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I have a question regarding two note chord progressions on the G and B strings. I have noticed this in at least two songs:

  1. The intro to Teacher's Pet in School of Rock

Tab courtesy of Guitar_Legend01

INTRO 

e|-------------------------------------------|
B|7-7-7-8-8-10-8-7-|[8-8-8-7-7-8-8-----------|
G|7-7-7-7-7--7-7-7-|[7-7-7-7-7-7-7]----------| (x2)
D|-------------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------|

The chords are D-F#, D-G, D-A. So technically, this is a D (root-3rd), Dsus4, D (root 5th) chord progression, with the two D chords being different inversions, correct?


  1. The outro of Sum 41's In Too Deep (link is timestamped)

Tab courtesy of izak.atak

3:16
 
  {Gtr 2
e|---------------------------------------------|
B|--9-10-9-10-12-10-9-10--9-10-9-10-9----------|
G|--9-9--9-9--9--9--9-9---9-9--9-9--9-11-9-11--|
D|------------------------------------11-9-11--|
A|---------------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------|
 
3:20
 
  {Gtr 2
e|-----------------------------------------------|
B|--9-10-9-10-12-10-9-10--9-10-9-10-9------------|
G|--9-9--9-9--9--9--9-9---9-9--9-9--9-11-9-11-9--|
D|------------------------------------11-9-11-9--|
A|-----------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------|

The chords are E-G#, E-A, E-B. This would result in an E (root-3rd), Esus4, E (root-5th) chord progression, with the two E chords also being different inversions similar to the Teachers Pet intro, correct?


Another example that is slightly different is the into to Sum 41's Baby You Don't Wanna Know

Tabs courtesy of jake41

Intro (x6)
 
e|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-5--7-7--5--7---5--7--5--7--5--7--5----------------------------------------|
D|-5--7-7--5--7---5--7--5--7--5--7--5--7-------------------------------------|
A|-------------------------------------7-------------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------------------|

This riff also uses the 4th but does so using the D and G string so it is the 4ths that are stacked and not the 3rd.


My question is this: Is there any theory behind this progression of using inversions and suspended chords, or does this technique have a name? Is there something inherent about the 4th that creates tension in between the inverted major chords? The tuning of the B string makes these types of progressions/riffs super easy to play (as the root and third are stacked plus the sus4th and 5th are one fret closer) and they are fun to explore in different keys and melodies. It has a very punchy, vibrant sound to it which fascinates me. I have noticed it in other songs but these two examples really resonate with me. Even using this strategy with different strings like the D and G strings in the third example is captivating when the root and 4th are stacked.

Also, if anyone has other cool examples of this, please feel free to share in your response to my questions if it helps drive the point across.

NOTE: IF YOU THINK THESE TABS ARE WRONG, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM POINTING THAT OUT, AS THAT IS NOT WHAT MY QUESTION IS. IF YOU DISAGREE, PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER OR SIMPLY ANSWER MY QUESTION UNDER THE ASSUMPTION THESE TABS ARE CORRECT.

EDIT: Grammar

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3 Answers 3

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The best description for your first two examples is that there is a pedal point. That's the idea that one pitch is repeated throughout a section, while another "voice" moves around, creating different intervals against it. I wouldn't worry about analyzing each interval that is created as a separate "chord" (for one thing, you'd be extrapolating from just two notes!); rather, I'd just go with the analysis "there's a pedal point under this melody."

It's been a very popular device throughout history and across genres. Here's an example from the famous Bach(?) Toccata and Fugue in D minor:

In this case the organists sticks the repeated As "in between" the moving notes, but the effect is similar.

Or, in the opening bars of Van Halen's "Jump," the bass and synth left hand stay parked on the tonic note as the right hand creates chords above it, only budging for the cadence:

Meanwhile, the "Baby You Don't Wanna Know" excerpt simply uses parallel fourths. It isn't really related, except: it only moves by occasionally briefly visiting the step below, so it sort of "counts" as a sustained pitch. And once the vocals enter, they "move around" above it, so there's sort of a "pedal point" of the guitar's parallel 4ths riff under the vocal melody.

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The chords are D-F#, D-G, D-A. So technically, this is a D (root-3rd), Dsus4, D (root 5th) chord progression, with the two D chords being different inversions, correct?

Not quite. The lower note is always D. So, if we choose to name these incomplete chords as if they were variations of a D major triad, they're not different inversions, rather all root position.

Full descriptions would be D(omit5), Dsus4(omit5), D (omit3), or, for the last one just D5 - though that has connotations of a 'power chord' which this isn't really.

You can think of the sequence as named chords. Or as a melody over a constant D pedal. The 1st and 3rd intervals/chords are consonant, the 2nd is less stable.

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Without having heard the song, I'd call it D, G/D, D. Partial chords with the high notes forming a sort of melody line over the pedal D. The actual melody line and other instruments may change that.

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