UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparison of certain aspects of the theories of Paul Hindemith and Franz Alfons Wolpert Watt, William James


Two twentieth-century music theorists, Paul Hindemith and Franz Alfons Wolpert, are unique in having independently developed their own systems of chord classification and principles of chord movement or succession. While Hindemith’s ideas on these subjects are familiar among the majority of music theorists, Wolpert’s theories remain relatively unknown. It was decided that since both men had attempted similar tasks at similar points in time, that a comparison of both theorists' ideas should be attempted. Therefore, both Hindemith's and Wolpert's systems of chord classification and chord connection were discussed in detail to attempt to determine the rationale behind each theorist's approach. Firstly, both systems of chord classification were examined and compared. It was found that although there were many differences between Hindemith’s and Wolpert's systems of chord grouping, both succeeded, each in his own way, in arranging all possible combinations of pitches within the twelve-note division of the octave. Similarly, each theorist's ideas concerning chord movement were investigated. While it was reaffirmed that Hindemith's system rested on concepts which he invented and developed such as "degree progression" and "harmonic fluctuation," it was discovered that Wolpert’s system of chord movement was more traditionally oriented, and yet adhered to some rather disturbing notions about the desirability of certain kinds of voice-leading, e.g., "adhesion," "diversion," etc. Furthermore, while Hindemith had strong ideas about the necessity of tonal organization, it was found that Wolpert saw his system as valid for both tonal and atonal frames of reference. Finally, it was recognized that Hindemith's theories contained a unity and cohesiveness through the extension of his system of chord connection to include his system of chord classification so that the way chords were classified influenced how they were treated in chord progressions. With Wolpert, however, there is no attempt to unify both systems and therefore his ideas about chord movement are completely divorced from his system of chordal groupings

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.