Teach Yourself Music Theory – 19.) Tetrachords and Pentachords

Okay, so we have learned a lot of scales so far. This can become confusing and jumbling trying to remember them all and how different they are from each other.

A way to remember is to break them apart into smaller pieces. This is so you can compare and contrast between the scales – essentially see what makes them similar and different.

We can break them up into different groups.

A tetrachord (tetra – meaning “four”) is not a chord, but a group of 4 consecutive notes.

Take a major scale for example and split it down the halfway. Compare the two different tetrachords:

You will see that they are formed of the same interval pattern of W-W-H (or M2-M2-m2). These are major tetrachords, because they are distinctive of the major scale.

Another way to break scales into smaller groups is into pentachords, groups of 5 consecutive notes.

Once again, this is to help understand and memorize the structure/functions of scales.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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