I Write The Musi

comp 01

A Beginners Guide  To 
Creating  Music

Athematic  Serialism

Experimental Modernism of late 20th Century.  Pointilism , nonpulse-sounding rhythm , extreme use of pitch registers , music based on textures , a total & radical liberation from costraints of classical creation traditions.   

Personal Note:  When I was studying composition with Dr. Avram David at Boston Conservatory of Music ,  I had the good fortune of being present at a composers workshop by Karlheinz Stockhausen.  I was just getting acquainted with his music.  I had much to learn yet about his creative principles.  He reviewed our compositions and was very encouraging.  Suggestions about feeling the pulse (yes!) despite all the ametric , athematic feel of the music. Suggestions about feeling larger rhythms or form of the piece.  To some , his music may have seemed a bit severe.  In fact , he was all about creating and feeling the musicality of a piece of music.  Whatever your organizing principles may be , it's always about the MUSIC!

A new musical grammar: principles and early experiments
scena.org  |  by Pierre Grondines  |  "Around 1944, when Pierre Boulez, then a young student at the Paris Conservatory, asked his teacher which composer had the ability to lead modern music out of its current impasse, Olivier Messiaen reportedly answered, "You, Pierre!""  |  Wikipedia Bio  |  

avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen passes away at 79
August 22, 1928 – December 5, 2007  |  from New York Times   |  "Karlheinz Stockhausen was one of the most influential avant-garde composers, an early pioneer of electronic music, and one of the most important figures in modern classical music"  |  "treating each note as a separate point of sound"  | 

Wikipedia Bio

Wikipedia:  Luigi Nono
"The world première of Il canto sospeso (1955–56) for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra brought Nono international recognition and acknowledgment as the legitimate successor to Webern. "Reviewers noted with amazement that Nono's canto sospeso achieved a synthesis—to a degree hardly thought possible—between an uncompromisingly avant-garde style of composition and emotional, moral expression" (Flamm 1995):"  |

Composing Musical Time: Some Aspects and Possibilities
Erhard Karkoschka  |  " The twin-worded concept of "musical time" ("musikalische Zeit") in the title has two connotations in the German language.  One refers to a historical style period, the other, to the articulation of the passage of time in a piece of music.  The latter usage of the concept is relatively uncommon, and it is in this context that my discussions of rhythm and tempo are centered."  |

On Complexity
Richard Toop  |  "I have a difficult subject to deal with, and as I start I have only one word to hang it on: "complexity." It's a word which, where music is concerned, has great scope for being misunderstood, and even more for being waved around as a polemical weapon, without any desire to grasp what it might mean. "  |   "Why do composers today want to write complex music?" Looking at the broad history of Western music I would be tempted to reply, equally simplistically yet not inappropriately, ?When have the talented ones ever wanted to do anything else?"  |

Finn Mortensen
"Mortensen introduced serialism and aleatorics to the Norwegian public. He defined serialism as "Athematic, aperiodical music, organized as series"  |  Wikipedia Bio  |

Forum post:  "Purely rhythmic music"
recordingchannel.com  |  "The piece of music I`m currently working on is *really* a departure. Others would usually agree it`s atonal and athematic, and the only thing remotely unifying the piece is an demonstrably unchanging meter of 3/4 and an individually unchanging tempo of 100 BPM

Being  Modern Serbian Composer in the 1930's : The Creative Position of Ljubica Mari
Melita Milin  |  "Abstract : Ljubica Mari belongs to those rare Serbian composers who were fully involved in the international developments of modern music during the thirties. Her output shows that she was able to take over some dominant ideas of the period and transform them in a personal way. In the article are investigated all four of her preserved works composed before the outbreak of World War 2. Among them are two compositions that were until recently believed to be lost : Longing for the Girl for choir (1929) and Music for orchestra (1932). 

Key-words : Ljubica Mari, Alois Haba, music of the thirties, atonality, athematicism "  |  Wikipedia Bio  |

Sangtae Chang  |  "The Sonatine for flute and piano (1946) by Pierre Boulez holds a unique position among his twelve-tone compositions dating from the late 1940s, since it receives unusually extensive commentaries from the composer. While the Sonatine is acknowledged as Boulez's earliest representative twelve-tone composition, its third part (Tempo Scherzando) is elected to exemplify the development of "athematicism" "  |

Post-Twelve-Note Analysis
jrma.oxfordjournals.org  |  PDF article - full text  |

Since the 1960s Penderecki has evolved stylistically from the athematic and ..... scorned for being reactionary or derivative in the age of serialism
Film Articles - AVguide.com  |  Wikipedia Bio  |

Wikipedia:  Charles Wuorinen
"Charles Wuorinen (b. June 9, 1938 in New York City) is an American composer. Wuorinen is a prolific composer of primarily serial instrumental music and high profile proponent of contemporary music. In 1970, Wuorinen became the youngest composer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music (for the electronic work Time's Encomium) while his many other awards include a MacArthur Fellowship."  |

Dallapiccola, messiaen, boulez and 12 tone music explained by ronsheim
"into a Webern like (opus 30) serialism, and then returning to diatonicism, at the end. ... Intervals and durations (and an athematic music if you wish)"  |  Luigi Dallapiccola (Wikipedia)  |

Wikipedia:  Set theory (music)
"In music, musical set theory provides concepts for categorizing musical objects and describing their relationships."

Wikipedia:  Jean Barraqué
"Barraqué was born in Puteaux. He studied in Paris with Jean Langlais and Olivier Messiaen and, through Messiaen, became interested in serialism."  |

Wikipedia:  Darmstadt School
"Coined by Luigi Nono in his 1958 lecture "Die Entwicklung der Reihentechnik" (Nono 1975, 30; Fox 1999), "Darmstadt School" describes the uncompromisingly serial music written by composers such as Pierre Boulez, Bruno Maderna, Karlheinz Stockhausen (the three composers Nono specifically names in his lecture, along with himself), Franco Evangelisti, Luciano Berio, and Henri Pousseur"  |

Wikipedia:  Henri Pousseur
"Pousseur studied at the Academies of Music in Liège and in Brussels from 1947 to 1953. He was closely associated with Pierre Froidebise and André Souris. He encountered Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio and thereafter devoted himself to avant-garde research."  |

Wikipedia:  Karel Goeyvaerts
"In 1951, Goeyvaerts attended the famous Darmstadt New Music Summer School where he met Karlheinz Stockhausen who was five years younger. Both were devout Catholics and found ways of integrating religious numerology into their serial compositions."  |

Wikipedia:  List of pieces which use serialism
List of twelve-tone pieces.  |

Wikipedia:  Punctualism
"Punctualism (commonly also called "pointillism" or "point music") is a style of musical composition prevalent in Europe between 1949 and 1955 "whose structures are predominantly effected from tone to tone, without superordinate formal conceptions coming to bear" (Essl 1989, 93). In simpler terms: "music that consists of separately formed particles—however complexly these may be composed—[is called] punctual music, as opposed to linear, or group-formed, or mass-formed music" (Stockhausen 1998, 452)"  |

Wikipedia:  Iannis Xenakis
"his early statements about "looking at music statistically" were a response to what he saw as the mistake of placing too much emphasis on the likely benefits of applying methodology too rigorously.[verification needed] It is also important to note, however, that this does not constitute any true dichotomy between Xenakis and his peers - the application of single-minded rigour to composition in post-war music was relative and momentary, and as with his own work, the poetic and aesthetic significance of the gesture as a modern equivalent to programme-music, as well as the vital role played by musicality and music-editing/shaping has been widely undervalued in favour of simplistic characterisations of such music as purely intellectual."  |

Wikipedia:  Milton Babbitt
"Milton Byron Babbitt (born May 10, 1916) is an American composer. He is particularly noted for his pioneering serial, and electronic music"  |

Wikipedia:  Cognitive Constraints on Compositional Systems
"Fred Lerdahl's "Cognitive Constraints on Compositional Systems" cites Pierre Boulez's Le Marteau sans Maître (1954) as an example of "a huge gap between compositional system and cognized result," though he "could have illustrated just as well with works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, or Iannis Xenakis"  |

Wikipedia:  Set theory (music)
"In music, musical set theory provides concepts for categorizing musical objects and describing their relationships. Many of the notions were first elaborated by Howard Hanson in connection with tonal music, and then mostly developed in connection with atonal music; the concepts of set theory are very general and can be applied to tonal and atonal styles in any equally-tempered tuning system, and to some extent more generally than that. Musical set theory deals with collections of pitches and pitch classes, which may be ordered or unordered, and which can be related by musical operations such as transposition, inversion, and complementation. The methods of musical set theory are sometimes applied to the analysis of rhythm as well."  |

Wikipedia:  Emancipation of the dissonance
"The emancipation of the dissonance was a concept or goal put forth by Arnold Schoenberg (composer of atonal music and the inventor of the twelve tone technique) and others, including his pupil Anton Webern. It may be described as a metanarrative to justify atonality. Jim Samson (1977, 146–47) describes: "As the ear becomes acclimatized to a sonority within a particular context, the sonority will gradually become 'emancipated' from that context and seek a new one"  |

Wikipedia:  Permutation (music)
"In music, a permutation of a set is a transformation of its prime form by applying zero or more of certain operations, specifically transposition, inversion, and retrograde."  |

Wikipedia:  History of serial music
"The serialization of rhythm, dynamics, and other elements of music developed after the Second World War by arguing that the twelve-tone music of Arnold Schoenberg and his followers of the Second Viennese School had serialized pitch, and was partly fostered by the work of Olivier Messiaen and his analysis students, including Karel Goeyvaerts and Boulez, in post-war Paris."  |

Wikipedia:  Allen Forte
"Allen Forte (born December 23, 1926) is a music theorist and musicologist. He was born in Portland, Oregon and fought in the Navy at the close of World War II before moving to the East Coast. He is now Battell Professor of Music, Emeritus at Yale University. Forte is arguably best known for his book The Structure of Atonal Music, in which he extrapolates from the serial theory of Milton Babbitt, proposing a musical "set theory" of pitch-class-set analysis analogous to mathematical set theory with the avowed intention of providing a method for the analysis of pre-serial atonal music."  |

Wikipedia:  George Perle
"George Perle (born May 6, 1915 in Bayonne, New Jersey) is a composer and music theorist. A student of Ernst Krenek, Perle composes with a technique of his own devising called "twelve-tone tonality," which is different from, but related to, twelve-tone technique "  |

Wikipedia:  Serialism and high modernism
Scroll to bottom of page for long list of composer links







  • Composing Music | William Russo
  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition
  • Musical Form and Analysis | Glenn Spring
  • Musical Composition | Reginald Smith Brindle
  • Composers on Composing for Band | M Camphouse
  • Musical Composition | Reginald Smith Brindle
  • MAKING MUSIC | Morton Subotnick
  • Counterpoint | Henry Martin
  • Computer-Aided Algorithmic Music Composition
  • Creative Music Composition | Margaret Wilkins
  • New Music Composition | David Cope
  • Automated Music Composition | Phil Winsor
  • The Twentieth-Century Composer Speaks  Nishimura
  • The materials of music composition | HReed
  • Computer music compositions of the United States
  • A Conductor's Repertory of Chamber Music
  • Experimental Music | Isaacson Lejaren
  • List of electronic music compositions
  • A provisional list of electronic music compositions
  • Phrase generation computer music composition
  • Instrumental Arranging | Gary C White
  • Composing for Voice; A Guide for Composers
  • Interactive Music Systems | Robert Rowe
  • Creative Music Composition | Margaret  Wilkins
  • Composing Music with Computers | Eduardo Miranda
  • Computer music compositions of the U S A
  • Arranging & composing, small ensemble | D Baker
  • PC Music Composing with Cubasis VST
  • First steps in playing and composing | SColeman
  • 353 Finger-picking Patterns for Guitar Plus
  • The Guitarist's Guide to Composing and Improvising
  • Composing At The Piano Early Intemrediate Level
  • Creating computer accompaniments
  • More Songwriting and Composing Techniques
  • Four Part Harmony for Solo and Comping
  • Stephen Paulus on Composing for Chorus
  • The art of improvisation | Bob Taylor

  • ..



  • Melody  |  Author: Rikky Rooksby
  • Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
  • Melody Chords for Guitar by Allan Holdsworth
  • Chord-Melody Phrases for Guitar  |  Ron Eschete
  • Melodic Fingerstyle Guitar  |  Peter Mealy
  • The Songwriter's Workshop  |  Jimmy Kachulis
  • Melody  |  Judith Gould
  • Musical Form & Musical Performance  |   E. Cone
  • Melodic Arpeggios For Lead Guitar  |  M Galbo 
  • History of Performing Pitch  |  Bruce Haynes
  • The Elements of Music  |   Ralph Turek
  • How to Write Songs on Guitar  |  Rikky Rooksby
  • Melodic Similarity  |   Walter B. Hewlett
  • Counterpoint in Composition  |   Felix Salzer
  • Melody in Songwriting  |   Jack Perricone
  • Rhythm Reading  |   Daniel Kazez
  • Songwriting for Dummies  |   Jim Peterik
  • Tuning, Timbre, Spectrum, Scale  |  W Sethares 
  • Music and the Power of Sound  |  Alain Daniélou
  • Pentatonic Scales for Guitar  |   Chad Johnson
  • Standards Real Book  |   Chuck Sher
  • Tonal and Rhythmic Principles  | : John Mehegan
  • Music Notation  |   Mark McGrain
  • Mozart Finds a Melody  |   Stephen Costanza
  • Elements Jazz Language for Improviser
  • Melodic Rhythms for Guitar  |  William Leavitt
  • Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice
  • Researching the Song  |  Shirlee Emmons
  • Melodic Lines for the Intermediate Guitarist
  • Advanced Blues Reharmonization & Melodic
  • How to Use a Fake Book  |  Ann Collins
  • The Art of Writing Great Lyrics  |  Pamela  Oland
  • Music for Sightsinging  |  Robert W. Ottman
  • Sight-Sing Any Melody Instantly  |  Mark Phillips
  • Chords for Jazz Guitar  |  Charlton Johnson
  • Hearing in Time  |  Justin London
  • Harmonic Function in Chromatic Music
  • Counterpoint  |   Kent Kennan
  • Building a Jazz Chord Solo  |  FSokolow
  • Super Sight-Reading Secrets  |   Howard Richman
  • Creating Melodies  |  Author: Dick Weissman
  • Harmonic Rhythm  |  Joseph P. Swain
  • You Can Write Song Lyrics  |  Author: Terry Cox
  • The Craft of Tonal Counterpoint  |   Tom Benjamin; 
  • Harmony and Voice Leading  |   Edward Aldwell
  • Theory & Harmony for the Contemporary Musician 
  • Elementary Harmony  |   Robert W. Ottman
  • Chorales &  Melodies w/Figured Bass  |   J. S. Bach 
  • Harmony and Theory  |   Keith Wyatt
  • African Polyphony and Polyrhythm  |   Simha Arom

  • ..


  • The Musician's Guide to Reading and Writing Music
  • The Essential Songwriter  |  Author: Jonathan Feist
  • Inspiration for Songwriters  |  Author: Stan Swanson
  • Studying Rhythm  |  Author: Anne C. Hall
  • Sight-Read Any Rhythm Instantly  |  Mark Phillips
  • The Elements of Music  |  Author: Ralph Turek
  • Making Music  |  Educator Version, Hybrid CD-ROM
  • Workbook for the Elements of Music  | Ralph Turek
  • A Perceptual Study of Intonation  |  Author: J. T. Hart
  • Complete Blues Keyboard Method...
  • Improvisation  |  Author: Tony Wigram
  • Harmony and melody, Volume I   |  Author: Elie Siegmeister
  • Structure And Meaning in Tonal Music
  • Harmony and Melody, Vol. 2  |  Elie Siegmeister
  • Theory and practice of tone-relations  |   Goetschius
  • Guitar Method Rhythm  |  Author: Gary Turner
  • Programmed Ear Training  |  Author: Leo Horacek
  • Melody  |  Author: Michael Hemmingson
  • Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music  |  Paul O. Harder
  • Examples 4 Part Writing From Figured Basses
  • Lessons in melody writing  |  Author: Walter Stuart
  • Sacred Melodies for Violin Solo  |  Author: Craig Duncan
  • Stylistic Harmony  |  Author: Anna Butterworth
  • First year melody writing  |  , Author: Thomas Tapper
  • A New Approach to Ear Training  |  Author: Leo Kraft
  • Harmony book for beginners  |  Preston Ware Orem
  • Jazz Piano - The Blues & Melodic Improvisation
  • Successful songwriting  |   Louis Herscher
  • Exercises in melody-writing  |  Percy Goetschius
  • Melodic and Progressive Etudes, Op. 60"  |  Carcassi
  • The plurality of melodic and harmonic systems
  • Melodic Studies & Compositions for Guitar  |  Hamilton
  • The art of improvisation, a handbook of principles
  • Beginning to Compose  |  John Davies
  • Creative melodic techniques  jazz improvisation
  • 150 progressive exercises for melodic dictation
  • I How to Harmonize melodies  |   J.  Bridger
  • Modern melodic technique  |  Gordon Delamont
  • The Craft of Musical Composition  |  Paul Hindemith
  • Melodic Arpeggios for Lead Guitar  |  Music Sales Ltd 
  • The structure of melodic movement  |  M Kolinski 
  • Melodic Dyadic and Harmonic Singing  |  Cho Turner
  • First Year Melody Writing  |  Author: T. Tapper
  • The improvised melodic line  |  Michael Longo
  • Melodic Etudes for Beginning Saxophone
  • The Craft & Business of Songwriting  | John Braheny
  • Melodic Index to the Works of J S Bach
  • The Complete Singer-Songwriter  |  Jeffrey  Rodgers
  • ..


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