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Basic Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis

Philip Lambert

Publication Date - June 2018

ISBN: 9780190629649

368 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $86.95

A practical and student-friendly introduction to twentieth-century theory and analysis


Basic Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis gives students a thorough, clear, and methodical introduction to post-tonal music theory and its application to music composed since 1900. Designed for students studying post-tonal music at the end of a required theory sequence or taking a stand-alone upper-division course, the text provides basic theoretical tools and offers multiple opportunities for reinforcement and application in the form of theoretical and analytical drills and composition exercises.


  • An all-in-one text and workbook emphasizes Lambert's learn-by-doing approach
  • A broad selection of compositional styles and trends covering not only pitch relations but also form and rhythm
  • Key examples from music by prominent figures such as Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Bartók, Ives, Messiaen, Hindemith, Shostakovich, Carter, Ligeti, and Stockhausen
  • Frequent study questions, copious drills, and end-of-chapter exercises establish theoretical premises while nurturing analytical skills
  • A free, open-access Companion Website offers additional exercises and worksheets, ear-training materials, and melodies for sight-singing, among other supplementary materials

About the Author(s)

Philip Lambert is Professor of Music at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of CUNY.


"Basic Post-Tonal Theory and Analysis is a valuable contribution to the teaching and learning of post-tonal theory. The writing is clear and easy to follow, which is something the students will appreciate." --Philip Stoecker, Hofstra University

"This book has the potential to play an important role in the study of post-tonal music theory. It focuses on concepts that are often at the core of a twentieth-century-music class. The exercises, in particular, would be very useful to have in the classroom." --Daphne Tan, Indiana University Bloomington

"Undergraduates are often put off by non-tonal music because of their failure to see any continuity or similarities with the music from the common-practice era. Lambert does a great job in bridging that gap." --Inessa Bazayev, Louisiana State University

Table of Contents



    Chapter 1 Musical Units
    1.1 Musical Units in Mozart
    1.2 Musical Units in Webern
    1.3 Harmonic Groupings
    1.4 Primary and Secondary Groupings

    Chapter 2 Musical Spaces
    2.1 Note Space
    2.2 Pitch and Pitch-Class Space
    2.3 Interval Space
    2.4 Musical Transformations in Pitch Space

    Chapter 3 Trichords and Trichord Classes
    3.1 Sets and Segments
    3.2 The Nacht Trichord
    3.3 Musical Transformations in Pitch-Class Space
    3.4 Trichords in Normal Form
    3.5 Trichords in Prime Form
    3.6 Set Symmetry
    3.7 Trichord Classes

    Chapter 4 The Set-Class Universe
    4.1 Normal Form for All Sets
    4.2 Prime Form for All Sets
    4.3 Z-Relations
    4.4 Set Complementation
    4.5 The Set-Class Catalog
    4.6 Maximal Subsets

    Chapter 5 Tonality in Transition
    5.1 Source Sets and Centricity
    5.2 The Diatonic Source Set
    5.3 The Diatonic Modes
    5.4 The Octatonic Source Set
    5.5 The Whole-Tone Source Set
    5.6 The Hexatonic Source Set
    5.7 Interval Cycles and Combination Cycles

    Chapter 6 Structural Models
    6.1 Interval Patterns
    6.2 The Wedge Model
    6.3 General Inversional Symmetry

    Chapter 7 Instrumental Forms
    7.1 Formal Functions and Relations
    7.2 Simple Sectional Forms
    7.3 Sonata Forms
    7.4 Fugue
    7.5 Theme and Variations
    7.6 New Concepts of Organization

    Chapter 8 Modern Approaches to Meter and Rhythm
    8.1 Rethinking Meters and Metric Structure
    8.2 Metric Layering
    8.3 Metric Modulation
    8.4 Rhythmic Patterns

    Chapter 9 The Twelve-Tone Method
    9.1 Anton Webern's Song for Voice and Piano, op. 23, no. 2
    9.2 The Twelve-Tone Row
    9.3 Two Basic Row Transformations
    9.4 The INT, and Two More Basic Row Transformations
    9.5 The Row Chart
    9.6 Exploring the Row Class
    9.7 Row Usage in Webern's Song, op. 23, no. 2
    9.8 Locating Row Forms

    Chapter 10 Twelve-Tone Techniques
    10.1 Invariance
    10.2 Combinatoriality
    10.3 Secondary Sets
    10.4 Extensions of the Twelve-Tone Method
    10.5 Rotation
    10.6 Integral Serialism

    Appendix 1: Set-Class List
    Appendix 2: Glossary
    Appendix 3: Answers to Study Questions