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NEWTONAL FUGUE: THOMIC

  

The thomic is, in some ways, the most rewarding of the Thomes & Phases techniques. In the same way that tonal music (the interplay and flux between consonance and dissonance) fulfils its profoundest potential using contrapuntal textures, so Newtonal music finds its greatest potential for expression in the application of the phase principle to the purely melodic treatment of the thome material. In fact, in this type of composition, the phase structure virtually disappears as the various combinations of the thomes are examined and explored.

 

Most interesting is the continuity between tonal fugue and Newtonal thomic. This continuity is, of course, not unique to Newtonal thinking. However, in addition to (for example, and most obviously) Schoenberg’s use of diminution, augmentation, inversion and retrogression when applied to the atonal tone-row, one may add, in the specific context of the thomic; stretto, false entry and other devices associated with tonal fugue.

 

When experimenting with the combinations of thomes, the degree to which such combinations reflect either a predominantly tonal or an atonal bias is entirely a matter of choice and musical preference.

 

I offer this piece as proof positive that the theory of Newtonality and the techniques of Thomes & Phases can be considered as a continuous development of and from the techniques of the tonal era. If free counterpoint, the most demanding of all tonal textures, can be rendered in Newtonal terms, then anything else is child’s play. Indeed, I have proved this to be true many times in both large and small scale compositions.

 

(I will be engraving the ms score with Sibelius, so it will be viewable/downloadable shortly)

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I'm not really a fan of atonality but I liked this. I'd actually really like to meet up in person and discuss your newtonality face-to-face.

Have you looked into coming along to the next Composium?
??? . . . or, "Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis?"

The piece is nice enough, though.
Thank you for your reply and observations. I guessed this would intrigue you.

What you have discerned, in listening, is the presence of adapted tonal contrapuntal devices which I know you are very familiar with. This, as I have previously intimated, is the key to Newtonality; with adjustments and adaptations, there is unbroken continuity with tonal techniques. Some “rules” have to go, of course. This process of pruning, trimming and re-inventing always occurs with the introduction of new techniques and theories. The “rules” of strict counterpoint, for example, were evolved to suit a relatively simple, modal view of tonality; they were completely inappropriate in the context of the more complex tonal environment of equal temperament. So, they were either discarded or adapted.

I am engraving the score with Sibelius. So, hopefully, it should be available as a free download quite soon. (I will endeavour to add some explanatory notes to the score)

I am also working on another thomic right now, and making detailed notes on methods and construction as work progresses, but I doubt this will be available for a while yet.




Kristofer Emerig said:
In my admittedly narrowly focused compositional viewpoint, this is what writing is all about. And I appreciate that this was not so turgid and mired in overproduced gimmickry that I could actually discern notes and lines and what's happening (imagine that!). One of the most satisfying pieces I've heard in some time.

Please forward a score if possible, and some instruction on methods of the Thomic. I'm eager to try my hand at it.

Really nice work Nick.
Not being a “fan of atonality”, I suggest the reason you liked this piece is precisely because it is NOT atonal: it’s Newtonal.

Love it or loathe it, atonality is a fact of life, like the microchip or space travel. One can’t pretend it isn’t there or it doesn’t really matter. It’s a major component of the post-tonal era and must be precisely defined in relation to its opposite; tonality. Newtonality is just my way of doing that. Others may find other ways of doing it, but doing it is, in my opinion, an unavoidable task for modern composers.

The real point about Newtonality and the techniques of Thomes & Phases is that it actually works. It is an endlessly fascinating composing tool. Except for commercial purposes – jazz and so forth - I seldom bother with tonal composition; it’s just so boring!

If the Composium was in London, that would be a possibility.


James Semple said:
I'm not really a fan of atonality but I liked this. I'd actually really like to meet up in person and discuss your newtonality face-to-face.

Have you looked into coming along to the next Composium?
Hey Nick, thanks for your comments. I'm assuming from your reply that you're a concert composer rather than a film composer (I read your profile and although it says you make your living from music it doesn't say what you actually do).

Personally I see classical music has swung massively back towards tonality with atonality being a self-conscious aspect of the 20th Century style. This has probably been down to the enormous influence of film music in the orchestral world for a variety of reasons such as: -

- Money: recording films is one of the last areas where orchestras can still get paid regularly
- Audience: film (and videogame) music concerts regularly pack massive concert halls that are normally half-empty

Having said that, atonality is present in film music (just not the big themes that most of the audience remembers) and the devices are useful.

The next Composium is being held in London on Saturday, October 16th. You'd certainly have a lot of composers around to discuss your Newtonality ideas with.
Well, coming from you, praise indeed! Thank you for listening.

Streaker Ofinsky said:
??? . . . or, "Watchu talkin' 'bout Willis?"

The piece is nice enough, though.
You seem rather obsessed with "marketing".

"Hindemith-esque". Didn't occer to me. However, I take that as a (mild) comliment.

Jan Civil said:
sounds Hindemith-esque. TBH, all the 'theory' talk (a verbal argument to support some music) is just a kind of marketing to me.
Hi James

I don't composes for money. I'm just a hack pianist/teacher.

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply inteligently. If I can get to the next composium I will, though work comes first.

James Semple said:
Hey Nick, thanks for your comments. I'm assuming from your reply that you're a concert composer rather than a film composer (I read your profile and although it says you make your living from music it doesn't say what you actually do).

Personally I see classical music has swung massively back towards tonality with atonality being a self-conscious aspect of the 20th Century style. This has probably been down to the enormous influence of film music in the orchestral world for a variety of reasons such as: -

- Money: recording films is one of the last areas where orchestras can still get paid regularly
- Audience: film (and videogame) music concerts regularly pack massive concert halls that are normally half-empty

Having said that, atonality is present in film music (just not the big themes that most of the audience remembers) and the devices are useful.

The next Composium is being held in London on Saturday, October 16th. You'd certainly have a lot of composers around to discuss your Newtonality ideas with.
When I was studying harmony, I submitted an exercise littered with tritones. My teacher’s worried response was: “I hope you’re not going pull any tricks like this in your exam!”

In point of fact, I prefer to use the term “cantus firmus” when referring to the main subject of a thomic, as the melodic line looks and feels renaissance in character, rather than baroque.

I’m on holiday this week, but I promise to get the score of the thomic online as soon as feasible.



Kristofer Emerig said:
Nick, I think the process you are describing has been an ongoing and tacit, perhaps even unconscious, one among post common practice contrapuntists, and I agree that there is a glaring vacancy in the form of a unified, rigorous theoretical system by which to analyze its progress.

Unless we are aiming for precise, historically accurate simulation of a particular practice (and in that I for one have no interest), almost all, intentionally or not, will inevitably adopt or reject practices from a broad palette of historical ones, and hopefully devise a few signatures of our own.

For instance, you know already how highly I esteem the repertoire of the Renaissance, and yet I find the avoidance of the tritone relationship not only an irrational dogma, but in fact very much an impediment to good counterpoint. There are few more versatile a vertical relationships, and its neutrality and ambiguity as a transitional element which can diverge in countless directions is unsurpassed. Not to mention, it sounds good too, in the right context.

Nick Capocci said:
Thank you for your reply and observations. I guessed this would intrigue you.

What you have discerned, in listening, is the presence of adapted tonal contrapuntal devices which I know you are very familiar with. This, as I have previously intimated, is the key to Newtonality; with adjustments and adaptations, there is unbroken continuity with tonal techniques. Some “rules” have to go, of course. This process of pruning, trimming and re-inventing always occurs with the introduction of new techniques and theories. The “rules” of strict counterpoint, for example, were evolved to suit a relatively simple, modal view of tonality; they were completely inappropriate in the context of the more complex tonal environment of equal temperament. So, they were either discarded or adapted.

I am engraving the score with Sibelius. So, hopefully, it should be available as a free download quite soon. (I will endeavour to add some explanatory notes to the score)

I am also working on another thomic right now, and making detailed notes on methods and construction as work progresses, but I doubt this will be available for a while yet.




Kristofer Emerig said:
In my admittedly narrowly focused compositional viewpoint, this is what writing is all about. And I appreciate that this was not so turgid and mired in overproduced gimmickry that I could actually discern notes and lines and what's happening (imagine that!). One of the most satisfying pieces I've heard in some time.

Please forward a score if possible, and some instruction on methods of the Thomic. I'm eager to try my hand at it.

Really nice work Nick.
Hi Nick, it would really be great if you could come along on the 16th. We bring together a lot of composers from quite different backgrounds but the conversations are entirely ego-free. It's simply a lot of fun. I genuinely think you'd have an interested group of people with which to discuss your Newtonality. I'm a big theory guy myself so I'd love to chat about it.

cheers

James



Nick Capocci said:
Hi James

I don't composes for money. I'm just a hack pianist/teacher.

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply inteligently. If I can get to the next composium I will, though work comes first.

James Semple said:
Hey Nick, thanks for your comments. I'm assuming from your reply that you're a concert composer rather than a film composer (I read your profile and although it says you make your living from music it doesn't say what you actually do).

Personally I see classical music has swung massively back towards tonality with atonality being a self-conscious aspect of the 20th Century style. This has probably been down to the enormous influence of film music in the orchestral world for a variety of reasons such as: -

- Money: recording films is one of the last areas where orchestras can still get paid regularly
- Audience: film (and videogame) music concerts regularly pack massive concert halls that are normally half-empty

Having said that, atonality is present in film music (just not the big themes that most of the audience remembers) and the devices are useful.

The next Composium is being held in London on Saturday, October 16th. You'd certainly have a lot of composers around to discuss your Newtonality ideas with.
I'm intrigued to know more about the workings of Newtonal Thomic. Do you have a link where I could learn more about it, perhaps.

After listening to it, it sounds like an overlapping of different keys, not unlike the music of Shostakovich.
I really will make an effort! Sounds like fun... I'm all for THAT!

Thanks again, Cheers nick

James Semple said:
Hi Nick, it would really be great if you could come along on the 16th. We bring together a lot of composers from quite different backgrounds but the conversations are entirely ego-free. It's simply a lot of fun. I genuinely think you'd have an interested group of people with which to discuss your Newtonality. I'm a big theory guy myself so I'd love to chat about it.

cheers

James



Nick Capocci said:
Hi James

I don't composes for money. I'm just a hack pianist/teacher.

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply inteligently. If I can get to the next composium I will, though work comes first.

James Semple said:
Hey Nick, thanks for your comments. I'm assuming from your reply that you're a concert composer rather than a film composer (I read your profile and although it says you make your living from music it doesn't say what you actually do).

Personally I see classical music has swung massively back towards tonality with atonality being a self-conscious aspect of the 20th Century style. This has probably been down to the enormous influence of film music in the orchestral world for a variety of reasons such as: -

- Money: recording films is one of the last areas where orchestras can still get paid regularly
- Audience: film (and videogame) music concerts regularly pack massive concert halls that are normally half-empty

Having said that, atonality is present in film music (just not the big themes that most of the audience remembers) and the devices are useful.

The next Composium is being held in London on Saturday, October 16th. You'd certainly have a lot of composers around to discuss your Newtonality ideas with.

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