Zappa “Minor Poly-Chord”

I once heard Nicholas Slonimsky say that he admired how Frank found ways of using simple means for deriving complex sounding harmonies – I think this applies to this chord

It’s formed by superposing a minor third (bottom) pair by a major triad (top) whose root lies a whole tone below the root of the bottom minor pair … in terms of my crude understanding of harmony these could be the i and bVII triads in the Dorian mode – the cluster is equivalent to a minor-11th but Frank spelled in his specific ways

In “Yo Mama” it appears as G/Am : A, C (piano left hand) G, B, D (right hand) in order from low note to high … if we arpeggiate these notes up and down we get the introductory motive behind “Yo Mama” – the same chord is used as solo substrate for the later “atmospheric” section in that piece … the guitar rendition can be played like this:


In the song “How Could I Have Been Such a Fool” it appears in the dark-sounding bridge section as a D/Em – the piano voicing used there is interleaved as E, F#, G, A, D

-> Slonimsky on Zappa (youtube link)

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