Disproving Tolstoy


"Music is the shorthand of emotion," (Leo Tolstoy). One may take this statement one of two ways. Tolstoy may mean that music, through the use of smaller elements, communicates a greater idea. He also may mean that music is an end to justify a superficial mean. Judging by Tolstoy's theories and the fact that he often omits music (or vast genres of it) when arguing his philosophies of art, the latter is more probable. A Russian fiction writer turned philosopher, Tolstoy has some rather interesting theories of what is art. Throughout the course of this paper, I will explain what total serialism is, why its art, what Tolstoy's theories are and why they do not hold up when looked at in relation to total serialism.
Total serialism is an extension of Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone technique, also known as dodecaphony. It was one of the most important and influential compositional styles of the 20th century. In the most basic terms, 12-tone serialism is a technique that aims to compose music in which no one tone more important than another. Through the use of a complex mathematical structure called a matrix, the music is composed. Though it may seem a little arduous to explain how this system works, it is important so that the reader may understand the amount of effort and creativity it takes to compose a serialistic piece. There are four different structures in a matrix. The original 12-tone row is called the prime. The prime is a series of randomly generated numbers (0-11) that correspond with each pitch in the chromatic scale. The prime backwards is called the retrograde. When all the intervals of the prime are inverted, it is called the inversion and when the inversion is played backwards, it is called the retrograde inversion. A matrix includes each of these structures starting on each of the 12 pitches. The intervals are constant for each type of structure (i.e. prime, retrograde…) the only thing that changes …

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