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Section 34.6 Non–Twelve–Tone Serialism

Serialism also includes music that is not twelve–tone but does use a series of notes that maintains its order and employs inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion of the series. An example is found in Stravinsky’s Septet from 1953. 1 See Erwin Stein, “Strawinsky’s Septet (1953).” Tempo. Spring, 1954.

Figure 34.6.1 Stravinsky, Septet
Figure 34.6.2 Series from Stravinsky's Septet

Here is the series with pitch-class integers (abbreviated “pc” for pitch class), and without registral displacement. Arrows connect repeated notes.

Figure 34.6.3 Series from Stravinsky's Septet showing repeated pitches

We notice that B (pitch integer 11), A (9), G (7), F♯ (6), and G♯ (8) are repeated in the series, with A, G, and G♯ occurring three times each. Below is the normal form of the 8 pitch classes in the 16–note series.

Figure 34.6.4 Normal form of the 8 pitches in the series from Stravinsky's Septet

Such a series could imply E or A as a tonal center. Note that Stravinsky’s Septet is not strictly serial but contains serial elements. Such an example shows us that serialism can be employed in ways other than the strict, original twelve–tone version.