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Fundamentals of Musical Composition

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  98 ratings  ·  4 reviews
A reissue of a classic that represents the culmination of over 40 years in Schoenberg's life devoted to the teaching of musical principles to students and composers in Europe and America. For his classes, he developed a manner of presentation in which "every technical matter is discussed in a very fundamental way, so that at the same time it is both simple and thorough". T ...more
Published January 1st 1982 by Faber & Faber (first published July 1st 1970)
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Written as a companion and outgrowth of his music courses at USC and UCLA, this book, contrary to what its title may imply, will not teach you how to compose. Let me clarify; this book, by itself, will not teach you how to be a composer. To benefit from the wisdom of this text, you must have some substantial musical experience or a good teacher. Schoenberg likely understood this since he was more accustomed to delivering this information in a class setting.

Schoenberg provides an array of loosely
Nothing earth-shattering, but a good book for music teachers to have on the shelf. Schoenberg’s textbook takes students through the construction of melodies, phrase-structures, and short and long forms: ternaries, rondos, sonatas, and others. More an annotated collection of music examples than a narrative, “Fundamentals of Musical Composition” is a dry read: if you’re not obsessed with this stuff beforehand, go for Charles Rosen’s “Sonata Forms” instead; it covers much of the same material in a ...more
This book isn't really a manual for learning how to compose. It's about how musical form works, from small units to large forms like sonata-allegro. Schoenberg is very thorough and methodical, arranging the material into a completely logical progression. Although his style and approach may be a little old-fashioned, he is extremely good at writing educational texts. Even though this book covers things I already know, I found it to be an excellent and engaging explanation of form.
Josh Eustis
Sep 19, 2007 Josh Eustis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Musicians
I learned how to write music from reading this book, I'm not shitting you.
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He was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. He used the spelling Schönberg until after his move to the United States in 1934 (Steinberg 1995, 463), whereupon he altered it to Schoenberg "in deference to American practice" (Foss 1951, 401), though one writer claims he made the change a year earlier (Ross ...more
More about Arnold Schoenberg...
Theory of Harmony Style and Idea: Selected Writings Structural Functions of Harmony Verklarte Nacht and Pierrot Lunaire Preliminary Exercises in Counterpoint

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