In this final class of the Diatonic Triads series, we will explore clusters. Simply stated, a three-note cluster consists of any three consecutive notes from a seven-note scale. We will start with the notes C, D, and E from the C major scale.

While some of the inversions of this structure played as a chord may prove difficult or even impossible on some string sets and/or fretboard locations, we will explore all the possibilities with a view toward finding the most practical examples. When this tight structure is inverted and opened up, it can create more playable shapes and also provide surprisingly open-sounding and unique sonorities.

Included Documentation

The document included entitled “Diatonic Triads Complete – Part 5: Clusters” by Tom Lippincott focuses on the concept of clusters within the context of diatonic triads for guitar. It explains how to construct clusters from any seven-note scale and explores their integration into guitar practice, including various inversions and voicings. The document also includes exercises and examples to demonstrate the practical application of these concepts on the guitar, aiming to enhance harmonic understanding and fretboard navigation.

Diatonic Triads Complete part 5: Clusters covers:

  • explanation of clusters
  • “piano style” versus “choir style” inversions on the guitar
  • map of all inversions of 3-note clusters, plus diatonic harmonized scales on all string sets
  • using diatonic cycles to gain fluency with inversions and voice leading, including contrapuntal variations
  • exploration of open clusters
  • substitution of occasional open clusters for impractical close clusters
  • arpeggiating open clusters to create melodic ideas with wide intervallic leaps
  • exploring clusters from the melodic and harmonic minor scales
  • single-note line and chordal phrases over a minor II V I progression and over the chords of “My Romance” to demonstrate real-world applications
  • 74 minute running time
  • includes 13 pages of written examples and exercises
  • includes backing track for II V I musical example
  • All musical examples from the video are provided in music notation, tablature, and chord grid form.
  • Each example performance is shown in close-up view and titled and numbered for easy navigation.

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Class Content

Full Class + Download
Diatonic Triads Complete Part V Full Class + Download 01:14:22
Diatonic Triads Complete Pt. 5: Ex. 12 00:00:09
Diatonic Triads Complete Pt. 5: Ex. 13 00:00:13
Diatonic Triads Complete Pt. 5: Ex. 14 00:00:14

Course Reviews


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  1. Thank you Tom


    Thank you Tom, and the entire site team for so much precious content.

    Isaac Negrene

    by Isaac Negrene
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