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2/13: Atonality

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End of the Line: Atonality

Equal Temperament is fake and worse!  — Lou Harrison

In this chapter I return to the Western classical tradition and talk about how the 12-eq tuning system ultimately limited the harmonic territory that tonal composers could traverse. Eventually, twentieth century composers abandoned the idea of a tonal center altogether. Arnold Schoenberg had been exposed to 53-equal tuning but instead chose his dodecaphonic (12-tone) system, which has been soundly rejected by five generations of listeners and has now been at least partially abandoned by contemporary composers. In this chapter I talk about how atonality is indeed the “end of the line.” We have now moved so far away from the natural harmonics that guided the ancients that music sounds more like noise to most ears.

If you would like to learn more about this chapter, “End of the Line: Atonality,” you can buy the entire book, The Grand Unified Theory of Music, in pdf form and on a complete website for $25 with hundreds of embedded musical examples. You can also explore this website to learn about the many musical traditions that are covered in this Grand Unified Theory.

A free introduction to what The Grand Unified Theory of Music offers is on this website and includes both text and a few musical examples from each webpage. If you would like to learn more about this chapter and the full contents of this entire e-book, you can buy The Grand Unified Theory of Music for $25, with hundreds of embedded musical examples of scales and chords from all over the world — and ideas for how to set up your computer system —


You’ll get a personalized password you can use to see the entire e-book. Inside the full book, you will also get a link to the complete pdf file of this e-book, which you can read on your Kindle or similar device. The links to the hundreds of mp3 sound files – the same ones you can hear on the website — will also be included. This is “Version 1.0” of The Grand Unified Theory of Music. Because it is an e-book, additions, corrections and improvements in the sound may be added at any time. The Grand Unified Theory of Music is Copyright © 2018 by Christopher Mohr. All rights reserved.

One person per password. Sharing this password with others is a violation of copyright. Do not allow others to use your password or link to the pdf file!

Next Page: 2/14 – Modern Explorations