University of South Carolina
School of Music

Post-Tonal Theory

Fall 2024

MUSC 525 | Blackboard | Listening/Analysis

C O U R S E   M O D U L E S
Pitches, Intervals &
(Ch. 1)
2. Pitch-Class Sets (Ch. 2)
3. Set Properties &
Relations (Ch. 3)
4. Centricity & Referential
Collections (Ch. 5)
5. Interval Cycles &
Triadic Post-Tonality (Ch. 4)
6. Serialism (Ch. 6)



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, 4/e (New York: Norton, 2016).
Table of Contents; E-book: VitalSource

Course Documents

  1. Fall 2024 Syllabus (coming soon...)
  2. Fall 2022 Syllabus
  3. Straus 4/e:
  4. Practice Tests
  5. Handouts
  6. Mathematical Terms & Concepts
  7. Bibliography


  1. Composition Project (pdf)
    Due: Fri., Dec. 9, 11:59 pm; Project proposal due: Wed., Nov. 30, 11:59 pm
  2. Analysis Project (pdf)
    For graduate students and SCHC H-Option students only


  1. PC Polygon Assistant, v2.03 (Bain 2016)
  2. Tools
  3. Twelve-Tone Assistant, v2.4

Chapter/Lecture Overviews

  1. Chapter 1  
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 5
  5. Chapter 4
  6. Chapter 6

Set Class Lists

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

Research Tools

  1. FindIt @ UofSC
  2. Dictionaries: Harvard Dictionary | Grove/Oxford
  3. Articles: JSTOR | ProjectMuse
  4. E-books: Ebook Central | EBSCOhost | Hathi Trust
  5. Wolfram Tools: Wolfram Alpha | Wolfram MathWorld
  6. Scores: CPDL; IMSLP; Alexander Street
  7. Recordings: Naxos | Spotify | YouTube

Online Resources

  1. Allen Forte Electronic Archive {AFEA}
  2. Arnold Schoenberg Center {ASC}
  3. Digital Scores: Explore twentieth-century and twenty-first century music literature
  4. Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Explore the Score (ETS)
  5. London, et al., Row Forms in the Serial Works of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern {CCARH}
  6. Schoenberg, Style and Idea
  7. Straus, Online Analytical Resources
  8. Webern, The Path to New Music (1932-33) {}


  1. BAIN MUSC 525 Bibliography & Articles
  2. Séminaire MaMuX {IRCAM}


Schuijer, Michiel. 2008. Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts. Rochester: University of Rochester 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}

Main References

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

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

Hook, Julian. 2022. Exploring Musical Spaces: A Synthesis of Mathematical Approaches. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB; Oxford}

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. {

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

Straus, Joseph N. 2022. The Art of Post-Tonal Analysis: Thirty-Three Graphic Music Analyses. New York: Oxford University Press. {GB; Oxford; Companion Website}

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

Tymoczko, Dmitri. 2011. A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice. New York: Oxford. {GB; Full text: Ebook Central}

- Allen Forte Electronic Archive
ASC - Arnold Schoenberg Center
ETS - Explore the Score

- Google Books
MTO - Music Theory Online

Updated: July 10, 2024

Reginald Bain | University of South Carolina | School of Music