University of South Carolina
School of Music

Post-Tonal Theory

Fall 2020

MUSC 525 | Blackboard | Grove/Oxford | Harvard Dictionary | JSTOR | Naxos | MathWorld

C O U R S E   M O D U L E S
1. Basic Concepts of
Pitch & Interval (Ch. 1)
2. Pitch-Class Sets (Ch. 2)
3. Some Additional Properties &
Relationships (Ch. 3)
4. Centricity & Referential
Pitch Collections (Ch. 5)
5. Motive, Voice Leading &
Harmony (Ch. 4)
Basic Concepts of
Twelve-Tone Music (Ch. 6)

Schoenberg, Berg & Webern
Debussy & Ravel
Bartók & Stravinsky
Cowell, Ives & Varèse
Messiaen, Boulez & Stockhausen
Krenek, Dallapiccola
& Wuorinen
Berio, Ligeti & Lutoslawski

Copland, Bernstein & Barber
& Feldman
Riley, Reich, Glass & Adams

Carter & Crumb
Gubaidulina, Shchedrin & Schnittke
Adès, Chen, & Saariaho



x To analyze music is to find a good way to hear it and to communicate that way of hearing it to other people....

John Rahn, Basic Atonal Theory

Required Textbook

Joseph N. Straus, Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, 4th ed. (New York: Norton, 2016).
Norton; Table of Contents; ISBN-13: 9780393938838; E-book: VitalSource}

Course Documents

  1. Fall 2020
  2. Straus 4/e
  3. Handouts
  4. Digital Anthology Updated icon
  5. Articles
  6. Bibliography

Chapter/Lecture Overviews

  1. CHAPTER 1
  2. CHAPTER 2
  3. Segmentation & Analysis (pdf)
  4. CHAPTER 3
  5. CHAPTER 5
  6. CHAPTER 4
  7. CHAPTER 6

Software for Post-Tonal Theory

  1. PC Polygon Assistant
  2. Other Apps
  3. Atonal Assistant, v2.2d
  4. Twelve-Tone Assistant, v2.4d
  5. Software for Post-Tonal Theory by other developers

Set Class Lists

  1. Under Tn/TnI
  2. Under Tn
  3. Under TnM/TnMI
  4. Other

Analytical Media

  1. Allen Forte Electronic Archive at the University of North Texas
  2. Arnold Schoenberg Center {ASC}
  3. Joseph N. Straus
  4. Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Explore the Score {ETS}

Digital Scores

  1. Alexander Street: Classical Scores Library {AS CSL}
  2. Boosey & Hawkes, Study Score Videos {YouTube Playlist}
  3. IMSLP
  4. ScoreFollower {YouTube Channel.; see also Incipitsify: YouTube Channel}


  1. BAIN MUSC 525 Post-Tonal Theory
  2. BAIN MUSC 725 Contemporary Styles II (1945-1980)
  3. BAIN MUSC 726B Music & Mathematics
  4. Séminaire MaMuX {IRCAM}


Friedmann, Michael L. 1990. Ear Training for Twentieth-Century Music. New Haven: Yale University Press. {GB}


Taruskin, Richard. 2010. Music in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

______________. 2010. Music in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

Serialism Resources

  1. Schoenberg, Style and Idea (1975)
  2. Webern, The Path to New Music (1932-33) {}
  3. Row Forms in the Serial Works of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern {London; CCARH}
  4. Mathematics and the Twelve Tone System


Babbitt, Milton. 2003. The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt, edited by Stephen Peles, Stephen Dembski, Andrew Mead, and Joseph N. Straus. Princeton: Princeton University Press. {Full text: JSTOR; GB}

Cohn, Richard. 2012. Audacious Euphony: Chromatic Harmony and the Triad's Second Nature. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

Forte, Allen. 1973. The Structure of Atonal Music. New Haven: Yale University Press. {GB}

Lewin, David. 1987. Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations (GMIT). New Haven: Yale University Press. {GB}

Morris, Robert. 1987. Composition with Pitch Classes: A Theory of Compositional Design. New Haven: Yale University Press. {Full text: JSTOR; GBd}

Rahn, John. 1980. Basic Atonal Theory. New York: Longman. {Gbd}

Straus, Joseph N. 2016. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, 4th ed. New York: Norton. {GB}

Schuijer, Michiel. 2008. Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts. Rochester: University of Rochester Press. {Full text: JSTOR; GB}

Tymoczko, Dmitri. 2011. A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB}

ASC - Arnold Schoenberg Center; AFEA - Allen Forte Electronic Archive;
GB - Google Books; MTO - Music Theory Online

Updated: February 16, 2022

Reginald Bain | University of South Carolina | School of Music