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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Quartal chords are chords stacked in 4ths instead of 3rds like triads. There are 3 note and 4 note quartal chords. These type of chords are commonly used with modes, but can be applied to any scale. Lets take A lydian for an example. In A lydian, these 3 note quartal chords naturally occur:
A D# G# (xxx244)
B E A (xxx455)
C# F# B (xxx677)
D# G# C# (xxx899)
E A D# (xxx9 10 11)
F# B E (xxx11 12 12)
G# C# F# (xxx13 14 14)
Try hearing each one against a low open A. Also, take note that 5 out of the 7 shapes are indentical, so it is quite easy to use them in a sense.
Now the fun begins with the concept that you can invert quartal chords. One does this by taking the bottom note and placing it up an octave, and result is another shape (same notes, different shape, different sound). In A lydian, take that first quartal chord: A D# G# (xxx244). Take the A, and place it up an octave and the result is: D# G# A (xxx598). Now from there, Take the D# and place in up an octave and result is: G# A D# (xxx 11 10 13). You now have 3 different shapes for the exact same chord. This can be done with any of the quartal chords.
Lets get into 4 note quartal chords now. This is the result of simply stacking another 4th onto it. Lets take E dorian for example. In E dorian these 4 note quartal chords naturally occur:
E A D G (xx2233)
F# B E A (xx4455)
G C# F# B (xx5677)
A D G C# (xx7789)
B E A D (xx99 10 10)
C# F# B E (xx11 11 12 12)
D G C# F# (xx12 12 14 14)
Try hearing each one against a low open E. Also, take note that 4 out of the 7 shapes are identical, one less then the 3 notes ones.
Now more fun begins with the concept that you can invert the 4 note quartal chords as well, by placing the bottom note up an octave. In E dorian, take the first quartal chord: E A D G (xx2233). Take the E, and place it up an octave and the result is: A D E G (xx7753). Now from there, Take the A and place it up an octave and the result is: D E G A (xx12 9 8 5) *P.S. I know this one is pretty much impossible on a guitar*. Now from there, place take the D and place it up an octave and the result is: E G A D (xx14 12 10 10), my personal favorite shape. Now from there, Take the E and place it up an octave and the result is: G A D E (xx5230). You now have 5 different shapes for the exact same chord. This can be done with any of the quartal chords.
These types of chords are very easily used by pianists. Any good jazz pianist is full of chords like these, and it is much easier for them to use on a piano then it is for a guitarist to use on a guitar. However, there are some guitarists out there who do use these kinds of chords, including myself. I think that they open one up to new kinds of sounds and shapes. It is good to take note that while these are very vibrant sounding and interesting chords, they are completely non-functional harmonically. There is no worry about "this has to go to this". You may look at a shape like xx6422 and think to yourself "hey, it's a G#minor7sus4", but it really isn't anything at all in context, it's just a shape, completely non-functional. Use them are freely as you like, and experiment. One can create great melodies and counterpoint using these sounds, flipping through various inversions. I'm working on a piece in E lydian using quartal chords right now as it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quartal chords are chords stacked in 4ths instead of 3rds like triads. There are 3 note and 4 note quartal chords. These type of chords are commonly used with modes, but can be applied to any scale. Lets take A lydian for an example. In A lydian, these 3 note quartal chords naturally occur:
A D# G# (xxx244)
B E A (xxx455)
C# F# B (xxx677)
D# G# C# (xxx899)
E A D# (xxx9 10 11)
F# B E (xxx11 12 12)
G# C# F# (xxx13 14 14)
Try hearing each one against a low open A. Also, take note that 5 out of the 7 shapes are indentical, so it is quite easy to use them in a sense.
Now the fun begins with the concept that you can invert quartal chords. One does this by taking the bottom note and placing it up an octave, and result is another shape (same notes, different shape, different sound). In A lydian, take that first quartal chord: A D# G# (xxx244). Take the A, and place it up an octave and the result is: D# G# A (xxx598). Now from there, Take the D# and place in up an octave and result is: G# A D# (xxx 11 10 13). You now have 3 different shapes for the exact same chord. This can be done with any of the quartal chords.
Lets get into 4 note quartal chords now. This is the result of simply stacking another 4th onto it. Lets take E dorian for example. In E dorian these 4 note quartal chords naturally occur:
E A D G (xx2233)
F# B E A (xx4455)
G C# F# B (xx5677)
A D G C# (xx7789)
B E A D (xx99 10 10)
C# F# B E (xx11 11 12 12)
D G C# F# (xx12 12 14 14)
Try hearing each one against a low open E. Also, take note that 4 out of the 7 shapes are identical, one less then the 3 notes ones.
Now more fun begins with the concept that you can invert the 4 note quartal chords as well, by placing the bottom note up an octave. In E dorian, take the first quartal chord: E A D G (xx2233). Take the E, and place it up an octave and the result is: A D E G (xx7753). Now from there, Take the A and place it up an octave and the result is: D E G A (xx12 9 8 5) *P.S. I know this one is pretty much impossible on a guitar*. Now from there, place take the D and place it up an octave and the result is: E G A D (xx14 12 10 10), my personal favorite shape. Now from there, Take the E and place it up an octave and the result is: G A D E (xx5230). You now have 5 different shapes for the exact same chord. This can be done with any of the quartal chords.
These types of chords are very easily used by pianists. Any good jazz pianist is full of chords like these, and it is much easier for them to use on a piano then it is for a guitarist to use on a guitar. However, there are some guitarists out there who do use these kinds of chords, including myself. I think that they open one up to new kinds of sounds and shapes. It is good to take note that while these are very vibrant sounding and interesting chords, they are completely non-functional harmonically. There is no worry about "this has to go to this". You may look at a shape like xx6422 and think to yourself "hey, it's a G#minor7sus4", but it really isn't anything at all in context, it's just a shape, completely non-functional. Use them are freely as you like, and experiment. One can create great melodies and counterpoint using these sounds, flipping through various inversions. I'm working on a piece in E lydian using quartal chords right now as it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sure there's lots of quartal sounds that'll make you go "?". But that's cool. I like things that sound like "?".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Cool. Yea, Even if you think the theory end of it is above your head, just try the shapes and see how they sound to you. If you dont like the sound, then that's fine, although i'm sure you may find some interesting possibilities. Also remember that this concept applies to any scale or mode. :p Try finding quartal shapes using familiar scales that your ears like, and making melodies by flipping through these shapes :p
 
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