Quartal Harmony

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Quartal Harmony

Quartal Harmony is that harmony based upon the interval of a fourth. Most Western music is based on the interval of a third (tertian harmony). Quartal harmony has been used in some twentieth-century music and in jazz by McCoy Tyner of the John Coltrane Quartet in the 1960s. Quartal voicings result from stacking fourths. The box below shows the C Major Scale with every fourth note shown in red. If you start with C, you create the following harmony: C-F-B-E-A.

1 2345678 910111213
C D E F G A B C D E F G A

Guitar fingerings for the C Major Scale harmonized in fourths are shown below. Notice that most of the notes are located across from the same fret. These quartal voicings can be used as substitutes in the ii-V-I Jazz Progression.

On The Top Four Strings

E---1---3---5---7---8---10---12---13---15---17---||
B---1---3---5---6---8---10---12---13---15---17---||
G---0---2---4---5---7---9----10---12---14---16---||
D---0---2---3---5---7---9----10---12---14---15---||
A------------------------------------------------||
E------------------------------------------------||

On The Middle Four Strings

E------------------------------------------------||
B---1---3---5---6---8---10---12---13---15---17---||
G---0---2---4---5---7---9----10---12---14---16---||
D---0---2---3---5---7---9----10---12---14---15---||
A---0---2---3---5---7---8----10---12---14---15---||
E------------------------------------------------||

On Bottom Four Strings

E------------------------------------------------||
B------------------------------------------------||
G---0---2---4---5---7---9----10---12---14---16---||
D---0---2---3---5---7---9----10---12---14---15---||
A---0---2---3---5---7---8----10---12---14---15---||
E---0---1---3---5---7---8----10---12---13---15---||

Below is a Chord-Melody arrangement of Richard Rodgers' 1935 standard My Romance. The first four bars use quartal voicings. This is another option to add greater interest to your solo guitar work.

	     CM7 FM7      Em7   Am7      Dm7 G7
E--------||------------|-----5--7--8--|--8---7--5--|
B--5--6--||--8---5--6--|--8--5--6--8--|--8---6--5--|
G--4--5--||--7---4--5--|--7--4--5--7--|--7---5--4--|
D--3--5--||--7---3--5--|--7--4--5--7--|--7---5--4--|
A--3--5--||--7---3--5--|--7-----------|------------|
E--------||------------|--------------|------------|
           1.           2.             3.

   CM7 E7       Am  Am(M7)   Am7  A7      Dm7 G7
E--3---------|--0---------|--0-1--3-5--|--5---3-1--|
B--3---1--3--|--1---1--3--|--1----2----|--6---0----|
G--2---0--2--|--2---1-----|--0----0----|--5---0----|
D--2---0--2--|--2---2-----|--2----2----|--0---3----|
A------0--2--|--0---0-----|--0----0----|------2----|
E------------|------------|------------|------3----|
 4.           5.           6.           7.
Click below for the best in free Quartal Harmony lessons available on the web.

Jazz Guitar Chords in Fourths (jazzguitar.be)
Quartal Harmony (pdf/Blue Train)
Quartal Harmony (Justin Rubin)
Quartal Harmony (pdf/Mark White)
Quartal Harmony (WholeNote)
Stacked Fourths(Liam Alexander)


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