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Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns

Posted by Tritones7001 
Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 05, 2019 01:49PM
So I've recently purchased this somewhat infamous book and already am finding a lot of interesting things in it.

There is one thing that is bothering me about it and after three days of trying to figure it out I'm stumped. So to a random forum I go to see if someone can answer the question for me.

I can't figure out what the "Master Chords" are. More specifically above all the patterns there is a number in a circle and I can't understand what information this number is trying to convey. This is despite him explaining how it works in the book. And yet I still don't get it.

Ill link the PDF below. The PDF pages in which he describes the Master Chord and these symbols are the following.
9 - starting at the 3rd paragraph "The second type of harmonization..." and the Master Chord examples after.
11 - where he defines a Master Chord which I fully understand. I just don't get the numbers in the circles.
26 - is example 53 (you can see the numbers in circles...WHAT ARE THESE!)
41 - is example 186
63 - is example 393
253 - is the table of chords (I thought the numbers referred to these but it seems they don't.)


www.scottlernermusic.com/ftp/Nicolas%2520Slonimsky%2520-%2520Thesaurus%2520Of%2520Scales%2520And%2520Melodic%2520Patterns.pdf



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/05/2019 01:49PM by Tritones7001. (view changes)
Viz
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 06, 2019 12:44AM
He explains it in the glossary page vii
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 06, 2019 01:11AM
Yeah I'm aware of the definition given there but it still makes 0 sense to me.

"Master Chords. Dominant-seventh chords with the fifth omitted, tabulated chromatically in 12 different keys, to be used in harmonizing scales and melodic patterns, and indicated by figures, enclosed in circles, from 1 to 12."

I totally get that except for the 1 to 12 part. Is 1 C7 and 2 C#7 and 3 D7 and so on? That doesnt fit with the examples given.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2019 01:12AM by Tritones7001. (view changes)
Viz
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 06, 2019 01:20AM
Sorry, I got the page numbering wrong (I was looking at the printed page number not the pdf number!).

Ok in that 1st example, the song is in C, it’s saying C is the root, and the b7 chord (no 5) would be C E# Bb; this is the 2nd chord in that first bar. The 1st chord is a tritone away, so it’s an F# with a flat 7 (no 5), but he’s saying it’s still built off (or harmonised with) the 1 Master Chord - even though C dom7 doesn’t have an F#.
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 06, 2019 01:44AM
Ok I think I am getting it now.

Each number actually denotes, in the first example, 2 chords. So 1 = C7/F#7, 2 = Db/G and so on. That is what the numbers are identifying for that section. The Tritone section of the book.

The other examples have 3 and 4 chords per Master Chord number as those scales and patterns divide the octave into minor 3rds and major thirds resulting in 3 or 4 chords being available.

So for the third example we see 11. Which is Bb. Which means the chords, going in minor thirds are Bb, C#, E and G. Which checks out.

Thanks for the help.

I have to say, while I like the book, I really think he could have explained that a little bit better.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2019 01:49AM by Tritones7001. (view changes)
Viz
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 06, 2019 02:27AM
I agree, it’s clearly a system that has grown into second nature for him, but when we get thrown into the deep end of it we haven’t had that slow ramp of understanding and it takes some unpicking.
ttw
Re: Slonimsky Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns
May 11, 2019 05:37AM
These chords are also on an accordion; the "seventh chord" button plays a seventh chord with the fifth deleted. The reason is to make all chords have three notes so that the seventh and diminished seventh chords do not sound fuller than the major and minor chords (some accordions differ).

Additionally, these chords are Italian Sixth chords in other keys when treated enharmonically. This allows one to play all Augmented Sixth chords by adding the fourth or fifth in the right hand.

I've read Slonimsky's stuff and didn't find too much of interest. First, why show all these in all keys, one example can be transposed by most musicians. Second, limits on which patterns are best accompanied by given chords seems to describe a style rather a compositional procedure. On the other hand, sometimes seeing something like this can give composers new ideas that they have not thought of before.
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