We can say that traditional music theory’s history lesson has given us a blueprint to create melodies and indeed it has but that theory that we extract from the millions of melodies already written is that of imitation. If we could extract the theories of the past and present to see new ways to forge the future. This is what Schillinger did and left for us to test.
Schillinger’s approach is scientific. Music is broken down to the common denominators, Rhythm, the fastest duration, scales and harmony, the interval. (Schillinger’s theory is transferable to any temperament). This gives a visual approach to analysis not only are his hypothesis analyzable but also your own can be developed.
Here is a simple practical example: Say you have created a phrase or melody by intuition and you are looking for some ideas of where it may take you. Doing some simple inversions or retrograde or both give you some options. Along with permutations of phrases, expansions of scales etc.. Now it is still the artist’s choices that we hear and not what everyone would create using Schillinger’s system.
“Let this system be put to a real test. Let it penetrate into all fields of knowledge, education and production for at least the next generation, and then have the judgement passed upon it. The risk is negligible and the dividends too great to neglect.”
February 27, 1942 Joseph Schillinger
Though Schillinger’s theories have taken some detours along the way there are still many of us taking up his challenge.