All Time Greatest Hits of the Twelve Tone Masters!

A very wise, oft-quoted fellow named Joel Hodgson once said “we never ask, will anyone get this? We just assume the right people will get it.” On that note, without further explication, here’s the infamous “Twelve Tone Commercial” raillery (recorded back in 1977 by some super-awesomely eggheaded musicians) more recently set to an inspired collection of moving pictures by some wacky genius who may or may not reside in Austria:

The audio on this was recorded 40 years ago by Robert Conrad, founder of WCLV classical radio. A prolific American conductor named Kenneth Jean produced it, and revered Swiss composer/conductor Matthias Bamert is said to have had a hand in it as well. Bless ’em all.

To anyone peeing their pants and rolling on the floor laughing right now: you are officially the nerdiest music nerd that ever nerded from Serial Composition class.

High fives.

12 Responses to “All Time Greatest Hits of the Twelve Tone Masters!”

  1. Jamie Says:

    Hilarious… I love the Klangfarbenmelodie bit. That whole piece is just one pitch with different instruments fading in and out. I think it’s a G. =P Thanks for sharing, I’m going to pimp this to my fellow music students. :D

  2. Ben Morris Says:

    I am sitting here with a giant goofy grin on my face after watching that. I love it when obscure humor is done that well.

    I really really love the music of Alban Berg. Webern and Schoenberg both did interesting music as well, but nothing that grabs me like Berg’s Lyric Suite or Wozzeck.

  3. Mer Says:

    SO well done. The fact that they managed to work a clip from “They Live” into it just about gave me an aortic aneurysm.

  4. SomeoneOutThere Says:

    Still smiling and laughing!
    Pretty well done, this is definately getting on the ‘late friday mailout’, so people have something to enjoy monday morning… :D

  5. bleen Says:

    ah, brings back many memories of my schoenberg class with elie yarden…

  6. Unwoman Says:

    This is great, the video is hilarious. HOWEVER, my music theory nerd self can’t not mention that over half of the pieces given as examples here are not 12-tone. They are merely atonal.

  7. James Shearhart Says:

    Hi-larious. The appearance of Stravinsky made me wanna riot and set fire to things, and then stab Erik Satie with a hat pin….

  8. andy r. Says:

    i;m not much of a music nerd. but i still thought it was pretty funny.

  9. Mer Says:

    (Oops. That clip I was thinking of is not from “They Live” after all. Must have had the aneurysm beforehand.)

    Unwoman: I don’t think they’re trying to imply that everything in the commercial is dodecaphonic, just that all of the composers featured are from the Second Viennese School. :)

    Andy, yeah, you’re right…it’s funny anyway. But you can pick out the students of serialism because they’re hyperventilating as opposed to chuckling.

    James, the Stravinsky gunman bit was my favorite part, I think.

  10. elise wilson Says:

    Unwoman!! I was just listening to one of your songs in the car this morning, and then I see you on this site! What a coincidence. I am a big fan.

    Mer, thank you so much for posting this, it made my morning. Even though I know nothing about music theory, it still made me LOL.

    I wonder if Robert Conrad has seen this YouTube video? His email address is on that site… someone ought to send it to him!

  11. Elise Says:

    Oh man. Klangfarbenmelodie.

    Last time I heard this was during the drop-the-needle section of my Music History II final test. We were so incredibly stressed out, racking our brains to remember every measure of every piece in the NAWM*, just waiting to have some obscure Mendelssohn piece dropped on us…

    …and then there was this long, drawn-out note. And it just kept going. And then everybody in the class just died laughing. A few of us actually cried.

    Stupid, I know, but it’s always the worst part of the test and we studied so hard.

    *Norton Anthology of Western Music. NOT a sound made by lolcats while eating.

  12. Infamous Amos Says:

    Your eyes do not decieve you, Mer. At 2:15, that is indeed They Live.

    I know a Rowdy Roddy Piper right hook when I see one.