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Encyclopedia > Synthetic chord
Image:Mysticchord.png

Composer and theosophist Alexander Scriabin's so called mystic chord, actually called the synthetic chord by Scriabin, consists of the pitch classes: C, F#, Bb, E, A, D. An augmented fourth, diminished fourth, augmented fourth, and two perfect fourths. It is a quartal hexachord.


Scriabin used this chord in what George Perle calls a pre-serial manner, producing harmonies, chords, and melodies. However, unlike the twelve tone technique to which Perle refers, Scriabin did not use his synthetic chord as an ordered set and did not worry about repeating or omitting notes.


Nicolas Slonimsky compares the synthetic chord to a "typical terminal" chord of jazz, rag-time, and rock, the major tonic chord with an added sixth and ninth (if the root is C: C, G, E, A, D), and to Debussy's post-Wagnerian "enhanced" dominant seventh chords. If one moves the F# up to G and the A up to Bb, one is left with a familiar dominant seventh (added ninth).


Jim Samson (1977, p.156-7) points out that it fits in well with Scriabins predominately dominant quality sonorities and harmony as it may take on a dominant quality on C or F# (a tritone, also important in Scriabin's harmony).


Source

  • Samson, Jim (1977). Music in Transition: A Study of Tonal Expansion and Atonality, 1900-1920. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393021939

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