Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 Part Quartal Harmony with Jens Larsen

In this lesson I want to demonstrate how I use quartal harmony when I am playing in both modal and moving harmony. I also want to give some ways to practice these voicings and put them to use in those situations.

Jazz Chord Essentials - 3 Part Quartal Harmony with Jens Larsen
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In this lesson I want to demonstrate how I use quartal harmony when I am playing in both modal and moving harmony.

I also want to give some ways to practice these voicings and put them to use in those situations.



Quartal Harmony

What is Quartal harmony? The chords that we use are for the most part derived from stacks of thirds as I described in these lessons: diatonic arpeggiosjazz chord essentials - triads. Quartal harmony is derived from stacks of 4ths giving other note groupings as seen in Example 1.


Since we get different note groups but still want to use them in situations that we define from a stack of thirds (like a Cmaj7 or Dm7) We need to figure out how to apply them. If you have trouble understanding how chords are built from thirds you might have an easier time with this lesson if you check that out first. The lesson on diatonic arpeggios that I linked in the beginning could be a good place to start.

The voicings and some exercises


The first thing to check out is the voicings themselves. Here is a harmonized major scale on the 2 top sets of strings.


Once you can play them I suggest you try to play with them over a pedal, so that you have an idea of how each of those voicings sound in a modal context and you can start building up a vocabulary of melodies that you can play. In the beginning you can do this over the basic chords II V and I, but as a pedal so a vamp consisting of a Dm chord, on for G7 and one for Cmaj7, as I demonstrate in the video.

In order to start playing over changes we need to be able to play chords found in the melodic minor scale, so here's a harmonization of the Ab melodic minor scale, which is also the scale we need to play G7alt:


For this scale it is also useful to check out how the voicings sound on a G7alt, Db lydian domininant or AbmMaj7 pedal point.

Examples for chord progressions

I chose to apply the voicings to a II Valt I in C because it it is an easy key and a very common progression. Here are some examples:








In the video I break down each example a bit more and add some more info on how I made them and how I see the notes in the voicing related to the chord. The process of choosing the right voicing is a matter of taste and context so when you use this you might find that you like somethings I do and not others, but you can probably expect that in almost everything related to making music. It is after all an art more than a science.

As always you can download the examples as a pdf here.

About the Author:
By Jens Larsen. I hope that you liked the lesson. If you have any questions or comments then feel free to leave them here or on the video. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Twitter to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

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