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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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Form in Twentieth-Century Music

Form in Twentieth-Century Music


(p.150) Chapter 6 Form in Twentieth-Century Music
From Scratch

James Tenney

, Larry Polansky, Lauren Pratt, Robert Wannamaker, Michael Winter
University of Illinois Press

James Tenney reflects on form in twentieth-century music, first by offering an alternative to the conventional definition of form and introducing a number of new terms. He then considers three factors that determine form: shape, structure, and state. In relation to these factors, he describes three aspects of form to consider at each hierarchical level: the structural (internal relations), the morphological (shape), and the statistical (state, condition). These relations between state, shape, and structure at adjacent hierarchical levels are relevant to the old problem of “form versus content.” Tenney also emphasizes the importance of perception in the matter of form and proceeds with a discussion of new formal conditions in twentieth-century music at each of the three hierarchical levels he mentioned earlier in relation to sound elements, the clang, and the sequence. Finally, he explores higher levels of organization and perception with regards to shape and structure.

Keywords:   music, James Tenney, form, shape, structure, state, perception, sound, clang, sequence

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