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Dodecaphony (twelve-tone music), revolutionary development of a new method of composition in the 20th  century by Austrian composers: 1) name for the "composition technique based on a row or series of 12 tones relating only to one another" which was developed and applied by A. Schoenberg around 1923; 2) theory of "tropes" developed by J. M. Hauer in 1919.

Schoenberg´s composition technique is based on a row of 12 tones, their three sub-tones "inverted", "backward", or "backward and inverted" and on the resulting transformations of these four basic rows (as a result there are a total of 4 x 12 rows). The composer then chooses a row of 12 tones and lays them out; however, the tone row itself - as a means of order - must not be changed. The prerequisites for dodecaphony are equal temperament, the principle of atonality and complete chromaticisation of the tones and the emancipation of dissonance, which is put on the same level as consonance. While until the introduction of dodecaphony by Schoenberg, composition rules aimed at "correctness", dodecaphony consists of prohibitions which aim at preventing traditionalism, musical "meaning" and a return to banality. Schoenberg´s pupils A. Berg and A. v. Webern further developed dodecaphony in different ways. After 1945, it was also taken over by composers of serial music such as E. Krenek.

Hauer´s dodecaphony is based on "tropes" (turns, each divided into two halves of six notes), which are developed from combinations of 2 x 6 tones (notated in narrow chords). Within each half trope, pitch and melody are basically irrelevant, so that a total of 44 tropes with different structures can be created. The tropes determine the entire composition within which surprising harmonious turns and the accentuation of individual parts are dispensed with. Many works of twelve-tone music and (in particular the Zwoelftonspiele) are based on sound sets from which the harmonic, melodic and rhythmic events are derived in accordance with certain predetermined rules.


J. Sengstschmid, Anatomie eines Zwoelftonspiels, in: Zeitschrift fuer Musiktheorie, year 2 (1971), no. 1; A. Schoenberg, Stil und Gedanke, 1976 (essays); C. Moellers, Reihentechnik und musikalische Gestalt bei A. Schoenberg, 1977; J. Sengstschmid, Zwischen Trope und Zwoelftonspiel, 1980; H. Simbriger, Die Klangfuehrung in der Zwoelftonmusik, 1991.