Always Do This with These TWO Notes (SAVE A FRIEND!)

The worst guitar notes are often the ones that are most commonly used in non-musical situations like movie sound-tracks or playing weird (but sometimes effective) guitar exercises.

In this video, I’m going to show you two of the worst notes that when played produce some pretty terrible sound. They are played a distance of a 1/2 step apart creating a harsh dissonance, know musically as the Major 7th and Minor 2nd intervals.






This lesson will demonstrate the contrast of this sound and more importantly, how these harsh notes can blend within the layering of harmony to create a balanced effect out of their obvious harsh sound. 






Today we are taking a trip to the note graveyard, with a look at two of the worst notes that a guitarist could play. 


And, this is going to be an interesting video for a lot of my viewers because for most guitar players the idea of combining notes to form intervals is a foreign subject, but it doesn’t have to be. 


The best way to learn them is through exposure to what they do, which is sadly missing from a lot of the current guitar instruction out there. 


Now, you’re probably wondering what are the two worst notes and why are they so bad. So, let me begin this by referencing an album that was released back in 1994 by legendary jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny.






This Pat Metheny album was a shock to his fans back when it was released. In fact, even if you are a Pat Metheny fan, you may not have ever heard of this album before. 


And, that would probably be because it was terrible and sounded nothing at all like anything Pat Metheny had produced before releasing it. 


Pat Metheny is a huge jazz icon of guitar and jazz music. He’s known for; amazing melody, interesting smooth jazz harmonies and lush beautiful music with his signature hollowbody jazz tone from his guitar. 




But, the album “Zero Tolerance for Silence.” Was a total shock to his fans. It was full of the worst note combinations (the two notes I’m going to talk about right here) are included in abundance. It was just an awful release. 


Now, the rumors say that Pat Metheny made it because he was upset with Geffen Records, and his contract was ending and this was his way of expressing how frustrated he was with them. 


Now, he later denied that after it came out, but many believe that it was the reason behind the album. Now, with all that out of the way, let’s zoom in on the neck and learn exactly what these notes are…

Interval 1):
The “Major 7th” Interval: Here’s our first interval, it’s the “Major 7.” 

Here’s how it sounds…


 As you can tell, this interval is absolutely horrible on the human ear. It’s probably why trains include it as an interval for train horn blasts to keep us away and off the tracks! 


And, one of the most common chords played by those train horns is the Minor Major 7th. This chord is made up of minor tonality with the Major 7th interval used on top.





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Interval 2):
The “Minor 2nd” Interval: The inversion of our Major 7th interval is called “Minor 2nd” and it needs to also be addressed here as well. On the neck this interval looks like this… 




The experience of this Minor 2nd sound is often applied in jazz altered chord types, and one of the most popular of those chords is the “Dominant 7 (b9).” 


Now, this chord's sound is really unstable and it’s generally never a chord that you’ll hear functioning outside of jazz. Here’s how it sounds. 



In jazz, you’ll hear it harmonized to resolve chords from dissonant sounds to more consonant sounds, like perhaps the “A7(b9)” transitioning to a, “D Minor 7th.” 



You can also experiment with transitioning from the highly unstable sound of the "A7(b9)" over to a resolution that omits a 5th interval in its voicing. Like for example resolving to a "Dm7" chord with no "A." See the voicing below...


Before we wrap up, I wanted to mention how (even when you have awful sounding notes) they can still become harmonized to provide some balance. 


One common example of this, is the Major 7th chord. Let’s have a quick look at the effect of using harmony to dull-down the ugly level of sound we get from horrible intervals.


The Major 7th Chord:
Starting out from a horrible sound doesn’t necessarily have to mean that we need to remain within a horrible sound. Take for instance a chord like the Major 7th. 


That ugly interval of the Major 7 is masked within this harmony to produce a very balanced sound.



The effect of using a Major 7 interval doesn’t have to be ugly, because the coming together of chord harmony can balance the sound out and allow for a more consonant effect. 


If we add a touch of dissonance prior to the Major 7, the balancing effect becomes even greater. Like for example if we performed a Dominant 7th chord just before we went ahead and played the Major 7, the chord balance would increase. 




If you go the extreme like Pat Metheny did you could make an entire album with these “Worst Two Notes,” I’ve covered here. Just be warned that you won’t get the best reviews upon your album release. 


Instead, my (more useful) suggestion would be to apply these bad sounds through integration as a way to find balance in your music using harmonized concepts like we discussed... 


Harmony is critical to taking a horrible sound and having it work “for you,” rather than against you. Although car horns and train horn blasts are one of the “useful” ways that we can apply these bad sounds in daily life outside of music... 


So, remember that integration is everything, as well as, the context within that we would apply these - two worst notes. 




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