Babbitt "All Set"07:54

Babbitt "All Set"

All Set, for jazz ensemble, is a 1957 composition for small jazz band.  The title is a pun referring to the all-combinatorial twelve-tone series Babbitt used in composing the work.  


The piece is divided into three sections and a short coda at the end. Each section is announced by a statement of the pitch series used as the basis of the work. In this work, Babbitt introduces his idea of time points as an analogue to the twelve-tone pitch classes. There is no steady beat from either the drums or bass, so the effect produced is one of persistent and rather nervous activity, with only occasional relief.  


The lyrical, imagist tendencies of Babbitt's earlier vocal works are also evident in All Set. The use of percussion and other jazz-like qualities like the Chicago juxtaposition of solos and ensembles recall certain characteristics of group improvisation.  Babbitt's fusion of jazz and serialism is unique and shows his flexibility of procedures.


I chose this piece because I did not know much about it, but I was hoping it would be an example of serialism that falls easy on the ears, since it is written for jazz ensemble.  While it does sound like jazz, the serialism does not fade from perceptible influences.  Regardless, Babbitt's introduction of a different rhythmic serialism is quite effective, and leaves the listener wanting to know more about the piece.


Barkin, Elaine and Brody, Martin. "Babbitt, Milton." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed May 2, 2014,

"Milton Babbitt: All Set (1957)". website. Accessed May 2, 2014.

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