Five Preludes opus 74 by Alexander Scriabin: the Mystic Chord as basis for new means of harmonic progression

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Chang, Chia-lun

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The music of Alexander Scriabin evolved from nineteenth century Romanticism to a groundbreaking harmonic system that foreshadowed the atonality of the twentieth century. His musical vocabulary in the later opuses reveals a tendency toward coalescence of the harmonic materials. The “Mystic Chord” grew out of this tendency, the harmonic concept of which is based on a new scalar source known as the “acoustic scale.” This became the basis for Scriabin’s later harmonic organization. Five Preludes, Op. 74, composed in 1914, is Scriabin’s last composition before his death in 1915. In these Preludes, Scriabin displays maturity and mastery in his harmonic executions. Traditional compositional techniques are incorporated into the new harmonic system which impels a reinterpretation of harmonic progression and tonalities. By using the Mystic Chord as the harmonic basis, this treatise analyzes and identifies the harmonic tendencies in the Five Preludes Op. 74 to help define the musical directions and expressions.