Complete Tetrachord Combinations: Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, & Harmonic Major Scale Harmony

This post explores all of the possible tetrachords (four-note combinations) in Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, & Harmonic Major Harmony.

(Download the accompanying PDF at the bottom of the post.)

These exhaustive lists may appear too information-packed to be useful. (There are 840 combinations per scale.)

I suggest dipping into them occasionally to more deeply explore the vertical (chords) and horizontal (melody) aspects of their all-important parent scales.

You’ll find every standard approach to chord voicing contained herein, as well as many uncommon sonorities.

Some structures may be impossible to play as chords unless one or more of the tones are raised an octave.

Experiment with the lists, and you’ll discover many new things about these commonly-used harmonic palettes (scales).

Below are a few examples of how the lists can be used to create chords and arpeggios (taking some liberties with octave placement and contour):

Contrapuntal Combinations

Here are some really nerdy PDF’s for composers.

These files list all of the possible arrangements of 2 or 3 voiced counterpoint, including the retrogrades (r), inversions(i) and retrograde inversions(ri) of the lines.

When you want to generate some unexpected material, or just marvel at the infinitude of music, give these a try.

Rhythmic Permutations & Systematic Silences

Composers rarely approach silences as systematically as sounds.

In an attempt to remedy this in my own compositions, I’ve created the following PDF’s.

These PDF’s list all of the possible arrangements using eighth notes and eighth rests in 3/4 (6/8) and 4/4 (or 8/8).

Try stringing a few of these rhythms together to create unique (and longer) rhythmic phrases, or put them in different voices to develop rhythmic counterpoint.