This talk addresses some lasting interpretative issues about the qualities of pitch space shaped by the use of extended chordal and layered structures in twentieth-century musical modernism. These pitch processes frequently use a wide-register range and give rise to complex harmonic processes, in which register relations do not easily conform to a single coherent pitch-space quality. A significant feature of the harmonic complexity is that register relations frequently undermine (partially or integrally) perfect-octave relations, and privilege instead altered-octaves. In this talk, I argue that the interpretation of these features calls into question the pertinence of the established (and practically undisputed) dichotomy between pitch and pitch-class properties. My argument is not to question these pitch and pitch-class as abstract theoretical entities, but rather to question the capacity of the dichotomy to appropriately serve as analytical frameworks for the modelling of pitch delineation processes, register relations, and the experience of the harmonic qualities of those spaces. Ultimately, I argue that such dichotomy hinders both the phenomenological experience of layered harmony, especially pertinent in instances of hybrid-space qualities, and a flexible theoretical framework for conceiving pitch-space relations in some of twentieth-century’s complex harmonies.

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