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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 think it is a more of an aid to composition. I haven't had time to explore it yet but to compare it to serialism, it is not necessary for the listener to be able to hear the note row in it's permutations is it?

Sylvester Wager said:
I still think this is a great springboard for creation. But do not fail to remember your patient listeners. Can they really hear "thomic?"
Thank you again, Sylvester, for your intelligent comments.

I take your point about the “rules” which I follow being impossible to discern by ear. I also take it as a compliment, since the “rules” of tonal counterpoint are also – in all but the most very basic types of texture… two-part work, canon, etc.. – all but impossible to discern by ear alone.

I was interested by your comments about post-Baroque attempts at fugal and dense contrapuntal writing. Are you aware of Mendelssohn’s 12 fugues for string quartet? The technique and mastery are simply jaw-dropping – some are, in my estimation, transcendental in quality. (And there is always, of course, the later work of LVB.)

People are too eager to dismiss anything contrapuntal which appeared after Bach and Handel as being somehow inferior. But this, I suppose, is another thread.

I’m glad you consider the thomic a springboard for creation; I certainly consider it so, and it occupies me a great deal.


Sylvester Wager said:
I played your Thomic, read your explanation, which was not critical to have to enjoy the notes.
You are a gifted composer, so you can take criticism. Your fugue sounds fine: there is no method of deconstructing your own, private fugual technique.

Is it attractive to listen to? Yes, if you like that sort of dense thicket of contrapuntal sound. I sometimes do, very much. The best thicket I know that relates is the first movement of the Music for Strings Celesta, Percussion - Bartók. it evolves from a germ in a clever way. And it adds up to something that a musician with reasonable knowledge would come to deeply appreciate.

The rules you made, and carried out were impossible to follow, by ear. With no harmonic goal/no real progressions, other than direction to the closing pedal point, I think you might be missing some of the joy of writing contrapuntally.

Since the glorious days of mass fugal treatment, no one has been able to sustain the listener's interest in fugue. Shostakovich tried. His fugues are played, but not adored. I know that Medelssohn had a crush on Bach, but his fugues (as well-wrought as they are) have no great fan club.

Be prepared to defend your turf. The reasoning for "thomic" reads circularly.
I still think this is a great springboard for creation. But do not fail to remember your patient listeners. Can they really hear "thomic?"
Your comment seems to come from a deeper understanding.

The *ideal* of all newtonal composition – especially thomic – is to arrive at a seamless structure in which the listener is not actively conscious of either tonality or atonality, but only of the flux between the two. It is not necessary - or even desirable – for the listener to “pick out” the thomic, but to be aware only of the drama of the musical argument.

The strength of newtonal technique – as I seem constantly to be at pains to point out to all and sundry – is that it can be virtually all things to all composers in exactly the same way that consonance and dissonance were all things to all composers in the tonal era.


Michael Tauben said:
I think it is a more of an aid to composition. I haven't had time to explore it yet but to compare it to serialism, it is not necessary for the listener to be able to hear the note row in it's permutations is it?

Sylvester Wager said:
I still think this is a great springboard for creation. But do not fail to remember your patient listeners. Can they really hear "thomic?"

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