See how this accentuates the letter S? The final table in Step 4
features new letters Q I W K Y U G C A which weren't in the original, but the
letter S dominates the table. If you were to attempt to pronounce the
4-letter words listed in Step 4, you'd start each with an "ess" sound. That
sound is the "tonal center" in Stravinsky's technique. This is a gross simplification,
of course, but illuminating nonetheless.
In our example below, notice how the cellos in the Prelude from the 1966 Requiem Canticles start and end the movement on F -- a sure sign that
that note is more-than-usually important. It's a tonal center.
Here's the series:
That starting F is important as a pitch, but the rest of the notes are more important
for the intervals they form with their neighbors. In Stravinsky's serial works, intervals and tonal centers constitute the music's basic materials.
As an example, let's look now towards the end of the series at the pitches G#-F#-E:
Those three pitches are less important than the two descending major seconds they form. Intervals survive transposition intact, where pitches
by definition do not. In traditional tonal music, the pitches are important, the intervals less so. Serial music reverses this.
Now let's take the series and generate one of the serial tables. A serial table is a series translated repeatedly to
form a grid. The tones specified within the grid are the basic "building blocks" of the work, which often moves freely between the