Week 3 (Sep 5): Set Theory (F22)

Last modified on August 4, 2023

This week, you will learn about set theory and segmentation. You’ll analyze music using set theory, apply set theory terminology, and critique the usefulness of set theory.

Note: set theory ≠ serialism! We are learning serialism next week. Make sure you aren’t confusing these things!

Set theory

Readings and videos

Read through these chapters from Open Music Theory, which I co-authored. The chapters also include videos, made by myself, that help explain these concepts.

These pages above should get you fully prepared for the analysis assignment. But if these are not sufficient and you need still more detail, I have a few readings uploaded from the Straus textbook Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory (), which is the standard text for these topics.

Concept check

Optional: Complete the Concept Check quiz on Blackboard to see if you are understanding these concepts.

Due Thursday: Reading response

In the Reading Responses channel on Teams, post a message with some type of response about the readings/videos. You may either make a new post or reply to someone else’s post (both count for this participation grade). You can approach this in a bunch of different ways! You might ask clarifying questions about the reading, summarize an important bit of it, share a related personal anecdote…anything counts, as long as it relates to the reading in some way.

Due Sunday*: Student Choice Assignment

* Student Choice Assignments are not required for everyone. You only need to complete this week’s analysis if this is one of your three chosen assignments. Student Choice Assignments are explained further on the syllabus.

You will analyze the last measures of Piano Prelude No. 9 by Ruth Crawford Seeger according to the worksheet below.


  • Listen to the recording of the excerpt (found in the Readings folder).
  • Analyze this excerpt according to the prompts. You will probably want to use a combination of score annotation and verbal response—do whatever you need to get your point across efficiently. Please be succinct in your verbal response.


  • You will be assessed on the following concepts
    • Understanding of interval types (interval classes, pitch intervals)
    • Understanding of set classes
    • Understanding of transformations (Tn and TnI)
    • Interpretation
  • You will be given detailed feedback through the rubric. Click “View rubric” in the gradebook to access this.
  • Assignments are always graded pass/fail, with a threshold of 70% to pass.


  • Upload both your annotated score and your 250-word response.
  • Submit your assignment on Canvas.
  • Upload your assignment as a .pdf attachment. Please do not use other file types.



If articles are not available online, you should be able to find them in the Readings folder on Teams.

Straus, Joseph Nathan. 2016. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.