18 September 2010

Serialism is thematic unity on steroids

Serialism is thematic unity on steroids. It's not the rule to "repeat a note only until all other notes have appeared" (which is also not true lol), but to make every note of the piece a step of the theme.
Serialism was the evolutionary triumph of a old musical meme. Through the ages, the (evil) meme of Unity spread, (viciously) conquering new terrain. When the whole development of a movement came from the themes, the other movements became targets. When it was not enough to have all movements stemming from the principal theme, those pesky arpeggios and scales that could not be justified motivically had to go. And so on until the organizing powers of Tonality were also eaten up :(
Serial music can be very good, very bad or anything in between. Just like any kind of music. What it is not is a break from the past, that would've been very silly of Schoenberg. Honestly, who wouldn't want to stand on the shoulders of all the giants that came before?

Bookmark and Share

1 comment:

  1. The problem with serialism isn't how it was concieved, but rather what it can become in the hands of those who don't fully understand it.