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Education, Literary, Methods
Composition, Chromaticism and the Developmental Process: A New Theory of Tonality screenshot
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Musicology, having been transmitted as a compilation of disparate events and disciplines, has long necessitated a 'magic bullet', a 'unified field theory' so to speak, that can interpret the steady metamorphosis of Western art music from late medieval modality to twentieth-century atonality within a single theoretical construct. Without that magic bullet, discussions of this kind are increasingly complicated and, to make matters worse, the validity of any transformational models and ideas of the natural evolution of styles is questioned and even frowned upon today as epitomizing a grotesque teleological bigotry. Going against current thinking, Henry Burnett and Roy Nitzberg claim that the teleological approach to observing stylistic change is still valid when considered from the purely compositional perspective. The authors challenge the traditional understanding of development, and advance a new theory of eleven-pitch tonality as it relates to the corpus of Western composition. The book plots the evolution of tonality and its bearing on style and the compositional process itself. The theory is not based on the diatonic aspect of the various tonal systems exploited by composers; rather, the theory is chromatically based - the chromatically inflected octave being the source not only of a highly ingenious developmental dialectic, but also encompassing the moment-to-moment progression of the musical narrative itself. Even the most profound teachings of Schenker, and the often startlingly original and worthwhile speculations of Riemann, Tovey, Dahlhaus and others, still provide no theory of development and so are ultimately unable to unite the various tendrils of the compositional organism into a unified whole. Burnett and Nitzberg move beyond existing theory and analysis to base their theory from the standpoint of chromatic 'pitch fields'. These fields are the specific chromatic pitch choices that a composer uses to inform and design a complete composition, utilizing specific chromatic inflections to control a large-scale working out process that is the very essence of 'development'. In short, the authors claim that a chromatic background that coexists with a diatonic contrapuntal background may define the process of compositional development. These chromatic and diatonic events are the two genus expressions of slowly unfolding tonic octaves.

About the Authors
Henry Burnett is Professor of Music and Roy Nitzberg is Visiting Lecturer both at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, The City University of New York, USA.

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An interesting excerpt from this book:
"In fact, a theory postulating a far more structurally significant role for chromaticism than simply a decoration or embellishment of the diatonic background had never been proposed by anyone, with the possible exception of David Epstein, who, in the 1970s, was one of the first theorists to speculate about the power of a single dissonant pitch to determine large-scale motion. But we all knew that chromaticism was a lower-level appendage of the diatonic and, according to Tovey, Rosen, Riemann, Schenker, or anyone else, nothing could alter that ... maybe."

I could not contain myself and I have already recorded this pdf to turn into an audio book, so to gain time and enjoy listeing to it in the car, and travels etc.

What interested me most to read was, the authors are well prepared to reflect on Chromaticism as being another way of composing. The point is, if it were not the way we use to compose music, it would be another, now I have to understand what they suggest through the theory that had already been rejected by the others of the XIX century. What I find strange is the fact that the authors still call it: "theory of pitch-class tonality". Being that it is just a 'modus operandi', or a new criterion to compose, just this, will never become theory of anything.

In fact, when composers begin to use chromatism in the Baroque period, it has become a simple effect or pure beautification.
'J.S. Bach' uses with domain, in his 'Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue BWV 903'

'P. Tchaikovsky' uses as chromatic chords in his 'Dance Of The Sugarplum Fairy' on the rise of a transition passage after presenting the opening theme. read after time 0:44 min.

'Chopin' in his 'Prelude in E-Minor op.28 no. 4' uses as descending chromatic harmony, he barely worked the melody that practically oscillates between two notes most of time.

'Chopin' also uses a 'Etude No.10 No.2' that has Czerny's face, he must have heard influences from the stories Liszt told him about when he was a pupil of Czerny .

'Beethoven' uses in 'Für Elise' after the 3rd movement to return to the initial theme, doing a descending chromatic until arriving at the note that resumes the melody to the A part of his famous rondo.

No need to explain the chromatism, for, through our Western method of composition, any interval of 2nd is a strong interval that generates movement, successive intervals of minor 2nds generate more tension and expectation movement, but I'll try another way through this book.

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