Schoenberg Analysis - The Parker E

Schoenberg: Peripetie
from ‘Five Orchestral
Pieces’ Opus 16 (1909)
Analysis section by section
Score reading task
 Find 4 examples of hexachords on your scores (you
should have notes on this).
 Annotate them to tell me whether they use
verticalisatoin or melodic treatment
 You only have 3 minutes to do this
Expressionism so far
 How did WW1 impact the way artists, composers, poets etc
created their work?
 Composers started to use lots of chromatics in their pieces.
What are chromatics?
 What does atonal mean?
 What are the dynamics like in an expressionist piece of
 How do expressionist composers explore pitch and timbre?
 What is a hexachord? What is the compliment?
 ‘Peripetie’ was written for a
large orchestra to produce
contrasts with texture,
dynamics & timbre.
 It is written for quadruple
woodwind (4 per section)
 3 flutes & piccolo
 3 clarinets & bass clarinet
 3 bassoons &
Bass clarinet
 3 oboes & cor anglais
 A large brass section, with
and without mutes.
 A large percussion section –
cymbals, timpani,
 & of course strings
Important features
 The parts are very challenging to play
 A lot of wide leaps, use of the lowest to the highest
register of all the instruments.
 There is no conventional structure – although it is like a ‘free’
Rondo with contrasting textures & tempo.
 Use of melodic fragments (very short melodic ideas)
 Use of complicated fragmented rhythms
 Atonal
 Use of hexachords and compliments
 The melody is passed around different instruments.
 It is made up of 5 sections
 Peripetie is Greek for Sudden Changes
Section A: Bars 1-18
 Begins with a bang!
 Clarinets and flutes begin with 2 hexachords
- Bar 1 Clarinets
- Bar 3 Flutes
 Leads to a fortissimo (ff) horn motif marked principal line
 Variations of the hexachords appear throughout the piece as
they are a basis for most of the melodic and harmonic
 Most of the ideas to be used in this piece are stated one
after the other
Section A: Bars 1-18
 Tempo/Rhythm
 Tempo marking: sehr rasch- Very quick
 Opening contains mostly short triplet and sextuplet
 Tempo feels a little like its slowing after the burst
- etwas ruhiger: slightly calmer
- Quiet horn passage
Section A: 1-18
 Instrumentation/Texture
 The full orchestra get a short appearance
 Brass dominate the texture till bar 8 when the
woodwind take over with low bassoon/ bass clarinet
and silky clarinet line
 Instrumental combinations drop in and out in
homophonic bursts
 Texture thins towards the end of the section leaving a
solo clarinet
Section A: Bars 1-18
 Pitch/Melody
 Atonal (no sense of key)
 Built on hexachords
 Opening bars show the full pitch range of the
 Bar 10: Clarinet melody is expressive and gentle, but
still has harsh interval leaps used to create tension
(Minor 9th/ Major 7th)
Section A: Bars 1-18
 Dynamics:
 Starts loudly, becoming louder with sudden bursts from
instrumental groups
 Bar 5 reaches fff before dying away to p
 Trumpets and trombones use a mute
 Mutes usually mellow the tone, but Schoenberg uses it
for sound quality
 He uses extremes of dynamics that the mute wasn’t
designed to reach!
Section B: 18-34
 Second section is marked by the cello taking the
principal voice
 The high, intense cello line gives way to a frantic
 Tempo/rhythm
 Tempo returns to original marking
 Short durations give the impression that the tempo has
increased more than it has
Section B: 18-34
 Instrumentation/texture
 Full orchestra used, but not all at once, except for
climatic points (e.g. 30-34)
 Wind and percussion: very busy and loud dynamics
Violins and Cellos: Soft line, mostly inaudible but add to
the effect and texture
 Shows Schoenberg's attention to detail
 Polyphonic and complex texture throughout
Section B: 18-34
 Pitch/Melody
 Principal voice snakes through much of the orchestra
 Bars 24-28: Bounces rapidly from one brass instrument to
another (Klangfarbernmelodie)
 Klangfarbernmelodie: Tone, colour melody. Describes how
timbre contributes to the melody as well as pitch and rhythm
 Bar 28 and 29: Secondary voice makes its only appearance
in the piece
Section B: 18-34
 Dynamics
 Begins quite quietly
 Immediate crescendo
 Dynamics are varied from instrument to instrument
 Principal and secondary voices always f-fff
 Other parts ranging from quiet to very loud
 Dynamics change dramatically in a restless way
Section A1: 35-43
 This section is marked by string section taking principal
 Horn flourish follows
 Return to the pp horn hexachord of bar 8
 Menacing mood, gives the impression more fireworks
are to come!
Section C: 44-58
 Section is marked by the bassoon taking the principal voice,
passing it onto solo cello
 Tempo/Rhythm: Alternates between ruhiger (calmer) and
heftig (passionate)
 Instrumentation/texture: Sparse, Schoenberg
concentrates on overlapping solo instruments
 Bar 53: Full orchestra
 Dynamics: range from pp (bars 44/45) to fff (bars 53-55)
Section A2: 59-66
 Section is introduced by speeding up to the original
tempo and a triplet figure in clarinets and second violin
 Tempo/Rhythm:
 Rhythmic motifs from Section A return
Trumpets bars 61-63= bar 5/6 repeated in quick
Clarinets bars 59-61= bar 1
Flutes bars 62-63= bar 3
Section A2: 59-66
 Instrumentation/Texture:
 Starting with clarinets and strings, instruments are
introduced one by one in quick succession (layering)
 Bar 64: Full orchestra comes together for final climatic
Section A2: 59-66
 Pitch/Melody
 Material from the opening is used and developed
 No voice is marked as more important than any other
 Bar 64: Climatic hexachord (C D Eb F# G G#)
 Bar 64: Double basses play an unrelated tremolo chord, very high
in their register, which sustains once the climatic chord dies away
 Dynamics:
 Crescendos quickly from pp at bar 59 to fff in bar 64
 Immediately dies away to nothing with the tremolo double basses
Listening and appraising
1. Describe the dynamics of the first section of the piece
2. Name the type of ensemble performing Peripetie
3. Describe the tonality of the piece
4. Peripetie was written in the 20th century. List 6 musical
features you can hear in the piece that demonstrate this
5. What is the name given to the group of notes Schoenberg
used as a basic for his melodic and harmonic material?
6. How might Schoenberg have used this group of notes when
he composed the piece?
Listening and appraising
7. The horns play a sustained chord in bar 8. In which
section later on can the horns be heard playing the
same chord? What is the dynamic marking for this
8. What is the term given to Schoenberg's technique of
moving the melodic parts rapidly through the
9. What playing technique can be heard in the strings in
the last 2 bars of the piece?
Exam Question
 Describe the use of rhythm in this expressionist piece (3
 Basic answers:
- Rhythms are broken up and do not flow
- Rhythms are complicated
- Rhythms are varied and keep on changing
 Excellent answers:
- Rhythms are fragmented and erratic with no regular pulse
- Complex patterns features including sextuplets, duplets,
constant syncopation etc
- There is little repetition of rhythmic ideas in the music,
creating a sense of unrest, chaos and lack of order

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