To enrich and modernize the harmonization of a piece it is common to use fourth chords. They can replace some original chords to bring more melodic freedom into improvisation and more tension in harmony. Since the late 1950s, harmony in fourths has played a very important role in the development of modern jazz. Musicians and composers have used a lot the quartal harmony. Among them, the great American pianist McCoy Tyner, who is a master in the art of playing quartal chords. Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Kurt Rosewinkel have also used this technique. In this lesson we will see how to build chords in fourths, how to harmonize the major scale with and how to use them in comping.
One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. For this, you have to stack thirds (It is also possible to harmonize the major scale in fourths). If you are wondering why thirds and not seconds or sixths for example, the reason is mainly historical: our music today is based on harmony in thirds. Once you have read this lesson, you will be able to find the tonality of a song simply by looking at its chords, you will know which scale to play on which chord progressions.