HANS HEINZ DRAGER
WHEN JAQUES HANDSCHIN, in his book entitled The Character of Tone (Der Toncharakter; Zürich, 1948), distinguished between "central" and "Peripheral" tonal properties, he furnished a key concept to the psychology of tone and music.1 His central properties are pitch and "tonal character" (by the latter he means "the systemic being of the tone," "its essentially musical being"), and his peripheral properties, duration, intensity, and timbre.
This distinction implies an evaluation in the spirit of the old "musica," hence a perfectly justifiable groundwork for occidental musical conception. It should be noted, however, that musically central and musically peripheral do not necessarily mean primary and secondary in respect to the technique of composition. When Schönberg, in the third of his Five Orchestral Pieces, opus 16, introduces a constant chord with ever-changing instrumentation, the musically peripheral property of timbre has become primary as a means of expression. Something analogous is found in Alban Berg's "Wozzek," where all the instruments, entering successively in a crescendo, sustain the same tone.____________________