Breaking Glass Is Not Music Analysis

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What is music? Most would agree that breaking glass is not music, just as most would agree that smashing a cello with a hammer is less musical than vibrating a bow across its strings. Many say that music is a series of sounds which contain the elements of rhythm and pitch, but most music we hear follows certain patterns beyond rhythm and pitch. Music as we know it contains key signatures and time signatures, chord progressions and other repetitive harmonies. This strict language that we have built for music is called tonality. So we must ask ourselves, is tonality necessary for music? This question was explored by the experimental composers of the twentieth century, including Arnold Schoenberg. The music they wrote was called atonal, without …show more content…

A possible misconception about the music of the time is that a message existed outside of the music; however, these composers intended the message of the music to be nothing more than the music itself. This was a time of meta-music. The music was atonal to illustrate that tonality is not necessary to make music musical. Schoenberg was very against analysis of his work for this very reason; to listen to his music was to understand his purpose, to analyze it was to miss it entirely. According to Elaine Barkin, composer, and Martin Brody, professor of music, "Babbitt has extended the notion of compositional creativity to encompass the development of musical systems themselves, as well as specific compositional achievements within such systems" (Barkin and Brody). Babbitt was one who believed that the musical system was important to the meaning of music. By developing specific atonal structures, he pushed people to explore all facets of music, believing them each important. It did not matter why a composer chose to use this system, the fact that it was used is meaningful enough, reflecting Schoenberg's belief that music held significance for simply being music. While Babbitt stood for the beauty of music in all its forms, Hauer believed that some music was more meaningful than others. John Covach, professor of music theory, says, "In [Vom Wesen des Musikalischen], as well as in his Deutung des Melos (1923) and in many short articles written during the early 1920s, Hauer argues for the superiority of atonal over tonal music, grounding his claims by offering support drawn from acoustics, culture, and spiritual studies" (Covach) Tonality is such a narrow window that anything in it was essentially the same to Hauer, and was thusly unable to contain any true meaning. Atonal music has the

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that music is a series of sounds which contain the elements of rhythm and pitch, but most music follows certain patterns beyond that.
  • Explains that the twentieth century saw the rise of many new techniques to express the experimental philosophies of the time, leading to the unusual style of music.
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