In this is­sue Shaun Baxter looks at a mu­si­cal in­ter­val that many are tempted to over­look as the ba­sis for solo­ing in­spi­ra­tion.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Shaun Baxter con­tin­ues his se­ries with a les­son on us­ing 7th in­ter­vals in Mixoly­dian mode.

Com­pared to other in­ter­val-types, it is rel­a­tively rare to see 7ths used as the ba­sis for mu­si­cal ideas; how­ever, as the fun­da­men­tal na­ture of this col­umn is to ex­plore ev­ery dark mu­si­cal re­cess in or­der to yield new ideas, I’ve de­cided to in­clude them here.

Within the modes of the Ma­jor scale, each 7th in­ter­val will be one of two types: • Mi­nor 7th = 10 semi­tones

• Ma­jor 7th = 11 semi­tones

To il­lus­trate this, have a look at di­a­gram 1, which rep­re­sents the notes of D Ma­jor (and any of its modes, like A Mixoly­dian). If you start from any note, and then move in any di­rec­tion (clockwise or anti-clockwise) to an­other note that’s six notes away (in other words, with an­other five scale notes in be­tween), the dis­tance is usu­ally ei­ther a ma­jor 7th or a mi­nor 7th.

The main rea­son for their rar­ity, when com­pared with other in­ter­vals, is that 7ths (like 2nds) can sound some­what clash­ing and dis­so­nant. In fact, 7ths are in­ver­sions of sec­onds. For ex­am­ple, if we were to look at the in­ter­val (gap or dis­tance) be­tween G and F#: if you go up from G to F#, you get a ma­jor 7th; if you go down from G to F#, you get a mi­nor 2nd.

If you hold down an F# note and a G note on ad­ja­cent strings and play them as a dou­ble-stop, they sound quite jar­ring and dis­so­nant (a use­ful ef­fect to have in the mu­si­cal locker), whereas, if you do the same thing when the same two notes are a ma­jor 7th apart, the ef­fect is sim­i­lar, but noth­ing like as pun­gent.

In­ci­den­tally, the in­ver­sion of a mi­nor 7th in­ter­val (a dis­tance of 10 semi­tones) is a ma­jor 2nd (two semi­tones), as can be ob­served when one trav­els up from A to G (mi­nor 7th in­ter­val) or down from A to G (ma­jor 2nd in­ter­val).

Al­though this re­cent se­ries has fo­cused mainly on the use of var­i­ous in­ter­vals, we have also been us­ing those con­cepts to de­velop medi­umpaced lines. Many rock play­ers over­look the mid-paced mid­dle ground that helps to pro­vide bal­ance when im­pro­vis­ing; this is due largely to the nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to want to be able to shred (very fast play­ing) or to ac­cess all the ear-catch­ing Steve-Vai-like noises that can be ex­tracted from the elec­tric gui­tar (there­fore lend­ing in­ter­est and ex­cite­ment to slow notes). Gen­er­ally, medium-paced ideas will be ‘du­ple’ (mul­ti­ples of two, such as two, four, eight etc) or ‘triple’ (mul­ti­ples of three, such as three, six etc) in na­ture. When solo­ing over a par­tic­u­lar ac­com­pa­ni­ment (back­ing track etc), it’s im­por­tant to assess whether a du­ple or triple de­nom­i­na­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate for your medium-paced ideas. This de­pends on both the tempo and feel, but you are usu­ally look­ing at pitch­ing your ap­proach some­where on the rhyth­mic lad­der rep­re­sented in Di­a­gram 2 (note how it al­ter­nates be­tween du­ple and triple time as you scroll, up or down through the var­i­ous gear ra­tios).

Gen­er­ally, for ease of thought, it’s a good idea to keep your reper­toire di­vided into du­ple and triple ideas. Re­mem­ber, from Di­a­gram 2, you can al­ways dou­ble up each idea (for ex­am­ple, any eighth-note idea can be played twice as fast to cre­ate a 16th-note pat­tern and, sim­i­larly, any eighth-note triplet idea can be played twice as fast to cre­ate a 16th-note triplet one).

This month, be­cause of the ‘shuf­fley’na­ture of the back­ing track, most of the ex­am­ples are based upon ei­ther quar­ter-note or eighth-note triplets; how­ever, you should also ex­per­i­ment with ways in which these ex­am­ples can be adapted to fit, say, a funk track that re­quires mainly eighth or 16th notes (in other words, groups of four, or du­ple, in­stead of three, triple).

When do­ing this though, it’s worth bear­ing in mind that, in the same way that it is

if you start from any note then move in any di­rec­tion to an­other note five scale tones away, it’s usu­ally a mi­nor or ma­jor 7th

pos­si­ble to use only two notes to cre­ate a three-note mo­tif by us­ing the fol­low­ing: • ‘low-low-high’;

• ‘low-high-low’;

• ‘high-high-low’

• or ‘high-low-high’

Four-note mo­tifs can be cre­ated from:

• a sin­gle 7th (two notes);

• ‘stacked’ 7ths (two or four notes);

• or two iso­lated 7ths (four notes). Fur­ther­more, it’s also worth re­mem­ber­ing that it is pos­si­ble to play a mo­tif of any size to ei­ther a du­ple or triple count (for ex­am­ple, a five-note mo­tif to an eighth-note triplet rhythm), al­though the re­sults may end up be­ing rhyth­mi­cally dis­placed if re­peated.

Dur­ing this se­ries, the ob­ject is to build up a va­ri­ety of in­ter­val-based ap­proaches over the same dom­i­nant back­ing track us­ing A Mixoly­dian in con­junc­tion with the A Mi­nor Blues scale (which is why the mu­si­cal ex­am­ples have been writ­ten out in the key of A rather than D).

A B C# D E F# G A Mixoly­dian – b7 12 3456


A Mi­nor Blues – A C D EG b3 b5 b7

1 4 5

All the 7ths that have been high­lighted in each of this les­son’s ex­am­ples, are taken from A Mixoly­dian, and each of these sec­tions is flanked by A Mi­nor Blues-orientated ideas. Al­though var­i­ous 7th in­ter­vals might also be played within sur­round­ing Mi­nor Blues­based ideas, we are go­ing to ig­nore them, as they are purely in­ci­den­tal, and not part of the main con­cept high­lighted in each line.

Re­gard­ing this month’s back­ing track, most drum­mers would write it out in 6/8; how­ever, for ease of read­ing on gui­tar, I have stuck to 4/4, view­ing the bass drum pat­tern as a quar­ter-note triplet rhythm. If your rhythm read­ing isn’t great; don’t worry about it: just read the tab and use your ears to guide you.

Fi­nally, once you have ab­sorbed the var­i­ous con­cepts stud­ied here, you should also aim to ap­ply the same prin­ci­ples to the other scales that you know in or­der to de­velop use­ful reper­toire that you can draw upon when im­pro­vis­ing. For ex­am­ple, you can also pro­duce A Do­rian equiv­a­lents for each of the GT ex­am­ple ideas (or your own) sim­ply by re­plac­ing any C# notes with C notes, since Do­rian mode can be viewed as a mi­nor ver­sion of Mixoly­dian. Have fun!

John Scofield: some of his fu­sion ideas are 7th based

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