Playing with intervallic patterns can give you the raw material for improvisation. Short phrases that can be recombined in many ways to form longer musical statements that have their own internal logic and flow. At that point what started out as a dry, technical exercise becomes a creative act which is what all practice should ideally be.
The genesis of this idea was hearing chromatic 3rds in the playing of Scott Henderson. He was clearly using them as a way of introducing an 'outside' kind of falling motion into his playing. I then set out to catalogue all the different chromatic 3rds patterns I could and notate them as part of my 'digital hell' series. The 3rd is a harmonically defining interval so it's good for creating 'outside' lines.
Here's some of the patterns I used in the video.
Here's a summary of the concept I explain in the video.
- Start any of these 3rds patterns within the chord tones. i.e. Over Bm7 you could start the pattern on D and F# (the 3rd and 5th of the chord)
- Move it chromatically in either direction until you 'hook' back into the chord and resolve the tension created by the chromaticism. IN - OUT - IN again.
It's a really simple concept and not the only way of applying these by a long chalk but it is very effective. The improvisation at the end is a little more repetive than I would have liked but I was really focusing on this one concept and as such it's a little unbalanced. Enjoy!