The Individual Tone and Musical Context in Albert Simon’s Tonfeldtheorie

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Michael Polth


Albert Simon’s analytical approach, or Tonfeldtheorie, is applicable to most compositions of the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries. Pitch fields are not based on voices or voice leading; instead, individual pitches are understood as elements of a particular pitch field. The identity of pitches is partly defined systematically, partly through the sound material itself, that is, by material aspects that determine respective concrete, sensually experienceable properties. Compositions, then, are analyzed as aggregates of timbrally defined individual notes whose material identity reveals their membership in structures.

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