The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
— Igor Stravinsky (1942)

My investigations into Stravinsky’s music focus on his use of polyscalarity and his compositional process.


Stravinsky's Compositional Process

My work on Stravinsky's compositional process was the result of archival research at the Paul Sacher Stiftung and analyses of Stravinsky’s opera The Nightingale, and has been presented at various regional conferences. I intend to develop two articles from this line of research. In the first, I will discuss Stravinsky’s programmatic use of scalar materials in The Nightingale, and show how his treatment of the Nightingale’s music can be seen as an allegory for a the bird’s place in the play: a bridge between opposing worlds of the living and the dead.

The second will use his work on that opera—begun in 1908 and revisited in 1914—as a case study to model the stylistic transition around 1908-1914 where he shifted from reflecting his teacher Rimsky Korsakov to a more individuated style seen in The Rite. I plan to use sketch studies to gain insight into this stylistic transition as well as his working methods at the time. Future research could expand on this, looking at some of the often overlooked intervening pieces such as the Three Japanese Lyrics.


Stravinsky's Polyscalarity

My second interest lies in defining the composer's use of polyscalarity. I am particularly invested in exploring Stravinky's use of so-called octatonicism. This interest led to the paper presented below at the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic.

While most established analytical traditions view Stravinsky’s work entirely in terms of octatonic and diatonic interactions, often ignoring notes in order to fit the music into these two collections, my research explores how multiple scalar collections—frequently projected through various textural layers—within Stravinsky's music are combined on the musical surface to project larger scalar collections at a higher hierarchical level. This explanation allows for a better understanding of Stravinsky's octatonic collections that often contain an extra note as well as his use of polyscalarity more generally. I plan to publish this paper as an article, but see this work as the start of a long-term research line on polyscalarity in early twentieth-century music in general.

Conference papers

"Exploring Polyscalarity in the Music of igor stravinsky: discerning surface- and deeper-level scalar collections"

  • Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic (2014)(Abstract)

    • Winner of the 2014 Dorothy Payne Best Student Paper Award

"Duality in igor Stravinsky's Compositional Process As Seen in The Nightingale (1908-1914)"

  • Allegheny Chapter of the American Musicological Society (2010)

  • Boston University Music Society Graduate Student Conference (2010)

Master's Thesis

"Dualities in igor Stravinsky's Artistic Process as Seen in The Nightingale (1908-1914)"

  • Completed in 2011 at The Pennsylvania State University under the supervision of Maureen Carr (PDF)