Re: Query: Book of Modes/Scales

Philly the Kid (
Tue, 4 Nov 1997 15:34:07 -0800

>From: - Akira Rabelais <>
>To: Multiple recipients of list <>
>Subject: Re: Query: Book of Modes/Scales
>X-Comment: The SoundHack mailing list

>This is an excerpt from Nicolas Slonimsky's PERFECT PITCH (Oxford 1988).
>One late Saturday evening in the spring of 1981, I received a
> telephone call. "Nicolas Slonimsky?" (correctly pronounced) the
> caller inquired. "This is Frank Zappa. I never realized you were
>in Los Angeles, and I want so much to get in touch with you
> about your book of scales." I was startled. Frank Zappa was the
> last person who, to my mind, could be interested in my
> theoretico-musical inventions. His name was familiar to me
> from a promotional record jacket showing him seated on the
> john with his denuded left thigh in view, and a legend in
> large letters: PHI KRAPPA ZAPPA.
>We arranged to meet on the following Monday at 2.30 in the
> afternoon, and, at the appointed time on the appointed day,
> his assistant knocked at my door. I stepped out of my apart-
> ment and beheld something that looked like a space shuttle --
> a black Mercedes taking up almost half a block of Wilshire
> Boulevard. I could not refrain from asking the driver how
> much such a machine cost. "Sixty," he replied.
>It took us nearly an hour to get to Zappa's place in the hills
> of Hollywood. Zappa met me at the door. He looked like a leading
> man in the movies -- tall, slender, sporting a slight Italian
> moustache. For starters, I asked him the origin of his last
> name; he replied it meant "the plough" in Italian.
>Zappa's wife came in, an ample, young woman, and served coffee
> and tea. Zappa told me he did not drink alcoholic beverages;
> contrary to the legendary habits of most rock-and-roll
> musicians, he never partook of drugs. But he smoked cigarettes
> incessantly, tobacco being his only, and quite venial, sin.
> Zappa led me to his studio, which housed a huge Bosendorfer
> piano. I asked how much he paid for this keyboard monster.
> "Seventy," he replied.
>Zappa declared himself an admirer of Varese and said he had been
> composing orchestral works according to Varese's principles of
> composition, with unrelated themes following in free succession.
> To substantiate this claim, he brought out three scores, in
> manuscript and each measuring 13 x 20 inches, beautifully
> copied and handsomely bound. Indeed, the configurations of
> notes and contrapuntal combinations looked remarkably Varesian.
> Yet he never went to a music school, and had learned the tech-
> nique of composition from the study of actual editions. He had
> had a contract with an orchestra in Holland to play one of his
> works, but they had demanded a piece from his recording royal-
> ties on top of the regular fee. "I offered the a quarter,"
> Zappa said, "if they would put up a quarter." It took me some
> time to figure out that the fractions he used were those in
> millions of dollars.
>Zappa's teenage daughter flitted in, introduced by Mrs. Zappa
> as Moon Unit. She did not seem to be embarrassed at all by this
> esoteric appellation......About that time, I acquired a cat, black and whit=
> and plenty mischievous, which I christened Grody to the Max...
>Zappa invited me to try out his Bosendorfer. I sat down at the
> keyboard and played the coronation scene from BORIS GUDUNOV
> which required deep bass sounds. Zappa was impressed by these
> Russian harmonies. He asked me to play some of my own composi-
> tions, and I launched into the last piece in my MINITUDES,
> based on an interplay of mutually exclusive triads and covering
> the entire piano keyboard. "Why don't you play this piece at
> my next concert?" Zappa asked. "When will that be?" I inquired.
> "Tomorrow. We can rehearse in the afternoon." I was somewhat
> taken aback by the sudden offer, but after all, I had nothing
> to lose. So I decided to take my chance as a soloist at a rock
> concert.
>The next day I arrived at the large Coliseum in Santa Monica
> where Zappa's concert was to take place. A huge, towering man
> led me to Zappa's room. "Mr. Zappa is expecting you," he said,
> satisfied with my identity. He was Zappa's bodyguard, hired
> after Zappa had been attacked during a concert by a besotted
> admirer and hurt his back.
>On stage I sat at the electric piano and played my piece. For
> better effect, I added sixteen bars to the coda, ending in re-
> peated alternation of C major and F-sharp major chords in the
> highest treble and lowest bass registers. Zappa dictated to his
> players the principal tonalities of my piece, and they picked
> up the modulations with extraordinary assurance. I had never
> played the electric piano before, but I adjusted to it without
> much trouble.
>The hall began to fill rapidly. Zappa's bodyguard gave me ear
> plugs, for, when Zappa's band went into action, the decibels
> were extremely high. Zappa sang and danced while conducting,
> with a professional verve that astounded me. A soprano soloist
> came out and sang a ballad about being a hooker, using a
> variety of obscenities. Then came my turn. Balancing a ciga-
> rette between his lips, Zappa introduced me to the audience
> as "our national treasure." I pulled out the ear plugs, and
> sat down at the electric piano. With demoniac energy Zappa
> launched us into my piece. To my surprise I sensed a growing
> consanguinity with my youthful audience as I played. My
> fortissimo ending brought out screams and whistles the like of
> which I had never imagined possible. Dancing Zappa, wild audi-
> ence, and befuddled me -- I felt like an intruder in a mad
> scene from ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I had entered my Age of
> Absurdity.
>--from Chapter 23, "The Age of Absurdity"
>(Nicoloas Slonimsky was born in St. Petersburg in 1894, fled the
> Revolution in 1917, and was a composer, concert pianist, and
> conductor, before settling into a career as musical lexicogra-
> pher. Among his works are LECTIONARY OF MUSIC, THE LEXICON
> OF MUSICAL INVECTIVE, MUSIC SINCE 1900, and at least three
> He appears to have outlived Frank Zappa, and many others
> besides.)
>**** Caribou Curry
> Categories: Caribou, Indian, Curry, Wild game
> Yield: 4 servings
> 1 lb Caribou meat
> 1 lg Onion, chopped
> 1 Inch ginger root;
> -finely chopped
> 2 cl Garlic, minced
> 1 ts Pepper to taste
> 1 ts Cumin powder
> 1 ts Tumeric
> 1/2 ts Salt or to taste
> 2 tb Mustard oil
> 1/2 c Water or broth
> Heat oil in a pan and add the tumeric, then the remainder of the spices
> except for the garlic, and mix well. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces
> and add, frying until it becomes brown. Add the garlic, then the water.
> Simmer gently until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened
> somewhat, about 30 or more minutes.
> Categories: Moose, Canadian, Wild game
> Yield: 1 servings
> 1 Upper jawbone of a moose
> 1 Onion; sliced
> 1 Garlic clove
> 1 tb Mixed pickling spice
> 1 ts Salt
> 1/2 ts Pepper
> 1/4 c Vinegar
> 1. Cut the upper jaw bone of the moose just below the eyes. 2. Place in a
> large kettle of scalding water and boil for 45 minutes. 3. Remove and chil=
> in cold water. 4. Pull out all the hairs - these will have been loosened b=
> the boiling
> and should come out easily ( like plucking a duck). 5. Wash thoroughly
> until no hairs remain. 6. Place the nose in a kettle and cover with fresh
> water. 7. Add onion, garlic, spices and vinegar 8. Bring to a boil, then
> reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender.
> Let cool overnight in the liquid. 9. When cool, take the meat out of
> the broth, and remove and discard the
> bones and the cartilage. You will have two kinds of meat, white meat
> from the bulb of the nose, and thin strips of dark meat from along the
> bones and jowls. 10. Slice the meat thinly and alternate layers of
> white and dark meat in a
> loaf pan. 11. Reheat the broth to boiling, then pour the broth over th=
> meat in the
> loaf pan. 12. Let cool until jelly has set. Slice and serve cold.
>**** Mu Shu Armadillo
> Categories: Armadillo
> Yield: 4 servings
> 3/4 lb Boneless armadillo
> Tenderloin, trimmed of fat,
> Cut into matchstick-size
> Shreds about 1 1/2 inches
> Long
> 1 1/2 tb Vegetable oil
> 2 lg Eggs, lightly beaten
> 4 c Shredded green cabbage (1/3
> Sm cabbage)
> 10 Dried Chinese black
> Mushrooms, soaked in hot
> Water
> For 20 minutes, drained,
> Stems removed, caps thinly
> Sliced
> 8 Scallions, green part only,
> Cut into 1-inch lengths
> 1/2 c Hoisin sauce
> 8 Mandarin pancakes or flour
> Tortillas, steamed
> Marinade 2-1/2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce 1-1/2 tbsp rice wine or sake =
> tsp sesame oil
> Minced Seasonings 6 cloves garlic, minced 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh
> ginger
> Sauce 3 tablespoons chicken broth 2 tablespoons rice wine or sake 1
> tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/4
> teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
> Marinate armadillo: In a medium-sized bowl, combine marinade ingredients.
> Add armadillo and toss lightly to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and
> refrigerate for 30 minutes.
> Mix minced seasonings: In a small bowl, combine garlic and ginger; set
> aside.
> Make sauce: In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients and blend well; set
> aside.
> Stir-fry mu shu filling: Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat, add
> 1/2 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and heat until very hot. Add the
> marinated armadillo and stir-fry until the meat is cooked through, about 2
> minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cook down any remainin=
> juices to a glaze and add to the armadillo. Add another 1/2 tablespoon oil
> to the wok and heat until very hot. Add eggs and stir-fry, scrambling them
> until just dry. Remove and set aside.
> Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and heat until very hot, add the
> reserved minced seasoning and stir-fry until fragrant, 10 to 15 seconds.
> Add cabbage and mushrooms and stir-fry until tender, about 2 minutes. Pour
> in the reserved sauce mixture and stir constantly until thickened, about 1
> minute. Return the armadillo and eggs to the pan and toss until heated
> through. Stir in scallions. Transfer to a platter.
> To serve, spread some hoisin sauce over a steamed pancake or tortilla,
> spoon some of the stir-fried mixture on top, roll up and eat.
> Categories: Fish, Wild game
> Yield: 4 servings
> 1 c Shredded American cheese
> 1/4 c Dry bread crumbs
> 1 t Paprika
> 1 t Parsley flakes
> 1/4 t Onion powder
> 1/2 t Salt
> 1/4 t Pepper
> 2 lb Whole trout, cleaned
> Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine American cheese, bread crumbs,
> parsley flakes, onion powder, salt and pepper. Place trout on individual
> squares of greased foil. Spoon crumb mixture over fish. Seal securely and
> bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until fish flakes easily.