Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2015

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Music




Christopher Adler


Mathematics and Music are related and intertwined, and the invention of serialism in the 20th century highlights this fact. Serialism is a technique of music composition that uses mathematics to structure different elements of music, such as pitch and rhythm. For hundreds of years, music all over the Western world was tonal, which means there is a hierarchy of some pitches being more important than others. Serialism is a form of atonality, which is the composition of music that attempts to use all twelve pitch-classes equally. I examine twelve-tone serialism, which was created by Arnold Schoenberg and developed by his students Alban Berg and Anton Webern. This form utilizes a row, which is an ordering of the twelve pitch classes that can be transformed in various ways and serves as the thematic material for the entire piece. In particular, I analyzed Webern’s Variations, Op. 27 to examine how he utilized twelve-tone serialism.

Included in

Music Theory Commons