from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Music Serial compositions.
  • n. Music The theory or composition of serial music.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Music, especially from the 20th century, in which themes are based on a definite order of notes of an equal-tempered scale.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. 20th century music that uses a definite order of notes as a thematic basis for a musical composition


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

serial +‎ -ism. Calque of the German Reihenmusik.


  • Hardly a week goes by that I don't see another variation on the "serialism is to blame for classical's marginalization" trope, but I could just as easily argue that said marginalization correlates nicely with both the abandonment of experimental modernism and the domestication of radical minimalism.

    Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it

  • Schoenberg got it right: serialism is the result of a neo-Classical impulse, not a Romantic one.

    Naming of Parts

  • The result of this search for a new system was called serialism, or 12-tone composition. was redefining the profile of French music, with a style that transferred the ideals of opera Pelléas and Mélisande was first performed in

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • Many of Spicer's poems manifest a doubling effect, where serialism becomes a structure for the poem.

    Quaytman Explores Terrain Between Text and Image in New SFMOMA Show

  • Composed in the late 1930s – with one ear directed toward the rise of fascism, and the other turned to the conservative critics complaining about his progressive, atonal style – the work combines elements of 12-tone serialism, nostalgic lyricism and folk dance, all couched in the swashbuckling rhetoric of the Romantic concerto.

    Ehnes/LSO/Noseda - review

  • Minimalist music developed in the U.S. during the 1960s as an alternative to the complexities of academic serialism on the one hand, and "chance" music on the other.


  • But there's something else in early Reich, Glass and Riley, too – an insistence on returning music to the roots that all three composers felt European modernisms, such as serialism, had left behind: melody, modality and rhythm.

    Minimalism at 50: how less became more

  • Rands' musical style is distinctive among contemporary composers in that he has absorbed the technical disciplines of Berio and Berio's teacher Luigi Dallapiccolla where familiar tonality yields to spare serialism without losing his natural inclinations to sumptuous orchestration and sensuous musicality of the kind we might associate with Ravel or Debussy.

    Benjamin R. Barber: World Premiere of Bernard Rands' Opera Vincent at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music

  • For new music, even more so, now that the serialism/minimalism paradigms have become but two elements in an experimental eclecticism.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • But actually, total serialism — and, oddly, its uncharitable reputation among many listeners — shows that music inherently resists turning into a deterministic experience.

    Design for Living


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