In this advanced jazz guitar class, 4-part-4th, or quartal-based, chords and harmonies will be examined in detail. 

In this advanced jazz guitar class, 4-part-4th, or quartal-based, chords and harmonies will be examined in detail.  This interesting sound, which draws on harmonies explored by early twentieth century classical composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky, was introduced to the jazz world in the 1960s by such musicians as Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and McCoy Tyner, and has ever since been an important part of the vocabulary of modern jazz players.  A new generation of jazz musicians including guitarists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder, Jonathan Kreisberg, Lage Lund, and many others, have begun to explore even more of the possibilities with these exciting sounds and are creating a new harmonic vocabulary with the 4-part-4th chords as a central component.

The 4-part-4th sound was touched upon briefly in part 3 of my Modern Jazz Guitar series, but now we will delve into that sound in detail, leaving no stone unturned (or chord un-played).  This new class provides a logical, systematic step-by-step approach for finding the 4-part-4th harmonies derived from the major and melodic minor scales using guitar-friendly drop 2 and drop 3 voicings.  Numerous musical examples are demonstrated on the video as well as written out in traditional notation and chord grid form, but the material has been designed to be open-ended enough that you will be encouraged to find your own path and work toward developing your unique musical voice.

Advanced Jazz Guitar Harmony, 4-part-4ths, covers:

  • explanation of the difference between tertian and quartal harmony, and discussion of the modal approach versus the functional approach to harmony
  • explanation and exploration of 3-part-4th chords, usually called suspended triads, including harmonization of the major scale with “sus chords.”
  • brief review of major and melodic minor scale seventh chord harmony, with example voicings in close root position
  • explanation of the term 4-part-4th and its relation to suspended seventh chords, with examples applied to the major and melodic minor scales with close position voicings
  • brief review of the terms “drop 2” and “drop 3” with example chord voicings using traditional seventh chords
  • the “chord scale exercise” which is a logical and musical presentation of drop 2 and drop 3 voicings by inversion and string set, using the 4-part-4th chords diatonic to both the major scale and the melodic minor scale, with subtitles on the video that match each exercise to the written example
  • additional methods for developing mastery of the above voicings including inversions and diatonic cycles (including a brief review of the diatonic cycle concept)
  • examples of using 4-part-4ths for comping on II V I chord progressions, including varying degrees of “in” and “out” sounds, and melodic minor scale harmonies
  • etude/chord-melody harmonization combining all of the 4-part-4th concepts in a musical context, using the standard tune “Invitation”
  • running time: 128 minutes
  • includes 22 pages of written examples and exercises
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Class Content

Advanced Jazz Guitar Harmony: 4-Part-4ths
Advanced Jazz Guitar Harmony: 4-Part-4ths 02:08:00

Course Reviews


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  1. Wow


    I only knew one aspect of 4th voicings coming into this class (what Tom has listed as 2nd inversion drop 2 voicings). I had no idea how much there still was to learn! Like Tom’s other classes this one has a tremendous amount of information, very well presented. I think most of us mere mortals will need to come back to this class over a period of many years to get just some of the information presented here burned into our brains. I would suggest learning one particular group of voicings and then go to about 1:30 in the video (page 13 of the handout) to learn how to improve your fluidity with them. Excellent class.

  2. Another great lesson from Tom!


    I have purchased many of Tom’s lessons from the website and have repeatedly found them fruitful and inspiring. I am sure to get more! Thanks Tom!

    by Marcel Batin
  3. 5

    Tom is an amazing teacher! He explains these concepts very well and is very thorough with the material. I’ve been looking for material like this for some time now and this class was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you Tom for a wonderful class. I really look forward to studying more from the classes you are providing 🙂

    by Posido Vega
  4. 5

    This is an awesome class!!!

    Here, you´ll have all the 4-Part-4ths chords well organized in a different charts. You´ll be able to pick the ones you consider your favorites and study them.

    Also, you have examples where you´ll see how to use this chords in different situations.

    If you are looking for a more modern sound, this the class.


    by carlos leon
  5. 5

    I came across this amazing and useful lesson on youtube, trying to browse for some jazz theory (voice leading,chord melody)ideas. I am in my thirties and have to use my time sparingly, trying to catch up on studied musicians. At the same time, I try to follow the most recent trends so my playing (and ultimately composition) does not sound old. Mr. Lippincott’s piece is of great help in all my efforts. His video come close to my heart as I am also using a seven-string guitar (extra low B).

    by Michal ORDOGH
  6. 5

    This video deserves a million stars. I knew some of these voicings but now I have an organized encyclopedia. I’d love to see how to voicelead theses through a more modern tune. I have Kurt’s book of compositions and he sounds so fluid playing the changes but when you look at the chart its all over the place. Anyway, that you so much for being so open as an artist Tom. Truly beautiful stuff!

    Also, in the outro are you using your high A and low B strings? Just absolutely gorgeous colors, Thank you.


    by Ben Jagodzinski
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