This Is­sue: Stacked 4ths

Guitarist - - The Lineup -

in is­sue 424 we tried sys­tem­at­i­cally stack­ing pairs of 5th in­ter­vals to cre­ate chords, and we’re now go­ing to try it with 4ths. if you nor­mally ap­proach chord sub­sti­tu­tion by learn­ing shapes and swap­ping al­ter­na­tives, you might find this a bit weird. We’ve al­ways tried to show how you can ap­proach chord knowl­edge from sev­eral an­gles. You might end up at the same place, but it’s all about the jour­ney! to avoid an in­sane num­ber of per­mu­ta­tions we’re again go­ing to work within the C ma­jor scale, us­ing only per­fect 4ths (ie not the aug­mented 4th be­tween F and B) and we’re us­ing the same ‘be­fore’ chord pro­gres­sion as last time. You can of course ap­ply your own rules – re­stric­tions like this are a fer­tile source of cre­ativ­ity. There may be sim­i­lar­i­ties to the chords you gen­er­ate us­ing 5ths, as 4ths and 5ths are closely re­lated (C-G is a 5th; G-C is a 4th). How­ever, the fret­board lay­out of the gui­tar means not ev­ery com­bi­na­tion of ei­ther in­ter­val will be playable. By stack­ing two 4th in­ter­vals with a whole tone be­tween them (C-F and G-C) we get sus2 chords. There’s no strict pat­tern to how we’ve re­placed ‘vanilla’ chords with new chords; just play around and see what comes out! there’s a wider gap be­tween the two 4ths this time. You’ll no­tice that the lower 4th in­ter­val cor­re­sponds with the 5th and root of the orig­i­nal chord in each case. Here we have B-E on the bot­tom (5th and root of Em) with D-G on top. not only do we have two 4th in­ter­vals, but they’re also sep­a­rate by a gap of a 4th! This pure stack of 4ths is a bit of a 60s mod­ern jazz cliché; at that time, there was a fash­ion for quar­tal har­mony, build­ing chords from 4ths. It sounds good, though. Fi­nally, mak­ing use of the open strings we can have two 4th in­ter­vals (G-C and B-E) over­lap­ping each other. Ob­vi­ously an ob­sta­cle here is know­ing enough chord the­ory to name your con­coc­tions, but be brave. If a chord sounds like it’ll work in place of C ma­jor, that’s good enough. Trust your ears!

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