Sunteți pe pagina 1din 41

Arnold Schönberg, Dennis Sandole, and John Coltrane: Important Links in Modern Jazz Pedagogy

and Practice

T. Scott McGill

This paper will examine Arnold Schönberg’s influence on modern jazz through the teachings of one of
its most respected theorists and pedagogues Dennis Sandole, mentor to John Coltrane, James
Moody, Art Farmer, Randy Brecker, Jim Hall, Rufus Harley, Pat Martino, and many other important
jazz artists1.

Through the analysis of musical examples, this paper proposes that important conceptual links exist
between some of Schönberg’s key compositional concepts and Sandole’s pedagogical literature and
practice which would go on to influence John Coltrane and many other jazz practitioners for decades
to follow helping to solidify Schönbergian ideas and concepts within the syntax of modern jazz.
Schönberg’s utilisation of various segmentation schemes such as trichords, tetrachords and
hexachords, use of interval cycles particularly that of interval cycle 4 or major thirds, and the
compositional practice of stating the complete chromatic collection within a relatively short musical
space have provided jazz practitioners such as Sandole and Coltrane with a new conceptual
framework for employing the total chromatic harmonically and melodically in modern jazz practice.

For my analysis I have used normal order prime forms as found in Forte’s set class table for ease of
comparison between examples 2.

Dennis Sandole-A Short Biography

Dennis Sandole was born on September 29, 1913 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and died there on
September 30, 20003. An autodidact, he began his musical career as a Jazz Guitarist working with
artists such as Tommy Dorsey, Ray McKinley, Frank Sinatra, and Charlie Barnet 4 before retiring
relatively early from the performance arena to focus exclusively on teaching and composition. As a
pedagogue and composer, he was highly respected by some of jazz’s most innovative musicians
such as Dizzy Gillespie5], Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, and Stan Kenton6, and was hailed as “The
Schönberg of Jazz” by Jazz Violin and Guitar virtuoso Joe Sgro 7.

1 Thomas Scott McGill, ‘Dennis Sandole’s Unique Jazz Pedagogy’ (Current Research in Jazz, January 2013) <http://www.crj-> accessed 8 December 2013.
2 Allen Forte, The Structure of Atonal Music (1st edn, Yale University Press 2007) 3–5.
3 McGill, Unique Jazz Pedagogy.
The Last Post/The Scotsman, ‘Coltrane’s Mentor Was Legendary Jazz Teacher’ (JazzHouse.Org, 2000)
<> accessed 15 April 2012.
5 Interview with Joseph Federico, ‘Telephone Interview with Student and Close Friend of Dennis Sandole’ (4 July 2014) Digital
6 Interview with Joseph Barrale, ‘Telephone Interview with Student and Close Friend of Dennis Sandole’ (28 June 2012) Digital
7 Stephen Slawek, ‘Hindustani Sitar and Jazz Guitar Music: A Foray into Comparative Improvology’ in Gabriel Solis
(ed), Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society (1st edn, University of Illinois Press 2009) 204–205.

The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz Revised and Updated Version (2004) describes him as “one of the
music’s (jazz’s) unsung heroes”8:

“Although inevitably, he was noted as a teacher of guitarists, included among whom were
Dale Bruning, Jim Hall, and Pat Martino, his teaching methods were such that he
attracted performers on other instruments. Among these were Michael Brecker, Art
Farmer, John LaPorta, Teo Macero, James Moody, Reggie Workman and, most famously
John Coltrane who first became Sandole’s pupil in 1946.”9.

Sandole was very interested in the utilisation of avant-garde techniques in jazz practice 10 and his
pedagogical literature for jazz practitioners is a unique synthesis of avant-garde compositional
techniques applied to the compositional and improvisational aspects of modern jazz. The overall
framework for his teaching curriculum was in place by the mid 1940’s when iconic jazz saxophonist
John Coltrane began his studies with him11 and Coltrane stayed in touch with him throughout his
career, even continuing to take mail order lessons as late as 1965 right before his death12. Sandole
catalogued the general principles and topics for his pedagogical curriculum in his unpublished works
Scale Lore, Improvisation Thesaurus, and Improvisation Outline. He was one of the earliest teachers
of advanced jazz improvisation and pioneered the use of advanced harmonic and melodic devices in
jazz pedagogy13.

Sandole’s lesson literature was composed specifically for each student and each instrument and
featured three to five measure through-composed compositions based on a specific harmonic or
melodic concept that he termed “compositional devices”. Although the general headings or topics of
his pedagogical literature were consistent, the specific lessons were not and no two lessons were
identical14. These compositional devices were to be played starting on all tones of the chromatic scale
and in all positions or ranges depending on the student’s main instrument. Sandole also encouraged
his students to play their lesson material on the piano and stressed ear training and sight singing of
both tonal and atonal material of which examples of Schönberg’s work would be included.

Sandole considered himself a composer15 and his teaching approach in terms of composing lesson
material for each pupil is consistent with Schönberg’s comments regarding the “working out” and
“improvising” of lesson material “in the presence of the student”16. He served as mentor to many of his
students and a great many of them were highly devoted to him considering themselves “Sandole
students” in a similar manner that Schönberg’s students called themselves “Schönberg pupils”17. It

8 Colin Larkin, The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz (2nd edn, Virgin Books 2004) 766.
9 Larkin, p. 765-766.
Donald Chittum, ‘Mozart Wagner Coltrane’,The International Association of Jazz Educators (2007) 7.
11 Baralle, 2012.
12 Ibid, 2012.
13 Interview with Dale Bruning, ‘Telephone Interview with Student of Dennis Sandole’ (4 September 2014) Digital Recording.
14 Interview with Bobby Zankel, ‘Telephone Interview with Student of Dennis Sandole’ (30 November 2012) Digital Recording.
15 Federico, 2014.
16 Arnold Schoenberg and Leonard Stein, Style and Idea: Selected Writings (1st ed, St Martins Press 1975) 389.
Joy Calico, ‘Schoenberg as Teacher’ in Jennifer Shaw and Joseph Auner (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Schoenberg
(Cambridge Companions to Music) (1st ed, Cambridge University Press 2010) 137.

was not uncommon for his students to stay in contact with him throughout their careers for continued
study, professional and artistic guidance, and friendship.

According to Sandole, during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, John Coltrane studied modern
harmonic techniques with him such as “thirds relationships, doubly chromatic scales, equal divisions
of the octave, chromatic root movement, synthetic chords, polytonal scales and chords”18,
“tetrachords, and harmony derived from melodic lines”19, a compositional technique pioneered by
Schönberg which had yet to be utilised in jazz pedagogy or practice before Sandole. He describes
this concept in his unpublished Improvisation Thesaurus as “Harmony derived from melodic theme.
Use notes of theme for harmony”20. Theorist Donald Chittum notes “It is most probable that Sandole,
more than anyone else, was responsible for Coltrane’s embarking on a study of classical music,
especially that of the twentieth century”21.

Sandole was familiar with Schönberg’s Theory of Harmony and recommended it to his students 22 and
although not an adherent of serial technique, he admired Schönberg’s work, particularly from the “free
atonal” period23 and respected his talent, artistic vision, and commitment to self-expression stating
that Schönberg brought music to “new frontiers”24. While living in Hollywood, California as a staff
musician/arranger at MGM Studios, Sandole reputedly received a letter of encouragement from
Schönberg after a lecture he (Sandole) delivered25.

I will now discuss specific harmonic, melodic, and stylistic devices that Schönberg pioneered that
have influenced modern jazz practice through the work of Dennis Sandole and John Coltrane.

18 David Demsey, ‘Chromatic Thirds Relations in The Music Of John Coltrane’ (1991) 5 Annual Review of Jazz Studies 11.
J Thomas, Chasin’ the Trane: The Music and Mystique of John Coltrane (Garden City NY : Doubleday 1975) 51.
20 Dennis Sandole, Improvisation Thesaurus (unpublished) 23.
21 Chittum, p.7.
22 Interview with Matthew Shipp, ‘Telephone Interview with Student of Dennis Sandole’ (28 June 2014) Digital Recording.
23 Interview with Fred Weiss, ‘E-Mail Interview with Student and Close Friend of Dennis Sandole’ (28 June 2014).
24 Bruning, 2014.
25 Interview with Bruce Eisenbeil, ‘Telephone Interview with Student of Dennis Sandole’ (29 May 2014) Digital Recording.


Schönberg’s work both before the twelve-tone discovery and after evidences his interest in working
with three, four, and six note groups or sets as both harmonic and melodic units 26. Considering four
note units in particular, Schönberg greatly extends the tetrachordal vocabulary far beyond diatonic
scale segments utilizing many types such as in Example 1 taken from Schönberg’s compositional
sketches for the Prelude from the Suite for Piano Op. 25 in which the basic set is drawn from the all-
interval tetrachord {0,1,4,6}, {0,3,4,6}, and {0,1,2,3} in the form of the “BACH” motive27.

Ex.1. Schönberg: Suite for Piano Op. 25 Twelve Tone Rows divided into Tetrachords

26Schoenberg et al., p.117.

Deborah How, ‘Arnold Schoenberg’s Prelude from the Suite for Piano Op. 25: From Composition with Twelve Tones To The
Twelve-Tone Method’ (PhD, ASC Schonberg Archive: Music Manuscript MS 25: 27Jr 2009) 88

Example 2 shows further manipulation of these tetrachords into Tonic and Dominant areas 28.

Ex.2. Schönberg: Suite for Piano Op.25 “Tonic and Dominant Tri-Tetrachordal Complexes

Although this work is based on a general set of twelve-tones, Schönberg’s compositional process
focusses on the set’s intrinsic tetrachordal units and within this piece he manipulates the basic set in
terms of reordering pitch content at the tetrachordal level rather than at the set level29. Composing at
the tetrachordal level was common practice for Schönberg and Milton Babbitt, for example, notes that
Schönberg carefully considered the tetrachordal content in his Fourth Quartet Op. 37, carefully
choosing the sets {0,1,4,5}, {0,3,4,5}, and {0,1,2,5} according to the “inversional transpositional
relationship(s)” they created30.

In Examples 3 and 4 taken from measures 63, and 79-85 of the Variations on a Recitative Op.40,
Schönberg uses a variety of similar and dissimilar tetrachords as melodic and harmonic material 31.

Ex.3, Schönberg: Variations On a Recitative Op. 40, mm. 63

28 How, Twelve-Tone Method, p. 94, ASC Schoenberg Archive: Music Manuscript MS 25: 27H,
29 How, Twelve-Tone Method, p.122.
30 Stephen Dembski and Joseph Straus, Milton Babbitt: Words About Music (1st ed, Univ of Wisconsin Pr, Chicago, Illinois,
USA 1987) 69.
31 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Variations on a Recitative Op. 40’ meas. 63, 80–85.

Ex.4, Schoenberg: Variations on a Recitative Op. 40 mm. 80-85

Tetrachords make up a substantial portion of Dennis Sandole’s pedagogical literature and he was one
of the earliest advocates for their use in jazz improvisation and composition. His tetrachordal
vocabulary is similar to the types preferred by Schönberg and he also employs them as harmonic and
melodic material. Example 5 shows the types that Sandole generally favored, although he also used
many other altered versions of these and others in his lesson material which appear in his
unpublished text Scale Lore32. The all-interval tetrachords are labelled “AIT”.

32 Dennis Sandole, Scale Lore (unpublished) 26–27.

Ex. 5. Sandole: Tetrachords

Sandole’s chart contains some of the same tetrachordal types that are present in the Op. 40 example
such as {0,1,4,5}, {0,2,3,4}, {0,2,3,5}, {0,2,4,5}, and [0,2,4,6}. He gave some of these sets names
based on exotic and synthetic scalar origins. For example, he named the {0,1,4,5} tetrachord
“Spanish Gypsy” the {0,3,4,5} tetrachord “Hungarian”, etc. In his Improvisation Thesaurus, Sandole
also advocated rotation and the free re-ordering of tetrachords in a similar manner as Schönberg’s
Op. 25 compositional charts33.

Example 6 is an excerpt from a Sandole lesson based on the first and second eight bars of a blues
form that features a variety of tetrachordal types, most notably the all-interval tetrachord {0,1,4,6},
{0,3,4,6}, and {0,3,4,7}34, units common in Schönberg’s vocabulary. The first two being employed by
Schönberg in the Op. 25 series and the last one being important in many his works such the Ode to
Napoleon Op. 44 where it was employed as an “overlapping” tetrachord that generates “roving,
vagrant major-minor” harmonies35.

33 Dennis Sandole, Improvisation Thesaurus (unpublished) 23.

34 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Pianist Mark Cohn’.
35 Silvina Milstein, Arnold Schoenberg: Notes, Sets, Forms (1st ed, Cambridge University Press 1992) 124.

Ex. 6. Sandole First Four Blues” and “Second Four Blues

In each line of this example, eleven tones of the complete chromatic have been stated melodically
except for G in the top line and E natural in the second. Chromatic completion can be accomplished
via the root of the F7 chord in the top line, and the fifth of the A7 chord E natural in the second line.
Sandole’s melodic writing in this example does not seem to be derived from the diatonic scale
resources more commonly utilised in jazz and evidences the predominant use of non-diatonic
segmentation techniques. In addition, the tonics of each chord in this example make up eleven
discrete tones, the only missing tone being Eb. Sandole’s chordal root movement is cyclic using
interval cycles 1, 2, 4, and 5, with the second line’s root movement consisting mainly of a major third
(interval class 4) cycle comprising two augmented triads a semi-tone apart, which outlines a
{0,1,4,5,8,9} hexachord, an important source set for Schönberg which will be discussed in more detail

Octave/Registral Displacement

The use of octave displacement of harmonic and melodic material is one of Schönberg’s many
musical innovations and a technique he employed consistently in his works. Some examples of this
include Example 7 taken from measures 12 and 13 of his Drei Klavierstücke Op. 1136. which illustrate
his use of this device with tetrachords {0,1,6,7} using tones D, Eb, G#, A, the chromatic pentachord
{0,1,2,3,4} with tones F#, G, G#, A, and Bb, and {0,1,2,4} using tones C#, D, Eb, F and F, F#, G, A.
In this passage, both [0,1,2,4} tetrachords move at interval cycle 4 (a major third) with the tone F#
overlapping, creating the larger symmetrical set {0,1,2,4,5,6}. Example 8 is taken from Schönberg’s
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 3637 which illustrates pitch registral displacement techniques in
the Solo Violin part using tetrachords {0,3,4,7} using tones B, D, D#, F#, {0,1,2,4} with tones D, D#, E,
F#, and the chromatic tetrachord {0,1,2,3} using tones C#, D, D# E.

36 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Klavierwerke’ Universal Edition, Wien 1.

37 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 36’ New York: G. Schirmer.

Ex.7 Schönberg: Drei Klavierstücke Op. 11 mm. 12-13

Ex.8: Schönberg: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 36: Violin Part mm.82-83 {0,3,4,7}, {0,1,2,3}

Sandole employed octave displacement techniques liberally in his pedagogical literature. Example 9
contains excerpts from Sandole’s lesson material that demonstrate his use of this device 38. The
Synthetic Chords excerpt contains numerous instances of octave displacement using the chromatic
{0,1,2,3,} tetrachord and the {0,1,6,7} set both found in the Op. 11 example, and contains a passage
that completes the chromatic aggregate in less than two measures of music. The Contrasting
Tetrachords example uses a scale or set consisting of two slightly different tetrachords {0,3,4,5}
{0,3,4,6} at pitch levels C and G respectively. This passage includes instances of octave displacement
regarding chromatic tetrachords and the {0,2,5,6} set which is an inversion of the AIT {0,1,4,6}.

38 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Pianist Mark Cohn’.

Ex. 9a: Sandole: Synthetic Chords

Ex. 9b. Sandole: Contrasting Tetrachords

Sandole also created a pedagogical heading termed Doubly Chromatic Chords which dealt
specifically with the registral displacement of three or more consecutive chromatic tones 39.
Example1040is from this section of Sandole’s literature and illustrates the liberal use of the {0,1,2)
chromatic trichord as a registrally displaced harmonic unit 41. This lesson example draws upon a
twelve-tone mixed interval vertical structure beginning on the note Gb from which Sandole bases his
compositional etude on.

39 Dennis Sandole, ‘Personal Communication with the Author during Private Studies’ (1994).
40 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Guitarist Scott McGill’.
41 Dennis Sandole, ‘Lesson Material,McGill.

Ex. 10: Sandole: Doubly Chromatic Chords

Sandole’s melodic and harmonic approach evidences Schönberg’s influence in its use of angular
melodic contours, use of quartal and set generated harmony, and its avoidance of octave intervals in
favour of minor ninth intervals based on {0,1,2} chromatic relationships.

Also of note in Ex. 10 and in this passage from the same page,

is the use of “voice exchange” between voices with major sevenths becoming minor ninths using the
same tones and vice versa which is stylistically very similar to passages contained in measures
1,3,19, and 27 in Schönberg’s Op. 11 No. 3 which resolve into identical quartal harmonies. Disjunct
harmonic and melodic writing of this nature is not generally a part of mainstream jazz pedagogical
which tends to be comprised of conjunct melodic motion and tonal diatonicism in the main.

The General Avoidance of Octaves

Sandole seems to be aware of Schönberg’s statements regarding the general prohibition of octaves in
twelve-tone music42and appears to share his (Schönberg’s) “apprehension” of octave doubling43. The
octave as a melodic or harmonic interval is seldom used by Sandole and he seemed to prefer major
seventh and minor ninth intervals as “replacements” for this interval. Additionally, Sandole frequently
utilises wedge-type formations as ending material for his lesson etudes many times cadencing into
major seventh or minor ninth intervals 44 that look similar to Schönberg’s wedge formations in measure
30 of his Op. 11 No. 3 as shown in Example 1145.

42 Charles Wuorinen, Simple Composition (New York : Longman, c1979 1980) 74.
43 Schoenberg, Style and Idea, p. 233
44 George Perle, Serial Composition and Atonality: An Introduction to the Music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, Sixth
Edition, Revised (6th edn, University of California Press 1991) 30.
45 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke, pg.10.

Ex. 11. Schönberg: Op.11 No. 3, meas.30

Sandole: Alternate Triads Minor (Cmin/F#)46.

Sandole; Synthetic Chords (autograph): All chromatic tones present except for “A”

In general, avoidance of the octave as a melodic or harmonic interval is atypical in mainstream jazz
pedagogy and practice as octaves are normally an integral part of jazz instrumental traditions (for
example “Locked Hands” and “Stride” piano styles and Wes Montgomery’s guitar work). Sandole’s
practice in this regard suggests his familiarity and aesthetic agreement with Schönberg’s statements
regarding octave avoidance in order to enhance the feeling of forward motion within a pantonal
musical style47, and to reinforce the overall sonority of the music48.

46 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Pianist Mark Cohn’.

47 Reginald Smith Brindle, Serial Composition (1st ed, Oxford University Press, USA 1968) 87.
48 George Rochberg, ‘The Harmonic Tendency of The Tetrachord’ (1959) Volume III, Number 2 Journal of Music Theory 226
<> accessed 12 May 2014.


The {0,1,4,5,8,9} Hexachord

In Schönberg’s Op. 11 No.1, early use of the symmetrical second order all-combinatorial hexachord
{0,1,4,5,8,9}49 can be observed. In Example 12 the hexachord D, Eb, F#/Gb, G, Bb, and B/Cb is
stated clearly in the right hand beginning on beat three of measure 23 concluding in the next bar, and
also in measures 35 and 36 of Example 13 beginning within the second beat and ending on the first
beat of measure 3650.

Ex. 12. Schönberg: Op. 11 No. 1 {0,1,4,5,8,9} mm. 23-24

Ex. 13. Ibid, {0,1,4,5,8,9} mm. 35-36 r.h.

Schönberg uses this “Ode to Napoleon” hexachord 51 consistently in both his pre and post serial
works. Some further examples are found in Example 14 such as in Op. 11 No. 3 in the middle staff as
a Bbmaj7+5 to D min/maj 7 chordal sequence52, in Erwartung Op.17 as arpeggiated figures of a C
Major Seventh with an added augmented fifth and ninth53, and in the Sechs Kleine Klavierstücke Op.
19 No. 2 and 3 as vertical statements of Major Seventh with augmented fifth and ninth harmonies 54.

49 Babbitt, Words About Music, p. 53

50 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke.
51 Nicolas Slonimsky, Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns (Schirmer Books 1987) 34.
52 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke,
53 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Erwartung Op. 17’ <,_Op.17_(Schoenberg,_Arnold)> accessed 15 July
54 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke,

Ex.14. Schönberg: Op. 11 No. 3 meas. 18: (A, Bb, C#, D, F, F#)

Erwartung Op. 17 1st & 2nd solo violins mm. 372-374 (C, Eb, E, G, Ab, B)

Op. 19 No. 2 final chord: (F#, G, Bb, B, D, Eb)

Op 19 No. 3 meas.7: (G, Ab, B, C, Eb, E)

The series of the Ouverture in Schönberg’s Septet Op. 2955 , the Ode To Napoleon Op.4456, some of
the sketches manuscripts for the String Trio Op. 4557, and his final unfinished work Op. 50C Modern
Psalm58 are based on this hexachord and within Op. 29, invariant horizontal and vertical dyads
consisting of the notes C/F, E/A, and Db/Ab that occur between sets that Schönberg employs at a
distance of a major third apart spell the hexachordal content in its entirety59. Even in his twelve-tone
works where this hexachord is not explicitly states in the original set, such as the Phantasy for Violin
and Piano Op.47, Schönberg’s writing evidences its use such as in measure 32 of the Solo Violin part
(Example 15) which, apart from the tone F natural, states the hexachord in its totality 60. This
hexachord and the twelve-tone set created from its complimentary symmetrical hexachord were
obviously very important to Schonberg’s music making throughout his career.

Ex. 15: Schönberg: Phantasy for Violin & Piano Op. 47 meas. 32 (Solo Violin part) (B, E, G, C, Ab Eb)

In Op. 11 No.3 and Op.29, Schönberg uses this hexachord to project chordal and tonal relationships
the distance of a major third apart which will later become important key centre relations in modern

55 Milnstein, Arnold Schoenberg, p. 52.

56 Paul Von Hippel, ‘CCARH Publications’ (Paul von Hippel (
<> accessed 9 March 2014.
57 Milnstein, Arnold Schoenberg, pg.204-205 MMS 1055-1057 from The Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Los Angeles.
58 Arnold Schönberg, ‘Op. 50 C Modern Psalm, Schott Publishing (unfinished)
59 Milnstein, Arnold Schoenberg, pg. 110-111.
60 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Phantasy for Violin and Piano Op. 47’ New York: C.F. Peters
<,_Op.47_(Schoenberg,_Arnold)> accessed 11 August 2014.

jazz. For instance, Example 16. is a remarkable passage taken from beats 3-5 in measure 2 of the
treble staff which states two discrete {0,1,4,5,8,9} hexachords and outlines two interval class 4 (major
third) root motion cycles within an extremely short amount of time 61. Also of note is the common tone
eight note line which outlines a Bb augmented triad. This triad is present in both {0,1,4,5,8,9}
collections. Example 17 illustrates measure 137 of the Op. 29 sketches where Schönberg voices
chords in triads whose roots are a major third apart beginning with an F Minor triad over an A Major, a
G Major triad over an Eb Minor and so on62. Although the chords in this measure are complete
projections of the source hexachord and Schönberg labels them as such, they are clearly voiced in a
bitonal manner outlining major thirds root relations.

Ex. 16. Schönberg Op.11 No.3: Source Hexachords and Major Thirds Relationship of Seventh Chords

Ex. 17. Schönberg Op. 41: Sketches-Major Thirds Relationship of Triads

Example 18 illustrates Sandole’s inclusion of Schönberg’s hexachord within his lesson material and
his text Scale Lore and names it “Six Tone Symmetrical”63. Sandole was an early advocate for its use
in melodic jazz improvisation, jazz harmony in terms of its subsets {0,1,4,5} and {0,1,4,5,8} or Major
Seventh #9 chord which he employs in many of his lesson headings such as Substitution on
Alteration of Note, and Polychords, and in terms of cyclic chordal movement as illustrated earlier in
Example 5 in which Sandole uses chordal root movement based on this hexachordal collection.
Sandole’s Improvisation Thesaurus also contains this set in which he advocates for all possible

61 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke.
62 Milnstein, Arnold Schoenberg, pg. 89-90 from SK 1126, Manuskript. Overture for Op. 29 Septet (Suite) from The Arnold
Schoenberg Institute, Los Angeles.
63 Interview with Craig Thomas, ‘Telephone Interview with Student and Close Friend of Dennis Sandole’ (2 August 2014)
Digital Recording and Sandole Scale Lore unnumbered pages

alterations and added tones to be used on all chord types, including the raised ninth and augmented
fifth intervals as extensions to be used with major and major seventh chordal types which implies the

Ex. 18. Sandole: Six Tone Symmetrical

Ex. 19. Sandole: Beresith

In these examples we see that the Sandole arpeggio on Db is a transposed version of the
arpeggiated examples of the set in Erwartung in Example 14, the Voicing Assignment makes liberal
use of an augmented fifth, augmented ninth, and major seventh intervals on major harmonies which
are characteristic harmonies within the {0,1,4,5,8,9} set, and within measure 10 of Sandole’s work for
solo piano work Beresith65 (Ex. 19), compressed statements of the complete chromatic are observed
throughout and the {0,1,4,5,8,9} passage in the treble staff is identical to a transposed retrograde of
the antecedent hexachord within Schönberg’s Modern Psalm Op.50 “Miracle Set”66.

64 Dennis Sandole, Improvisation Thesaurus (unpublished) 14.

65 Dennis Sandole, Beresith for Solo Piano (1950), released in 1995 Cadence Records,Redwood, N.Y.
66 Mark Risinger, ‘Schonberg’s Modern Psalm, Op. 50, and the Unattainable Ending’ in Charlotte M Cross and Russell A
Berman (eds), Political and religious ideas in the works of Arnold Schoenberg (Garland Publishing 1999).

The use of {0,1,4,5,8,9} in John Coltrane’s “Countdown”

The following is an analysis of “Countdown” by John Coltrane which first appeared on Coltrane’s
“Giant Steps” album released in 195967.

The interval class 4 or major thirds root movements that are used to define this composition have
come to be known as “Coltrane Changes” or “Coltrane Cycles” and are considered required study for
students of jazz around the world. Jazz Scholar and Educator David Baker in The Jazz Style of John
Coltrane describes Coltrane’s harmonic approach in “Countdown” and “Giant Steps” as “innovative”
and “sophisticated” and credits Coltrane with “expanding the harmonic vocabulary” of jazz 68.

In this piece, the main major tonality key areas outlined in the first line are Bb, Gb, and D spelling out
an augmented triad and in the second line the same progression outlines the major tonalities Ab, E,
and C, another augmented triad. These six tonal areas or tonics spell a whole-tone scale.

Ex. 21: John Coltrane: “Countdown” (from Giant Steps album, New York, N.Y.: Atlantic, 1959.) Tenor
Saxophone Solo: approx. 0:22 to 0:35

67John Coltrane, ‘Countdown from the Album Giant Steps’ New York, N.Y. Atlantic A2 1311 CD.
68David Baker, Alfred Publishing and John Coltrane, The Jazz Style of John Coltrane: A Musical and Historical
Perspective (Alfred Publishing Co, Inc 1990) 10.

The third line of music is a rotation of the first line beginning with the tonal area of Gb instead of Bb.
Each tonic major seventh chord is immediately preceded by its V dominant seventh chord. This
pattern is consistent for the first three lines of music. Fig. 1 illustrates the dominant and tonic areas of
the composition that spell out both interval class 4 key modulations.

Fig. 1: John Coltrane: Countdown Root Movement Analysis

First line: First Line: Second line: Second Line:

V7 Chords IMa7 Chords V7 Chords IMa7 Chords
(Dominant) (Tonic) (Dominant) (Tonic)
F Bb Eb Ab

Db Gb B E


If the roots of each chord excluding the first are compiled and put into best normal order, this yields
the set {0, 1, 4, 5, 8, 9} or A, Bb, Db, D, F, Gb. Repetition of this for the second line yields the same
thing only at interval class 2 below: G, Ab, B, C, Eb, E. Since this set is Schönberg’s all-combinatorial
hexachord, each line’s root notes constitute this all-combinatorial hexachord at a distance of interval
class 2 yielding all twelve tones in a symmetrical relationship.

In addition, Coltrane’s improvisational approach within this composition is, for the most, tetrachordal in
nature. It includes Schönbergian “triadic tetrachordal” types 69 such as {0,2,4,7}, the {0,2,3,5} set found
in Sandole’s literature, and {0,1,2,4} which is present in Schönberg’s Op. 11 No. 1 (Example 7), and
the Variations on a Recitative (Example 3). This work evidences the early use of the tetrachordal
approach advocated by Sandole within a jazz compositional and improvisational format.

69 Bryan Simms, The Atonal Music of Arnold Schoenberg, 1908-1923 (Oxford University Press, USA 2000) 17.

The {0,1,2,6,7,8} Hexachord

The opening chord in Schönberg’s Erwartung Op.17 consists of three tritone intervals spaced a semi-
tone apart, Gb/C, F/B, and E/Bb from the lowest tone to the highest 70].This forms the symmetrical six-
tone set {0,1,2,6,7,8}, which is all-combinatorial at interval classes 3 and 971.

Ex. 22. Schönberg: Erwartung Op. 17:

All Combinatorial Hexachord {0,1,2,6,7,8}

In the second and third movements of Schönberg’s Violin Concerto Op. 3672, this interval series plays
an important role on the surface of the piece as repeated statements of it in the solo violin part can be
observed as shown in Example 23. Measures 696-702 are particularly saturated with this hexachord
in the form of tritone dyads on B, C, and C# in meas. 696, E, F, and F# in 697, Gb, G, and Ab in 698,
B, Bb, and A in 699-700, and D, Db, and C in 701-702. Schönberg also uses this hexachord as the
basis for the series of his choral work De Profundis Op. 50B73.

Ex. 23: Schönberg Violin Concerto 2nd Movement Solo Violin Part meas.310-314: C#/G, F#/C, B/F

70 Perle, Serial Composition & Atonality, p.17.

71 Babbitt, Words About Music, pg. 52-53.
72 Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op. 36’ New York: G. Schirmer.
73 Von Hippel, Row Forms.

Schoenberg, Violin Concerto, Mvmt. 2, Meas. 319-321: Bb/E, F/B, F#/C, A/Eb and in reverse in the
next phrase:

Schoenberg, Violin Concerto, Mvmt. 3: mms. 695 thru 702:

In Sandole’s pedagogical literature we find this hexachord rotated as an “Altered Hexatonic” scale as
illustrated in Example 2474. His lesson material includes passages that use this hexachord and its
subsets in a similar fashion as Schönberg such as the chromatic tritone dyads D, Db and C in the last
line of Ex. 10 and the use of consecutive augmented and perfect fourths combined with repeated
statements of the Z-related tetrachord {0,1,6,7}, an important subset of {0,1,2,6,7,8}.

Ex. 24: Sandole: Altered Hexatonic-Rotation of {0,1,2,6,7,8}

74 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Guitarist Scott McGill’.

Ibid: Polychords

Example 2575 contains excerpts from Sandole’s Beresith which illustrate his use of the {0,1,2,6,7,8}
hexachord compositionally in both horizontal and vertical contexts. These examples indicate that
Sandole was aware of Schönberg’s compositional concepts regarding the verticalization of pitch class
sets and demonstrates how he created verticalities from horizontal material which is atypical of
mainstream jazz theory and practice and more typical of the work of Schönberg and his followers. The
chord illustrated from Measure 29 is identical to the opening chord of Erwartung only transposed up a
perfect fourth interval. Examples such as these affirm earlier statements regarding Sandole’s concept
of “harmony derived from melodic lines” and demonstrate how his approach differed radically from
conventional jazz pedagogy.

Example 25: Sandole Beresith: use of the {0,1,2,6,7,8} hexachord

Also of note in this example is the repeated use of the {0,1,4,5,8,9} and {0,1,6,7} Z-related tetrachord
which is an important pitch class relationship in many of the works of The Second Viennese School as
a whole.

John Coltrane was particularly fond of this hexachord and his use of it is illustrated here in Example
26 within his solo on the piece “Little Melanoe” 76. The set is used here to imply a dominant seventh
chord with a lowered fifth (B7b5) or “French Sixth” chord. Another well-known melodic pattern that
Coltrane used quite extensively particularly in his recordings from the 1950’s both with Miles Davis

75 Sandole, Beresith
76 Baker, Jazz Style, p.59.

and Thelonious Monk and as a solo artist is shown in Example 2677. This {0,2,6,8} pattern has some
interesting characteristics, aside from it’s obvious octatonic origins. It can be viewed as a “frame” or
“shell” of the {0,1,2,6,7,8} hexachordal set with the middle tone omitted revealing alternating {0,1,6,7,}
tetrachords set at a distance of interval class 3 apart. Coltrane’s use of these pitch relationships in
jazz improvisation is quite unique given the time period he was working in (the 1950’s), and his work
is primarily responsible for making these specific linear ideas a permanent part of the modern jazz

Ex. 26: John Coltrane-Solo on “Little Melonae” (approx. 6:42-6:54) {0,1,2,6,7,8} F, E, Eb, B, Bb, A

Ex. 27: John Coltrane: “Diminished Pattern” on “Straight No Chaser” (approx. 4:57-5:00) {0,2,6,8}.

{0,1,6,7} Tetrachords placed at interval cycle 3 distance:

77 Lewis Porter, John Coltrane: His Life and Music (Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c1998 1998) 134.

A Nine Tone Set of Three Chromatic Augmented Triads

Example 28 is taken from measure 417 of Schönberg’s Erwartung Op. 17. The first six chordal
statements in particular, are constructed of three discrete augmented triads set at a semitone apart
which, when placed in normal order, form the symmetrical set {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t}78.

Ex. 28: Schönberg, Erwartung: Three Augmented Triads

Also of note in this example are the 32nd note passages which outline the hexachord {0,1,4,5,7,8}
which is very closely related to the {0,1,4,5,8,9} hexachord. Schönberg’s rapid use of two of these
hexachords in the first half of the measure set at a distance of a tone apart utilises eleven discreet
tones and if one includes the very next tone F natural, the complete chromatic is realised.

Example 29 is measures 42-44 from Op. 11 No. 1 where Schönberg states this nine tone symmetrical
set twice beginning on different pitch classes primarily in the right hand part where chordal material
moves at an interval class 4 or major third cycle79.

78 Perle, Serial Composition & Atonality, p.20.

79 Schoenberg, Klavierwerke.

Ex. 29: Schönberg, Op. 11 No. 1: Nine Tone Symmetrical Set mm. 42-44

A: (B,C,C#, Eb, E, F, G, Ab, A) B: (D, Eb, E, Gb, G, Ab, A#, B, C)

Also noteworthy in this example are the {0,1,2,3} relations between both clefs such as Eb, E, F, and
Gb and B, C, C# and D in measure 42, Gb, G, G#, and A in measure 43, and D, Eb, E, and F in
measure 44. This nine tone set is also equivalent to a rotation of Olivier Messiaen’s third mode of
limited transposition80

Example 29 is an excerpt from Sandole’s pedagogical literature titled Major Thirds Relationship in
which he applies rotation to this set producing {0,2,3,4,6,7,8,t,e} and demonstrates its use to provide
melodic material for dominant seventh chords moving within a major thirds cycle81.

80 Olivier Messiaen, Technique de Mon Language Musical = the Technique of My Musical Language (Leduc 1966) 90.
81 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Pianist Mark Cohn’.

Ex. 29: Sandole: Major Thirds Relationship-Rotation of {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t}

Additionally, Sandole utilises Schönberg’s concept of combining three augmented triads a semi-tone
apart as a major part of his pedagogical heading “Polychords”. Example 30 illustrates one of these
lessons in which G, E, and Db augmented chords are expanded melodically using segments to
construct a set or scale of all twelve tones with special hexachordal properties 82. This set’s
hexachords when placed in scalar order spells a twelve-tone set consisting of two symmetrical
hexachords {0,1,3,4,5,8) which is transpositionally combinatorial at the tritone interval: (spelled A, Bb,
C, C#, D, F and D#, E, F#, G, G#, B). Neither hexachord includes the interval of a tritone within it.

Ex. 30: Sandole: Polychords, comprised of three augmented triads:

Ibid: Polychords: Three Augmented Triads in Scalar Order: Symmetrical Combinatorial Hexachords

This example indicates that Sandole was interested in the type of hexachordal combinatoriality and
symmetry that Schönberg utilised and was, in all likelihood, one of the first to include these types of
tonal relationships into an organised jazz pedagogical methodology.

82 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Guitarist Scott McGill’.

The use of the {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t} set in John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”

Within the composition “Giant Steps”83, one of John Coltrane’s most influential compositions and
improvisations, the main key areas are again based on an augmented triad and interval class 4 root
movement, in this case the tones G, Eb and B. In lines three and four not only is each tonic chord
preceded by its related dominant seventh chord as in “Countdown”, but also by its subdominant II
minor seventh chord. For instance, Eb Major Seventh is preceded by F minor seventh and Bb
dominant seventh as is customary practice in many standard jazz compositions.

Ex.31. Coltrane: “Giant Steps” (from Giant Steps album, New York, N.Y.: Atlantic, 1959.) Melody and
First Chorus of Tenor Saxophone Solo:

83 John Coltrane, ‘Giant Steps from the Album Giant Steps’ New York, N.Y. Atlantic A2 1311 CD.

If we combine all of the root tones of the last eight bars of “Giant Steps”, these spell three discrete
augmented triads, one created by all of the subdominant chords, one by all of the dominant chords,
and one by all of the tonic chords as illustrated in Fig. 2

Fig. 2: Coltrane: Giant Steps: Root Movement Analysis

IIm7 Chords V7 Chords IMa7 Chords

(Subdominant) (Dominant) (Tonic)
F Bb Eb


C# F# B

If these chord roots F, F#, G, A, Bb, B, C# D, Eb are placed in normal order, they create the
symmetrical set {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t} utilised by Schönberg and Sandole. The assignment of the specific
chord types to the set reveals a symmetrical relationship as the F is a IImin7 subdominant type, the
F# a V dominant 7 type, the G a IMaj7 tonic type, the A returning to a IImin7 subdominant type and so
on. Thus the compositional root motion and general harmonic movement of the piece is based on the
nine tone symmetrical set.

Coltrane also derives his melodic and improvisational material from the {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t} set. The first
seven bars of melody make up the subset {0,1,4,5,8,9} hexachord on Bb with an added A natural
being the only non-set member. The second melodic phrase of eight bars consists of {0,2,5} trichords
set at a distance of major thirds which taken as a whole unit spells the nine-tone set {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t)
beginning on Bb, D, or F#84. Another symmetrical pattern occurs within the second eight bars in terms
of melodic rhythm as the tone F is a half note, the F# a whole note, and the G a half note returning to
the tone A being a half note, Bb a whole note, etc. creating a palindromic rhythmic structure within the
melodic aspect of the set itself. This second melodic phrase has also been attributed to Coltrane’s
study of Nicholas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns85, a text that Sandole
recommended to Coltrane86.

Coltrane’ improvisation is rich in tetrachordal phrases and with two harmonies per measure
constitutes a sort of regular “tetrachordally determined” rhythm 87 which works well with jazz’s
predominantly eight-note rhythmic conventions. The main tetrachordal unit that Coltrane employs in
his improvisation is the “triadic tetrachord” {0,2,4,7}88. He plays these consistently on the tones G, Eb,
and B, the main key areas in the first statement of the entire form and throughout the piece (G, A, B,
D), (Eb, F, G, Bb,) and (B, C# D#, F#) respectively. If the tones of these sets are combined, they

84 Demsey, Chromatic Thirds, p.30.

85 Demsey in Porter, John Coltrane, p.149.
86 James Collier, The Making of Jazz: A Comprehensive History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co 1978) 423.
87 Ethan Haimo, Schoenberg’s Serial Odyssey: The Evolution of His Twelve-Tone Method, 1914-1928 (1st ed, Oxford
University Press 1990) 100.
88 Simms, Atonal Music, p.17.

spells the same {0,1,2,4,5,6,8,9,t} set that constitutes the same pitch material and intervallic
relationships for the chordal roots and melody of the piece. Thus within his improvised solo on Giant
Steps, Coltrane masterfully provides maximum structural unity by employing the foundational
intervallic elements of the piece’s harmonic and melodic structure.

Additionally, in Example 32, which is measure 70 of Schönberg’s Op. 41, the ascending arpeggio
figure in the Cello and Viola (C#, E, A, C, F, Ab) is an arpeggiated statement of the {0,1,4,5,8,9}

Ex. 32 Schönberg: Op. 41 Measure 70: Cello and Viola

If this passage is transposed down a tone to B, D, G, Bb, Eb, F# and we place the last note (F#) over
the first (B), we have a “reduction” of sorts of the main thematic and chordal movement of the first
three bars of “Giant Steps”. Further transposition by interval class 6 yields the same relationship for
measures 5-7.

Schönberg/Coltrane: Giant Steps “Reduction”:

89Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte Op. 41’ New York: G. Schirmer, Inc. 17
_Ode_To_Napoleon.pdf> accessed 12 March 2014.

Large Units of up to Twelve Tones and More

In Schönberg’s compositional development he employs an increasing number of tones as thematic

material such as six in Die Jacobsleiter90 to up to fourteen in the Serenade Op. 2491.

Sandole’s pedagogical approach in terms of the amount of notes he uses in scales and themes is a
microcosm of Schönberg’s compositional journey as he gradually builds up the number of tones to be
used in his sets or scales from five to fifteen according to pedagogical expediency. For instance, the
fifteen tone scale in Example 33 taken from Sandole’s “Three Diminished Scales” heading is based
on three similar pentachords set apart by interval class 4 or major thirds, in this case on the tones C,
Ab, and E92. In Scale Lore, Sandole advocates the joining of symmetrical (and asymmetrical)
segments of varying sizes and intervallic content to construct large sets, a process similar to some
aspects of Stravinsky’s serial practice93.

Ex. 33: Sandole, Three Diminished Scales (autograph)

Combinatorial Hexachords

Example 34 illustrates some of Sandole’s twelve-tone sets or scales that he terms “Duedecuple”
which, when placed in scalar order as advocated by Rochberg 94, are structurally identical to
Schönbergian sets such as the semi-combinatorial set of the Piano Concerto Op. 4295, the “Whole
Tone plus one”96 set from the Wind Quintet Op. 26, the use of two mutually exclusive whole-tone
hexachords as in the Three Songs, Op. 48 No. 3 Madchenlied 97 and a symmetrical set used in the
“Tanzscence” section of the Serenade Op. 24 98. This set, when rotated to spell F#, A, A#, C, D#, E/
G, G#, B, C#, D, F, exhibits interesting properties. The first is that both the first, {0,3,4,6,9,t} and the
second {0,1,4,6,7,t} hexachords each belong to a discrete octatonic scale a semi-tone apart. The
second is that if the second trichord in hexachord 2 (C#, D, F) is combined with the first trichord of

90 Schoenberg, et al., Style and Idea, p.88.

91 Ibid, pg. 90-91.
92 Dennis Sandole, ‘Private Lesson Material for Pianist Mark Cohn’.
93 Perle, Serial Composition & Atonality, pg. 56-57.
94 Rochberg, Harmonic Tendency, p. 214.
95 Andrew Mead, ‘Twelve-Tone Organizational Strategies: An Analytical Sampler’ (1989) 3 Integral 109
<> accessed 24 April 2014.
96 John Maxwell, ‘Symmetrical Partitioning of The Row in Schoenberg’s Wind Quintet Op. 26’ (1982) 5 (2) Indiana Theory
Review 1
accessed 20 April 2014.
97 Von Hippel, Row Forms.
98 Perle, Serial Composition & Atonality, pg. 94-95.

hexachord 1 (F#, A, A#) and the second trichord of hexachord 1 (C, D#, E) is combined with the first
trichord of hexachord 2 (G, G#, B), two {0,1,4,5,8,9} all-combinatorial hexachords are produced as
illustrated in Example 35. The set from Webern’s Concerto for Nine Instruments Op.24 displays
identical properties99. In addition, these examples from Sandole’s literature also illustrate a number of
the Schönbergian compositional aspects that have already been discussed such as octave
displacement of chromatic tones and voice exchange in the second Polychords example, rapid
chromatic completion in the third Polytonal Scales excerpt, cadencing on the minor ninth interval as in
the second and third examples, and the consistent use of {0,1,6} and {0,1,7} Z-related quartal
harmonic structures in the harmonic and melodic aspects across all examples.

Ex. 34: Sandole Duedecuple: Hexachordally the same tones as Schönberg Piano Concerto Op. 42:

(F G A Bb B C/C# D Eb E F# G#)

99 Babbitt, Words About Music, p. 25.

Sandole Polychords: Hexachordally similar to Schönberg Wind Quintet Op. 26

Whole Tone +1 Hexachords (Eb F G Ab A B/Bb C# D E F# G#)

Sandole-Polytonal Scales: Hexachordally All Combinatorial: Two Whole Tone Scales (C D E F# G#

A# B C# Eb F G A similar to Schönberg’s Three Songs, Op. 48 No. 3 Madchenlied

Sandole: Duedecuple: Hexachordally identical to Schönberg’s “Tanszcence” from Serenade Op. 24
(A Bb C D# E F# B C# D F G Ab:

Ex. 35: Schönberg, “Tanszcence” set in normal order:

Sandole,”Duedecuple” in normal order (rotation):

Trichordal symmetry:

Combination of both trichord types to achieve two {0,1,4,5,8,9} all-combinatorial hexachords:

These examples reflect Sandole’s interest in hexachordal partitioning techniques of the type
Schönberg utilised and could also indicate that Sandole was aware of Schönberg’s concept of
hexachordal combinatoriality and of the specific pitch material that made up some of his sets. His use
of rotation and re-ordering techniques to produce twelve-tone scales that exhibit combinatorial
properties for the purpose of jazz composition and improvisation was unprecedented and still ahead
of its time.

The Use of Retrograde and Inversion

Sandole’s pedagogical literature and practice utilise both Retrograde and Inverted melodic lines both
within his compositional devices themselves, and as a part of student assignments. Using a similar
compositional aesthetic to that of Schönberg, Sandole advocated the use of retrograde and
mirror/inversion of multiple numbers of pitch groups such as trichords, tetrachords, hexachords, and
larger units in addition to the re-ordering of these units in a manner similar to Schönberg’s practice of
re-ordering pitch sets and twelve-tone set segments100.

Chromatic Completion

Haimo101 states that “In all of the compositions of this period (that immediately preceding the twelve-
tone discovery) there is ample evidence of Schönberg’s concern for chromatic completion” and
Schönberg himself in his essay “My Evolution” discusses the move towards twelve-tone composition
proper from “working with tones” such as in Op. 23 using thirteen tones within three measures with
only one tone missing, through to Op.24 where the complete chromatic is consistently stated in a
relatively small amount of compositional space 102. Example 36, taken from the second violin part of
Op. 17, meas. 31, illustrates an early example of rapid chromatic completion.

Ex.36: Schönberg Op. 17 2nd Violin mm. 31:

The full statement and employment of all twelve pitches was an important compositional milestone for
Schönberg which eventually led to his concept of the twelve-note set103.

Sandole’s pedagogical literature displays a similar interest in chromatic completion within many of his
more advanced compositional devices employing either close to all or all twelve pitches within a
relatively short musical space as demonstrated in the examples contained within this paper. His
employment of the complete chromatic in many instances is the product of the joining and
stratification of segments (trichords, tetrachords, pentachords, and hexachords) to produce large
scales or sets providing maximum melodic variety, variation, and harmonic colour for the jazz

100 Interview with Craig Thomas, ‘Telephone Interview with Student and Close Friend of Dennis Sandole’ (2 August 2014)
Digital Recording, Sandole Scale Lore & Improvisation Thesaurus.
101 Haimo, Serial Odyssey, p. 94.
102 Schoenberg et al, Style & Idea, pg. 89-90.
103 Haimo, Serial Odyssey, p. 11.

Sandole also created lesson headings fully devoted to Neapolitan and Leading Tone relationships
within his literature to fully exploit the complete chromatic in terms of chordal root movement and
substitution in a tonal jazz context. He achieved this by demonstrating how any chord, regardless of
quality (major, minor, augmented, diminished, or dominant), could be approached or left by a major
chord, dominant chord (and, ultimately, a chord of any quality) from either a semitone above
(Neapolitan Relationship), or a semitone below (Leading Tone Relationship) depending on local
melodic considerations for substitution and reharmonization purposes. His comments in his
Improvisation Thesaurus regarding Neapolitan relationships in particular advocate for the
“consideration” of “each note of the chromatic scale” as a tonic or Neapolitan chord 104 are similar
Schönberg’s consideration of Neapolitan chords as “quasi tonics”105 and his statement that “every
major triad can be interpreted as a Neapolitan sixth chord...” 106.

104 Sandole, Improvisation Thesaurus (unpublished) p.14.

105 Arnold Schoenberg and Roy Carter, Theory of Harmony (University of California Press 1992) 275.
106 Ibid, pg. 376.

John Coltrane’s Use of Pitch Class Sets in “Ogunde”

Within John Coltrane’s improvised solo on the piece “Ogunde” from his last album Expression
released in 1967, we can observe his use of smaller units to create lines that imply “pantonality” within
the context of a static harmonic environment, in this instance a Db pedal tone. Coltrane’s playing style
from this period demonstrates his desire to utilise the complete chromatic in an organised and
systematic way. His practice in “Ogunde” suggests that his chosen way of doing so is by the free use
of segments such as trichords, tetrachords, pentachords, and hexachords.

My analysis (Example 37) uses Miles Okazaki’s transcription107 and is derived from the third through,
sixth and penultimate lines of the transcription. In a relatively short span of musical space, each of
these passages which consist of a variety of partitioned units at different pitch levels, either almost or
completely achieves chromatic completion.

Both Okazaki and Voss 108 provide a thorough analysis of this music from a scalar and tonal area
perspective. My analysis will use a set theory approach to illustrate Coltrane’s consistent use of small
units of the types discussed throughout this paper.

107 Miles Okazaki, ‘Transcriptions-John Coltrane “Ogunde”’ ( <>

accessed 22 September 2014.
108 Dan Voss, ‘Problems of Harmonic Interpretation in Late Coltrane’’ (Dan Voss Music)
<> accessed 18 August 2014.

Ex. 37 John Coltrane: “Ogunde” (from Expression, New York, N.Y.: Impulse!,1967) Improvised Tenor
Saxophone: approx. 0:38-0:55

Ibid: Tetrachordal Analysis-2nd to last line:

In the first passage, the inversion of the all-interval tetrachord {0,2,5,6} is used twice followed by its
normal form {0,1,4,6}. All of the segments used in this first phrase are subsets of an octatonic
collection {0,2,3,5,6,8,9,e} with the last {0,2,5,6,9} being a close subset of Schönberg’s “signature
hexachord”109 {0,1,2,5,6,9}. A total of nine discrete tones are sounded in the first passage.

The second passage begins at the end of the second line with a whole-tone tetrachord {0,2,4,6},
followed by a pentatonic collection {0,3,5,8}, the trichord {0,2,4}, the all-combinatorial chromatic
hexachord {0,1,2,3,4,5}, and two short trichords consisting of an Eb Minor triad and again {0,2,4}
which constitutes the entire chromatic collection in a very short amount of musical space. Coltrane’s
employment of the chromatic hexachord is of special note as his statement of trichords E, Eb, Gb
followed by Ab, G, F suggest the premeditated approach of a performer aware of octave division and
hexachordal techniques.

The third passage includes also segments common in Schönberg’s and Sandole’s practice such as
the tetrachords {0,1,2,5}, {0,2,3,4}, trichord {0,6,7}, and the semi-combinatorial hexachord
{0,2,3,4,5,6} employed by Schönberg in the Suite for Piano Op. 25 110. This passage contains eleven
discreet tones missing only an Eb.

The fourth passage contains a very rapid statement of eleven discrete tones over four beats of music,
the only missing tone being E natural. The line includes a short quartal passage {0,2,7} and the
{0,2,3,4} tetrachord found frequently in Schönberg’s Op. 11 No. 1 and in Sandole’s tetrachordal

The last line which comes from the second to last passage in Coltrane’s solo is another example of
chromatic completion in a very short amount of time again using the all-interval tetrachord {0,1,4,6}
and finishing with the semi-combinatorial hexachordal phrase {0,2,4,6,7,t).

In his later work, Coltrane utilised smaller units or pitch sets to improvise phrases that exploit the
totality of the complete chromatic relatively quickly. Just as Schönberg’s use of tetrachords is
noticeable in creating distinct tonal and motivic areas 111, Sandole’s and Coltrane’s use of them does
essentially the same thing, creating unlimited ways of projecting and manipulating the entire
chromatic quickly and effectively as a jazz improviser within tonal and non-tonal contexts.

109 Allen Forte, ‘Schoenberg’s Creative Evolution: The Path to Atonality’ (1978) LXIV The Musical Quarterly 135.
110 Von Hippel, Row Forms.
111 Alexander Fedyushkin, ‘The Analysis of Schoenberg’s Gavotte Op. 25’ [2009] unpublished 9–10
<> accessed 18 August 2014.


It might be said that as Arnold Schönberg “worked with tones”112, Dennis Sandole and John Coltrane,
through their works advocated and practiced “improvising with tones”. This paper concludes that
Schönberg’s practice of utilising partitioned segments in a serial and non-serial context, his use of
specific set collections and hexachords, major third/interval cycle 4 relationships, and his consistent
employment of the total chromatic within a relatively small musical space have clearly influenced
Modern Avant-Garde Jazz practice.

Dennis Sandole’s pedagogical literature utilises these devices for improvisational material, the
construction and use of unique sets of twelve notes and more, octave avoidance, the use of all
intervallic root movement cycles for improvisation and chord substitution, major third interval cycles for
root motion and set structure, and the use of the complete chromatic within a relatively short musical
space for jazz improvisation and composition. Philosophically, Sandole’s practice of using any and all
combinations of added tones or altered or foreign tones with any chordal type is a jazz pedagogical
manifestation of Schönberg’s assertion in his Theory of Harmony that there are no non-harmonic
tones in relation to chordal structures113.

John Coltrane has put these concepts into practice as a jazz improviser and composer by
manipulating partitioned segments, interval cycles, and the complete chromatic masterfully as no jazz
musician had before him, creating a unique and profoundly brilliant jazz vocabulary that has shaped
the modern jazz language permanently, influencing untold numbers of musicians, composers, and
arrangers in many musical genres. The chart below summarises this:

Schönberg Sandole Coltrane

Inventor and Practitioner of Composer/Jazz Jazz Practitioner
composing with segments Pedagogue/Practitioner Composed and Improvised
and partitioned whose pedagogical with segments, partitioned
aggregates114, innovator in literature advocated aggregates, and interval
the use of interval cycles composing and improvising cycles (major third/interval
(major third/interval class with segments, partitioned class 4 as a defining
4) aggregates and interval compositional and
cycles (major third/interval improvisational vocabulary)
class 4)

112 Schoenberg et al, Style & Idea, p.89.

113 Schoenberg, Theory of Harmony, p.309.
114 Joseph Straus, Twelve-Tone Music in America (Cambridge University Press 2009) p.50.

The unique genius of Arnold Schönberg has greatly influenced modern jazz pedagogy and practice
and will probably continue to do so. Its influence on Dennis Sandole and John Coltrane’s work has
played a large part in defining the sound and vocabulary of modern jazz as we know it.

Thomas Scott McGill © 2016

Hove, United Kingdom, 12.9.14
Revised 17.7.16