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Jamie Humphries – The Rhythm Method Part 4: Using Intervals

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 5 **

Over the past rhythm guitar lessons, we've been studying a slightly more interesting Blues progression, and have looked at ways of learning chords all over the neck and spicing up chord ideas with extended voicings. This month we are going to stick with some of the chords featured last month but also include a few stylistic interval ideas, as well as adding in a few pentatonic fills for good measures.

First let's take a look at a little bit of theory so that you fully understand what an interval is. The basic concept of an interval is the distance between two notes. Within the major scale we have seven intervals; from the root note of any chosen scale, when playing it against each note of the major scale a root note is achieved. As there are seven notes in the major scale, seven different intervals can be achieved from our root note which are as follows; major 2nd, major 3rd, perfect 4th, perfect 5th, major 6th, major 7th and octave. We can also treat each note of the scale as a root note giving use a new series of intervals, which include our five remaining intervals, depending on what note you start on as your potential root note. This remaining intervals include minor 2nd, minor 3rd, augmented 4th /diminished 5th, minor 6th and minor 7th.

The great thing about intervals is that they produce certain sounds that are associated with certain styles of music. The intervals of a 3rd and also a 6th are widely associated with Blues, and also Country music. As I mentioned earlier, we can treat every note of the scale as a root note, and then produce a series of intervals from each of those notes. If we start from each note and play three notes above we get a series of 3rd s which are as follows through the major scale; major 3rd, minor 3rd, minor 3rd , major 3rd, major 3rd, minor 3rd, minor 3rd. Now let’s take a look at the 6th intervals constructed from each note of the major scale; major 6th, major 6th, minor 6th, major 6th,major 6th, minor 6th, minor 6th. Another way of looking at the 6th interval is to also see it as an inverted 3rd, meaning it’s a 3rd with the root note in the top instead of the bottom.

Now let’s look at adding the 3rd and 6th intervals into our Blues progression. Because chords associated with Blues are built from the 5th degree of the major scale, meaning that they are dominant chords, major chords that have a minor 7th, when building intervals to play over our chords, we need to treat the 5th degree of the major scale as our starting point, in other words as we are playing a Blues in A, with our starting chord as A7, we need to include intervals from the key that A is the 5th of, which is the key of D. This is very important, as you don’t want to play intervals from the A major scale over the A7 chord, as the A7 chord contains the note of G natural, while the key of A major contains the note of G#. You will have to remember that as the chords of a Blues change, we will also have to change the scale that each of the dominant chords originates from. The IV chord of our Blues is D7, which is the V chord of G, so when playing over D7 chord use intervals from G major,  and the V chord of our Blues is E7 which is the V chord of A major, so when playing of our E7 chord use intervals from the key of A major. Sound confusing? Well just remember that each chord of our Blues is a dominant chord, each of them being V chords, even though a Blues is a I, IV, V. Be sure to check out the video for a more in-depth explanation.

Now onto our Blues progression, which is the same progression we have been studying over the past few issues. The first section, the A section,  uses a selection of the sliding 6th chords that we learnt last month, but I have embellished them with some 6th interval fills, to add a more Bluesy flavour to our track. I have also included a couple of pentatonic licks to also embellish the chords. Over the F#m to D major chord I have outlined the changes with ascending diatonic 3rd interval ideas. The repeat of the A section includes variations on the ideas from the first time round. Just feel free to embellish them with your own variations and ideas.

Now onto the B section and for this section I have tried to develop a thematic idea based around our 6th intervals that follows the various dominant chord changes. During the quick turn around I have chosen to stick with basic chord arpeggios similar to what we saw in last month’s version of the track. The track concludes with the A section again, and once again includes variations on our chords and our 6th intervallic ideas.

Well that concludes our look at embellishing a Blues with more advanced sounding chords and interval ideas. As always don’t just stick to the transcribed idea, and try experimenting with ideas and variations of your own.


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