Skip to main content

GCSE Music Analysis: "Peripetie" by Schoenberg

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg

Peripetie General Points

  • Composed by Arnold Schoenberg
  • 4th piece in a set of 5 orchestral pieces composed in 1909.
  • First performed in 1912.
  • Schoenberg was very important in the expressionist movement and was the pioneer of atonal music.


  • Performed by a large orchestra with all the sections.
  • Instrumentation changes rapidly throughout creating lots of contrasts in timbres.
  • Performers are required to play at extremes of ranges.
  • Use of unusual effects, such as the cymbals being played with a mallet and a cello bow.
  • 90 people are needed to perform the piece.


  • Made up of many short fragmented motifs combined in different ways to create interest.
  • Melodies are disjunct and often sound angular.
  • Octave displacement is used in the main melodies.

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • The metre changes between 3/4, 2/4 and 4/4.
  • The Tempo is 'Sehr Rasch' which means very fast.
  • The rhythms are complex and varied and change very quickly. In parts of the piece Schoenberg layers a number of different rhythmic patterns on top of each other to create a complex contrapuntal texture.

Tonality and Harmony

  • The piece is atonal (it has no key).
  • Uses lots of dissonant harmonies.
  • Chords and melodies are built up from hexachords (a group of 6 notes).

Texture and Dynamics

  • The piece has a largely contrapuntal texture but does have occasional homophonic moments.
  • Complex textures are built up through the use of imitation and inversion.
  • There are frequent and sudden changes in dynamics which leads to extremes in contrasts.


mab on April 02, 2020:

what instuments r used?

Ayyyyyye on October 07, 2019:

I don't see anything about structure...

Chris Crosby on December 19, 2018:

Thanks this tought me a thing or two!Working on a serialism death metal album ranging from total serialism to Jarzombek esque serialism fragmentation built off babbitt squares.Check out my band A Temporal Causality for some of that!

schernburgers on May 15, 2017:


Cameron on February 15, 2017:

I'm not going to lie you helped me complete 99.9% of my music Homework

sam on October 06, 2016:

thank is so good to use for my homework

Scroll to Continue

sam on September 23, 2016:

thank you soooooo much it was a big help for my homework

Emily (author) on October 18, 2015:

That's interesting, thanks for letting me know! Glad you find these hubs useful and good luck in all your exams!

BigMac on October 14, 2015:

Thank you so much for all of your GCSE music pages. They're just brilliant :) Also to add to this one, this probably applies to instruments mainly but 'Klangfarbenmelodie' is something to add. It's basically about timbre, literally translating into 'Colour-Sound Melody'. It's on wikipedia ;) Anyways thanks again for all your help!

Anon on September 27, 2015:

Wow this helps a lot thank you so much I will carry on checking this out and also Alex s. Thanks for help on structure you guys are amazing

anonymous on May 18, 2015:

this has really helped :)

SCP the legend on November 13, 2014:

thanks so much all your pages help for my exam

what's your real name?

Alex S. on June 01, 2014:

Oh, you missed out Structure! Luckily it's not hard. The piece is in FREE RONDO FORM for anyone who wanted to know. The basic structure is ABA1CA2, so the idea is that it starts with A, new idea, return to A and develop, new idea, return to A and develop and so on... Hope that helps a bit :)

Jack on May 30, 2014:

Thank you so much!

Bethan on April 07, 2013:

Ahhh that's fair enough, thanks anyway :)

Emily (author) on April 07, 2013:

It has been a year since I did my music exam so I don't know if I could remember enough to write a hub about extended writing. However I do remember my teacher telling me that because it's worth 10 marks, if you choose 2 points from each of the 5 topics - tonality, melody etc. then you should be fine!

Bethan on April 06, 2013:

Your GCSE music pages are proving very helpful for my extended writings and I was just wondering as an idea if you could do a hub on what to write for each section of an extended writing e.g what to write for tonality, instrumentation, melody etc. It would be very helpful!!

Emily (author) on January 27, 2013:

No problem!

James on January 27, 2013:

This was unbelievably hepful. Thankyou!

Related Articles