Dissonance: Why You Want To Embrace 2nd Intervals

Cool Guitars, Innovative Guitar Ideas, And Some Silly Memes

I wrote this free lesson blog for the many students who strongly dislike the sound of 2nd intervals.

It’s interesting that world-class, top-level composers and musicians embrace and love the dissonance of 2nd intervals with the same level of intensity that guitar students dislike them with.

Many students neglect to practice 2nds because they dislike dissonance.
It’s a shame, because all great art consists of a balance between sweetness and tension.

Without an appreciation of tension, dissonance, juxtaposition, contrast, etc… you’re probably merely creating muzak.

The dissonance of 2nd intervals gives you a great tool in your bag of tricks as a musician, to add character, punch, and personality to your solos, melodies, or guitar parts.
So there are many things a guitar player misses out on, who doesn’t know or learn to appreciate those quirky sounding intervals.

While the averse reaction to dissonance many students initially exhibit, is mostly just a matter of their ear getting used to these new sounds, their ears, unfortunately, will never get used to them unless they actually spend time with the sounds and practice them on a regular basis.

This comes to show again that, becoming really good and seeing really great progress, are as much (or probably even more so) a matter of open-mindedness (to new sounds) and a willingness to learn, as it is a matter of practicing a lot.

For those students who need some extra motivation to practice 2nds, here’s some of the many things you miss out on if you don’t own 2nd intervals in your bag of musicianship resources.

2nds Make Intros More Poignant

In Helter Skelter, The Beatles play a 2nd interval in the intro and the first part of the verse.

If just that one example is not reason enough yet…

To Beef Up Guitar Solos

All the world’s top guitarists use 2nd intervals.

Here’s one of my favorite guitar players, Steve Lukather, hitting a 2nd interval in his solo at 1:57.
It adds a lot of character and punch to the solo. It also adds an element of surprise to the solo, throwing in that sudden dissonance.

As An Arrangement Tool

2nd intervals are a great tool to add a lot of character to a song.
This is especially effective in songs that consist of generic-sounding chord progressions.

Rick Beato shows how to make songs more memorable and more interesting by adding guitar to the song.
In the first song example, he uses 2nd intervals in the rhythm guitar part he adds to the song.

You can instantly hear the song become a lot better just by adding that guitar part that consists of 2nd intervals.

To Add Melody and Punch To Rhythm Guitar Parts

A great example of this is Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”.

In the following video, the first 2nd interval happens at 0:14, the next one at 0:24, and so on.

To Add Character to Chords

The intro chords in Joe Satriani’s “Not Of This Earth” show how powerful 2nd intervals can be in chordal work.

To Add Punch to Melodies

Joe Satriani created interesting textures in melodies harmonizing parts of melodies with 2nd intervals in the song “Memories” at 00:56 (the “Not Of This Earth” album).

This also makes melodies more memorable.
The dissonance of the 2nd intervals makes those melody notes that are harmonized with that interval, really stand out.

To Create Cool Guitar Parts

In “Dreaming #11” from the must-have “Time Machine” album, Joe Satriani builds a whole amazing intro alternating between 2nd and 3rd intervals.

To Create Interesting Atmospheres and Landscapes

Try this out:

  1. Give your delay pedal a long delay time and a generous feedback setting.
  2. Add a generous amount of reverb
  3. Keep hitting an open A bass string as a pedal point
  4. Play melody lines harmonized in 2nd intervals on the G and B strings. Don’t be busy: leave a lot of space, to let the lush, echo-y dissonances shine.
  5. Add dynamics, play with a lot of feel, pick louder, quieter, pick closer to the bridge, over the guitar neck, make your guitar whisper, yell.

How can one not like how this sounds? 🙂


Hit me up anytime at vreny@zotzinmusic.com if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.

The free lessons I offer on my blog are cool, but you will never experience the progress, joy, and results that my students experience in lessons when you’re learning by yourself from blogs and videos.

That is why people take lessons: way better results and progress, much more complete information, exposed to way more creative ideas than you can get from a blog or YouTube video.
There is only so much that self-study can accomplish.

If you want to see amazing results and progress in your guitar playing, buy your first lesson here and get started ASAP.

  • 1 Lesson = 75

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