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Section 32.3 Quartal, Quintal, and Secundal Harmony

Quartal harmony refers to chords stacked entirely (or mostly) in fourths. Quintal harmony refers to chords stacked entirely (or mostly) in fifths. Secundal harmony refers to chords stacked entirely (or mostly) in seconds. Contrast these concepts with the tertian (stacked in thirds) harmony we’ve encountered in the majority of this text. Alternative methods of stacking chords became more common after 1900 as composers sought ways to innovate and break with the past.

The next three examples demonstrate quartal harmony.

Figure 32.3.1. Schoenberg, Chamber Symphony No. 1, Op. 9
Figure 32.3.2. John Parker, CHiPs Theme
Figure 32.3.3. Merv Griffin and Julann Wright, Jeopardy! Theme

The following is an extended example of quintal harmony.

Figure 32.3.4. Bartók, Piano Concerto No. 2, II.