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In music, a pensato is a composed imaginary note, a written note which is not played or heard.

Anton Webern is credited by some with the first use of pensatos, while others argue he did not use them at all. George Perle (1990), noting that, "no composer has ever been more concrete, explicit, detailed, and subtle in his notation," argues that if Webern did use a pensato, it would have been a pitch, "with all the attributes that give a note actuality: pitch, duration, mode of attack and release, timbre, intensity," and not a pitch class. He also points to a "verifiable pensato" in the last bar of Alban Berg's Lyric Suite: "The instruments drop out one by one, the four parts converging into a single line that continues into an ostinato on the last two notes of the derived series and becomes inaudible on the penultimate note of the series, seemingly continuing into the silence beyond." (Perle, 1985)

See also


  • Perle, George (1990). The Listening Composer California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06991-9.
  • Perle, George (1985). The Operas of Alban Berg. Vol. 2: Lulu, p. 14. California: University of California Press.

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