Scalar Interaction and Its Relationship to Form in Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68 (Black Mass)

Alec Wood, Grinnell College

Some studies from the 90s identified aspects of scalar interaction in Alexander Scriabin's late piano music (1911-1915) from a transformative theoretic approach (Callender 1998, Bass 1994). More recent work on this repertoire has focused on the formal implications of invariant transposition schemes, octatonic complementation, and aggregate completion. (de M├ędicis 2009, Smith 2011). These studies, however, have not assessed the formal role of these phenomena throughout an entire extended work. This paper synthesizes analytical tools derived from these two bodies of literature in a formal analysis of Scriabin's Piano Sonata No. 9, Op. 68. I argue that, in the Ninth Sonata, 6-35 and 8-28 interact at both the micro and macro levels through various intermediary pitch collections, including 8-28, 8-27, 8-25, 7-31, 7-34 and 6-35. I extend Callender's formalization of voice-leading relationships between these pitch collections to demonstrate some aspects of how Scriabin adapts sonata form to his post-tonal harmonic language.