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Very nice article in today’s NYT online on 12-tone music by Anthony Tommasini. The point of the article is that 12-tone music isn’t dead, but is merely part of the musical richness that is new music, to the point that people like us can choose from whatever musical techniques we want, taking a little bit of this and that, etc.

I think he’s correct. Having been a “12-tone composer” many years ago, I was turned off by the rigidity of the system, just as I was turned off by the rigidity of tonality. But I still like to listen to a lot of 12-tone music. And rows do at times creep into my more recent music, even though it’s in another galaxy in terms of its distance from dodecaphonism. Indeed, I think that’s one of the great things about our current situation—we can pick and choose what we want to do, and not be servants of any particular movement, be it serialism, the new romanticism, postminimalism, minimalism, indeterminacy…whatever.

Incidentally, Tomassini has a nice video clip of him explaining all this. He’s a pretty good pianist, and I like his short excerpts from Schoenberg’s opuses 11 and 25.

So is 12-tone music dead? Is that question even meaningful? Should we care?

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