The Unanswered Question
Charles Ives


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Separated ensembles, varied time signatures, dialogue.

Variations, Op. 27
Anton Webern

Solo piano

Serialism with symmetrical rows.

Quatour pour la fin du temps
Olivier Messiaen

Clarinet, piano, violin, and cello
Use of medieval isorhythm, bird calls

Mode de valeurs et d’intensites
Olivier Messiaen

Solo piano.

Premiered at Darmstadt

Basis of Boulez’s Structure 1a. First piece to use integral serialism; duration, pitch, and dynamics serialized.

Edgard Varese

First all-percussion composition.

Use of textural changes.

Density 21.5
Edgard Varese

Solo flute

Use of motivic unity

First Construction in Metal
John Cage

For six percussionists.

Numerology utilizing the number sixteen.

The Banshee
Henry Cowell

Solo piano

Extended technique- playing directly on piano strings.

Three Compositions for Piano
Milton Babbitt

Solo piano

Total serialism: rhythms and dynamics serialized.

Forerunner to Messiaen’s Mode de Valeurs

Around the Horn
Milton Babbitt

Solo Horn

Use of arrays- several rows going on in different registers.

“Who Cares if You Listen?”
Milton Babbitt

The composer as specialist/academic.

String Quartet No. 2
Milton Babbitt
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Piano, oboe, bass clarinet, three percussionists.

Serialized rhythmic ostinati

Integral serialism.

The Turn of the Screw
Benjamin Britten

Opera based on short story by Henry James

Tonal/falling fifths serial row.

Key center shifts throughout opera

Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, Harpsichord
Elliott Carter

Antiphonal texture, historicism, klangfarbenmelodie

Sonata No. 1 for Prepared Piano
John Cage

Similarities to gamelan. Binary form. Square-root method of composition. Numerology.

Strict control.

In Memoriam Dylan Thomas
Igor Stravinsky

Trombones and string quartet.

Serialism using only five tones per row.

Time Cycle
Lukas Foss

Soprano and orchestra

Text uses time motives. Improvisation between movements.

Igor Stravinsky

Ballet score for 12 dancers

Stravinsky’s first 12-tone piece with 12 tones.

Le marteau sans maitre
Pierre Boulez

Post-tonal flagship

Based on 12-tone rows, but not entirely.

Contralto, alto flute, viola, guitar, vibraphone, xylophone, percussion.

Atlas Eclipticalis
John Cage

Drawn from star charts.

For orchestra with electronic scrambling.

Audience walks out.

Klavierstucke IX
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Solo piano

Aleatory choice of segments.

Piano Sonata No. 3
Pierre Boulez

Solo piano

Random ordering of movements.

Ferruccio Busoni
Futurist author

“Sketch of a new aesthetic”

Luigi Russolo
Futurist author “The Art of Noises”
Olivier Messiaen

Uses the ondes martenot, one of the first synthesizers.

Music Concrete
Pierre Schaffer and Pierre Henri (RTF studios)
Concert of Noises Broadcast
5 electronic pieces by Pierre Schaffer based on railroads.
elektronische Musik
Herbet Eimer and Werner Myer-Eppler at NWGR in Koln.
Studie II
Karlheinz Stockhausen

First electronic piece to be notated.

Low Speed
Otto Luening

Electronically manipulated alto flute.

Wireless Fantasy
Vladimir Ussachevsky

Radio-like signal sounds

Hugh Le Caine

Electronically manipulated water-drop sounds.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Piano, percussion, and recorded tape.

Gesang der Junglinge
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Electronically manipulated boy’s voice. Transformation of speaking. Integral serialism of density, sounds, frequency.

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Solo percussion.

Aleatory spiral-bound notation.

Gyorgy Ligeti

Use of synthesized “language,” use of phonemes

Poeme Electronique
Edgard Varese

Written to be played in the Phillips Paviliion at the 1958 World’s Fair.

Edgard Varese

Combines live performers with electronic music.

Mario Davidovsky

Total of 8 synchronisms (No I is for flute) for solo instrument and electronic tape.

Milton Babbitt

Written for Bethany Beardslee

For singer and synthesizer

Silver Apples of the Moon
Morton Subotnik

Commissioned by Nonesuch Records, Inc., for RCA Synthesier

Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental
Charles Dodge

Piano and tape (of electronically manipulated Caruso)

Klang, Kar, und Melodie
Mark Wingate

Music concrete of car noises

Luciano Berio

Voice, harp, two percussionists

Uses poetry of e.e. cummings

Mikrophonie I
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Two teams, three players each, play tam-tam and manipulate electronically.

Sequenza III
Luciano Berio

Solo voice. Very extended techniques. Begins with off-stage muttering.

Composed for Cathy Berberian

Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures
Gyorgy Ligeti

Vocal trio and 7 instruments. Phonetically composed.

Canon X
Conlon Nancarrow

Experimented with player piano.

String Quartet No. 2
Eliott Carter

Instruments exhibit their own distinctive personalities to form dialogue.

Canon X
Conlon Nancarrow

Experimented with player piano.

String Quartet No. 2
Eliott Carter

Instruments exhibit their own distinctive personalities to form dialogue.

Iannis Xenakis


Stochastic randomness contained.

Four Quartets
Iannis Xenakis

String quartet

Use of sound masses and stochastic music.

Gyorgy Ligeti

Tone clusters. Sound mass.

Venetian Games
Witold Lutoslawski

Use of aleatory and controlled characteristics. Use of chain form.

Eight Songs for a Mad King
Peter Maxwell Davies

Pierrot Lunaire influenced. Theatrics, graphic notation.

Baritone, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, harpsichord

The Willows are New
Chou Wen-Chung

Solo piano

Use of pentatonic scale, Eastern influences, chi’in elements.

November Steps
Toru Takemitsu

Western orchestra with shakuhachi and biwa.

Double Concerto
Lou Harrison

Cello and violin with gamelan

The SIlence Past Lonliness
Michael Bakan

Gamelan, cello, narrator

Invented instruments: cloud chamber, boo, cone gongs etc.
Harry Partch
Steve Reich

Purely percussion

Influenced by Ghana drumming

Uses additive and subtractive phasing.

John Cage and Lejaren Hiller

Use of electronic tapes and 1-7 harpsichords. Scrambles quotation from Mozart up through Cage and Hiller

Ancient Voices of Children
George Crumb

Soprano, boy soprano, oboe, mandolin, harp, electric piano, three percussionists

Tribal feel, allusion to music of other cultures. Graphic notation.

To You
Peter Schat

Dutch response to WWII, uses highly political text by Adrian Mitchell.

Use of 9 electric guitars due to Dutch government’s banning of them.

Solo vocalist, six humming tops and four instrumental groups of miscellaneous orchestration.

Theatrics. Hall itself turns into mad house. Tops used to denote craziness.

Welcome to Medicare
Mark Wingate

Use of electronically manipulated phone sounds.

Rituel in Memoriam B. Aderno
Pierre Boulez

Alternation of texture. Use of additive phasing: 1 oboe, two clarinets, 3 flutes, 4 violins, etc.)

Thema- Omaggio a Joyce
Luciano Berio

Electronic manipulation of Berberian reading from Joyce’s Ulysses.

Chain form
Big blocks of sound in indefinite order.
December 1952
Earle Brown

Very graphic notation. Any instrument.