Spice Up Your Guitar Licks With the Use of Movable Intervals

You think intervals are boring? See how one of the least exciting concepts in music theory can actually help you create awesome licks!

Ultimate Guitar
"Studying intervals? I'd rather wash the dishes." If you are like most musicians you might have had some similar thoughts (I sure did). Intervals seem to be one of the most boring aspects of music theory. Why so? And can we make something interesting and immediately applicable with them? Keep reading.

Intervals are usually one of the first thing explained in music theory book and websites - and there's nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that they are only explained "in theory" With this I mean that, more often than not, no practical applications for intervals are given in those books or websites: intervals are something you are supposed to study and they will be useful in the future. Kind of like the broccoli your mom made: they tasted horrible but hey, "they are good for you" :-)

Result: musicians get the impression that music theory is not really useful for people who actually want to make music, and get back to play the same old pentatonic scale.

Well, as it happens, it takes just a little bit of imagination to find a practical application for intervals that even a beginner can put into practice immediately. It also happen to sound awesome. I see people like John Petrucci using this kind of trick often in their solos (you can check out the John Petrucci "Pull Me Under" solo here) - and if it's good enough for Petrucci, it's good enough for me.

So without further ado, here's a video that explains how to make your solos way more interesting using one of the most "boring" concept in music theory: intervals. Only, once you apply them they are not boring anymore :-)

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That should be enough to keep you occupied for a while with your guitar - and remember that on the video I applied the concept only to one possible interval, the perfect fifth. I leave to you to use the other intervals and discover what kind of sounds you can get from them. Enjoy!

18 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What a good idea! I, like many other players, have fallen into sticking with the same snaking up and down scales. This will definitely open up where I can go with a lead line/bridge! I bet 3rds and 4ths mixed with 5ths would give a great base to a lot of melodic possibilities! Thanks!
    I was aware of intervals but I've never thought of applying them in this way. Great lesson.
    Awesome and yet so simple - off to pick up my guitar and get practising! Great lesson!
    That lick at 6 minutes was awesome! Imagine if you had someone else playing over it but playing the 3rd intervals instead..