A Guide to Atonal Subcategories

Just throwing it out there.  I think it would be beneficial if there could be a forum contributed guide with descriptions to atonal subcategories.  

Music without a tonal center has been around for over a century and much of what is called atonal is far more than just that but I have yet to locate an intelligent guide that presents the myriad of subcategories / schools of thought.

Potential contenders for subcategories might include:


12 tone serialism

Microtonal music

Noise music

Methodical Music that adheres to unique rules

Mathematical music

Music with consonant harmonies but without a tonal center

Fundamentally rhythmically complex music (random pitched)

*Some category names above might be incorrect.

Please Note: This thread is not intended to be a format for opinions about such music but rather a resource that could shed light on a very vague tradition.


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  • Hi Em, if you could send me a PM with a formal proposal, I’d be happy to entertain the idea. Please include (if you have this information) how such a guide would be built (i.e. who would do it and how), how it would be vetted, and what would happen after it is built (i.e. would it be a static document, or open for commentary/expansion). Thanks!


  • I'll bet Julie already has some of this put together for her students.  She might not want to be back on the forum but maybe she could help with this?

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