method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schönberg to ensure that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are equally often, so that the music avoids being in a key
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- A composer's awareness of the plurality of functions of his own tools forms the basis for his responsibility just as, in everyday life, every man's responsibility begins with the recognition of the multiplicity of human races, conditions, needs, and ideals. I would go as far as to say (as my anger comes back) that any attempt to codify musical reality into a kind of imitation grammar (I refer mainly to the efforts associated with the Twelve-Tone System) is a brand of fetishism which shares with Fascism and racism the tendency to reduce live processes to immobile, labeled objects, the tendency to deal with formalities rather than substance. Claude Lévi-Strauss describes (though to illustrate a different point) a captain at sea, his ship reduced to a frail raft without sails, who, by enforcing a meticulous protocol on his crew, is able to distract them from nostalgia for a safe harbor and from the desire for a destination.
- Alas, this industrialized twelve-tone horse, dull on the outside and empty inside, constantly being perfected and dragged to a new Troy in shadow of an ideological war long since fought and won by responsible minds like Schoenberg, with neither systems nor scholarship for armor!
- Luciano Berio, in "The Composer on His Work : Meditation on a Twelve-Tone Horse", in Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music : A Continuing Symposium (1996) edited by Richard Kostelanetz and Joseph Darby
- "Collections of all twelve pitch classes can be differentiated from one another only by assigning an order to the pitch classes or by partitioning them into mutually exclusive sub-collections. The ordering principle is the basis of the twelve-tone system formulated by Schoenberg, the partitioning principle the basis of the system formulated around the same time by Hauer. In Schoenberg's compositional practice, however, the concept of a segmental pitch-class content is represented as well, as a basis for the association of paired inversionally related set forms. On the relation between Schoenberg and Hauer, see Bryan R. Simms, "Who First Composed Twelve-Tone Music, Schoenberg or Hauer?" Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute X/2 (November 1987)."
- Phillip Glass on The School of Paris as "crazy creepy people writing crazy creepy music."