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Comping With Fourths Part 2

Comping With Fourths Part 2

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Published by jjean
Guitar Lesson
Guitar Lesson

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Published by: jjean on Jul 24, 2007
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05/08/2014

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Comping With Fourths Part 2
While you have your guitar out, join Bill Cozzo as he returns with the second installment of hislesson on quartal harmony. This piece includes a practical demonstration, showing how one canuse these chord voicings on All Along The Watchtower.
 Last time we looked at constructing chords based on intervals of a fourth (as opposed to more traditionalWestern harmony based on thirds). Using the key of C major, we spelled the chords, and then locatedthese chords on the fretboard. (See the reminder below.) We then listened to the sound they make, payingparticular attention to the added complexity and harmonic space that they create.Let's pick up the topic again, this time using these chords in songs. A good way to get a feel for this kind of substitution is to reinterpret a well-known tune. The Bob Dylan song "All Along the Watchtower" (alsorecorded famously by Jimi Hendrix) is an interesting framework against which to examine the possibilitiesof comping with fourths. The chords to the tune are simple. They're in A minor (the relative minor of Cmajor - the key we studied last time).
 
In our reinterpretation, we won't be playing a simply strummed folk style, or an all-out, psychedelic rocker.We'll be going for a half-time, jazzy groove feel , so be sure to swing those eighth notes! As we set out tosubstitute for the original chords, let's pick out voicings from our harmonization of C major in fourths thatavoid heavy use of the roots and fifths. A bassist would most likely be playing these notes. When lookingfor a replacement for Am, we would avoid a voicing with an A or E in it. Let's also try to select voicings thatemphasize the thirds (minor or major) because these notes give a chord its quality. For Am, we wouldchoose a substitute that has a C in it.Here are some choices:
Original Chord NameSubstitute Chord SpellingAmD-G-CGC-F-BFB-E-A
Notice how the highest-pitched notes in the substitute chords are the thirds for the chords they arereplacing (e.g. the C note played on the 13th fret of the 2nd string is the minor 3rd of the Am chord it isreplacing). By having these notes on top, we will be able to accent them (perhaps with staccato upstrokes)and use them to create the tonal focus of the chord. And by choosing a voicing with the 7th on the originalchord (in this case, G is the 7th in Am7), we further color the chord's quality with extended tonality.Here are the replacement chords used in the song's progression:

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