Dissertation Index

Author: Behrens, Lisa, S.

Title: Cyclic Pitch Organization in the Twelve-Tone Works of Aaron Copland

Institution: The Graduate Center, CUNY

Begun: August 2004

Completed: October 2012


Late in his career, Aaron Copland composed four twelve-tone works; the Quartet for Piano and Strings (1950), the Piano Fantasy (1957), Connotations (1962), and Inscape (1967). Rather than constituting a sudden conversion to serial composition, Copland’s mature twelve-tone works constitute a revival of serial procedures that antedates and pervades his American works of the 1930s and 40s. Moreover, these works exemplify a stylistic continuity that contradicts the specious distinction between Copland’s “severe” and “simple,” idioms that has previously been promoted in the literature. Consequently, I demonstrate that Copland adapted twelve-tone principles to his already well-established idiom, transferring salient features of the harmonic language in his American works to a serial platform. Thus, all of the twelve-tone works employ cyclic row classes that are based on whole-tone relationships, which generate a wealth of symmetrical constructs that recreate the distinctive fourth-and-fifth-harmonies that are typical of Copland’s tonal harmonic language. I also identify four compositional principles that determine the organization of pitch: segmental invariance, whole-tone complementation, cyclic formal articulation, and a generalized collectional interaction between pentatonic, octatonic, and hexatonic sets.

Keywords: Copland, cyclic, pitch, whole-tone, complementation, invariance, interaction


Table of Contents

Volume I: Text

Chapter 1 Introduction to Copland’s Twelve-Tone Music
1-1 Incorporation of Twelve-Tone Techniques
1-2 Promotion of “Simple” and “Severe” Styles
1-3 Motivating Factors and Analytical Literature
1-4 Compositional Aspects of the Mature Twelve-Tone Works

Chapter 2 Piano Fantasy: Spontaneous Coherence
2-1 Conception and Introduction
2-2 Row Structure
2-3 Analytical Applications
2-4 Diatonic and Pentatonic Invariants
2-5 Introduction to (048)-Based Cyclic Form
2-6 Overview of Cyclic Form
2-7 Elaboration of Cyclic Form
2-8 Motivic Development: Conflicts 1 and 2, G/G# and C/C#
2-9 Further Motivic Development: Conflict 3, Db/D
2-10 Conflict 4, Bb/B, Double-Interruption and Conflict 5, WT0/WT1
2-11 Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 3 Connotations: Primary Meaning and Implications
3-1 Inception
3-2 Formal Design
3-3 Cyclic Properties of the Row Class
3-4 Thematic Development of Trichordal Row Segments I: (0134) Motive
3-5 Thematic Development of Trichordal Row Segments II: (014) and (036)
3-6 Thematic Development of ic-5 Row Content
3-7 Formal and Thematic Symmetry in A\'
3-8 Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 4 Inscape: Order, Unity, and Discipline
4-1 Conception
4-2 Introduction to Pitch Organization
4-3 Chordal Row Form X
1. Whole-Tone Complementation
2. Octatonic Complementation
3. Diatonic Implications
4-4 Contrapuntal Row Form Y, Provenance and Organization
4-5 Whole-Tone Complementation in X and Y
4-6 Ancillary Hexachordal Combinatoriality and Hexachordal Invariance in Y
4-7 Segmental Invariance in Y
4-8 Preservation of the Initial Tetrachord in Y
4-9 Hexatonic Complementation in Y
4-10 Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 5 Piano Quartet: Revitalization
5-1 Background
5-2 Cyclic Row Class Organization
5-3 Whole-Tone Complementation
5-4 Segmental Invariance
5-5 Analytical Applications
5-6 Berg and Inversional Complementation
5-7 Messiaen and Collectional Interaction
5-8 “Three Blind Mice” Motive

Chapter 6 Conclusions

VOLUME II: Examples


Lisa Behrens, 70 Lincoln Ave. Apt. G22, Rockville Centre, NY 11570

     Return to dissertations