Scriabin’s Desir, Opus 57, No. 1: Pitch Structure, Statistical Parameters, and Form
The shift from tonal determinacy to atonality was a gradual process that occurred during the era of the fin de siècle and the first decade of the twentieth century. Often, the particular process embraced an interstitial period where the music integrates tonal with atonal pitch processes, tallying additional challenges to the analytical process.
The robust conventional (tonal) Formenlehre affords us with sufficient tools to negotiate formal structure, formal function, and formal rhetoric. Central to this theoretical stream are L. Meyer’s primary parameters: melody, rhythm, meter, and harmony.
On the other hand, the emancipation of music from its tonal obligations, animated rather unconventional approaches to formal function — composers were inclined to utilise Meyer’s secondary parameters to invoke formal functionality. Scholarly work has proposed a theoretical apparatus that engages secondary parameters to handle cognitive aspects of musical perception, particularly the perceptual boundaries of musical units — a notion essential to the shaping of form.
In the present paper, I consider aspects of form in Desir from Scriabin’s last tonal set, Opus 57. Scriabin invokes harmonic functions through chords borrowed from non-diatonic entities, generating an equivocal tonal environment. While the seg- mentation process seems to be a straightforward task, the discerning of formal function remains rather ambiguous. To overcome this ambiguity, I employ How- land’s IPSs, a set of form-probing phrase types founded on statistical parameters.