An Aesthetics of Atonal Music Between Utopia and Dystopia


MÜHLOVÁ Klára Hedvika

Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In 1922, Arnold Schönberg proclaimed that he had discovered a way of composing music that foreshadows the further development of European musical culture, for at least a hundred years. It was the discovery of a twelve-tone compositional technique - a dodecaphony, which brought order to the hitherto unstructured free atonal composition. Dodecaphony and atonality, based on the equality of all tones in the scale, mean the loss of the tonal center, even the loss of tonal relations, constitutive for the music of the previous eras - those relations served as a source of order and harmony in european music for hundreds of years. The tonal system is a theoretical and practical achievement of Western centuries for several centuries and many generations. - Composers, and especially music theorists, defending tonality, argued about tonality as a basic, natural principle of music, and a reflection of the natural order of sound itself. Therefore, the loss of tonality in European music culture has became one of the factors contributing to the emergence of a new paradigm of music in the 20th century. Schönberg's claim about the importance of his own discovery ceases to seem so exaggerated and grandiose when looking at the subsequent development of this new paradigm… Theorists and thinkers, who deal with the issue of dodecaphony and atonality, are not united, whether it is a positive or negative trend, from a developmental point of view. On the one hand, the new harmonic systems are seen as a space for free artistic expression, but polemical voices fear the emptiness and uncertainty stemming from the denial of the tonality. The tonality, in which the laws of nature supposedly manifest themselves. The paper focuses on the spectrum of opinions, classifying atonal music on the one hand as a utopian model of a free musical future, but on the other hand sharply criticizing this new development as a threat to the whole Western music culture, due to the denial of its innermost, proven and traditional principles.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.