5.7 Connections with the Tone Clock and the jazz models
Are there any connections between Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition, the Tone Clock, and the methods of the jazz educators in chapter 3? After all, Schat and Messiaen represent musical worlds that are quite separate from each other, and from those of the jazz educators discussed in chapter 3.
This study so far has shown how elements from compositional techniques used by Schat and Messiaen are brought together in the works of various (composing) improvisers. Thus, it illustrates how crossing borders, drawn by those composers of new music, helps the improvisers to broaden their musical space. The same can be said with regard to the connections with the educational methods in chapter 3. However, employing these methods to enrich one’s artistic palette is more obvious, because most of them result from the practices of actual jazz improvisers.
A systematic comparison between Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition, Schat’s Tone Clock, and the jazz educators’ improvisational techniques is not relevant here, as it would not create any new perspectives on the usage and utility of the separate techniques. However, it is important to stress that jazz easily allows a combining of those techniques, which, in their original state, appear so radically different from one another. Therefore, the remainder of this subchapter will contain short examples of my applications in which interrelations between twelve-tone techniques in the Tone Clock, Messiaen’s modes, and the methods of Liebman, Bergonzi, Weiskopf and O’Gallagher become apparent and productive.
Firstly, I consider the theoretical connections between Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition and the Tone Clock. According to the definition of twelve-tone techniques by Wuorinen (1994) discussed in section 2.2.3 and in subchapter 4.1, both systems are based on pitch successions arranged by interval orderings instead of tonal hierarchies of triads or chords. In both systems, these successions can be divided into a number of symmetrical segments, so-called “content groups” that stand out from the strict intervallic ordering of the basic form of the row.
As a practical example, I consider the relationship between Messiaen’s third mode of limited transposition and the twelfth hour of the Tone Clock. With its nine pitches, mode M3 is only 3 pitches away from being a twelve-tone row. With the twelve-tone techniques discussed in chapter 4, it would be possible to analyze M3 as an incomplete row of the third hour of the Tone Clock, which consists of three 2+1 trichords. The three missing pitches f–a–c♯ represent a 4+4 trichord that would complete the twelve-tone row. In order to obtain a Tone Clock hour with four equal trichords, the twelve-tone row in bar 2 of the following example can be constructed. With its four 4+4 trichords, it represents the twelfth hour of the Tone Clock. This highlights the augmented tonal colors implied in M3 in a clear and effective way. Thus, this example shows how an operation using twelve-tone techniques can be applied alongside the mode embellishments such as the ones in section 5.2.3 in order to emphasize an actual tonal color implied in the mode.