Hey Jazz Guy November 2010

You’re right. Wide intervals are indeed modern, but not as daunting as you might think.
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Hey Jazz Guy,
I know that wide intervals are a modern concept. Do you have any suggestions for how I can work them into my playing?
–Narrow in Nashville

Dear Narrow,
You’re right. Wide intervals are indeed modern, but not as daunting as you might think. The guitar is a fantastic instrument for exploring wide intervals, because the nature of the fretboard makes it physically easy to play them. There are a few simple techniques you can practice and quickly incorporate into your performances. Octave displacement is a great way to give the quirky modern feel of wide intervals. Ex. 1 is a simple IIm7- V7 line.


Then in Ex. 2 we will transpose—up or down by an octave—some of the notes so the melody is more disjointed. Even when applied sparingly, octave displacement is very effective.


Practicing scales in wide intervals such as in Ex. 3 (C major scale played in diatonic 7ths) is another technique to build wide interval chops. Notice the harmonic difference between scales played in different intervals.


Going one step further brings us to the concept of episodes [Examples 4 and 5]. An episode is a phrase that includes every note of a particular chord scale. By writing phrases that include all seven notes of a scale and applying octave displacement, there are endless possibilities for creating slick-sounding lines based on wide intervals. Keep in mind you can play linear episodes as well. Shed this hard, as it will take time to get used to this type of playing. It will, however, be time well spent. Your music will literally open up.


Jake Hertzog is the jazz ambassador to the non-jazz world. Send your questions to guitplyr@musicplayer.com. Jake’s latest release is Patterns [Buckyball].