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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Music History
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  • Arnold Schoenberg: late romantic composer interested in blurring tonality
  • Experimented with atonality, which is different from 12-tone music!
  • 12-tone or serialism eliminates pitch and tonal hierarchy, thus making everything equal
  • 2nd Viennese School: Berg (lyrical), Webern (pointillistic), Schoenberg (Romantic)


Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  1. Intro
    • Oh Boy, Here We Go!
    • Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
    • Emancipation of Dissonance
    • 12-Tone Row
    • Second Viennese School
    • Why Important/Review
    • Intro 0:00
    • Oh Boy, Here We Go! 0:10
      • Don't Let Serialism Intimidate You
      • End of the 19th Century = Opera Experimentation
      • Wagner Pushed Into Extreme Tonality and Harmonic Shifts
      • Debussy Started with Impressionism and Used Different Scale Sets
      • Schoenberg and Others Delved into Expressionism
    • Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) 2:21
      • Pivotal Figure to Say the Least
      • Also Known as Philosopher and Writer
      • Romantic Composer Who Liked to Experiment
      • Austrian Composer/Theorist
      • Moved to California in 1931 to UCLA
      • Extreme Figure in Music History
      • Emancipated Dissonance
    • Emancipation of Dissonance 4:44
      • Misleading topic
      • Serialism and Atonality Not the Same Thing
      • Serialism is Twelve-Tone
      • Atonality Has No Tonal Center
      • Started with Motives to the Extreme
      • Started with Trichords (3-Notes) and Hexachords (6-Notes)
      • Experimented with Free Atonality and Landed in Serialism
      • Example of Free Atonality
      • 12 Tone Row
    • 12-Tone Row 7:30
      • 12 Notes in Chromatic Scale
      • System of Ordering so that a Note is Not Repeated Until Each Note has been Heard Once
      • Creates Equal System of Note Hierarchy
      • No Leading Tone
      • Absence of Leading Tone Presents the Option of No Tonality
      • Gives Composer Complete Control
      • Result: Mathematical Stuff That Can Be Hard to Hear
    • Second Viennese School 11:21
      • Schoenberg: Leader of Second Viennese School
      • Other Members of the Big 3: Berg, Webern
      • Berg: More Lyrical; Webern: More Pointillistic
      • Schoenberg: More of a Theorist/Philosopher
      • Example: Pierrot Lunaire
    • Why Important/Review 14:38
      • 12-Tone Music Dominated Music for Most of 20th Century
      • Only Recently Known as Compositional Tool Rather than a Style
      • Schoenberg Came Up with the Idea of Flattening the Tonal Playing Field
      • Each Note is the Same As Another in 12-Tone Music
      • Extreme Way of Compositional Control Taken Further by Other Composers
      • Harsh Reactions from Audiences and Composers