Music Quest – The Schoenberg

ShePatch, Vanessa Cuccia

The Schoenberg Method of composing music never gained any real popularity.  When I’ve played this style for my students, their responses are filled with words like scary, sad, weird, and crazy.  Maybe it’s because they are so young that they didn’t have my reaction when I first heard this kind of music, one summer during college. That summer I met a director and musician named Carlo Altomare, who introduced me to this method, also known as the twelve-tone technique. Action Painting – Naoki Iwakawa – Carlo Altomare – Excavation 1C – Theaterlab The twelve-tone technique is also known as the Schoenberg method because it was developed by Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951).  Schoenberg was the first modern composer to embrace ways of developing motifs without resorting to the dominance of a centralized melodic idea.

Hold Me Loosely She-Patch

[audio:|titles=Hold Me Loosely She-Patch]

When my director first played one of his compositions for me using this method, I didn’t feel sad or scared like my students felt. I felt moved, inspired, and awakened to something new.  I had always thought that there was only one way to go about writing music. It is generally understood that to make a cohesive piece of music, you stick to playing in a key. A key is the central tone or harmonic center in a musical composition. When a song ends, it usually resolves to that central tone to give the listener a satisfying feeling.

Hearing this music gave me a whole new perspective, not just on writing music but on life as well.  It may be because I have an innate desire to live in full expression that this type of music resonates with me so well.  I’ve had many different jobs – not wanting to be constricted to any one title in my life.  I’ve been: a pizza delivery girl, an executive assistant for the CEO of a corporation, a sales-girl, and most recently, I’ve worked at a sex toy shop, music school, and as a fairy putting on tea parties for children. I have learned that I take jobs to learn something from them – I was intimidated by office jobs, so I got a job at a company.  When I learned I could be an executive assistant with ease, it was time for me to move on. When I felt like I had some hang-ups about sex, I took a job at a sex-toy store.  I put myself around people who had such open minds about sex that I learned a great deal from simply being in that environment.  Looking at my résumé, someone may think that I’m a chaotic person and a little bit discombobulated, but I now like to think that I’m going about my life as if it were a Schoenberg composition.

Each one of us encompasses every personality trait, but we choose to access some more than others.  To truly understand ourselves, we have to learn a little lesson from Schoenberg.  I found that I can use this method to help write music.   Sometimes I sit at my piano and play get lost in all the twelve tones. I lose all sense of music theory and just wildly strike notes on the piano until I strike a chord that strikes a chord within me. I then use that chord to inspire a new song.  A great deal of the music that grabs me is played in a minor key, a “sad” key. But no matter how much dissonance or  how many “sad” chords a song has, music has never depressed me.  Many of my songs have that bit of sadness in it.  I’ve never really been afraid of the dark – it’s just another part of me.  When we are experiencing pain, jealousy or any other kind of “ugly” emotion, putting those feelings into art form transforms them into beauty – and then it all becomes worth while, filling me with purpose and meaning. As I’m writing this, I realize that we also need not be afraid of our light, which is also possible. Playing around with the twelve tone technique requires that you hit some major chords or, “happier” chords as well.

It may be scary, sad, weird and crazy, but it is possible to utilize all parts of ourselves and still be cohesive human beings.

I lose all sense of music theory and just wildly strike notes on the piano until I strike a chord that strikes a chord within me.

I lose all sense of music theory and just wildly strike notes on the piano until I strike a chord that strikes a chord within me.

To wrap up, I would like to say thank you everyone for reading, contributing, listening and commenting.  Thanks to your responses, we will soon have a music forum for musical discussion and sharing, and my first collaborations are in the works – I’m very excited!!  Here is another melody of ShePatch, “Hold Me Loosely.”

Melodies of ShePatch – Hold Me Loosely

Download and original recording @Melodies of ShePatch – Hold Me Loosely

Love and gratitude.


If you would like to get involved with Music Quest, email [email protected]


8 thoughts on “Music Quest – The Schoenberg”

  1. I don’t know what it is about your music, but I feel a deep connection to it. The sound is distant, yet the resonance is intimate. It really makes me wonder why popular music is so shallow in contrast. Like, why doesn’t beautiful music like this get played on the radio?

    Anyways, that twelve-tone composition that you linked freaked me out quite a bit. All the same, that sense of chaos was an exciting experience, and I suppose that’s how you feel with that sort of a lifestyle. I’m actually kind of jealous. Right now, I’m going through my last year of high school, and things are and have been feeling pretty regimented in my lifestyle. I feel as though breaking out of my current lifestyle would forsake future prospects. I have plans that both benefit me, and limit me at the same time. I don’t know if it would be worth breaking out of it just to acquire new experiences. Despite all that, I feel almost blessed with what I have lived through thus far, many experiences I could only describe as magical. I’m just apprehensive towards the thought of adulthood, and all the responsibilities I will soon be forced to adhere to. How did you handle all those transitions? I’m still just bracing for the one.

  2. She-Patch, this song is even more amazing than your last cut. I especially appreciate how you show the symbiosis of how you compose your music and your life with the same intention to harmonize.
    I especially like that you free yourself and encourage the audience free themselves from judging their emotions, themselves or the music but make it a journey of discovery instead. This is most excellent! I will be sure to share.
    Love and Light Love Goddess! <3

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