBrowne,op. cit.(n. 27), p. 406.
45. See, forexample,Douglas Jarman,TheMusicofAlbanBerg,p. 54, where4-19 is
describedas 'a minortriadwithan added majorseventh'.
46. The notionof 'basic cell' is, of course,GeorgePerle's. See his Serial Composition
andAtonality, pp. 9-10.
47. I haveomittedtheSprechstimme fromtheanalysis.If,however,itspitchednotation
is takenat facevalue,thenitfitsintothepitch-classsetanalysiswithoutdifficulty
- indeed,supportsit- hereand throughout thework.
48. Set 6-34, theWozzeckhexachord,is another'almostwhole-tone'hexachord.Set
6-21 is theopeningthematichexachordin Berg'sStringQuartet,Op. 3 (1909-10).
49. These hexachordsare: 6-Z3/6-Z36, 6-Z10/6-Z39,6-Z13/6-Z42,6-Z17/6-Z43,
6-21, 6-Z19/6-Z44.Only6-21 is itsowncomplement.

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