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Lesson Series

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Rick Graham - Octave Displacement

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 15 **

In this guitar lesson we'll be taking a look at my approach to using 'Octave 'Displacement'. Our first port of call, however, is an explanation to what Octave Displacement is. Put simply, it is when we either raise or lower a pitch by exactly one octave. More often than not, this is used with linear passages, guitar licks and phrases to create a more modern 'intervallic' guitar soloing sound.

A great place to start with this is to take a major scale and apply an octave displacement pattern to it. For this example we are going to take an A major scale over 1 octave. What we will then do is apply octave displacement to some of the notes within the scale but will maintain the same order of notes. So let's start with the root on the 5th fret of the low E string. For the following 2nd, 3rd and 4th degrees of the scale, we will play them one octave higher, more specifically: the 9th fret of the D string, the 6th of the G string and the 7th of the G string. For the 5th, 6th and 7th degrees we will play them in the lower octave to where we are now i.e. 7th fret of the A, 4th fret of the D and 6th fret of the D. For the final root note we will play it an octave higher on the 5th fret of the op E string.

Now we have our octave displacement pattern, we can play through it in both ascending and descending fashion. Notice how the octave leaps create a very disjointed but not unpleasing sound. You will find this and other patterns quite demanding to execute with the picking hand due to the high volume of string skipping involved but as always that's nothing that solid practice won't cure!

A very useful way of using an octave displacement pattern such as this is to use it to test your knowledge of intervals. What I like to do is think of a scale or mode and play it simply by making the necessary changes to the major scale starting from the same root, in this case A, according to the formula of the scale. So essentially, what that means is that we only need to memorise the pattern as it occurs for the major scale only as we can make all the changes we need to with our knowledge of scale formulae. This does require that you are familiar with these formulae. For instance, if I want to play the octave displacement pattern using A dorian, all I need to do is flatten the 3rd and 7th degrees of the A major scale pattern we have memorised. If I wish to play A Lydian I simply raise the 4th degree and so on. This is a great way to practice working on your knowledge of intervals and scale formulae whilst also playing a very cool sounding octave displacement pattern.

I have prepared some different patterns for you to apply this approach to but be sure to come up with your own patterns yourself. Have fun and I'll catch you next issue!

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