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):

Chord Inversions, Arpeggios, Scales: Combined Practice

Here is a useful exercise that combines 7th chord inversions and arpeggios with scales, allowing you to kill three birds with one stone in your practice.

The diamond-shaped white noteheads are the “main” note, the one you should have in mind while playing the other components of the exercise.

The idea is to blend chord inversions, arpeggios, and chord scales, or modes, into one stream of thought.

Try developing this concept within a jazz standard. Here’s an excellent chord progression:

Isfahan by Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington in the Key of D♭ (Original Key)

Try it in the key of C for some perspective and more guitar-friendly roots:

Isfahan by Billy Strayhorn & Duke Ellington in the Key of C (Easier Key)