You think intervals are boring? See how one of the least exciting concepts in music theory can actually help you create awesome licks!
If there's one thing that most musicians dread studying it's intervals. I think it's because there is an awful lack of immediate practical applications for them. Let's feel this void by seeing a simple and useful one.
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, we don't need to take this situation as it is. I happen to think that intervals are fun and it takes only a little ingenuity to find ways to use them in your solos.
In the video below I show a very simple practical application of intervals that will make a simple phrase sound great. This trick has been used by countless players (John Petrucci comes to mind) to create interesting and unpredictable lines - and it's so incredibly easy that even a beginner can apply it!
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!
Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.