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If you're composing harmonies that are not, in the strictest sense, tonal. how do you choose the notes to use.
I'm pretty familiar with the tonal world and all that jazz. So, if you have any ideas, thoughts or methods you have found to be inspiring and working. please enlighten me...
Also, I'm interested in hearing about different resources (books and such) on the subject, if you know any.

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I could learn a lot of lessons from you.

Roberto Soggetti said:


Greg Brus said:
Roberto Soggetti said:
point 2 is serial composing, but it took too long to write point 1 so I have to procrastinate it until next time! :)


I consider serialism to be kind of a science exercise rather than a technique composer could efficiently use to express his ideas in atonal way. However, one might use it to severely limit the endless amount of possibilities which come when you're free from tonal thinking - might be helpful when you're getting started.
Pointilism seems intriguing, though :)

not sure... I agree to a certain extent, but since eventually you are (your ear is) the judge of the final output, the science exercise could turn into an expressive medium for the composer. Plus, it's easy to get pieces done very quickly this way :). Here's an example I did some time ago, as a demo for Wallander's woodwinds. It took about 30 minutes to compose...
http://www.robertosoggetti.com/serialwoods.mp3
Atonality is vast, and to go by emotion would be the way I do it. Atonal chords and compositions usually have very strange and unique characteristics and they can lead to their own unique form of resolution of progressions, but there's no recipe that I know of to find them, for me at least it's all about the composition and each chord must be precise in the whole, and there should be a form that leads one to think it's not random but rather a unique expression as a whole or in several parts.

I'm not into atonal, I have not yet managed to appreciate it and thus not write anything "atonal". But.

"Atonal" means without tonal center, the absense of motion from musical (harmonic or melodic) point A to point B. Resolving a G7major to C major is a clear statment of tonality if there is nothing else before or after.

If you want to create atonal melodies, then yo have to take out the element of "logical continuation"-the very thing that can express a tonal centre in an one voice melody. 

If you want to make atonal harmonies (which to me is what makes sense-an apparently "atonal melody" could be harmonised and in the end become tonal) then you need to NOT express tonality. Not having a cadence and constantly moving around different tonal regions (could be every 2 chords) will take away the sense of a constant center, but it will still have some kind of "logic", flow. This would be a pretty traditional aproach, but could comply with the term atonal, if made with care.

You can take it a step further, and change the "natural" roles of chords, resolving things in ways unexpected, again wondering around regions, constantly trying to make the ar listen to something it was not expecting-writting not what you naturally feel should be there, but what shouldnt. This however  means you will have to "defy" your inherent sense of harmony and go against your own thought, unless of cource you can actually "think" that way (musically speaking), something I doubt anyone can do, at least not after much getting used to this specific way.

So in an experiment this would be interesting, but when trying to express yourself you dont avoid what you think should come next- you embrace it, or else this is not your thoughs, it is you avoiding them.

This kind of random composition method rarely leads to a good piece IMO. There are right and wrong atonal progressions (some have more impact than others), but I can't say if everyone would agree with a specific progression. Some are more emotional and others end up too random, but to my sense it should still be emotional and not against what feels natural. Ligeti was very good at getting the emotions out for example

Spiros Makris said:

I'm not into atonal, I have not yet managed to appreciate it and thus not write anything "atonal". But.

"Atonal" means without tonal center, the absense of motion from musical (harmonic or melodic) point A to point B. Resolving a G7major to C major is a clear statment of tonality if there is nothing else before or after.

If you want to create atonal melodies, then yo have to take out the element of "logical continuation"-the very thing that can express a tonal centre in an one voice melody. 

If you want to make atonal harmonies (which to me is what makes sense-an apparently "atonal melody" could be harmonised and in the end become tonal) then you need to NOT express tonality. Not having a cadence and constantly moving around different tonal regions (could be every 2 chords) will take away the sense of a constant center, but it will still have some kind of "logic", flow. This would be a pretty traditional aproach, but could comply with the term atonal, if made with care.

You can take it a step further, and change the "natural" roles of chords, resolving things in ways unexpected, again wondering around regions, constantly trying to make the ar listen to something it was not expecting-writting not what you naturally feel should be there, but what shouldnt. This however  means you will have to "defy" your inherent sense of harmony and go against your own thought, unless of cource you can actually "think" that way (musically speaking), something I doubt anyone can do, at least not after much getting used to this specific way.

So in an experiment this would be interesting, but when trying to express yourself you dont avoid what you think should come next- you embrace it, or else this is not your thoughs, it is you avoiding them.

no, you misunderstood me. I'm having second thoughts in the case  of "writting not what you naturally feel should be there, but what shouldnt". If you write a Gmajor and then you just feel, need, want a C major after that, then you HAVE to put it there. And why shouldn't you? After all it's your piece and tonality and atonality are two words made to describe the same thing:

Emotion. 

 

By all means I am against randomness. A random piece is not your piece-its Godess' Luck to claim. 

telod said:

This kind of random composition method rarely leads to a good piece IMO. There are right and wrong atonal progressions (some have more impact than others), but I can't say if everyone would agree with a specific progression. Some are more emotional and others end up too random, but to my sense it should still be emotional and not against what feels natural. Ligeti was very good at getting the emotions out for example

Atonal music can't be analyzed using traditional chord symbols. There are other methods for melodic and harmonic organization, and there obviously has to be some rhyme and reason to the whole thing, creating music that has an impact on the listener is about setting up expectations moment to moment and following through (or occasionally not). There are still very specific techniques used in writing chromatic and non-tonal (even "atonal") music. Some of the organizing principles become so esoteric that they may not be apparent to the listener or have any real meaning to anyone except the composer, but the music is still highly organized.

 

If you look at a lot of major academic sources on this subject, there's some debate over whether atonality can ever be achieved, most "non-tonal" music would be more correctly identified as "non-tonal" or "chromatic". Check out the Persichetti book (20th Century Harmony). It's essentially a menu of chromatic composition techniques. All briefly explained with short examples, and organized in a way that's really easy to get through.

"Atonal" music can still be very consonant sounding vertically, yet not conform to any traditional tonal center.  Further, it has been proved mathematically that all root progressions are equal, i.e., progressions based on the circle of 5ths are not inherently stronger than other root progressions.  There is a couple of hundred of years of aural expectations that have evolved from tradition that you can to choose to be bound by, or you can choose the path of freedom.  Either way, you should know exactly what it is that you are doing.

 

 

Oops! I didn't know that, thanks for the info. I will definitely be checking out Hindemith's system.


Fredrick zinos said:

"Atonal music can't be analyzed using traditional chord symbols."

 

Except of course, that is exactly what Hindemith did with some of Schoenberg. Hindemith wanted to demonstrate that a composer can suspend tonal feeling but can't completely avoid it. Kind of like flying an airplane temporarily suspends (but still depends on ) gravity.

hello Henri. only just seen your post. Have a look at this: http://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/composing-tool-thomes-p...

 

It might help. I put this up when everyone was on hols! cheers nick

Someone said it above, but in a similar way an approach I use is keeping the intervals and/or sonorities uniform in some way, but it really depends on what I want to communicate. My approach changes every time. A fun thing to try that my composition teacher challenged me to do: write a piece that uses only three intervals. You can only repeat the use of the same interval once before you must move on to another of your three intervals. 

 

Most of the time though I do not like to distinguish between tonality or atonality as I think that perceived differences between the two break down as you compare them on more fundamental levels. Not to mention the fact that there are way more options out there than just tonality and atonality. Consider: pantonality, bi-tonality, poly-tonality, micro-tonality, tonality based on drone, "regional" tonality, and neo-tonality (which is probably more the name of a movement rather than a type of tonality). Of course, you probably already know this.

just a thought, have you read my thesis on this subject - ie.tonality/atonality? will send link if interested. cheers nick



Jonathan Metz said:

Someone said it above, but in a similar way an approach I use is keeping the intervals and/or sonorities uniform in some way, but it really depends on what I want to communicate. My approach changes every time. A fun thing to try that my composition teacher challenged me to do: write a piece that uses only three intervals. You can only repeat the use of the same interval once before you must move on to another of your three intervals. 

 

Most of the time though I do not like to distinguish between tonality or atonality as I think that perceived differences between the two break down as you compare them on more fundamental levels. Not to mention the fact that there are way more options out there than just tonality and atonality. Consider: pantonality, bi-tonality, poly-tonality, micro-tonality, tonality based on drone, "regional" tonality, and neo-tonality (which is probably more the name of a movement rather than a type of tonality). Of course, you probably already know this.

Sure, send it along, would love to see it. I too am a theorist.

Nick Capocci said:

just a thought, have you read my thesis on this subject - ie.tonality/atonality? will send link if interested. cheers nick



Jonathan Metz said:

Someone said it above, but in a similar way an approach I use is keeping the intervals and/or sonorities uniform in some way, but it really depends on what I want to communicate. My approach changes every time. A fun thing to try that my composition teacher challenged me to do: write a piece that uses only three intervals. You can only repeat the use of the same interval once before you must move on to another of your three intervals. 

 

Most of the time though I do not like to distinguish between tonality or atonality as I think that perceived differences between the two break down as you compare them on more fundamental levels. Not to mention the fact that there are way more options out there than just tonality and atonality. Consider: pantonality, bi-tonality, poly-tonality, micro-tonality, tonality based on drone, "regional" tonality, and neo-tonality (which is probably more the name of a movement rather than a type of tonality). Of course, you probably already know this.

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