Chords in Stacked Fifths

Most modern music is played using chords build on THIRDS.  For example, a basic G chord:

GABCDEF#

G-B-D

However, you can get some interesting sounds by changing what intervals you use to build your chords.  In fact, some more complex music will use a combination of intervals (3rds, 4ths, and 5ths).

Today we are going to look at making chords out of stacked fifths

 

In a prior blog, I talked about power chords used in rock music.  That’s the initial building block of these stacked fifths.  Let’s take a look at an example:

G A B C D E F#

A fifth away from G is D, so we have the interval G-D.  However, let’s go one further now and skip a fifth away from D.  You have to kind of imagine another G scale to the right of the one above to get it.  We get an A, so our full chord is spelled out

G D A

When you put these together, you get this interesting/open sound that is neither major nor minor.  There is no 3rd within the chord, so you can’t tell if it’s major or minor (It would in fact fit both a G major and G minor chord).

Try practicing this shape on your banjo (or guitar) and see what you think of it.  On the banjo, it is formed as follows:

5th fret of the 4th string

7th fret of the 3rd string

7th fret of the 1st string

You have to skip a string, which makes it a bit tougher for your right hand.  See the video above for more details.

 

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in 6 different countries. All things Banjo and Acoustic Guitar.