ABSTRACT

The importance of the octatonic scale in Stravinsky’s music has consistently been overstated. While octatonicism is an aspect of Stravinsky’s technique, it is just one of a number of different components that jointly produce the “Stravinsky sound.” This chapter focuses on two techniques that have often been mistaken for octatonicism: modal uses of the non-diatonic minor scales; and the superimposition of elements that belong to different scalar collections. In Petrouchka, whole-tone scales appear less frequently, as Stravinsky begins to develop his own powerfully original pitch language. Although Stravinsky may have started to remove Debussian wholetone sounds from his vocabulary, the prominence of the melodic minor scale in The Rite of Spring testifies to his continuing debt to the French tradition. The desire to avoid “polytonality” seems to be have been one of the major motivations for octatonic-centered readings of Stravinsky.