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Thread: Nicolas Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns

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    Default Nicolas Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns

    I just acquired a used copy of this. At present, I have lost two detailed, time-consuming posts, and the auto-save feature did not retrieve them, so out of frustration, I will continue my exposition at a later date. In the meantime, anyone familiar with this work can respond.

    LATER ADDITION:

    The tome deals with scales created from the Equal Division of the Octave as starting points, identical to Howard Hanson's idea of interval projection, which he explained in his book Harmonic Materials of Modern Music.

    Bear in mind what the definition of a scale is, usually covering an octave and beginning and ending on a key note, and recursive in nature. This makes it "harmonic" in nature, with harmonic implications.

    Also remember that in tonality, there are only six intervals, the remainder being inversions. These are m2, M2, m3, M3, 4th, and Tritone.

    The fifth is the inversion of the fourth, but (with the fourth) is unique in that 7 (7 semitones = fifth) and 5 (5 semitones = fourth) are not divisors of 12 (the octave), but must be seen "outside the octave" as 84 (7 x 12) and 60 (5 x 12).

    This explains Slonimsky's chapter headings titled "Equal Division of Five Octaves into Six Parts" (and Twelve Parts), and "Equal Division of Seven Octaves into Six Parts" (as well as Twelve Parts).
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Feb-16-2016 at 21:01.

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    Junior Member Robert Eckert's Avatar
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    I find the section of this thesaurus called BiTonal Arpeggios to be very helpful in creating interesting improvisational ideas in soloing over jazz progressions. Instead of the usual 3/6/2/5/1 phrases the player can use the BiTonal patterns to present new and fresh material. The intervals that are heard when using these patterns create a very interesting listening experience. For a Copland like "sound" using BiTonal 4ths and 5ths works well. Other tonalities that create interest depend on the tune of course. A modal tune can be broken up by going outside with the m2nds and tritone intervals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Eckert View Post
    I find the section of this thesaurus called BiTonal Arpeggios to be very helpful in creating interesting improvisational ideas in soloing over jazz progressions. Instead of the usual 3/6/2/5/1 phrases the player can use the BiTonal patterns to present new and fresh material. The intervals that are heard when using these patterns create a very interesting listening experience. For a Copland like "sound" using BiTonal 4ths and 5ths works well. Other tonalities that create interest depend on the tune of course. A modal tune can be broken up by going outside with the m2nds and tritone intervals.
    I'm glad someone responded. Yeah, Robert, I read somewhere that John Coltrane used to practice with this book; maybe Eric Dolphy, too. That's interesting; now I know more specifically what section he was probably most interested in.

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    Junior Member Robert Eckert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm glad someone responded. Yeah, Robert, I read somewhere that John Coltrane used to practice with this book; maybe Eric Dolphy, too. That's interesting; now I know more specifically what section he was probably most interested in.
    Yes, both Trane and Dolphy did use this for endless practice. I have always thought that Eric followed the patterns to excess and became very repetitive in his playing. Coltrane was of course a virtuoso.

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