Is There a New Tonality?

Christopher Fox, whom Clark writes about in his article.

Is There a New Tonality?

Philip Clark, writing in Gramophone magazine, looks at the idea of a new tonality in contemporary composition. ‘A composer with a love of sound and a flare for the heuristic? There’s the future of tonality,’ he writes. Composers today need to rebuild tonality for themselves, he says, not just revive it in a historical form:

…composers circa 2012 need to roll all those existing critiques of tonality into a tonality that is about tonality and its history; a tonality that looks beyond tonality, a Meta-Tonality that can be raw and demonstrative, that has scope to be filtered and sieved through processes that reveal its inner mechanics…. We need to be open to hearing this new tonality. It isn’t going to sound like the old tonality, and that’s fine – too much whining about new music is based on little more than ‘it doesn’t resemble the music I already like’. As mainstream pop, and what continues to pass for ‘New Music’, uses less tonality more cynically, there’s space for a new breed of composer interested in using more tonality, more pointedly to fill that gaping vacuum. Composers today are repeatedly pounced on because – allegedly – they lack relevance to the wider world. And thus a new, noble cause is born – creating an expressively pungent, provocative, culturally subversive tonality that rubs lamestream noses in their own mediocrity. Does that aspiration strike a chord?

Published on 5 November 2012

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