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Interacting Pulse Streams in Schoenberg's Atonal Polyphony

John Roeder
Music Theory Spectrum
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 231-249
Published by: on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
DOI: 10.2307/746035
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/746035
Page Count: 19
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Interacting Pulse Streams in Schoenberg's Atonal Polyphony
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Abstract

This essay presents a rhythmic analytical theory for Schoenberg's middle-period music. It represents polyphony as concurrent "pulse streams" created by regularly recurring accents, and shows how the relations of synchrony that obtain among pulse streams, motives, and textural voices create musical form. The theory is used to analyze "Mondestrunken" and "Columbine" from Pierrot lunaire. The analyses correlate pulse-stream processes to the syntax of the songs' texts, and reveal similarities of rhythmic design in these pieces. They also accommodate the contributions of some often neglected musical dimensions, such as contour and dynamics, to form.

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