The Composers’ Forum is looking for members who are interested in participating in a collaborative treatise on the subject of Atonalism, to be presented on this site. 3 members are needed in order for the project to be a go. You can express interest by replying on this thread or PMing me. The deadline to express interest is 9/30/18 at 5 pm EST. Feel free also to ask any questions you may have by replying to this thread.

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  • So lets clean up the vernacular.  True atonal music would be really difficult to hear.  Why not use the term atonalcentric?  All music is pan-tonal or polytonal except for the test pattern drone, (monotone).  To me, pan-tonalcentric or polytonalcentric music would be like a sequence put through a circle of fifths.  Each iteration has a different tone center.  Schoenberg's music should be described as atonalcentric, since throughout most of it there is no tonal center.  Dodecaphonic doesn't seem to relate to a certain tone center, but refers to using chromatic passages even though the music could have a tone center.

         Just some thoughts, though I have not written or studied atonal music and so I feel I am not qualified to pontificate on the subject.

  • On second thought, atonalcentric is a bad definition because it labels music by what it is not.  i.e. What is the color of the sky.  It is not green.  After a study of the subject we should be able to label this music by what it is.

  • Thanks Bob, Lawrence and Teoh for your help. This is what I mean for a serious and grammatically correct definition of terms.

    Bob, I agree that tone and tonal are two different concepts, and so they should be, but see below.

    Teoh, I think you got it in a nutshell.  "Atonal" as a term does derive from the word "tonal" as a concept. Here I think that language and its usage failed us. I find this term quite poor for describing such a marvellous and complex application as tonality with 400 years history.

    And Lawrence, you've got it in a nutshell too! If you refer to my explanation of the steritic "a" and the word that follows it as a concept meaning the opposite than the word that follows it, there it is:

    Tonal is a positive term

    Atonal is a negative term which can only tell us what something is not, but never what it is.

     I also find myself in sympathy with the idea of pan-tonal, but given our 20th century music practices and taking into account the East as well as the West hemisphere, I prefer to call modern music pan-intervalic rather than pan-tonal.

    I wish I had some more time to carry on but… :-)

  • Hey guys, it’s fine if you want to discuss this, but please do it on a different thread, this thread is for sign-ups for the proposed project -
  • But that's just it. Folks can't sign-up for something if they don't know what they are signing up for. "Atonal" (whatever that is) might be too broad a term for a treatise.

  • Hi Bob, once someone signs up, they can help define the scope of the project, the meaning of the word, etc. All signing up does is get you a seat at the discussion table.
  • OK. Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Deadline approaching!

  • Schoenberg, for one, described his music as pantonal. There are parts of his serial works that can be described as tonal or, at least, have tonal references. I think it is very difficult to completely avoid tonal references altogether. Webern, perhaps, succeeded, but not Berg. Schoenberg used a series to try to give his ultrachromaticism some structure and hopefully convey more meaning or logic to the listener.

    I agree that before one can discuss atonality (without tonality, not without a tone), we should really decide if that is the best term, and then (if it is) what is atonality.

  • Hi Stephen, whoever joins the project can hash all that out. Just indicate if you are interested to join the project if you want to be part of that group >
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