VIII. 20th- and 21st-Century Techniques

This section introduces some common methodologies for the analysis of 20th- and 21st-century music, including set theory.


This section assumes a familiarity with the topics covered in Fundamentals.


The first chapter introduces several approaches to rhythm used by composers of twentieth-century Western concert music.

The next five chapters introduce students to the building blocks of set theory: integer notation, pitches vs. pitch classes, intervals and interval classes, sets and set classes, operations, and interval class vectors.

The chapter Analyzing with Set Theory (or not!) is an important conclusion to these earlier chapters: it discusses the philosophy of segmentation and also turns a critical eye to set theory as a methodology. What makes us group notes together and call them sets? What are we ignoring when we use set theory?

The final three chapters discuss collections, including modes, the octatonic collection, and others. Students are also taught here how tonic pitches can be heard within a composition using these collections, and how to analyze pieces with collections.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

OPEN MUSIC THEORY Copyright © 2023 by Mark Gotham; Kyle Gullings; Chelsey Hamm; Bryn Hughes; Brian Jarvis; Megan Lavengood; and John Peterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book