All my life I've loved the music of Bach and the classics of the Enlightenment more than anything else in the world. Here, with the St. Matthew Passion, Don Giovanni, Beethoven VII, Schubert IX we walk amid the Olympians on the Himalaya of music.
Wagner, Berlioz, even Mahler and the other Romantics are clearly sub-olympian in comparison. Why is this so?

I think it is because of the extraordinary beauty and logic of the deepstructure of this music: of diatonic tonality, in the freshness of its springtime. Composers recognized this by adding keys to their titles: Mass in b-minor, Symphony in A major, etcetera, thus expressing their gratitude to the system that worked so well for them - it was 'already half the work done'. Bach wrote in those fertile days some 4000 pieces, which was by no means a record production: many of his contemporaries wrote twice or three times as many pieces.
Thank you Mr. C Major! You gave us a common language! You gave us a bottom line!

But in 1859 Tristan und Isolde were thrown out of this paradise and ever since that fateful day composers are looking for something else to replace that old, profitable production system.
Schoenberg proposed his Dodecaphony and Stockhausen his serial Formeln, and many young composer worked in his sweatshop for the new systems - to discover in the end that, helas!, they didn't work for him.

My quest for a new bottom line can be followed from my very first pieces in the nineteen fifties: I often wrote then the skeleton-formulas of the work on the last page of the score. This habit later developed into a comprehensive theory, called the tone clock. It is also the basis of this website.

See Clockwise at eight o'clock.




My compositions exist on paper in three different forms:

1. The particel annex sketches written in pencil;
2. the manuscript score written in ink on transparent paper;
3. the printed score as published by Donemus.

My personal archive is in the custody of the Nederlands Muziek Instituut at the Royal Library in The Hague, where it is in principle available for anyone interested.

1. The particel and the corresponding sketches make an analysis of the manuscript score an interesting adventure for the lovers of this kind of theoretical work.
The NMI is prepared to make photocopies of the desired manuscript at your request.

Here is an example of the opening page of the Etudes for piano and orchestra, op 39, with the corresponding sketches, on which you can discern one of the bottom lines of the piece (VII/VIII).
The rest is up to you, and I'm glad to discuss here the result of your analysis. Please feel free to take the initiative.

Email address NMI

2.The manuscript score, and
3. the printed score are available at Donemus/MGN

Email address Donemus/MGN

In case of doubt about the right notes the manuscript score is decisive.


Self-analysis over my main works can be found (among much more) in my essays, published in five books, which you will find among the Artefacts, in the second Hour.

I think there is no compositional theory - there are only compositions. Which may sometimes tell you 'how to compose'.
See also under the eighth Hour, Clockwise.

You will find the essay about Aap (Monkey): ' the development of characters composed', as it appeared on the occasion of the première of the work in 1980 in chapter 5 of The Tone Clock.

When you've studied the principles and the technique of the tone clock you can analyse in every detail, if you wish, the score of
the opera Symposion.
See The Tone Clock, chapter 8.

A complete tone clock analyses of the orchestral variations
De Hemel can be found (in Dutch) in:
Het Componeren van de Hemel.

Underneath the mirror in my attic there are twenty Newtonian crystals, reflecting the sunlight and breaking its rays into little spectra that appear on the opposite wall.

Newton proved that every sunbeam contains all the colors, just as Pythagoras demonstrated with a vibrating string that every tone contains all the overtones, thus creating the basis of harmony.

The prism, that little piramid of glass, reveals us the beauty that hides in every sunray. It is the beginning of the Enlightenment.

© Peter Schat
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