When I was a teenager, I found a recording in my parent’s LP collection called Serenade Op. 24 For Septet And Baritone Voice. Composed by Arnold Schönberg, it’s an early example of the techniques he developed to expand music and, although it takes some getting used to, it’s still somewhat listenable compared to Schönberg’s later pieces.
Since that time, I became interested in some of the more esoteric composers of the period, and followed the careers of modern musicians such as Edgar Varese, Igor Stravinsky and the contemporary musician Frank Zappa. While I find the sound of the music invigorating, I never knew how much fun it could be to create until I started using Ableton Live with the orchestral libraries in Kontakt.
It’s not so much the atonality that makes late 20th century music sound the way it does, but rather the contrasts between centered harmonics and the variance created with dodecaphony, or twelve-tone serialism. Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Arnold Schoenberg devised techniques during the 1920s to compose a new form of music, free from the constraints of the centuries of composition that went before.
So, it’s a process of working out scales to use, and then finding fragments consisting of harmonic content to transition into periodically. This ends up being incredible easy to do in Ableton Live. As an example, I present here my composition Byzantine Caribiner, which is a nod to the Florentine Pogen some folks may be familiar with, or maybe not.