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Motivic/thematic development in the piano works of Alexander Scriabin


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Candy, Phillipa 1984 , 'Motivic/thematic development in the piano works of Alexander Scriabin', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Scriabin is important as a key representative of one particular
culmination point in tonal expansion. Although he was one of the first
composers of the twentieth century to free tonal relationships between
chords and scales, his "system" nevertheless developed out of extending.
the traditional parameters functioning and governing harmony and melody.
The system he formulated involved compression of harmony and melody to
a single entity. As his code evolved, his compositional style gradually
altered to 'accommodate increasing experimentation and subsequent mastery
of the melodic and harmonic parameters.
The direct result is that the motivic and thematic elements within
his compositional style whether they be related to melody, harmony, or
rhythm, are subjugated to a strict disciplinary method of control. Further,
this control, of two former parameters by -a single"all-encompassing"
replacement resulted in an increasingly, independent and distinct role of
the-rhythmic parameter.
The materials Scriabin used to develop his ideas were the traditional
forms and constructional techniques employing the nineteenth-century harmonic
language. Major, minor, augmented and diminished chords, all forms of
sevenths; ninths, elevenths and thirteenths, chromatic harmony such as
Neapolitan and augmented sixths, were just some of the harmonic elements
that Scriabin could manipulate. Constructional techniques such as
augmentation, diminution, retrograde, inversion, and canon were employed.
The trend towards formerly dissonant chords being accorded consonant status
by reasons of their regularity and usage was furthered by Scriabin. All
in all, his (later) compositions were logical extensions of his exploitation
and expansion of traditional nineteenth-century compositional procedures.
As a result, discussion of his harmonic system, is of paramount
importance to the analysis. Two distinguished Russian theorists, Boleslav Yavorsky and Uarvara Dernova were responsible for codifying Scriabin's language. - The starting point taken is
from Scriabin's own words.:
"'I write in strict style .... There's nothing by accident ...
I write according to definite principle", 1
and :
'Melody' is harmony unfurled ... Harmony. is furled melody. ' " 2
The works discussed represent each compositional "period", The-early
Preludes Op.11 number's 1-6, surrender to raditional harmonic analysis. Two
middle period or pivotal works -, the Scriabin Sonata No.5, Op.53, and
"Nuances" Op,56 No.2 are highly experimental and undergo what is possible,
though incomplete in any single facet in traditional harmonic and melodic,
reduction analysis and Dernova systems of reference. Lastly, the Sonata
No-.9, Op.68 - succumbs to the Dernova code.
This thesis has been divided into two main areas: that of background,
and that of analysis.
As Scriabin placed importance on the notion that melody and harmony
were different perspectives of a single parameter in time, then the analytical
methods which exploit the relationship between harmony and melody should

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Candy, Phillipa
Keywords: Scriabin, Aleksandr Nikolayevich, 1872-1915
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1984 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Mus.)--University of Tasmania, 1986. Bibliography: l. 162-164

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