Here’s a polychord of E and Eb major that I’m particularly fond of.

RE writing: I use a diagonal line to indicate a slash chord – a triad over a bass note, and a horizontal line to indicate a polychord – one triad over another triad.

I don’t really encounter many polychords in my musical universe, but when I do, it’s a sure sign that paroxysms of musical pain are on their way. And regarding suffering, I follow the creed laid down by Ms. Carol Leifer:

‘No pain, no pain’ :)

But if you are after some bitonal nourishment, may I suggest a diet of writing out all the possible major triads over all major triads?

That’ll be 11 triads over each bass note. (discounting the likes of A over A)

So 11 x 12 = 132 possibilities.

Scribble them out, or better yet, write them out in a text file and post them to the comments below, and then figure out how to play them on the guitar.

Hint: use open strings.

You could also do minor triads.

And combinations.

Comments on Polychord

  1. Mike Outram says:

    Yes, same thing as RoS. Kurt did that with Zhivago. Do you want a transcription?

  2. This is a beast of a chord! And very similar to the one from The Rite Of Spring. I find it much easier to physically play it if you tune your ‘D’ and top ‘E’ string up a tone. After playing the chord over and over like this I found that if I improvise in this tuning and try to hear the fingerboard as if the guitar were still in standard tuning, I was more often than not, pleasantly surprised with the sounds produced. Playing minor and major pentatonics (as if in standard tuning) sound quite pretty like this. Obviously this is quite impractical for improvising as far as melodic intention goes, but I think it is a good way to find new melodic ideas that can then be transferred to standard tuning. Does anybody else do this?

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