During the 1900's composers started to move away from classical music, they started to use more chromatic notes and eventually music became atonal. Key features of expressionist music are;

  • very emotional
  • angular melodies
  • use of dissonance (chords with clashing notes)
  • atonal-no specific key
  • contrasting dynamics
  • always changing
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Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Shoenberg was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1874. He was a composer, conductor and teacher. Shoenberg followed composers such as Wagner by adding chromatic notes to his pieces. Music by Shoenberg has lots of disonance (clashing) and does not resolve (move to a non clashing key) staight away.

Shoenberg invented serialism, this meant putting an element of the piece into a series or order for instance a set order of volume changes or a particular set of notes. To compose a piece Shoenberg would arrange 12 chromatic notes of an octave into a set order. This was known as the 12 tone system. The initial arrangment is called the prime order. (this isn't needed for the exam)

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General background

Composed in 1909 - this was at the time of the great depession, titanic, WW1 and was seen as the dark period

Era - 20th century

Peripeite would have been performed in concert halls for music critics, musicians without the general public.

This piece is the fourth movement from Shoenberg's 5 orchestral pieces

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Structure / development of ideas

Free rondo-ABACA

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Peripetie is atonal - no tonic - no sense of key

Shoenberg uses hexachords, these are chords with six notes

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Melody / pitch

Klangfarbenmelodie, this German word means that the melody is broken up by passing it among different instruments;

H on the score shows main melody (pricipal voice).

N shows secondary voice.

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Section A is very quick however slows down. Triplets and sextuplets are used along with rubato

Section B is also very quick and many short notes are used

Section C alternates between calm and passionate

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A large orchestra is used this includes the strings, brass, woodwind and percussion. Shoenberg varies the between full orchestra and different families playing at one time. There are also soloists.

The timbre, sound created by different instruments, is much more important than the harmony and melody

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Extreme dynamic range common to expressionist music. Shoenberg uses detailed dynamic markings from pp ( very quiet ) to ff (very loud).

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Section A is homophonic and monophonic at the end

Section B is polyphonic

Section C is sparse then homophonic

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