for Violin and Piano
on a purpose-selected tone row


(1) Allegro (2) Lento (3) Scherzo - Trio - Scherzo ancora pił veloce (4) Finale: Presto

Date Duration Listen
8 January 2012 6'21" Realization (.MP3) Score (.PDF)
8.72 MB 116 KB

The distinguishing feature of this slender little piece must be - as long-term visitors may doubtless have already noticed - that the usual subtitle "on a randomly-generated tone row" has suddenly become the considerably less sexy observation: "on a purpose-selected tone row." Yes, the point I've been harping on, this long year past, about just any old random tone row being capable of transformation into a coherent musical expression ... has been adequately made. From this point forward, I will assume full responsibility not only for the finished products of my serial compositions, but for the basic underlying structural element anchoring them: the tone rows themselves.

Does that mean I "wrote" or "composed" this tone row? No, nor will I probably ever write one. For some nine months, now, an ancient DBaseIII PLUS processor here has been continuously crunching numbers - pretty much 24/7 - through a series of scripts I wrote, with the happy end result being: a complete three-level index of some forty million possible tone rows. Each row is identified: first, by the intervals of the root movement in the first 4-voice chord progression formed by its first permutation; second, by cumulative dissonance in the complete melodic line of its first permutation; and, third, by the cumulative dissonance in each of the three specific 4-voice chords named above. Hence, I can now page back and forth through this voluminous index and select new rows: first by the general modulatory quality of its densest harmonic progression, then by theoretical melodic potential in the entire line (since greater cumulative dissonance in the line guarantees more frequent stepwise progression, a principle cornerstone of effective melodic construction since, well, forever), and finally by the specific levels of consonance and dissonance in the chords that naturally form by combining the notes of the row in strict order.

Whether this tedious mass analysis of 40 million tone rows will favorably influence the quality of whatever remaining compositions I am lucky enough to produce, only time will tell; in theory, it seems almost guaranteed to measurably assist my ongoing attempts to reinhabit the classical forms with serial content. This present little sonatina represents the first fruit in a new stage of that ongoing effort, in any event. Let the notes fall where they may.

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