Artwork by Doctor S.

While 12 tone music has never really taken off among the listening public, it became the academic approach to composition at the ivory towers. For film music, the 12 tone system can come in quite handy giving one a planned method for achieving a certain amount of dissonance. This is especially useful for tense, horrific, or macabre moments. It also can be used to evoke jazz as David Shire did in his beautiful score to the Joseph Sargent’s 1974 “The Taking of Pelham, One, Two, Three,” starring Walter Mathau. Take a listen to a moment from the film here.

Nice article in the Boston Globe on the father of 12 tone music, Arnold Schoenberg.
“Schoenberg was 18 years younger than Freud, who put names on recognizable emotional conditions no one had described openly before. What makes Schoenberg’s music essential is that he precisely delineated recognizable and sometimes disquieting emotional states that music had not recorded before. Some of his work remains disturbing not because it is incoherent, shrill, and ear-splitting but because it unflinchingly faces difficult truths.” – the Boston Globe.

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