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Ed Driscoll pointed this out. It’s the title and end-credits music from the original Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three, and it’s an example of Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique.  This is sometimes called serialism but the serialists do lots of other weird stuff that I don’t hear in this.

Schoenberg’s idea was to get away from the usual notions of Western music. Instead of picking a tonal chord and all, you take any chromatic scale, and pick one of the 12! (479,001,600) permutations of the 12 tones in that chromatic scale, and base the music on that, applying mathematical operations on that sequence (which is called a tone-row) to built the music.

A lot of times, that just doesn’t work, because what a lot of serialists are trying to do is break away from the constraints of music. The result is a bunch of noises that just don’t work very well as music.

Sometimes it does.

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