The Inner Workings Of Music Essay

618 words - 3 pages

The Inner Workings of Music


As a junior in high school, I was fortunate enough to be accepted in the Yale University course: "Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908 to 1923: From Romanticism to Dodecaphony" at the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna, Austria. My course work gave me the opportunity to conduct in depth study of the development of one of the twentieth century's most important composers in his home city. However, in Vienna, I also enjoyed many opportunities to learn outside of class. Perhaps the most significant of these experiences was viewing the archives of the Arnold Schoenberg Center.


The archives at the Schoenberg Center contain thousands of pages of sketch work, manuscripts, and letters. During my stay in Vienna, I visited the archives several times to explore sketches and manuscripts to various compositions in order to gain a greater understanding of Schoenberg's ...view middle of the document...


As I continued through the sketchbook, I saw how Schoenberg worked with the three-note motif. At first, he simply exchanged the three notes of the motive between several, then unorchestrated, voices to create a canon with multiple statements of the theme going on simultaneously. I could easily find the place in Pierot where this cannon was later orchestrated.


Further into the sketchbook, the use of the motive became increasingly complex. The latest sketches contained statements of Schoenberg's motive on multiple levels of music; three statements of the motive were grouped in such a way that the first note of each statement produced yet another appearance of the motif.


After looking through Schoenberg's work creating and developing musical material, I considered how the ideas in the sketchbook translated into a final musical work. I first looked at sketches that I could not readily find on the score. Some appeared and were masked inside the music; placed in an inner voice or appearing as the highest note of several consecutive measures. Other ideas did not appear anywhere in the score. I began to look for reasons why these would be rejected and saw how they could not fit into the large-scale structure of Pierot.


Finally, I explored the final orchestration of Pierot. The way in which Schoenberg chose instrumental and vocal colors for ideas that he developed independently of instrumentation fascinated me. One particularly striking example to orchestration appeared where Schoenberg changed the voice part from speech to song on an appearance of the works three-note motive.


By exploring Schoenberg' sketches for Pierot Luinare from their earliest phases to a final score, I received a great deal of insight into the compositional process. Studying the work of a master reinforced my belief that every aspect of a piece of music is significant. By studying sketch work, I expanded my understanding of the inner workings of music.


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