Daniele Gugelmo Dias, Ms

Assistant Professor - School of Music- University of Rio Grande do Norte/Brasil

PhD Student – State University of Campinas (Unicamp) - Núcleo Interdisciplinar de Comunicação Sonora /Brasil

Guest PhD Student - Politecnico di Milano/ Italy

email: daniele@nics.unicamp.br





The proposal of this study, developed at the Generative Design Lab, Politecnico Milano, is to take contact with a multidisciplinary approach to produce an artistic work. We started with a thought about the problem of the tonality disintegration in the XX Century Music, taking the atonalism in Schoenberg as a theoretical reference. Conscious of the influence that arts and medium can exert one to another, we begun our investigation about sounds, images and words. This research considers experimentation and creation like a way to make art.






When I did the biographic research about Schoenberg I realized the rapport between him and Kandinsky, father of abstractionism. This opened a way to reflect the possible parallelism between atonalism and abstractionism.

Both, Schoenberg and Kandinsky, coming from the tradition, the first with the tonalism and the second with the figurative art, slowly disintegrated it. [1] It can be observed there were a lot of common points in their productions. It can be seen the similarities in their ideas, spiritualism, attitude and cultural interests but each one made always his own way, each one produced his own work. They didn’t make music translated in paint or paint translated in music.

“Their attitude was more ‘religious’, they believed in ‘another’ world that could be viewed in the art, above of form there are the contents, the intimate essence of chooses above extern aspect, emancipate of dissonance of notes from traditional harmony like of colours.[2]

The meeting of their bright minds was a great inspiration to our work.

We studied compared trajectory about Schoenberg and Kandinsky to trace a profile of the musical and painting art of the beginning of the XX Century. In this comparison, like Hahl-Koch [3] shows, we could observe that both had more or less at the same time common interests and productions. They had interests for music, painting, theatre and let a lot of letters and writes about their thought.

Since the beginning of XX Century it’s possible  to see the parallelism betweem their works, but they had not yet had a meeting. The first meeting between Kandinsky and Schoenberg was in 1911 and until 1914 they had a friendship documented in letters and family encounters. From 1914 to 1921 they had any contact. Both had spiritual artistic affinities.

Kandinsky was 8 years older than Schoenberg, he begun to paint after 30, but his artistic evolution ocurred in the same time with those of Schoenberg. They received public reconnaissance always contemporary, but in parallels ways. This evidence is so surprisingly that one could think that one influenced the other. But this affirmation is wrong because before 1911 one didn’t know anything about the other, and from 1914-1921 they didn’t have any contact. In table 1 we compare some points of their trajectories, to demonstrate the similarities:


Table 1Comparison between Schoenberg and Kandinsky chronology.



Arnold Schoenberg

(Vienn – 1874/Los Angeles-1951)

Wassily Kandinsky




When he was child studied music (piano and violoncello).



Begin studies of painting


Verklart Nächt, op. 4 (theme: pair of lovers)



Pelleas und Melisande


Gurrelieder (1900 and 1911)

Natural language, fable, legend, pair of lovers, folk motives:

L’Addio” 1903

Il suonatore gusli” 1907

Notte di Luna” 1907


Search of new expressive way:

  • Reduction of composition duration;
  • Condensation of expression;
  • Renunciation of repetizione, until the variations;
  • Change the harmonic movement from 3 th to 4th;
  • Enlarge gradually the limit of tonality, surpass the basic tonality, after the tonal island, arrive the atonality.

String Quartet, op. 10 (1907-8) - crescent atonalism

“Autum in Bavaria” (1908)

Castlel Garden” 1908

Summer landscape” 1909

Church of Murnau” 1908-09


Schoenberg painter: realized the major part of his painting (70 oils, 160 acquarello and drawing)



Klavierstucke, op 11 (1909) – higher point of atonalism

Begin his first ‘Scenic Composition’


His first exposition like painter.

Colours, op. 16, one of 5 pieces for orchestra (anticipation of compositions based on Klangfarbenmelodie)

The first Acquarello abstracte.

Finish The Spiritual in the Art

Improvisation VII (1910)


Finish Harmonielehre




In Berlin – Exposition organized by Kandinsky with 4 painting of Schoenberg.


Pierrot Lunaire

First personal exposition


Gurrelieder first performance at Vienn

Publication of: Kandinsky 1903-1913

Composition VII (1913)

Poem: “Klange” (Sounds)



Music compositions to Scenic Composition


Op. 25, Suite for Piano, first time to use the dodecafon system;

  • Principle of non-repeatable notes.

In Russia in the same year his pictoric language shows geometric forms with more rigorous



Professor in Bauhaus

New style, reduction of fundamentals form and primary colours.

  • Use colours with a serial though.


Professor of composition (Akademia der Kunste – Berlin)



Immigration to New York

Change to Neuilly-sur-Seine



2. Analyse of «Verklart Nächt», op. 4

With the goal to study to create an artistic work we decided to decode Schoenberg. Firstly we broached his atonality like a poetic. To know how a musical system transforms itself we decided to analyse a Schoenberg’s composition. We listened to some Schoenberg’s compositions [4] and we decided to begin the study of “Verklärt Nacht”, op. 4 [5], because it:

a)belongs to the first creative period of Schoenberg – a romantic period.

b)has a significant way to deconstruction the tonality, it has points of very clear tonality and points of undefined tonalities;

c)uses a poem (by Richard Dehmel: Transfigured Night) to conception and construction the music, without singing voices. There are two sections: in the first section a woman speaking, in the second a man.

We began to study the logics structures and transforming codes in Schoenberg. Many questions were posed, for example: There are transforming codes in music? Or there is a row of transforming codes? Which are they? How does one define it? Which would be the transforming codes of atonal music? Which would be the transforming codes in Schoenberg’s composition?

We made a general analyse that includes motifs, phrases, variations, sequences, harmony. We discovered a Golden Section (comp. 229) where Schoenberg worked with tonality and dialog among instruments.

Besides some questions we arrived to a model of system organization:


First Organization of Analyse






3.1. Cromaticism


In this way we considered the motifs like a code and its variations like a manner of transforming this code. Then, we begun to study the structures of this analyse, the structures of this system. We saw that was possible remark also ‘phrases’ in this analyse:

Second Organization of Analyse


2.Motifs: principal and secondary

3.Acompaniged Melody (with harmony)

4.Golden Section

5.The anacrus like principal motivic element

6.General structure


Finally we found an organization by an arrangement of the elements:

Third Organization of Analyse

Index of elements of analyse



3.Variazione (Sequence)

4.Harmony (Principal Tonalities)

5.Accompaniement structure


In this way we organized a Maximum System includes: form, harmony, melody, and a Minimum System that includes basically variations of phrases and motifs. Then, our operative hypothesis was the structure of motifs of «Verklärt Nacht».


Table 2 – The Maximum System of the piece



(Maximum System)


Derived of poem Richard Dehmel

2 distinct parts: the first there is an aspect closed and obscure; the second is opened and clear.

There are a Golden Section (comp. 259) characterized a tonal melody in dialog among different instruments.


Constructed by phrases, and these phrases are constructed by motifs. The motifs are very important to counterpoint, form lines, to development and variations.


Centralized in D Major and D minor. Large use of sequences, phrases and motifs also. Modulations and chromatist presents indicate a lot of regions without a specific tonality.


We arrived at a kind of cell of music that we named Minimum System. In this point we observed how maybe Schoenberg thought the development. He worked across the motifs and its variations to organize the plot of the piece.

The concept of motif is very important for Schoenberg and it is intrinsically linked to the concept of variation. Like he observes:

«A motif appears continuously in a composition: it is repeated. The simple repetition however produce monotony, this even can be avoided across variation»[6]

The study of variations is very reach and demonstrate how Schoenberg though and developed his music. He affirms that:

«The variation means change: but to change each element produces something stranger, incoherent and non logical, destruct the basic form of motif. Consequently, the variation require the change of some factors less important and the conservation of others more important. The preservation of rhythmic elements produces effectively, coherence (even so, the monotony can’t be avoided without little changes). The determination of elements more important depends on compositional objectives: through of substantially change it’s possible to produce a variety of motifs adaptable to each formal function.» [6]


In table 3 there are the variations that occur in Verklart Nacht:


Table 3. The variations of the piece «Verklärt Nacht»



(Minimum System)


Pitch (chromatist, diatonicism, Major and Minor tonalities, change of tonality)


Sense of phrase/motif




Rhythm (polyrhythm, dislocation of the rhythm)


Addition of notes, accomplish of space


Repetition, Sequences


Contrast between sections (counterpoint, bloc of chords, melody with accompaniment)


Timbre (pizzicato, string indication, harmonics, dynamic, instrumentation)


We founnd a total of 62 motifs and/or phrases, including some variations in our analyse. These elements were organised, divised, repeated, combined on 4 Principal Phrases, 4 complete melody, 13 Secondary Phrases, 39 Accompaniment Motifs, 14 Variations and 19 Sequences. These elements were organized in different manners and we also found a Golden Section (comp 259). Above in Image 1 we can see the first and second phrase on the score, and it following the Graphic 1 presents the general organization of the piece including the tonalities and Golden Section:



Figure 1 – Motif 1 and 2, measures 1-3.








Principal Phrase                                                                                                           Golden Section


    2                                                         25           29                         /   mel.           2ªmel.         40                                                                                                                                    3ª mel.             4ªmel.

1                                                                                                 229                                                                                                                             418




Secondary Phrase

 1       3              10          17       22               27           30                   /                                               42     44   45                                         55                  40     60 

1                                                                                                229                                             43                                                                             418




                                                                                                                                                                        29       53,54

  1           7,8,9       15  16   18,19, 20,21,23,24        28,10              32            / 34,35,36                  37,38              39  41  46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52                                                                           61,62

1                                                                                                       229                                                                                                                                   418




        4,5,6      11,12,13,14                                     26            31       /33                                                  41                     49, 41                 1    55

1                                                                                                     229                                                                                                                                                                                                418




         1   2      3                4                            5  6  7  8  9                   /    10      11                      12       13                     14                          15,16,17,18,19

1                                                                                               229                                                                                                                                  418





Dm                                          E                        Eb                           /D               F#                                                                             Db                        D

1                                                                                              229                                                                                                                                  418


Graphic 1Verklärt Nacht: Comparaison among Principal and Secondary Phrase, Accompaniment, Variation, Sequence, Tonalità and Golden Section.

3. Method of Creation


When we realize the interactive and multidisciplinary work of arts we must especially to realize an exchange of experiences and to learn with another languag. In this sense the process is very important to the final product because a new system emerges in function of the exchange of elements of different language.

The study related here was an introduction, an depart to make a performance that linked the work of images by Celestino Soddu, of words by Enrica Colabella and of sounds by Daniele Gugelmo.

We used the “Method of Three Adjectives” suggested by Professor Enrica Colabella. Therefore we heard and searched 3 adjectives to define this music of Schoenberg (Verklärt Nacht). This choice was subjective, arbitrary, but it had an close meaning with who chooses the words. The 3 adjective that I choose to speak about “Verklart Nächt” were:




            We made experimentations departing from elements that I met in the analyse of Schoenberg’s music. The motif and its variations were viewed like transforming codes and here beginning our work of experimentation and creation. The result is a work presented here (GA 2003) like a performance that shows music, poem and images.

            I would like to register that this paper is a kind of introduction to the practical work, a performance that was prepared. It is also a theoretic commentary about the artistic work developed and it can express or express for another medium the relation among painting, music and poem.

«Estágio» in English means «Training» and in italian «Tirocinio». These words mean a moment of learning and change of experiences. Learning and experiences among painting, music, and poem guided to Generative Art. Among theses theories and practices a crossing of countries, universities, knowledge and cultures.



[1]Leoni, A. http://filosofia.dipafilo.unimi.it/~chora/testi2/liberi4SCHOENBERGKANDINSKY.htm

[2] HAHL-KOCH, J. Arnold Schoenberg, Wassily Kandinsky, Musica e Pittura. SE SRL. Milano: 2002, (p. 209)

[3]_____________ op. Cit, (pp.243-246).

[4]Schoenberg, A. Die Gluckliche Hand

_______________Verklärte Nacht, op. 4

_______________Le Variazioni per Orchestra

_______________Erwartung, op. 17

_______________Pierrot Lunaire, op. 2

_______________Lied der Waldtaube

_______________Suite, op. 29

_______________I Tre pezzi

[5]____________A Verklärt Nacht, op. 4. Verlag Dreililien Berlin-Lichterfelde. (Richard Birnbach)

[6]__________ Fundamentos da Composição Musical. São Paulo. Edusp: 1991, p. 35

[7]__________ Op. Cit, p. 36

[8]Mazzotta ed. Wassily Kandinsky. Tradizione e astrazione in Russia (1896-1921). Milano: 2001.