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Secret Sauce: Solos
from Jeff Scheetz's Blues Rock: Secret Sauce
This month’s “secret sauce” is all about intervallic playing, which is
utilizing interesting intervals in your solos, rather than the up and
down, scale-based riffs that we have all found ourselves relying on
from time to time. There are two types of intervals: melodic intervals,
which are single notes played one at a time, and harmonic
intervals, which are more than one note played at a time, or harmonies.
To hear a great example of someone who has mastered
intervallic playing, seek out Scott Henderson. He is known for
using intervals to give his playing more a sophisticated, complex
Our first example starts off with a lick that uses melodic intervals
based off of the C# minor pentatonic scale – C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#
-- as well as using a few notes from the C# Aeolian mode, which
is C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, or the E major scale played from C#
This works because E major is the relative major of C#. So begin
at the 9th fret on the third string, slide down a half step, skipping
to the 9th fret of the fifth string, followed by the fourth string.
Slide up to the 11th fret on the fourth string, then go to the 9th
fret on the third string, followed by the second string, then the
first. Now, look for the pentatonic blues walk down from the 12th
fret, first string. Use your pinky to slide the last note up to the second
Using wide intervals is a great way to create killer lines, and many
jazz artists have used this intervallic technique through the years.
Listening to great horn players is an excellent way to begin to
think in intervals, and Charlie Parker is always at the top of any list
for recommended listening. Horn players tend to approach things
differently than guitarists, and using intervals comes a bit more
naturally to them. Listen closely and don’t be afraid to borrow
Let’s look at a couple of other ways that we can apply some
interesting concepts to this progression to make our playing more
unique. Arpeggios are great because they lend themselves to
intervallic playing, due to the fact that intervals tend to keep you
skipping around the fretboard, much like arpeggio shapes. Since
we are working from the C# minor pentatonic and C# Aeolian
scales, a minor 7th arpeggio shape is suggested. A nice chromatic
run works well here, to move from one arpeggio to the next. You
can then move to an E major 7th arpeggio shape to fully enter
fusion territory, breaking up pentatonic runs with some nice intervals.
We can also use harmonic intervals using the octaves.
So, when we’re thinking about intervals, we’re looking at different
types of interval shapes that we can play to take our playing a
little bit further outside – to keep from sounding repetitive. We’re
doing that by starting with a minor pentatonic scale, but adding
interesting intervals to it, jumping and skipping around a little bit
more, to create movement. We’ve also gone over using arpeggio
shapes and chromatic lines to tie things together. Experiment with
this, and don’t be afraid to explore, going back and forth between
your C# minor pentatonic scale and C# Aeolian mode.
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