Octave Playing - Guitar Lesson With Lines and Theory
- By Stef Ramin
- On 12/30/2018
- 0 comments
What's Octave Playing?
Octave playing is a big part of jazz guitar language, this technique has been popularized by guitarist Wes Montgomery one of the greatest improvisers and jazz genious of all times.
Theoretically, the principle is quite easy to understand. You just have to play lines using two simultaneaous notes separated by twelve semitones. In practice, it is more difficult because of the fingerings.
Indeed, you have to move two fingers at the same time while keeping the same hand position. This lesson provides guitar diagrams and easy guitar lines for a good mastery of this technique.
An octave relates to the number 8, it is made of 12 semitones. It is the name of the interval between the first note and the eighth note of a heptatonic scale.
When playing one octave higher you play the same note but higher, when playing one octave lower you play the same note, but lower.
The range of a standard tuned guitar (E-A-D-G-B-E). Each pitch is identified by a system named Octave Identification System or Scientific Pitch Notation.
The principe is that each pitch is labeled with a number. This system is generally used by piano players. For example, the lowest C note of a piano is labeled C1 whereas the highest note is named C8.
It works the same with guitars. As shown in the shapes below the lowest E is E3 and the highest E is E6.
Locate octaves on your guitar neck will help you learn much easier scales and chords. This way you will learn in-depth you guitar fretboard and you will be able to transpose any scales, melodies and chords.
How To Find Octaves On Guitar?
Any guitar player should be able to find easily the notes across the neck. You will reach that point by learning the octaves shapes below. Each shape below shows an octave, the two notes in the diagram share the same name.
In other words, one note is higher or lower than the other. This way you can find the name of any note on the entire guitar neck.
These first two shapes have their lowest roots on the sixth string. Meaning that there are two methods of playing an octave with roots on the sixth and fourth string.
For example, if you take the first diagram and place a finger on the 6th string at the fifth fret you get an A. So, the note on the fourth string is the same note an octave higher.
The second shape produces exactly the same notes, but the highest note is on the third string instead of the fourth.
Octave Shapes 3 & 4
The lowest root on the third and fourth diagrams is on the fifth string, the highest on the third on second string. All these notes have the same name.
Octave Shapes 5 & 6
Here are two other ways of playing an octave. The two forms have the lowest note on the third string and the highest on the second or first string.
Octave Shape 7
The only option to play an octave with the lowest note on the third string is represented by the diagram 7.
The most common way to play octaves on guitar is to use the diagrams 1, 3, 4 and 7 previously seen. The most effective execution of octave playing technique is to play the two notes simultaneously using the first finger and the little finger of the left hand (or right hand if you are left-hande) on the following string sets : 6 and 4, 5 and 3, 4 and 2, 3 and 1.
You can eventually use the third finger in place of the pinky finger to play the highest note of the octave. Wes Montgomery wich is considered the best representative user of octave playing technique used to strike the string with his thumb, but you can of course use a pick.
The following octave exercise in G major illustrates the positions covering all the guitar neck. Please note that the G major scale interval pattern is 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 giving the notes G - A - -B - C - D - E - F#. The positions used in the tab on the right are related to the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th octave shapes above.
Octave Exercises 2 & 3 - Circle of 4ths
The two examples below show how to play octaves following the circle of 4ths aka cycle of fourths. The progression is C7 | F7 | Bb7 | Eb7 | Ab7 | Db7 | Gb7 | B7 | E7 | A7 | D7 | G7.
Octave Exercises 4 - Diatonic Arpeggios
You can now try to play octaves starting on each tone of diatonic arpeggios. The arpeggios used are built from the G major scale:
- Gmaj7 (G-B-D-F#)
- Amin7 (A-C-E-G)
- Bmin7 (B-D-F#-A)
- Cmaj7 (C-E-G-B)
- D7 (D-F#-A-C)
- Emin7 (E-G-B-D)
- F#m7b5 (F#-A-C-E)
Octave Exercise 5 - Minor Patterns
This YouTube video provides 10 easy octave patterns in D minor. These lines in the style of Wes Montgomery are mostly based on the Dorian mode and the minor blues scale.
Once you're comfortable with these lines, try to play them in 12 keys and try to apply them to your favorite changes.
10 Minor Jazz Guitar Octave Licks For Beginners (Dm7)
Octave Exercise 6 - Dominant Patterns
Another video providing ten easy dominant patterns to play over a Bb7 chord. Once again try to transpose them in twelve keys.
10 Easy Dominant Jazz Guitar Octave Licks With Tabs
Octave Exercise 7 - II V I progression
Here is an easy octave line to play over a classic II V I sequence in C major.
Octave Exercise 8 - II V I progression
This II V I phrase contains notes from D dorian (D-E-F-G-A-B-C) and G Mixolydian (G-A-B-C-D-E-F). It ends on a C69 chord (C-E-A-D) (1-3-6-9).
Octave Exercise 9 - II V I progression
Two scales are used here, D Dorian over Dm7 and G altered (G-Ab-Bb-B-Db-Eb-F) over G7alt.
Octave Exercise 10 - Jazz Blues Line
This guitar line is transcribed from an Emily Remler solo, it is taken from the PDF eBook "49 Essential Jazz Guitar Lines".
It contains of a repetitive pattern built with the 5 (F), b7 (Ab) and root (Bb) of Bb7. You can play it over the first four bars of a Bb jazz blues tune.
Lastly, to conclude this lesson let's take one of the 10 jazz blues tunes that every guitarist should know. Blue Monk is a 12-bar blues in Bb composed by the great pianist Thelonious Monk.
The tune is characterized by the use of four-note chromatic scales in bars 1,2,4 and 5. Blue Monk is an interesting variation of the basic blues progression. There is a IV chord (Eb7) in the second measure and a diminished seventh chord (E°7) in measure 6.
This pdf method for guitar contains 40 II V I jazz guitar lines with tab, standard notation, analysis, scale charts and audio files.
This guitar method is a printable PDF eBook containing 50 exercises with audio files, analysis, tab & standard notation.
This PDF method contains 40 exercices with tabs, scores and audio files for practicing jazz guitar chords over the minor 2 5 1 progression.
This guitar method is a printable PDF with tabs, diagrams, theory and audio files providing 40 minor II V I jazz licks.
This package contains 3 PDF methods for jazz guitarists with tabs, audio files, analysis about the II V I progression.
This package contains a guitar method available as a PDF with tabs, audio files and theory providing 40 dominant jazz guitar lines for teachers and students.
This printable guitar method in PDF format contains 40 easy minor jazz guitar lines based on the Dorian mode.
Printable PDF eBook method containing 40 major jazz guitar licks with tab, standard notation and audio files for beginners and intermediates.
This package contains 120 jazz guitar lines based on diatonic modes as Mixolydian, Dorian and Ionian. PDF format with tabs, audio files and analysis.
This jazz guitar method about walking bass lines and chords is available as a PDF files containing 35 exercises with tabs, analysis and audio files
This printable PDF method provides 101 dominant arpeggio exercises with tab, theory and standard notation for the jazz, blues and rock guitarist.
This printable eBook method in PDF format provides 49 jazz solo transcriptions of the greatest jazz musicians of all times with TABS, standard notation, audio files and analysis both for guitar teachers and students.
This PDF method contains 11 guitar lessons with chord studies, tabs, standard notation, analysis & audio files about the main blues progressions used in jazz music.
This PDF eBook method contains 25 altered jazz guitar licks with tabs, patterns, scale charts and audio files to master, apply and develop the altered scale.
This printable method is available as a PDF file containing 40 easy dominant jazz-blues guitar lines with tabs, standard notation, analysis, audio files and scale charts.
This jazz guitar method is an eBook available as a PDF with standard notation, guitar tabs, diagrams, analysis, audio files and backing tracks. You will find in this booklet 25 easy jazz guitar lines with theory using common and rare pentatonic scales.
You will find here an eBook available in PDF containing 25 soul jazz and hard bop guitar licks in the style of Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson. These jazz lines come with tabs, standard notation, guitar neck diagrams, backing track for practice and 25 audio files for each riff.
This eBook PDF with audio files contains 25 dominant diminished jazz guitar patterns using the half-whole diminished scale and diminished 7th arpeggios.
This Printable PDF eBook available for free download contains 6 easy jazz guitar licks with tabs/notation, youtube video link and analysis about the tritone substitution.