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Watch the Chapter 13: Harmonizing a Scale with 4-Note Chords online guitar lesson by Frank Vignola from Modern Method for Guitar

This chapter builds on the previous chapters where we harmonized the major scale and melody with triads. We will use the same approach with the added 4th note. Remember that the Inversion Excursion supplement of this book has all the variations for your reference.

1. Remember that chords are built by choosing every other note in the scale. With that in mind, start with a C major triad (C-E-G) and add the next note B and you have a C major 7th chord.

2. Play the C major 7th with the root on the 5th string, the 5 on the 4th string, the 7 on the 3rd string and the 3 on the 2nd string.

3. Raise each note in the chord to the next scale tone on the string. The root on the 5th string moves up a whole step to the next scale tone, here: the D on the same string. The G is raised a whole step to the A, the B is raised a half step to the C, and the E is raised a half step to the F.

4. Once you find the most logical fingering, strum the chord. This is the Dm7 chord, referred to as the ii chord because it is built on the second tone of the major scale.

5. Continue to do this, hitting all scale tones.

6. In essence, you are playing the C major scale on 4 strings simultaneously with different starting points, which yields the following chords:

Cmaj7 is the I chord or the root chord C-E-G-B (1-3-5-m7)

Dm7 is the ii chord D-F-A-C (1-b3-5-m7)

Em7 the iii chord E-G-B-D (1-b3-5-m7)

Fmaj7 the IV chord F-A-C-E (1-3-5-M7)

G7 the V chord or the dominant G-B-D-F (1-3-5-m7)

Am7 the vi chord A-C-E-G (1-b3-5-m7)

Bm7-5 the vii chord or the half diminished B-D-F-A (1-b3-b5-m7)

7. Apply this lesson using each inversion as a starting point.

8. Using the same approach, harmonize the major scale on each set of four strings.

9. Next, harmonize the major scale with 4 note spread voicings, skipping the 5th string first and then the 4th string, as indicated in the following notation.

10. Once you learn these inversions in the key of C, move to other keys with the goal of playing them in all 12 keys.

11. Be aware that you can add other intervals, such as the 6th, 9th, 11th; to the triad to come up with additional four note chords.

12. Included in this chapter is a chord shapes supplement to help you get started.