Major Tetrachords

This lesson teaches how to use common fingerings to make scales. By using only half-scales (tetrachords) you can build up your own way of playing each major scale.

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Ultimate Guitar
8
First I must explain to beginners how to read my diagrams: read them left to right, bottom to top. Every horizontal line is a string (bottom being E and the top G) and every Vertical lihne is a fretbar. As many already know a major scale follows the pattern:
W-W-H-W-W-W-H

W - whole steps (two frets)
H - half steps (one fret)
Looking closly you see there are two parts bridged by a whole step (W-W-H)W(W-W-H). These parts are called tetrachords. Now using common sense you can see that any two tetrachords can make up a one-octave scale (if bridged by a whole step). There are three easy ways to play tetrachords using patterns and certain fingers. You don't have to use the fingers I suggest but they are what I found easiest. Here are the patterns (2412), (1334) and (4134). NOTE: these are not tablature! The numbers indicate the finger to use, 1 being the index, 2 the middle, 3 the ring, and 4 being the pinky!
(2412)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|-2-|---|---|
|---|-2-|---|-4-|

(1334)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|---|-3-|-4-|

(4134)
|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|
|-1-|---|-3-|-4-|
|---|---|---|-4-|
Now those are just the tetrachords you must put the together to get a scale! Do this by skipping a whole step after the last note, then starting over again:
(1334)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|-3-|---|-3-|-4-|
|-1-|---|-3-|---|-3-|-4-|---|---|

(2412)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|-2-|---|---|
|-1-|-2-|---|-2-|---|-4-|
|---|-2-|---|-4-|---|---|

(4134)
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1-|---|-3-|-4-|
|-1-|---|-3-|-4-|---|-4-|
|---|---|---|-4-|---|---|
Notice that the second added part is just moved up one string and over two frets!
See:
|---|---|---|---|---|---|
|---|---|-1*|---|-3*|-4*|
|(1)|---|(3)|(4)|---|-4*|
|---|---|---|(4)|---|---|
Now you can have one-octave scales you can use on any fret. For example starting any of thes on the 8-fret of the E string allows you to play the C-major scale. Now it's harder to make multi-octave scales because you must make some small adjustments an requires understanding of root notes but I'll get to in another lesson. Also look in case I make something like this for minor scales. I hope you understand major scales more now. I know this might be a bit confusing but to understand use a little common sense.

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27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    DWAUME
    Man, I wish I could update this article with some actual information on what a tetrachord is, not just what it looks like on a tab. 1. A tetrachord is 4 notes within a perfect fourth interval, which is 5 frets (i.e. 0-5, 3-8, etc.). Tetrachords aren't usually used as chords, since the notes are so close together. They're a way of simplifying scales. How can you use tetrachords to create a scale? 2. If you know the first 4 notes of a scale (the first tetrachord), then you can play the last 4 notes of a scale (including the octave) by going up 7 frets (or 1 string and 2 frets) and playing the same intervals (i.e. 0-2-4-5 turns into 7-9-11-12, or 2-4-6-7 on the next string). Then, to continue playing the scale, go up 5 frets (or 1 string and 0 frets) 3. Tetrachords can be used to help mobility up and down the fretboard when you're practicing, if you're stuck soloing in a particular spot (frets 0-4, 5-8, or etc.) Examples: 0-2-4-5 on the E, 2-4-6-7 on the A, 2-4-6-7 on the D, 4-6-8-9 on the G 0-2-4-5 on the E, 2-4-6-7 on the A, 7-9-11-12 on the A, 9-11-13-14 on the D
    GNR_Duff_rules
    Tetra = Four Chord = notes four notes, for obvious reasons...
    DWAUME
    Not that obvious, buddy. Your definition also includes 7th chords. Tetrachords are 4 notes ~within a perfect 4th interval~, i.e. within 5 frets (0-5, 3-8, etc.) as stated below.
    JakeB433
    Eye opening, honestly I never knew anything about tetrachords before this, I'm just wondering what this is best used for, I would assume for soloing. Also, does anyone know where the name tetrachord came from? because it's not a chord it's just a way of looking at scales... Just curious.
    Table Salt
    I think this is a pretty good lesson, great job.
    krumpinjugger wrote: ok. not to sound like a dipshit or anything but i don't understand the diagrams... i did read the thing at the top but i just don't get it
    It would help if you told what it was that was confusing you about it.
    krumpinjugger
    ok. not to sound like a dipshit or anything but i don't understand the diagrams... i did read the thing at the top but i just don't get it
    blink182182
    hey am making a website about bass i have only made 1 page but i wanna no what ppl think be4 i make more pages plz leave a message on my message board telling mw what u think www.freewebs.com/howtoplaybass
    jimmygoff
    um dumb question, me and my buddy couldnt figure out wat these chords are used for...
    GNR_Duff_rules
    finally! I submitted this lesson in june and now in september they post it! Talk about slow!
    GNR_Duff_rules
    never mind that doid work well well those are each the strings play that left to right top to bottom
    GNR_Duff_rules
    Here is the 4134 in tabs on the 5thE or B major: ----- -----4-6-7- ---2-4-6-7----- -5-----
    hxc_triple_og
    hmm tetrachords are justs your fourths or perfect 4th for a major scale i learned more in depth with lessons im in but this could help those who dont take them