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Rhythm Rules: Chromatic Quartals


You can also apply the concept to scales other than the pentatonic. Ex. 7 uses F Mixolydian (F-G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb) as the key center and takes the same chromatic approach we used previously. Notice how I’ve omitted the half–step approach wherever a half-step naturally occurs in the scale (A to Bb, and D to Eb) to maintain the pattern. Feel free to experiment, of course. If it sounds good, it is good.

Click here for Ex. 7

It’s also possible to move the lower intervals up. In Ex. 8 I keep the F on top and move the lower two notes around.

Click here for Ex. 8

Now that we’ve explored different ways to slip in and out of a tonality, let’s make a longer and more musical statement. Ex. 9 employs the basic concepts from the above examples. Check out how we start by moving the lower two notes down chromatically and then ascend before going back down the scale.

Click here for Ex. 9

Finally, you can apply the same concept to four-note chords, where the top two notes form the anchors and the lower two notes are free to move chromatically. Ex. 10 shows this type of chord movement using E minor pentatonic (E-G-A-B-D).

Click here for Ex. 10

Aside from being useful for chord melodies, these chromatic fourth voicings offer a way to create jazzy interest when accompanying a soloist—even if the soloist is playing strictly within a given key. And such chromatic quartal harmony can prompt more advanced soloists to play outside the key center and reach for intriguing lines.

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