Intervallic Fretboard – Towards improvising on the Guitar by Ashkan Mashhour and Dave H. Murdy is a book aimed at guitarists who already have a grasp on basic music theory and harmony such as scales, triads, constructing chords and who can improvise a little even if only using the Pentatonic scale. The idea of this book is to teach you how to recognise intervals and interval patterns on the fretboard so that you don’t have to rely on your knowledge of scale and arpeggio patterns.

The book begins with a basic overview of intervals and how they correspond to chords including inversions. From there the book moves onto the intervals of the 6 strings on a standard tuned guitar and the patterns that these intervals create, also how to calculate intervals and stack intervals to create triads and arpeggios. Moving on from this pretty in-depth chapter you learn how to construct more complex chord structures and there is a list of 60 shapes covering the Maj7, Dom7 and Min7 chords and inversions with the intervals for each and a focus on what we should see when we look at a chord box, ie. the root, 3rd, b7 etc rather than just a shape.

Many of the TAB examples in this book serve a dual purpose which is probably very unfamiliar to 99% of us as guitarists, on the bottom staff you have regular TAB showing fingering and above this the same pattern is shown only showing intervals from the root. This is one of the keys to successfully adopting this approach, if you know the tonal centre and the intervals surrounding the root note you have more scope to move around, jump to the next root note on the fretboard and know that you have intervals around that note at your disposal (anchoring). It certainly isn’t an easy concept to grasp hence the amount of material in this book. These anchoring techniques are covered in detail and show how to connect arpeggios and there is an analysis of a chord-melody arrangement that anchors around the base scale while moving through the chords in the key.

Chapter 6 and 7 have a couple of studies for you to play and analyse based around a Chord-Melody Etude and a Rock study called Intervallick Rock which is a solo based piece instead, both of these are written in standard notation before being broken down with the TAB and Interval TAB later on.

The final part of Intervallic Fretboard is based around Charlie Parker’s Anthropology and how to solo over the changes in a section called “Rhythm Ology” which has a break down of the rhythm changes followed by a notated solo to play over the chords, which is then broken down section by section with TAB and bar by bar descriptions of what is happening from a theoretical point of view. All of the chords used are listed using standard chord boxes after the breakdown.

To conclude Intervallic Fretboard includes Appendixes that cover some interval training exercises, detailed description of the TAB system used in the book and scale/chord construction formulas.

This book is not something that you can read and instantly totally understand or apply to your playing, it has some advanced topics and theory that you will need to be patient and read carefully, practice the concepts and work at understanding how this approach can apply to you as a guitarist.