In this etude I demonstrate how you can use intervallic shapes to create cogent melodic tension and release over dominant to tonic cycles. Take a look at the example below:
The line starts on the 5th of Dm7 and ascends in diatonic 4ths (in this case, perfect 4ths), then moves chromatically downward via the F# as a passing tone to the F natural, which then moves down a diatonic fourth (but now, in this case, a tritone), then up a perfect 4th, which again descends chromatically to continue the pattern. The Eb moves down a perfect 5th as sort of an inversion of the ascending perfect 4th (and this movement repeats itself later in the line, as well). As you can see, there are some nice altered tensions over the V chord, specifically: +9 (Bb), -13 (Eb) and -9 (Ab). The line resolves to the raised 11 of C major, then the pattern slightly modifies to end on the major 7th. But the “audible illusion” here is that it sounds as if the line (by virtue of its shape) is ending on the 3rd of G major.
Because of the cyclical nature of ii-V cycles, you’ll find many repeating patterns of fourths as you go through all twelve keys. In the example below you can see the similarity between G7 in the example below with the D min7 in the example above, as well as the difference in the notes that follow:
For this reason, it will be especially easy to memorize and put into practice this concept. This is a distinctly modern sounding pattern, but it moves very well within the chords. If you’d like to explore further how to 4ths and other larger intervals in jazz improvisation, please consider my eBook, The Vertical Saxophone, a Methodical Approach to Wide Intervals.
Click below to download a pdf of this etude and to hear a midi version of it: