Week 2 (Jun 8): Techniques for Atonal Music

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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.

Set theory

Readings and videos

I am part of a team of theorists developing an online textbook. Several short chapters will prepare you to analyze using set theory. 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

Complete the Concept Check quiz on Blackboard to see if you are understanding the set theory concepts properly.

Due Thursday: Reading response

In #reading-responses on Slack, post a message with some type of response about the readings/videos. You might ask clarifying questions, summarize an important bit of it, or just relate to it in some way. You can also respond to someone else’s message (start a thread). 

Due Sunday: Analysis assignment


  • Listen to the recording of the excerpt (found in the Readings folder).
  • Analyze this excerpt according to the prompts on this worksheet. 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 In)
    • 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.


  • Submit your assignment on Blackboard.
  • 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.

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