Does anyone know about Quartal Quintal chords and harmony? Except from the difference in the interval being stacked?


2 Answers 2


Our normally heard harmonies in Western music come from stacked thirds, albeit major and minor thirds mainly. As in a major triad is a root, maj3 followed by a min 3, and a min7th is root, min3, maj3, min3.

Quartal uses the same idea, but stacks fourths instead. As in root, 4, 7. These fourths can be perfect, diminished or augmented.

Quintal harmony is the same idea again, but using p5, d5 and a5. As is apparent, it's the inverse of quartal harmony - a 4 going one way is a 5 the opposite. (C>F is p4; F>C is p5), so the quartal and quintal are sort of interchangeable.

  • Can you show us a real-world example of quartal voicing that doesn't resolve as 7ths, 9ths, 13ths... ? I'm sure it exists, but I never seem to come across it.
    – Laurence
    Feb 24, 2017 at 20:37
  • 2
    @LaurencePayne - I think, because there are 12 notes available, it's rather like the circle/cycle of 4ths/5ths. Going in whichever way round, counting in 4ths one way, or 5ths the other, we end up with the same mix. It would be similar if we went round in thirds, eventually ending up with the same mixes. Don't forget 11ths. 5>9=4th; 7>11=4th; 9>13=4th...
    – Tim
    Feb 25, 2017 at 7:19
  • How do quartal and quintal chords function harmonically? Nov 25, 2021 at 8:53

This seems to be some sort of literal translation. In Afrikaans you have a kwint, prounounced the same which means a fifth. You also have a kwart which means a fourth. What this has to do with harmony is up in the air as these are only names for intervals. The question may need further details if we are to get anywhere

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