[Smt-talk] serialism-cognition query

Victor grauer victorag at verizon.net
Sat Feb 26 19:40:50 PST 2011

At 03:24 PM 2/25/2011, braus wrote:
>Dear SMT Members,
>Can someone recommend a study/studies on the perception
>of serial order in chordal segmentations of a row. Any
>and all sources are welcome -- analysis, music cognition,
>composer commentaries.

As I see it, the serial order is not there to be perceived, but to 
thwart perception, i.e. perception in the usual sense of the word 
(gestalt perception). Through undermining the gestalt, the listener 
is encouraged to perceive not relationships but  musical entities 
(e.g. pitches rather than pitch classes) in and for themselves.

 From "Toward a Unified Theory of the Arts" 

[1.7.4] The new musical space, designed to prevent any one note from 
becoming a stable tonal center, defeats the tendency, illustrated in 
Figures 6 and 7, for every note to be polarized in a particular tonal 
"direction." Notes and chords begin to be heard, not in terms of 
musical "meaning," but as sounds with unique and interesting 
properties of their own.

[1.7.5] Atonality, in which the notes repel one another, initially 
functions as a fundamentally disruptive strategy, comparable with 
analytic Cubism. The systemization of atonality by Schoenberg's 
twelve tone method, by analogy with synthetic Cubism and the later 
work of Mondrian, builds a completely new, multipolar "space" in 
which all elements (notes of the series) are in equilibrium.

Victor Grauer
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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