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Thread: Quartal Chords

  1. #16
    pno, mrmba, stlpan, perc. philoxenos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaVIC5 View Post
    That's the real question, isn't it, how do you indicate quartal voicing shorthand? There really isn't a systemized way of doing that. When you take a quartal voicing like C F Bb Eb, it could represent several tertian structures - Cm11, F7sus4, Bbsus4(add9), all depending on context. Now, if it were being used in a functional tertian progression, it would be fine I guess to write in (quartal) next to the chord symbol, but if it were non-functional, some sort of new system might be needed.
    How about Cm7bb5?
    "And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we've discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror...."
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  2. #17
    Composer/Drummer Jay Norem's Avatar
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    I would just use the old "sus" extension. Say you have these notes: C F Bb Eb, as mentioned above. I'd call it a Bbsus/C.
    Last edited by Jay Norem; December 1st, 2007 at 04:17 PM. Reason: Should have been a Bb chord, not an Eb

  3. #18
    Jazz Artist, Author EdByrne's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=gennation;348265]These long chord names bring up another aspect of Quartal chords...how do most of you handle naming them in charts.

    I've never found all the alteration symbols to be a great "visual" for the fact that Quartal chord should be applied, mainly because the voicing really seems to be the important part of "Quartal". So naming something like F7#5#9(om.3) or just F7#5#9 doesn't really TELL you to stack them in orders of 4ths.

    For F7#5#9, personally when reading a chart, I would find a F7 voicing first, then alter for #5#9 (that's kind of what would go through my head). But, this won't always give me a linear Quartal chord, but more of an altered/extended voicing.

    Personally I spell the basic chord and throw something like "(Quartal) next to it, like "F (Quartal)" or "Fmaj7#11(Quartal)". But it's still awkward.

    I'm sure Bill Evans didn't write his charts with full blown voicing either. But, I guess most players would let him take care of those voicing since they were part of his DNA.

    I know the "detail" of chord charts have been discussed here before, but specifically towards Quartal chords...

    What do you guy use the specify a Quartal voicing in a chart???[/QUOTE]

    Not at all to be facecious, but I don't. I always leave the voicing up to the pianist (any chord player). Just put the chords in ("just the facts, mam"). For example, Herbie, as in "Maiden Voyage," will often interpret such vamps as C MA7/D pedal. In addition, it has been miss-stated above that triadic harmony doesn't work in these circumstances, but when planed (run up or down stepwise), many structures will work. For example, Gil Evans voiced two harmon-muted trumpets in parallel MA3rds with a flute on a 1/2 step below (Horace Silver planed the same voicing int the right hand over a C pedal on "Calcutta Cutie."

    You can give a general idea of a voicing style, therefore, by how you indicate it. Herbie, as I said, uses slash chords. Horace just wrote: Cm for the entire 16 bars. The 7sus4 symbol usually sufices for most quartal situations, though, since it strongly suggests voicings in 4ths, at least mixed quartal voicings.

  4. #19
    Jazz Artist, Author EdByrne's Avatar
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    As Phil Kelly implies, quartal harmony is very useful, & it can be employed on any type of chord & any type of situation you find appropriate. 3 & 4-note voicings in 4ths are perhaps the guitarist & electric keyboardist's friends. Back in the 70s when Herbie & Chick were playing Fender Rhodes they, in seperate interviews, stated that they used triads & 3-note voicings in 4ths almost exclusively, because the electroncs blurred larger voicings ( with more notes). And it remains a very good rule of thumb with those instruments in particular.

  5. #20
    Jazz Artist, Author EdByrne's Avatar
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    C F Bb Eb = F7sus4/C

  6. #21
    Composer/Drummer Jay Norem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdByrne View Post
    C F Bb Eb = F7sus4/C
    I got ya. You're presenting the intended voicing by calling it that. I concur.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaVIC5 View Post
    That's the real question, isn't it, how do you indicate quartal voicing shorthand? There really isn't a systemized way of doing that. When you take a quartal voicing like C F Bb Eb, it could represent several tertian structures - Cm11, F7sus4, Bbsus4(add9), all depending on context. Now, if it were being used in a functional tertian progression, it would be fine I guess to write in (quartal) next to the chord symbol, but if it were non-functional, some sort of new system might be needed.
    Thanks, that was exactly what I was trying to say/ask. You summed it up nice

    Ed, thanks for the response, I was aware of your view to "just give them the chord" and I understand that a musician is going to "find it" from there. The Hebbie and Evans examples (along with your own, and mine and everyone else's) were great for showing there's no real standard. Maybe we should create one

    Maybe you already have, the F7sus4/C seems like a good one. But, I still think it could be stacked non-Quartal though, like F7sus4/C being voiced on guitar like C F C Eb A. Still covers the chord but drops the ball on being stacked 4ths.

    I think a lot of guitarist miss the boat on Quartal chords because (I think I mentioned this before) they build the initial chord in some "common form" and THEN do the sus and the bass note.

    It would be cool if there was a hard standard way of writing them. Thanks for the input/responses to my question.

  8. #23
    Compose /Arranger / Jazz Prod. Phil Kelly's Avatar
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    You might check out the way I used quartal voicings
    in parts of the "weird waltz" I posted on the Free Jazz
    website.

    These floating chromatics in fourths are a very obvious bow to the master of such things, Gil Evans ..

    Swing ..or I'll kill you ( Bill Potts )
    RIP

  9. #24
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gennation View Post
    I think a lot of guitarist miss the boat on Quartal chords because (I think I mentioned this before) they build the initial chord in some "common form" and THEN do the sus and the bass note.
    ... wondering how you can miss the ball on quartal chords on an instrument where strings are tuned a 4th apart! :-) Sure, two of them are tuned a 3rd apart, but 4443 voicings are nice on guitar too.

  10. #25
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    Indicating a modal vamp is one thing (most pianists and guitarists will go buckwild with quartal vocings and side-slipping and the like, so you don't need to worry about that), but if you want a very specific quartal voicing mixed in with tertain voicings or other specific quartal voicings in a non-functional progression, there really isn't any defined way (yet) of doing that. If you forced a voicing into a Procrustean Bed of tertain harmonic language (like C F Bb Eb Ab into "Fm11/C"), thats not really doing justice to the particular sound that is created by that stacking of fourths. Perhaps if there is a new system of itemizing fourths based upon their quality (perfect, augmented, or even diminished), new chord symbols and progressions could be invented based upon this very ambiguous, and yet very colorful sort of sound.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by edrowland View Post
    ... wondering how you can miss the ball on quartal chords on an instrument where strings are tuned a 4th apart! :-) Sure, two of them are tuned a 3rd apart, but 4443 voicings are nice on guitar too.
    Well, personally I don't miss them, but there are times when I want to specify them in a chart I'm putting together. That were the lack a standard comes in regardless of how easy they are to play.

    I've been messing with this and may have an idea/resolution (at least for myself)...let's take Ed's idea:

    C F Bb Eb = F7sus4/C

    What I think I'm going to adopt is this, especially for guitar charts...

    C F Bb Eb = Bbsus4/C (much like Herbie would write it).

    Most guitarist would see "Bbsus4" and head straight for a barre type chord, or a fragment of one. If they go for a full barre chord they'd end up with the easiest one, right? (come on, they're guitar players). So there's a good chance they might go here:

    E----
    B--4--
    G--3--
    D--3--
    A--1--
    E----

    THEN they would tackle the /C part by moving the lowest note up a whole step:

    E----
    B--4--
    G--3--
    D--3--
    A--3--
    E----

    Sure you could end up with something like this, or some other of the MANY variations:

    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--8--
    A----
    E--8--

    But, since guitar is such a "grips" type instrument, I think the possibility of someone finding the Quartal chord is greater using Bbsus4/C than using F7sus4/C, which using the later could easily produce this chord in the wrong hands, breaking the Quartal sound desired:

    E----
    B--11--
    G--8--
    D--10--
    A--8--
    E--8--

    Of course if you're playing Modal type tunes and the players are familiar with playing Modally...sometimes there's enough Quartal chords flying to feed an elephant, and the original chord was only written as Cm7!

    I think in a guitarists hands, Herbie way could go a long ways. This all a guess try to push the guitarist the right direction to find the correct chord.

    The only thing I guess I don't is that the original chord could be written as Cm7 and we'd have to use a Bb Root name for the chord.

  12. #27
    Jazz Artist, Author EdByrne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gennation View Post
    Well, personally I don't miss them, but there are times when I want to specify them in a chart I'm putting together. That were the lack a standard comes in regardless of how easy they are to play.

    I've been messing with this and may have an idea/resolution (at least for myself)...let's take Ed's idea:

    C F Bb Eb = F7sus4/C

    What I think I'm going to adopt is this, especially for guitar charts...

    C F Bb Eb = Bbsus4/C (much like Herbie would write it).

    Most guitarist would see "Bbsus4" and head straight for a barre type chord, or a fragment of one. If they go for a full barre chord they'd end up with the easiest one, right? (come on, they're guitar players). So there's a good chance they might go here:

    E----
    B--4--
    G--3--
    D--3--
    A--1--
    E----

    THEN they would tackle the /C part by moving the lowest note up a whole step:

    E----
    B--4--
    G--3--
    D--3--
    A--3--
    E----

    Sure you could end up with something like this, or some other of the MANY variations:

    E--6--
    B--6--
    G--8--
    D--8--
    A----
    E--8--

    But, since guitar is such a "grips" type instrument, I think the possibility of someone finding the Quartal chord is greater using Bbsus4/C than using F7sus4/C, which using the later could easily produce this chord in the wrong hands, breaking the Quartal sound desired:

    E----
    B--11--
    G--8--
    D--10--
    A--8--
    E--8--

    Of course if you're playing Modal type tunes and the players are familiar with playing Modally...sometimes there's enough Quartal chords flying to feed an elephant, and the original chord was only written as Cm7!

    I think in a guitarists hands, Herbie way could go a long ways. This all a guess try to push the guitarist the right direction to find the correct chord.

    The only thing I guess I don't is that the original chord could be written as Cm7 and we'd have to use a Bb Root name for the chord.
    If we're talkin' about notation here, it begs the question are you are notating for students, which is no paradigm. In the real world write the chord & allow the professional to interpret it. I advise doing the same for students too, & teach them how to interpret the symbols & weigh their options. I don't see the point in notating in view of student's possible mis-interpretations. Rather we should show them how not to do so.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdByrne View Post
    If we're talkin' about notation here, it begs the question are you are notating for students, which is no paradigm. In the real world write the chord & allow the professional to interpret it. I advise doing the same for students too, & teach them how to interpret the symbols & weigh their options. I don't see the point in notating in view of student's possible mis-interpretations. Rather we should show them how not to do so.
    Yes, notation would clear it up completely. I'm mainly talking chords charts or lead sheets. Or, I could make a note if is centered in a Mode or something. But, if the tune is primarily "functional" and there's one out Key/Modal chord dropped in, the I would want to mention "a mode" at all (especially to guitarist).

    And, I'm thinking more or a global standard and not something I have to have someone in front of me to get the point across that "this is how the chord is played".

    It's a tough one with a lot of great ways of doing it but no solid "symbol" for it 100% of the time.

  14. #29
    Guitar edrowland's Avatar
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    A very tentative suggestion. With a caveat.

    First the caveat: my playing is already very quartally oriented (quartal or pentatonic harmony -- I see them as pretty much interchangeable). So I may hallucinate quartal associations in places that not all players would.

    My suggestion: Cm11. I'd play that exactly the way you intended. The voicing I'd use is the same one you wanted to elicit with Bbsus/C. And Cm11 -- for me at least -- is a red flag that quartal harmony is explicitly in play. But Cm11 carries vocabulary and associaitions for me that Bbsus/C doesn't. That might just be because I haven't really been exposed to charts or composers who use the Bbsus/C notation; I admit that I'd have it figured out by the scond chorus. Speaking personally, Cm11 is richer and more evocative than Bbsus/C. Assuming, of course, that Cm11 actually fits within the harmonic context of your peice.

    Ironically, in retrospect, I realized that you'd get the same voicings from me with Bbsus/C and Cm11 if I were playing in 8th position; but not the voicing you wanted. I'd be playing 8-x-8-8-6-x = C Bb Eb' F' on first reading. If your intention is to unambigously get the open quartal voicing, I don't think it actually succeeds. And I don't think I'd get the quartal intention if I were playing in 8th position, and reading Bbsus/C; although I'd definitely get it if I were playing in 3rd position. In 11th position, you'd get the voicing you want with Cm11, and I'd draw a complete blank on Bbsus4/C. <Hmmm. thinking I've got a hole in my fretboard about there. Hmm>. But I'd be cursing you under my breath, in 3rd, 8th or 11th position.

    And a supplementary question: is F7sus4/C current common practice, or is it a notation designed to elicit a particular voicing? It's not a notation that I've seen. (Although my experience is hardly broad or cutting-edge).

    I'm an advanced amateur, not a pro, and guys like Ed Byrne are in a much better position to speak to the question of standard practice among pros. But I'm guessing that -- among pro-level players -- you'd get exactly what you wanted with Cm11 anyway. For students, you could provide an explicit chord box for Cm11. But I don't think you'll get students playing the quartal voicing for the right reasons in either case, or any of the associated quartal vocabulary, unless they've already worked through the mechanics of quartal playing on guitar.

    If you're looking to invent good notation, I can't think of why "C(Quartal)" wouldn't work. :-)

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by edrowland View Post
    If you're looking to invent good notation, I can't think of why "C(Quartal)" wouldn't work. :-)
    That's how I write them now. But, that only works for straight/natural 4ths. As you know with the Modal/Pentatonic grips you need the #11 a lot, grip wise. So, C(Quartal) implies C F Bb Eb. If you needed the C Dorian Quartal chord with Eb at the bottom, Eb A D G would it be Eb#11(Quartal)?

    And what if you had a Quartal chord per beat? writing all that over four chord in one measure would be a mess.

    Hmmm, maybe all of this is exactly why there is no standard

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