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Neither Schoenberg nor Hindemith really understood atonality. Did they?

A general thought dating from about 30 years ago, connected with musings on the nature of the "evolution" of musical language.

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Comment by Nick Capocci on July 9, 2018 at 5:08am

Sorry folks, for dropping out all this time. My wife died and things went tits up from there. I will return!

Comment by Nick Capocci on September 13, 2011 at 2:08pm


Say, 30 years ago – certainly when I was studying in the 1970’s – if someone had tried to start a debate with the heading given here, they would either have been dismissed as an ignoramus, or taken outside and given a good hiding by the supporters of Shoenberg or Hindemith et al for daring even to suggest such an absurd idea.


Fortunately times have changed and the parameters for debates like this have opened up enormously. Of course my own views have become inextricably bound up with my forays into Newtonality and Thomes & Phases, which you’ve probably come across on previous threads (links available if requested).


More fascinating than any of this is the implication that if the evolution of the language of musical composition – a process which we mistakenly believe we intimately control – is in fact a predetermined, inevitable sequence of events, then the same principle might apply to other areas of human activity and knowledge. And, if it applies there, then why not to the whole of human evolution? And if there, why not to the whole of existence?


The more I think about atonality, where it came from, how and when it emerged, and these wider implications, the more logical it seems that predeterminism is hard-wired into the process of evolution.

Comment by Nick Capocci on September 12, 2011 at 5:18pm
I had something very specific in mind when posting this thread. I'll get back to you chaps soon, as this is a subject very dear to my heart - and one surprisingly seldom discussed in the post-atonal world. Thank you for your comments thus far.
Comment by John A. Ryther on September 12, 2011 at 7:18am
While it is not entirely obvious when you first hear Schoenburg (haha) the music of the later period exibits a desire to avoid any sense of a key center at all, while Hindemith actually depends on key centers to bring his music to some form that recollects previous music in history.  I personally appreciate this "format" from Hindemith: it makes the music much easier to listen to.
Comment by Norbert Oldani on September 11, 2011 at 4:06am
I agree with Jon Corelis.

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