Constructing Lines With The 5th Intervals

Welcome back! In this lesson I would like to talk about the perfect 5th interval and show you some lines that are based from 5th's. I remember taking music theory classes in high school and while we were doing 4 part harmony writing, they used to drill it in our heads, no parallel 5th's. This was a no-no in classical music early on, in 4-part writing. The reason is, the 5th interval is very consonant and strong and it can cancel out other harmonies.

The 5th interval is the interval from the first to the 5th note of the major scale or you can look at it as 7 semitones away from the root, if you count the root as 0. As a guitarist and composer, I like to use 5th intervals to create lines and rhythm ideas. Even though I don't use a lot of power chords in my music, it is just another sound that I'm drawn to for composing.

Now, let me show you just a few examples that are constructed from 5th intervals; we will be only scratching the surface here.

In Example 1, we are starting from a G root and playing consecutive 5th intervals in triplets off of each string. There are many ways you can do this and it can be a fast way to move up the neck. You can also look at this as (1, 5, 9), which is a sound I really like. Also, I like to alternate pick this, but sweeping can work too.

MP3 - Constructing Lines With The 5th Intervals - Example 1

Example 2 is just an Am7th arpeggio (A, C, E, G) outlined with 5th intervals. For example, A - E, C - G, E - B etc. This combination of notes will create a nice Am9th sound.

MP3 - Constructing Lines With The 5th Intervals - Example 2

Example 3 demonstrates a line based off of the first 5 notes of a G lydian scale (G, A, B, C#, D, E, F#), moving up in 5th intervals from G. The whole first bar is built with quintuplets and then the 2nd bar is sextuplets. Even though this example moves in and out of different keys, it can sound good over a G tonal center. The other option is, the last bar can resolve to Bm. Also, the string skipped C# note in the last bar in the last measure can be a little tricky at high speeds. Take it slow at first, and alternate pick this whole thing.

MP3 - Constructing Lines With The 5th Intervals - Example 3


OK, that is it for now. Be sure to make up your own examples and don't forget to visit for the info and to purchase the CDs.

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

Mike Campese: The Fire Within

His latest CD is entitled "The Fire Within", brand new for 2018.

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