Petros Vouvaris

Issues of Melodic Structure in Nikos Skalkottas’s Post-Tonal Music

Research interest in issues of melodic structure in post-tonal music has been rather limited. Basing their theoretical premises on the notion of octave equivalence, most methodological tools that pertain to the analysis of post-tonal music seek to account for its pitch-class structure, largely overlooking such foreground phenomena as the registral distribution of its specific pitch content. This disinterest may be attributed to the relative absence and/or inconsistency of surface linearity that comply with the commonplace commitment of many researchers to a ‘contrarian’ perspective (Huron 2006), rendering the matter of melody construction in post-tonal music implicitly moot.  However, the textural priority of melody over its accompanying counterparts remains a salient feature of works that customarily fall under the rubric of early modernism.  Particularly in the case of Nikos Skalkottas, the dispersed pitch content of his clearly delimited and conspicuously projected melodic structures often appears so balanced as to imply linear continuities underneath the registrally fragmented surface. Through the case-study analyses of the diachronically and synchronically articulated thematic melodies of such works as the Second Piano Suite, the Octet for Wind Instruments, the Violin Concerto, and the works for string duo, the proposed paper aims at investigating the pertinent musical attributes that
evince the resemblance of the associative middleground of Skalkottas’s thematic melodies to prolongational structures commonly associated with tonal melodic lines. Towards this goal, the adopted methodological background adapts the premises of auditory scene analysis in the assessment of implied polyphony in Baroque music (Davis 2006) to the prerequisites of the post-tonal idiom.