Quartal harmony

Quartal harmony uses the fourth interval as a basic building block. The chords have a more open, ambiguous sound because of this.

One way to start exploring quartal harmony is to take chords built in 4ths through the major scale. We are going to use the D Dorian mode and construct these chords on the middle 4 strings and the top 4 strings. The principle followed is that every note in each chord shape will be a diatonic 4th away from the previous note. Most of the chords will be sus4 or 11th chords (major or minor).

(alternating black and white notes  show the different chords, along with lines to connect the notes in each shape.)

quartal chords

Try using these chords over a D minor chord. They’ll also work well over G7 and Fmaj7#11. These are really useful when playing “So What”, and why not trying them over “Sunflower”

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