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Kennedy Burgess

20th Century Analysis

Final Paper
The Use of Set Class Analysis in the Case of Jolivets Flute Concerto
Over time, many different methods of musical analysis have
developed. These are based on growing trends in the music, and on
changing musical styles. Musical analysis is something that all people
who experience music do, whether they are listeners, theorists,
historians, or performers. These people use their analysis to benefit
themselves from a certain standpoint. This is true in the case of people
who perform music. In order to stay as true to the composers
intentions as possible, and to make sense of phrasing, some analysis
must be done to make sense of the musical intentions of a piece.
Performers do this in order to make the most sense of a piece for
themselves, as well as for their listeners.
Several different types of analysis have come to the forefront of
theoretical tradition throughout the twentieth century. Music can be
analyzed in countless different ways, some including harmonically,
motivically, and rhythmically. One type of analysis is set class analysis.
In set class analysis, each pitch in the chromatic scale is assigned a
number, and every pitch is used throughout a phrase. Of course, there
are variations to this in some instances.

In the case of Andre Jolivets Flute Concerto No. 1, I analyzed the

first movement by using set class analysis. Since it is not completely
tonal or functional, I wanted to see how a set class analysis might help
me to continue to inform my performance decisions.
Andre Jolivet was born in 1905 and died in 1974. His Flute
Concerto No. 1 was written in 1949 and premiered in 1950 in Paris. It is
scored for flute and strings.
Jolivet became interested in atonality after hearing a
performance of Schoenbergs Pierrot Lunaire. Soon after, he began to
study with Edgard Varese. This sparked his interest of using sound
masses and atonality as a compositional form.
He was extremely inspired by African and East Asian tradition. He
believed music to have spiritual values and he sought to rediscover
musics original ancient meaning. Because of this believe, he often
focused on aspects of ritual and initiation practices in his pieces and
rejected the neoclassical styles of Stravinsky and Les Six.
Jolivets style began to change in the mid 1940s, going from focusing
on atonality and sound masses to becoming a little more lyrical and
simple. He often fixated on the primitive characteristic of the flute and
began to explore the technical capabilities of the instrument. He wrote
the Flute Concerto No. 1 in 1949.
The concerto has four movements, alternating between slow and
fast. While they are marked as separate movements, the first segues

into the second, and the third segues into the fourth. The first
movement, Andante Cantabile, is characterized by a lamenting flute
line and rich, haunting harmonies in the strings. The strings alternate
between bowing regularly and using pizzicato to create an array of
different colors and moods. The flute floats in its higher register
throughout most of this movement with the strings providing support.
The main theme returns several times throughout the first movement
in a variety of colors and dynamics. A trill in the flute helps to drive the
piece into the second movement, the Allegro Scherzando. The second
movement begins quietly and, while light in articulation, is quite dark
in mood. This movement is characterized by an energetic melody, and
dissonance throughout. Jolivet relies on the use of syncopation and
rhythmic tension to create uneasiness throughout the movement.
Often times, the weak beats will be accented, or the flute will play in
three while the strings will play in four, creating a disorienting effect.
As a performer, it is important to do score study and to learn
exactly what you want to say with a piece, and within that, in a
passage or between two phrases. Analysis is used to inform the
performer of the composers intent of the phrasing and musical
expression of the piece. By doing analysis before performance, you are
able to make better-informed musical decisions. Analysis allows a
performer to help make sense of the music for the listener. While
performers might do analysis on a different level than music theorists,

some analysis and knowledge of the score is necessary to have full

command of a piece.
Several different analytical methods can be used to make better
interpretive decisions about a piece. In the case of Jolivets Flute
Concerto No. 1, I used set class analysis to see if it would help to
inform any performance decisions. I wanted to reveal and clarify
certain similarities I heard within and between phrases.
Using set class theory is a way to organize music that is
inaccessible through other modes of analysis, such as harmonic
analysis. Set theory works well for pieces that do not always have a
tonal center, and that might have a recurring motive that helps to link
the entire piece together. Motives can be built off of the same
intervals, and this would cause similarities between phrases in the
music. I would not consider Jolivets flute concerto a tonal work. While
it always seems to be circling around some sort of fleeting tonal
center, it never seems to land in one definitely.
Before I analyzed the movements via set class, I did a form
analysis of the two movements. Both of the movements are basically
set up the same way.

Movement I: Andante Cantabile

A Section

Beginning to

Theme 1

B Section

Rehearsal 2
Rehearsal 2 to

Theme 2


Rehearsal 3
Rehearsal 3 to

Recap (transposed)

Rehearsal 4
Rehearsal 4 to two


before Rehearsal 6
Two before Rehearsal

Segue into Movement

6 to Rehearsal 7


Movement II: Allegro Scherzando

Intro (Piano)

Rehearsal 7-9

Introduction of
movements main

A Section

Rehearsal 9-10

Theme 1

B Section

Rehearsal 10-12
Rehearsal 12-16

Theme 2
Theme 3

Rehearsal 16-17

Transition to


Rehearsal 17-19

C Section

Rehearsal 19-21
Rehearsal 21-24+two

Recap (transposed)

Rehearsal 24-25
Rehearsal 25-27


Rehearsal 27-29
Rehearsal 29 to End

New material
Transitional material
Transition to coda

The first time I did a set class analysis, I divided the first
movement into large phrases. I was curious to see if doing a set class
analysis of every phrase of the piece matched my musical intentions,

and if they did not, if they would change my thought on the musical
presentation of the piece. My goal was to find connections between
phrases throughout the first movement. Since I heard similarities
between the phrases, I thought that I would find similarities in my
analysis. After marking all of the phrases in the score, I did a set class
analysis of the flute part of the first movement. I believed that I would
find at least some similarities between the pitch class sets and my
Throughout the 18 phrases in the first movement of the
concerto, none of them matched exactly by set class. All of the phrases
include between six and nine intervals. Using Fortes classification of
set classes, the first two phrases can be classified as 8-26 and 8-8,
respectively. The prime form of the first phrase is, (01234578T), and
the prime form of the second is, (01234789). They work together to
create the first complete thought of the piece. The transposition of this
thought, which occurs at rehearsal 4, are classified as 9-17 and 8-Z15.
Their prime forms are (01234578T), and (01234689), respectively.
While this part of the music seems to just be transposition of the main
theme, their set classes are extremely different. The music is highly
chromatic, though not serial and not completely without a tonal center.
Even though the set classes are different, they do sound related. This
is because their subsets are all the same. While some intervals are

different, they all include a subset of (01234). This shows that the
larger phrases are built on similar intervals.
The forte name for each of the phrases in the first movement are
as follows: measures 1-4: 8-26, measures 4-7: 8-8, measures 8-10: 631, measures 10-13: 7-26, measures 14-16: unnamed, measures 1619: 9-10, measures 19-21: 8-20, measures 22-23: 7-11, measures 2425 (rehearsal 3): unnamed, measures 26-27: unnamed, measures 2830: 7-10, measures 30-32: unnamed, measures 33-36 (rehearsal 4): 97, measures 36-39: 8-Z15, measures 40-43: 7-35, measures 44-46: 6Z24, measures 46-48 (rehearsal 6): 6-Z13, measures 48-54: 8-18.
I then decided to analyze sections of the first and second
movement of the concerto, going basically measure-by-measure. This
allowed me to break down the piece even further, and to reveal any
similarities within the phrases themselves.
In the first movement, I chose to analyze the opening phrase
(measures 1-7), and then the recap at Rehearsal 4. The segments of
the music are shown below.

Movement I, opening phrase (measures 1-7)

Movement I, recap (rehearsal 4)

I found that when each measure was analyzed, it matched the
measures corresponding to it in the other phrase. The prime forms of
each measure are: Measure 1: (0145), measure 2: (0235), measure 34: (0123478), measure 4-5: (0134689), and measure 6-7: (012357). It
makes sense that these set classes match each other, because the
phrases sound so similar. The majority of the measures are built on a
subset of (01). The set class (0145) is also very prominent throughout
the development section of the first movement. It is often introduced in

the beginning of phrases and used as a motive, just like it is used to

introduce the beginning of the piece.
I did the same analysis with three different sections of the
second movement. The sections are taken from the opening theme,
the development, and the recap towards the end of the movement.
The sections are shown below:

Movement II, theme (rehearsal 9-10)

Movement II, development (rehearsal 19-20)

Movement II, recap (rehearsal 25-26)

I had almost the same outcome as I did in the case of the first
movement. When I analyzed the theme and recap, the set classes are:
Measure 1-3: (012579), measure 4-7: (0125679), measure 8-9:
(01458), measure 10-11: (014589), measure 12-13: (0157), measure
14-17: (012345789). In all of these cases, each smaller phrase has a
subset of (01). I analyzed the development by allowing the dynamic
markings to dictate what phrases I would analyze together. I analyzed
every other phrase together, and the results work out similarly to the
theme and recap. Measure 1, 3, 5: (012579), measure 2,4,6: (0146),
measure 7,9,11,13: (012345789), measure 8,10,12: (0125679). The
subsets (01) and (012) are prominent subsets in the development
I found that the melodic material is built around intervals of
seconds and sevenths. This is where I hear many similarities between
the phrases. Almost every instance that a new phrase starts, it is built
off of an interval of a second. The piano part is rich in seventh chords,
as well as in chords built on fourths and fifths. Using set class analysis

helped to verify the fact that the phrases on a small and large scale are
similar in some way.
In the case of Jolivets Flute Concerto, I would say that set class
is not a valid tool to use for analysis. Using set class did not change my
opinions on my own musical interpretation of the piece, nor did it
reveal any groundbreaking information about the piece itself.
I then tried to analyze the first movement in larger phrases,
rather than smaller ones to see if the set classes would match between
each other throughout the movement. I found that between the seven
larger phrases in the first movement, only two of them matched
completely. This is because they both use all of the notes of the
chromatic scale.
I also analyzed the second movement of the concerto in the
same way. First, I delineated all of the phrases in the movement. Then,
I analyzed them according to set class theory, also including the piano
part. It was soon clear that my findings would match the outcome of
my analysis of the first movement.
In the analysis of loner phrases, between the first and second
movement, there was one similarity in pitch class. This occurs between
measures four through seven in the first movement, and measures four
through seven in the second movement. The prime from of their pitch
class sets is both (0,1,2,3,4,7,8,9), and their Forte numbers are both 88. This is interesting because they are both the second half of longer

phrases. Since they occur in two different movements, they are made
up of different thematic material. They also do not sound similar at all.
The first melody is much less separated and is accompanied by a much
calmer piano accompaniment. This small similarity is still not enough
to prove that set class analysis is a valid way to analyze this piece.
Since so little of the piece ended up to be similar to each other
regarding set class, I would say that this would not be a valid tool to
use from a performance perspective. Breaking down the phrases of the
first movement might allow for more similarities between set classes,
since most of the phrases are built around major and minor seconds.
This might have worked out differently if I had never seen the piece
before and was beginning to analyze it for the first time. Since I have
already been practicing it, I had already formed ideas about how I
wanted it to sound musically. Since the set theory gave me so little
new or useable information, I felt that it added nothing to my
interpretation or information about the piece. There is probably a much
better tool to use to analyze the flute concerto.