Make Your Own 3-Note Chords Stacking Intervals

The Palette Chart

Back in 2001, I was fortunate to study with Jon Damian at Berklee College of Music.

Visit Jon’s Website here.

Jon, At the time I was studying with him, published a really cool book: The Guitarist’s Guide To Composing and Improvising.
It’s a great book to have in your personal music library.

You can get the book here:

One of my favorite parts of the book, is what Jon calls “the palette chart.”
It’s basically a chart, listing ALL the 3-note interval structures you can have in music.

22 23 24 25 26 27
32 33 34 35 36 37
42 43 44 45 46 47
52 53 54 55 56 57
62 63 64 65 66 67
72 73 74 75 76 77

22 for example: means, stacking a 2nd on any given note, and then a 2nd on top of that.
23 means stacking a 2nd interval on a given note, and then stacking a 3rd on top of that.

This gives you 3 note structures.

In the key of C major, for example, using 33, you would get:


If you move through the C scale, moving on to the next note, then the next and so, playing 33 structure on every note of the scale, gives you:


Other example, in the key of D, playing a 44 structure on every note of the scale gives you following 3 note chords:


When you practice 77, you’d basically stack two 7th intervals on top of another. (i.e the notes CBA, DCB, etc… )

This is advanced!
You can only really get this, if you studied the previous blogs on intervals, and if you spent enough time improving your fretboard knowledge.

The Study of Musical Intervals Part 1
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 2: The 2nd Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 3: The 3rd Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 4: The 4th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 5: The 5th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 6: The 6th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 7: The 7th Interval
The Study of Musical Intervals Part 8: The Octave
Inversion of Intervals

You can hit those 3 note structures harmonically, as chords.
You can however also separate the notes as arpeggios, to build cool, interesting melody lines from.
Some of these can’t be played harmonically in all locations on the guitar neck because the notes are too far apart (for example 22).
However in that case, you can alway arpeggiate the notes and jump the distance from note to note with your fretting hand.

There is wealth of information in that chart.
Imagine how long it would take you to explore:

  1. All these 36 interval groupings
  2. Moving them through the major scale.
  3. On different stringsets
  4. In All 12 Keys
  5. How about exploring these 36 structures in melodic minor, harmonic minor, and other scales (??)

It’s clear that the possibilities are limitless.


This is an advanced harmony concept.
There is so much knowledge contained in that listing of all 3 note interval groupings, that it will keep you busy for years to come.

Jon’s book goes in much greater detail of course, discussing the many amazing things you can do with these interval groupings, including tons of improv examples.
But the above should already get you started exploring some of the possibilities.

Keep me informed on your progress. You can hit me up in the comments section below.
If you like this blog: give it a rating and feel free to also give me any feedback.
I believe everything can always be improved. I’d gladly implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

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