Quartal harmony and chromatic approaches can add sophistication and drama to even basic chord progressions.
• Learn how to build chords using stacked fourths.
• Create chord phrases based on the pentatonic scale.
• Combine different comping techniques for a more “outside” sound.
Playing next to John Scofield every night is a lesson—to say the least. One technique Sco recently showed me was how to expand my comping in modal situations. The basic idea is to play quartal voicings where the top note is diatonic and the bottom notes shift chromatically. Your ear hears the main tonality of a given key but the lower notes create tension and resolution.
Quartal voicings are simply chords built by stacking intervals of a fourth (rather that a third). They have a very open and neutral quality, since there are no thirds to define a major (3) or minor (b3) harmony. Ex. 1 demonstrates how to create quartal voicings over the D minor pentatonic scale (D-F-G-A-C). To help establish the root, I play a D pedal in the audio example.
A common way guitarists create harmonic tension is by approaching chords from a half-step away. Ex. 2 is the same D minor (or F major) pentatonic chord scale as Ex. 1, but each chord is approached by a half-step below. Parallel motion is a useful musical technique, but the sound is very “guitaristic.” That’s because compared to playing chromatic harmony on a keyboard, it’s easy to maintain a chord grip on the fretboard and move it up and down the neck. Remember: Shifting a chord shape one fret away also creates more dissonance than you might want.
Here’s an easy way to maintain ear-friendly diatonic tonality while still retaining tension: Use the top note as an anchor and approach the lower two notes with the half-step method we discussed earlier. Let’s stay with the D minor pentatonic sound for Ex. 3.
Simply changing the pedal tone also affects the overall tonality. In Ex. 4 the pedal note is now an F (instead of D). Try panning the audio track hard right and playing a different bass note—perhaps a G or a Bb—along with the audio example.
Of course, anything you practice going up a scale you should also practice descending. In Ex. 5 we remain in the D minor pentatonic realm with a descending figure that also features non-diatonic intervals.
It’s easier to play these voicings on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings, but it’s also a good idea to be comfortable playing them on the top three strings. Check out Ex. 6 to see what I mean.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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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Looking for a compact, “noiseless” way to plug in and play guitar? Check out the brand-new Gibson Digital Amp, available only in the Gibson App.
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Learn Guitar With The Gibson App
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This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
Belltone Guitars, as part of their Custom-Select System curated offering of pickups, has partnered McNelly pickups to create a one-of-a-kind retro-vibe P-90 pickup in the standard Filtertron size format. This pickup captures the clear, bell-like single-coil chime of a classic P-90 when played clean and retains the tight mids and articulate low-end vintage growl, and smooth sustain saturation when pushed into overdrive.
The McNelly P-90 Foil-Coil comes housed in a ‘raw’ nickel outer casing with a dull nickel foil face with metal mount screw gromets to complete the ‘new-vintage’ aesthetic, making it a perfect choice for your signature Belltone custom build. Available exclusively through Belltone Guitars.
Check out the Custom-Select System belltoneguitars.com to preview the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons and all our standard and selectable components available to create your own signature Belltone. Then visit the Dream Lab on our website and select either model B-Classic ONE with its top binding or B-Classic TWO with its arm and body contours select your body color from our wide range of offerings, select your neck profile of either standard ‘C’ or thicker ’59 Round Back and either Maple or Rosewood fingerboard followed by your tuners, pickguard, and strings. Finally, review our curated custom-designed, and unique pickup selection to locate the McNelly P-90 Foil-Trons to complete your signature build.
Builds start at just over $2,300.00 with a custom case and shipping included.
For more information, please visit belltoneguitars.com.
McNelly P 90 Foil Tron video Sep27
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.