These four-note combinations (tetrachords) consist of triads (major, minor, diminished, and augmented) with major 2nd’s (or 9th’s) added above the root.
Tetrachords are a convenient method for creating unassailably harmonically-correct lines.
I find that improvising with these patterns (rather than intricate arpeggios, chord-scales, and modes, etc.) frees up brain processing power to think more about rhythm, phrasing, and line direction.
Try improvising lines through chord changes using these patterns.
Emphasize half-step resolutions between changing harmonies.
Anchor the patterns in your memory by focusing on the triad forms embedded in these diagrams.
I have written the patterns on the root “C,” but they are easily transposable by shifting the shapes to new root locations.
Tetrachords for Guitar (also Bass & Flute): A Thesaurus of Four-Note Patterns for Improvisers & Composers
Tetrachords, or four-note patterns, offer various advantages over scalar or modal approaches to improvising and composing melodies through chord changes.
A tetrachord-based linear approach is indispensable for navigating modern improvisational styles due to the general complexity, challenging tempos, and fast-moving harmonic rhythms involved.
Tetrachords: A Thesaurus of Four-Note Patterns for Improvisers & Composers, a comprehensive 219-page resource, offers clear solutions and stimulates creativity through:
- An introduction to using four-note patterns (tetrachords) for melodic improvisation in the style of John Coltrane
- A highly-organized 24-day practice plan for mastering 144 of the most common tetrachord permutations, in every key, and across the entire range of the instrument
- Four etudes based on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and “26-2” chord progressions
- Advice on tetrachord-based melodic improvisation, including detailed resources for creating variations in rhythm and contour
- The book’s six appendices include comprehensive lists of all of the tetrachords possible within the altered and chromatic scales, as well as suggestions for applying tetrachords to extended harmony and “upper-structures.”
- (Please note: this book does not include TAB; it is presented in standard notation only.)
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