The Twentieth Century saw many astonishing developments in music. To me, one of the most brilliant is the contact that took place between European serialism and African-American jazz. The linchpin of the contact was the book by Nicolas Slonimsky (1894–1995), A Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns (1947), which introduced large numbers of scales and other patterns built of intervals in non-traditional combinations. Slonimsky described the beginnings of his project in his memoir, Perfect Pitch:
Parallel to my exploration of musical exotica, an idea began to form in my restless mind whether an entirely new taxonomy of scales and melodic patterns could not be formed outside major and minor modalities. … I viewed the entire evolution of musical composition before the present as a constricting course limited to the arbitrary compass of seven diatonic degrees, with occasional chromatics growing inside and outside a given mode. The antiphonal strength of modulatory processes and fugal imitation had its source in the unequal division of the octave into two parts, from the tonic to the dominant and from the dominant to the tonic, leading to non-symmetric procedures. Oxford University Press, 1988, Chapter 16, "Interpolation: Grossmutterakkord", p. 172
Keith Whalen, a Montréal guitarist, has recorded a number of the scales that are suited to the guitar, as part of his wider study of scales and tonalities. It is useful to have this material in recorded form, and I am very grateful to Whalen. Here are a couple of examples:
- Heptatonic and Bitonal Arpeggios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMHfNAFv9vk
- Pentatonics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHbFu0q_2Vw
There are other recordings of related material around, too, but Whalen's is fairly extensive.
The Thesaurus is apparently the property of the Macmillan Publishing Company and is currently available in a paperback edition from Amsco Publications, a New York company that issues school materials and some sheet music.