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From ScratchWritings in Music Theory$
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James Tenney, Larry Polansky, and Lauren Pratt

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038723

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038723.001.0001

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Reflections after Bridge

Reflections after Bridge

(1984)

Chapter:
(p.305) Chapter 13 Reflections after Bridge
Source:
From Scratch
Author(s):

James Tenney

, Larry Polansky, Lauren Pratt, Robert Wannamaker, Michael Winter
Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038723.003.0013

James Tenney focuses on the “reconciliation” of two musical worlds: formal and aesthetic ideas inspired by John Cage, and harmonic possibilities suggested by Harry Partch. Using the computer as a compositional partner, Tenney examines notions of intentionality (the Cagean part) and the formative gestalt ideas of Meta + Hodos. He correlates new developments in harmony with the design of new tuning systems and considers one of the new directions taken by some composers after 1910 involving the expansion of the pitch resources beyond a tuning system tempered by twelve-tone music. He argues that such expansions did not—and could not—solve the problem that had arisen with the “exhaustion” of tonality. According to Tenney, the real problem with the 12-set is not the relatively small number of pitches it makes available, but the fact that a very large tolerance range has to be assumed even for it to be regarded as a “fair approximation” of the basic intervals of the 5-limit—and even greater ranges are involved with those of the 7- and 11-limits.

Keywords:   harmony, James Tenney, John Cage, Harry Partch, intentionality, tuning systems, pitch, twelve-tone music, tonality, interval

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