Combinatoriality

In music using the twelve tone technique, combinatoriality is a quality shared by twelve-tone tone rows whereby each section of a row and a proportionate number of its transformations combine to form aggregates (all twelve tones).[1] Much as the pitches of an aggregate created by a tone row do not need to occur simultaneously, the pitches of a combinatorially created aggregate need not occur simultaneously. Arnold Schoenberg, creator of the twelve-tone technique, often combined P-0/I-5 to create "two aggregates, between the first hexachords of each, and the second hexachords of each, respectively."[1]

Combinatoriality is a side effect of derived rows, where the initial segment or set may be combined with its transformations (T,R,I,RI) to create an entire row. "Derivation refers to a process whereby, for instance, the initial trichord of a row can be used to arrive at a new, 'derived' row by employing the standard twelve-tone operations of transposition, inversion, retrograde, and retrograde-inversion."[2]

Combinatorial properties are not dependent on the order of the notes within a set, but only on the content of the set, and combinatoriality may exist between three tetrachordal and between four trichordal sets, as well as between pairs of hexachords,[3] and six dyads.[4] A complement in this context is half of a combinatorial pitch class set and most generally it is the "other half" of any pair including pitch class sets, textures, or pitch range.


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