Using the OI 11 & 10

Today, we want to orchestrate on the guitar using the outside interval (OI). You will be surprised about how many musical opportunities show up when focusing on the outside interval of any given vertical structure. The guitar is an excellent instrument for playing those wide intervals, but they also work nicely in the orchestra or other arrangements.

Note: Please note that there are many musical demonstrations in the audio version of this episode, which are not accessible in the transcript.

The Outside Interval (OI)

Today, we have a great subject, interval orchestration for 10s and 11s, and comping on the guitar for 10s and 11s. You know, it doesn't matter what chord you play; it will have an Outside Interval (OI).

When we speak of Outside Intervals, they're generally large intervals, like 10s or 11s. A great example of a chord OI would be a three-part 13th chord. That chord has an 11 in it.

Today, we'll orchestrate using 11s and 10s. 11s, of course, have a PC (Position Change) of 1, and 10s have a PC of 2. When we speak of Outside Intervals on the guitar, we want to keep in mind the TNO - "the nature of" those intervals. For example, the TNO of 1. The interval-1 resolves and expands to 3, and either voice of that interval can make that expansion.

When we talk about the 2-interval, it expands to either 3 or 4, and 2 is a dominant interval. Its PC is also dominant, and that would be a 10.

OIs are generally large intervals. These large intervals can be played in sets to outline larger chords like thirteenths. Remember, interval 11 is the PC of 1.

Using the OI

As you can hear, 11s have a contraction and resolution; just like 1s have an expansion and resolution, they're mirrors of each other.

Let's talk about 2. That interval is dominant, and it wants to go someplace. Its PC is 10, and 10 also wants to go someplace. (That's part of the nature of dominant intervals. They are not stable and want to move.)

They each also have resolutions: 10s can resolve to 8 or 9, and 2s can resolve to a 3 or 4.

1s and 2s are generally not OIs, but their PCs are. The real magic comes when we combine these intervals. Let's start with 11s and 10s and play scale #1 - the Ionian mode. And then, we'll play them with their resolutions so you can begin hearing music evolve.

Once you understand how resolutions work, you can start on two different scale steps simultaneously and get exciting harmonies that haven't been heard before.

In this case, one guitar can play resolutions against another guitar playing reverse resolution. By the way, power guitars sound great with resolutions as well.

Power guitars, always a crowd pleaser! Let's go back to our clean sound, though, because now, I want to talk about sequencing these intervals instead of taking the sequence from the scale, just to be free, to leave the scale, or to new tonalities. So the first one, we'll take the 11s and 10s, and just go back and forth like 11, 10, 11, 10, 11, 10. You'll hear what that sounds like. It's a great sound!

Interval Resolutions

No! Not revolutions, resolutions, and reverse resolutions are great ways to have lines go from one voice to another, expanding and contracting in counterpoint!

So you might be asking yourself, "That all sounds pretty cool, but what about the subject? Which is comping using OIs?" Okay, let's look at that. 11s and 10s are the primary intervals we'll use for our OIs. Let's play a standard progression like VI -- II -- V -- I, and we'll do it in the key of F.

Now I'll add the bass notes, just using the guitar so you can hear the progression ...

So, those are 4-part chords, and we're not playing the root, except for on the very last chord. Let's hear the same thing with just the OIs (11s and 10s) ...

That's a pretty good sound considering we're just playing one interval over each root tone. Now, let's try connecting the intervals.

Applying the OI to Chords

We can outline 4-part chord structures via sets of 11s and 10s. So, if you want to comp with 4-part chords, you can make your life easy by looking for the 11s and 10s within the chord. Here's a perfect example of how you can use resolutions of intervals within a 4-part dominant C chord. (Please refer to the audio version of this episode for the demonstration.)

So, let's continue orchestrating. Let's pick a chord. How about a 7th chord? The beauty is, we can even use reverse resolution into 9th chords.

Comping with 11s and 10s can be super quick, very fast, much faster than dealing with full 4-part chords.

I know this doesn't sound like a lot going on on the guitar, but remember, we are orchestrating, and this is just the first element that we put down.

Great! Nice little comping pattern. Let's orchestrate it and turn it into a piece of music. So here is a little drum groove we can put against it.

Everything is based on 11s and 10s, and we get lots of mileage comping this way. Now let's add the bass and maybe just a little bit of guitar sweetening using 1s with their resolutions.

Okay, that's coming together. Let's add a little bit of power guitar just for some "spice it up"!

Very cool! Are you seeing how agile that type of playing can be? Sadly, this completes our podcast for today on orchestrating 11s and 10s and comping with 11s and 10s.

Remember, 11s and 1s, 10s and 2s - that's going to make you lose the Blues!


Using the OI for substituting the full chord is a fantastic technique for musicians, but it also works in composition if you want to reduce the vertical density! So, the next time you write out full chords, think of the OI, and maybe it will make your work even better!

Author: Thomas Chase Jones