Intervals (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown


Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Taught by Matt Brown in Rock Guitar with Matt Brown seriesLength: 34:47Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (04:54) Introduction Lesson Goals

Practicing scales in diatonic intervals accomplishes several important technical and musical purposes.

-By practicing wide intervals within a scale, technical issues such as reach development and economy of movement are addressed. String skipping technique is addressed as well.

-Beginning and intermediate guitarists will avoid large melodic leaps when playing a solo just because they are technically challenging. This is never an acceptable reason not to pursue something.

-In the next lesson, Matt will teach some licks from "Sweet Emotion" that feature string skipping. You must first master the basic right and left hand mechanics of string skipping before you attempt these licks.

-The exercises in this lesson will increase your overall awareness of the relationship between notes in a position.

-To improvise effectively, you must know what a certain interval sounds like before you play it. Otherwise, you are simply guessing or connecting the dots as you improvise. As you become more comfortable with the exercises in this lesson, train yourself to recognize the sound of each specific interval.

-Many players get locked into playing small intervals such as seconds and thirds in their solos. This greatly limits the melodic possibilities available. Larger intervals occasionally must be used in order to add variety. The exercises in this lesson will get your fingers and ears acquainted with diatonic intervals of all sizes.

Musical Intervals

There are 7 basic types of intervals that occur within a diatonic scale. Each of these seven types are then broken into two sub-categories. Study the interval types and their subcategories listed below. As you follow along in the lesson video, make a note of where these intervals occur within the seventh position pattern of the C major scale.

A. Seconds

1. Minor Second - 1 half step or the distance from one fret to the next. (E to F)
2. Major Second - 1 whole step or two frets away (C to D)

B. Thirds

1. Minor Third - 3 half steps or three frets away (A to C)
2. Major Third - 2 whole steps or four frets away (C to E)

C. Fourths

1. Perfect Fourth - 2.5 whole steps or five frets away (C to F)
2. Augmented Fourth - 3 whole steps or six frets away (F to B)*

D. Fifths

1. Diminished Fifth - 3 whole steps or six frets away (B to F)*
2. Perfect Fifth - 3.5 whole steps or seven frets away (C to G)

*Notice how the augmented fourth and the diminished fifth span the same distance.

E. Sixths

1. Minor Sixth - 4 whole steps or eight frets away
2. Major Sixth - 4.5 whole steps or nine frets away

F. Sevenths

1. Minor Seventh - 5 whole steps or ten frets away
2. Major Seventh - 5.5 whole steps or 11 frets away

G. Octaves

An octave is 6 whole steps or 12 frets away. Unlike the other intervals, there is only one kind of octave. The octave is frequently referred to as a "perfect octave."

Note: There are a few additional intervals that occur rather infrequently in music. These intervals will be discussed in later lessons.
Chapter 2: (02:09) Diatonic 3rd C Major Scale (7th Position)

Any vertical, diatonic scale pattern can be played using a specific interval type. In this lesson, all interval exercises are applied to the seventh position pattern of the C major scale. At this point in the series, you absolutely must have this scale pattern memorized. It is one of the single most scale patterns for guitar. If you have not yet memorized this pattern, do so before proceeding to the exercises taught in this lesson.

Watch and Learn

Watch as Matt plays through the scale in diatonic thirds at 01:18 in the lesson video. When practicing scales in this manner, always begin with the lowest root note. Then, ascend up to the highest root note. Next, descend to the lowest note in the pattern. Finally, ascend back up to the lowest root note. Refer to the tablature provided under the "Supplemental Content" tab for a visual representation of this guideline.

Practice Time

Pause the lesson video and practice playing the C major scale in diatonic thirds. Begin at a very slow tempo. Always practice with a metronome! Play in quarter notes or eighth notes using alternate picking. Gradually increase the speed of the metronome as you become more comfortable.

Note: Tablature and standard notation to all lesson exercises can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

It should be noted that speed is of little importance to this exercise. Focus on developing your ears as well as left and right hand accuracy. Also, you must get faster at thinking of these intervals on the fly. Developing this skill will help you immensely when it comes to improvising solos.
Chapter 3: (03:37) Performance Diatonic Thirds in Quarter Notes

At the beginning of this scene, play the C major scale in thirds with Matt. The exercise is played in a steady quarter note rhythm at 80 beats per minute. When playing quarter notes at a moderately slow tempo such as this, it is easiest to use all downstrokes.

If you have a hard time keeping up, pause the lesson video and practice on your own. Set the metronome to a slower tempo and gradually work your way back up to 80 beats per minute.

Diatonic Thirds in Eighth Notes

When playing consecutive eighth notes, play with strict alternate picking. Play the exercise in eighth notes at 60 beats per minute along with Matt. This practice example occurs at 02:00 in the video.

To work up to this tempo, continue to practice in quarter notes. Increase the tempo of the metronome until you reach 120 beats per minute. Then, move it back down to 60 beats per minute and play the exercise in eighth notes.

At 02:55, the exercise is played at 65 beats per minute. Play the exercise along with Matt. Also, play it by yourself at this tempo.
Chapter 4: (05:31) Diatonic 4th Watch as Matt plays through the seventh position pattern of the C major scale in diatonic fourths. Then, slowly work through the exercise on your own. Do not memorize the "pattern" of the exercise. Think of the specific note letter name that is located a diatonic fourth above each note in the scale.

Once you have overcome the mental challenges posed by this exercise, begin to play it along with a metronome in quarter notes. Begin at a slow tempo such as 60 beats per minute.

Technical Issues

When playing diatonic fourths, some difficult technical issues arise. Fourths are frequently played on adjacent strings at the same fret. When this occurs, a "finger roll" must be performed.

Also, wider diatonic intervals are harder from a mental standpoint. It is much more difficult to think of diatonic fourths on the fly compared to smaller intervals such as diatonic seconds or thirds. Due to these difficulties, spend extra time practicing diatonic fourths.

Note: The following information about finger rolls is taken from lesson of Matt's Phase 2 Reading Music and Rhythm Series. Watch this lesson for more information on this subject.

Finger Rolls

A finger roll must be performed whenever two consecutive notes are played at the same fret but on different strings. The way in which you fret the initial note must change when this technique is applied. When rolling to a lower string, fret the first note more with the fleshy pad of the finger so that the tip can easily roll to the next note. When rolling to a higher string, the opposite approach must be taken. Fret the first note with the very tip of the finger. Then, slightly flatten out the tip joint so that the pad of the finger frets the second note. When performing a roll, the melody must remain smooth and connected. However, both notes should not ring over top of one another.

Diatonic Fourths in Quarter Notes

Play the exercise along with Matt at 02:17 in the video. The exercise is performed in quarter notes at 65 beats per minute.

At 03:30, the exercise is performed in quarter notes at 75 beats per minute.

Diatonic Fourths in Eighth Notes

Play the exercise at 60 beats per minute in eighth notes. This example is provided at 04:43 in the video. To work up to this tempo, use the metronome practice technique listed under the previous scene. It is easier to play quarter notes at a moderate tempo than eighth notes at an extremely slow tempo.
Chapter 5: (04:51) Diatonic 5th Repeat the process outlined in the previous scene when tackling diatonic fifths. Begin by watching Matt as he plays through the seventh position pattern of the C major scale in diatonic fifths. Then, slowly work through the exercise on your own. Remember not to memorize the "pattern" of the exercise. Think of the specific note letter name that is located a diatonic fifth above each note in the scale. It may help to think of the notes contained within a specific power chord voicing when playing through this exercise.

Diatonic Fifths in Quarter Notes

Once you have overcome the mental challenges posed by this exercise, begin to play it along with a metronome in quarter notes. Begin at a slow tempo such as 60 beats per minute. Return to the lesson video and play along with Matt when you feel comfortable. This example is provided at 01:30 in the video.

The exercise is next played in quarter notes at 75 bpm. Matt covers this example at 02:42.

Diatonic Fifths in Eighth Notes

Play in eighth notes at 50 beats per minute. Work up to playing quarter notes at 100 beats per minute. Then, set the metronome to 50 and play eighth notes. Remember to use alternate picking when playing in eighth notes. Play the exercise along with Matt at 04:00.
Chapter 6: (04:04) Diatonic 6th Matt follows the same format in this scene as the previous scenes. Watch at first as he plays through the scale in sixths. Then, begin to work through the exercise on your own. Return to the video and play along with the examples listed below when you feel ready.

Diatonic Sixths in Quarter Notes

01:10 - 60 bpm
02:23 - 80 bpm

Diatonic Sixths in Eighth Notes

55 bpm - 03:24
Chapter 7: (05:24) Diatonic 7th Sevenths are by far the hardest interval to play. Octaves are slightly more difficult from a technical perspective. However, it is much more difficult to think of diatonic seventh intervals on the fly.

Diatonic Sevenths in Quarter Notes

55 bpm - 02:16
65 bpm - 03:19
80 bpm - 04:18

Diatonic Sevenths in Eighth Notes

55 bpm - 03:24
Chapter 8: (04:11) Wrap-Up Diatonic Octaves in Quarter Notes

80 bpm - 00:47
90 bpm - 01:30

Diatonic Octaves in Eighth Notes

String skipping becomes difficult when playing octaves in eighth notes. Remember to lift the right hand slightly from the bridge to allow for the maximum range of movement.

58 bpm - 02:26

Additional Practice

Apply the exercises to all of the vertical diatonic scale patterns that you know. Remember that a diatonic scale is a seven note scale that does not contain any chromatic alternations. Thus far, Matt has discussed two diatonic scales - the major scale and the natural minor scale. Practice these exercises in all 12 major and minor keys. If you are a more advanced student and already know the modes of the major scale, play the exercises with the modes as well. Also, feel free to explore higher and lower tempo ranges. However, do not let your playing become sloppy. Matt demonstrates the eighth position pattern of C natural minor in thirds at 03:28 to provide an example of this idea. You must practice in a variety of keys and tempos, since pieces of music are written in a variety of keys and tempos.

Preview of Next Lesson

In the next lesson, Matt will provide an in depth look at the solo section to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion." This solo contains many of the lead guitar concepts Matt has discussed in this series. It includes wide interval / string skipping licks, repeating licks, hybrid scale licks, a variety of bends, and more.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

surtrsurtr replied

Hey Matt - I'm confused on something on the diatonic 4th lesson. The F-B isn't a 4th is it? It's a half step above a 4th or below a 5th. I guess if you did a 4th from the 4th note in the scale that wouldn't be on the scale. Anyway, what would that interval be called?

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Good question. There are two types of diatonic fourths that you will find within scales. One is called a perfect fourth. An example would be D up to G. The other is called the augmented fourth. Like you said, this interval is a half step bigger than the perfect fourth. F to B is an example of an augmented fourth.

valhallanvalhallan replied

Wow I can see great melodic possibilities from these intervals but man theres alot to learn and remember haha.

mattbrownmattbrown replied

There sure is! Just remember that slow and steady always wins the race.

jpfanboyjpfanboy replied

ey you played the dimebag floods solo in the diatonic 4th lesson ;D AWSOME

springer 93springer 93 replied

this is a very great lesson. this stuff keep me interested in play the guitar although i have a long ways to go. keep up the great work.

rblgeniusrblgenius replied

very important lesson for soloing and knowing notes you're hitting

mattbrownmattbrown replied

Agreed!! That's why I did it. :)

Rock Guitar with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Chuck Berry among others pioneered the style of rock and roll in the 1950's. Today, rock and roll remains the most popular genre of music. Over the years the genre has progressed & spawned many sub-genres: soft rock, classic rock, punk rock, and more. Dive into this Phase 2 set of lessons to become a master of rock.

Proper PracticingLesson 1

Proper Practicing

Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.

Length: 29:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Introduction to LeadLesson 2

Introduction to Lead

Matt Brown discusses some of the fundamentals to playing lead.

Length: 15:41 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Figuring Out NotesLesson 3

Figuring Out Notes

Matt shows you the basics of figuring out any note on the guitar.

Length: 7:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
ScalesLesson 4


Learn the basic minor, natural, and major scales. Quite a few techniques & ideas start with scales - they're an essential building block.

Length: 34:15 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Major ScalesLesson 5

Major Scales

In this lesson, Matt takes you through the major scales & helps you to understand how they can be used.

Length: 20:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Natural Minor ScalesLesson 6

Natural Minor Scales

Matt teaches the most common natural minor scale patterns.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
BendingLesson 7


Learn & master the most popular types of bends.

Length: 27:48 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweep Picking & RakesLesson 8

Sweep Picking & Rakes

Learn sweep picking and string rakes.

Length: 18:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Solo TechniquesLesson 9

Solo Techniques

Learn various techniques to use when improvising / soloing.

Length: 12:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Tuning DownLesson 10

Tuning Down

Matt explains the most effective way to tune your guitar down.

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Barre ChordsLesson 11

Barre Chords

Learn how to establish finger independence and a few tips and tricks with barre chords.

Length: 37:18 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rock LicksLesson 12

Rock Licks

In this lesson, Matt Brown introduces a rock lick and shows how several famous players have modified it.

Length: 19:30 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock SequencesLesson 13

Rock Sequences

In this lesson Matt teaches some crucial rock sequences. He also explains how these sequences can be integrated in to your playing.

Length: 34:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String SkippingLesson 14

String Skipping

Matt Brown focuses on string skipping technique. He provides several exercises designed to improve this aspect of your playing.

Length: 33:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
IntervalsLesson 15


Lesson 15 in Matt's rock series is all about intervals.

Length: 34:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Rock Lead GuitarLesson 16

Rock Lead Guitar

Matt Brown demonstrates lead guitar techniques using Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" as an example.

Length: 29:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Solo Using Diatonic ScalesLesson 17

Solo Using Diatonic Scales

Matt Brown explains which scales can be used when playing a solo over a diatonic progression in a major key. As an example, he teaches the solo section to Candlebox's song "Far Behind."

Length: 33:02 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Diatonic Natural Minor Lesson 18

Diatonic Natural Minor

This lesson covers the natural minor scale and diatonic natural minor progressions. Matt uses the solo section to "Stairway to Heaven" as an example.

Length: 24:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 19

Right Hand Technique

In lesson 19 Matt provides instruction on developing right hand skills including string skipping.

Length: 26:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Non-Diatonic ProgressionsLesson 20

Non-Diatonic Progressions

In lesson 20, Matt discusses chord progressions that don't follow a diatonic tonality.

Length: 29:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Harmonic MinorLesson 21

Harmonic Minor

Matt begins to discuss and demonstrate the harmonic minor scale.

Length: 29:46 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Improvising Over Harmonic MinorLesson 22

Improvising Over Harmonic Minor

In lesson 22, Matt continues his discussion of the harmonic minor tonality.

Length: 14:36 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sweet Child O' MineLesson 23

Sweet Child O' Mine

In lesson 23, Matt takes a look at the solo section for the song "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Length: 19:43 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
TodayLesson 24


Matt will be taking a look at the solo section from the live version of the Smashing Pumpkins song "Today".

Length: 7:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Back In Black SoloLesson 25

Back In Black Solo

Matt Brown reviews and discusses the solo section to AC/DC's hit "Back In Black".

Length: 9:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
BrotherLesson 26


In lesson 26, Matt covers the solo section from the Alice in Chains song "Brother".

Length: 9:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt's Rock ManifestoLesson 27

Matt's Rock Manifesto

Matt Brown discusses lead guitarists, what makes a good solo, and tips for your own lead playing.

Length: 41:06 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Legato Playing ExercisesLesson 28

Legato Playing Exercises

Matt Brown teaches a number of exercises aimed at improving your legato playing technique.

Length: 37:16 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Right Hand ExercisesLesson 29

Right Hand Exercises

Matt Brown demonstrates a few exercises to build skill and speed in your right hand.

Length: 15:06 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
String Skipping EtudeLesson 30

String Skipping Etude

Matt Brown teaches Heitor Villa-Lobos' 1st Etude as a lesson in string skipping.

Length: 38:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Three Octave ScalesLesson 31

Three Octave Scales

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play three octave versions of the minor pentatonic and the major scales in all 12 keys.

Length: 16:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Diatonic IntervalsLesson 32

Diatonic Intervals

Matt Brown demonstrates how to play all seven of the diatonic intervals within the framework of a horizontal major scale.

Length: 23:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7th ArpeggiosLesson 33

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Matt Brown discuss diatonic arpeggios as a theory lesson as well as demonstrating the technique.

Length: 9:55 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Diatonic 7ths Across the NeckLesson 34

Diatonic 7ths Across the Neck

Matt Brown explains how to play the diatonic seventh chords of the major scale. Similar to lesson 32, this lesson takes a horizontal approach to the fretboard.

Length: 10:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Solo Ideas #1Lesson 35

Solo Ideas #1

Matt Brown teaches a progression and accompanying solo to demonstrate ideas for creating your own.

Length: 21:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Solo Ideas #2Lesson 36

Solo Ideas #2

Matt Brown takes a look at another chord progression and solo.

Length: 17:29 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Legato Playing IdeasLesson 37

Legato Playing Ideas

In lesson 37 of the Rock Series, Matt Brown demonstrates and talks about legato playing ideas.

Length: 21:24 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Rhythm ConceptsLesson 38

Rhythm Concepts

Matt Brown switches gears in lesson 38 to start talking about rhythm concepts for rock playing.

Length: 27:44 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Compositional TechniquesLesson 39

Compositional Techniques

Matt Brown discusses some often used techniques to build effective rock compositions.

Length: 17:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Creative Chord VoicingsLesson 40

Creative Chord Voicings

Matt Brown shows off some ways to add some creativity and originality to your rock chord voicings.

Length: 11:59 Difficulty: 1.5 FREE
Lead ApproachLesson 41

Lead Approach

Matt Brown takes another look at his approach to soloing. He demonstrates ideas you can use in your own playing.

Length: 12:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #2Lesson 42

Lead Approach #2

Matt Brown adds practice to his lead approach by giving you another chord progression to solo over.

Length: 7:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lead Approach #3Lesson 43

Lead Approach #3

Matt Brown has another chord progression and solo exercise to go over in this lesson on lead approach.

Length: 10:25 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
String Skipping RevisitedLesson 44

String Skipping Revisited

Matt Brown takes another look at string skipping. He breaks down some key areas of Matteo Carcassi's Allegro as an exercise.

Length: 16:29 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt Brown

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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