Definition of twelve-note in English:


(also twelve-tone)


  • Denoting a system of musical composition using the twelve chromatic notes of the octave on an equal basis without dependence on a key system. Developed by Arnold Schoenberg, the technique is central to serialism and involves the transposition and inversion of a fixed sequence of pitches.

    • ‘I could move toward total serialization, or I could move toward some reunderstanding of the chromatic situation in twelve-tone music.’
    • ‘Inversion of a row or series of notes is fundamental to twelve-note, or serial, music.’
    • ‘He had met Arnold Schoenberg, who became his teacher, in the fall of 1904, but they had not yet begun to work out the twelve-tone system.’
    • ‘Out of this dialectical imitation, this not wholly fictive dialogue, Schoenberg's twelve-tone sonata locates itself in the German tradition, which is made to anticipate and authorize his development of that tradition.’
    • ‘The Schoenbergians and Webernistes didn't fit him all that well (his own twelve-tone music derived from Stravinsky and Copland).’