Why Twelve-Tone Music is Not Musical: An Explanation and Critique of Serialism

Author: Thomson, William
This book is a re-titled soft cover version of Meta Music versus the Sound of Music which was first published in hard cover in the year 2010.This study utilizes knowledge banks: acoustics, cognition/perception, ethnomusicology and cultural records in probing Serialism’s basic assumptions. It examines analyses by such leaders in the serialist world as Milton Babbitt, David Lewin and Allen Forte.
Professor Thomson argues that serial twelve-tone music is an artificial construction by academics who do not realize that musical tonality is routed in deep biological or cultural forces. Professor Thomson calls such music “metamusic” by which he means that one can only understand it through a non-musical intervention of the mind.


“. . . a welcome addition to Professor Thomson’s influential series of contributions to music and arts criticism.”
Prof. David Butler,
Ohio State University

“The colorful prose strikes me as uniquely (and delightfully) suited to the subject matter at hand, and the case presented is compelling.”
Prof. Don Gibson,
Florida State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by David Butler
Chapter 1 Setting the Scene
Chapter 2 Music’s Epiphany: “The Most Abstract of the Arts”
Chapter 3 Those Kindred Fruits of Revolution
Chapter 4 Dashes of Sonic Reality—Midst Heavy Theory-Spinning
Chapter 5 Meanwhile: Beyond Our West-European Orbit
Chapter 6 Empirical Psychology’s Verdict
Ent?acte Serialist Seeds in Full Bloom
Chapter 7 Masters of MetaMusic
Chapter 8 . . .and the Beat Goes On