Intervallic Change Pattern

Understanding the Intervallic Change Pattern

The intervallic change pattern is the interval differences between the notes of two subsequent chords. Alterations to the ICP (augmentation, diminution) are determined by chord quality.

When going from one chord to another, keeping the voicing constant, there are a few different motions that can be used.


R 3 2 1

(R = Root position)


1 2 3 4
Staggered I

R 2 R 2
Staggered II

1 3 1 3

A Descending ICP – R 3 2 1

The Descending ICP shows CΔ root position moving to FΔ 3rd inversion.

Inversion      Realized
R     3rd      CΔ    FΔ
7 ↑2nd 7        B ↑2nd C
5 ↑2nd 1        G ↑2nd A
3 ↑2nd 3        E ↑2nd F
1 ↑3rd 5        C ↑5th E

Maj7, Drop 3, Cycle b3

Exercise Example – Maj7, Drop 3, Cycle b3


The next few subsections, I explain how to play the example. The example exercise is Maj7, Drop 3, Cycle b3, with descending order of inversions, shown below. The pattern is to be played through until reaching inversion of the chord that it was began on.


Chord Quality: Maj7
Voicing: drop 3 
Interval: b3
Start: Amaj7, root pos
Inversion Order: Descending

What is Cycle b3?

Cycle b3 describes the distance between the root of each chord. Incidentally, these notes form a diminished 7 arpeggio. The three cycles of b3:

A,  C,  Eb, F#
Bb, C#, E,  G
B,  D,  F,  G#

Descending Inversions for Maj 7, Cycle b3

Start by playing Amaj7 root position, move to Cmaj7 3rd inv, Ebmaj7 2nd inv, F#maj7 1st inv, and back to Amaj7 root.

 Amaj7  root: A  G# C# E
 Cmaj7  3rd:  B  G  C  E
 Ebmaj7 2nd:  Bb G  D  Eb
 F#Maj7 1st:  A# F# C# E# 
 Amaj7  root: A  G# C# E (repeat)

Exercise Example – Review

Notice that descending inversions resolves to the same voicing that it started on in just four chords, all without passing through any of its other inversions. This will always be the case for cycle b3 (and its inverse, cycle 6), regardless of chord quality.


Play the example without a metronome first. Later, play with a metronome at 4 beats per chord.

  1. Start the cycle on A and return to A, then start on Bb and return to Bb, then B to B, and so on until the A an octave above reached.
  2. Not until completing (1), play cycle b3 using a different four-part chord quality, such as Dom7, Min7, Min7b5. Stick with this for one week.
  3. Variant: Use the staggered orders: Play root, 2nd inv; and also 1st inv, third inv.

Maj7, Cycle b3 – Staggered

Staggered I
Root: Amaj7  A  G# C# E
2nd:  Cmaj7  G  E  B  C
Root: Ebmaj7 Eb D  G  Bb
2nd:  Gbmaj7 Db Bb F  Gb
Staggered II
1st: Amaj7  C# A  E  G#
3rd: Cmaj7  B  G  C  E
1st: Ebmaj7 G  Eb Bb D
3rd: Gbmaj7 F  Db Gb Bb

Practice Applied

After you can successfully perform cycle b3 with Dom7 chord quality, play the following jazz-blues progression. Apply the practiced voicings, connecting the chords to create interesting lines.

Blues in F
| F7       | Bb7       | F7       | Cm7  F7  |
| Bb7      | Bdim      | F7       | Am7  D7  |
| Gm7      | C7        | Am7  D7  | Gm7  C7  |

Polyrhythm: 6:4 and 9:2

How to Play 9 against 2

  1. first play quarter note triplets.
  2. Next, subdivide each quarter note triplet into a triplet.

Count 6 while tapping 4.

Count 4 while playing 6.

Count 6 while playing 9.

Count 4 while playing 9.

Count 9 as one-two-three one-two-three one-two-three.

Cycle b3, Dominant 7, Drop 3

Cycle: Cycle b3
Chord Quality:Dom7
Voicing:Drop 3

Outlining symmetric diminished scale (or “sym dim”).

 A7  root 
 C7  3rd inv 
 Eb7 2nd inv 
 F#7 1st inv 
 A7  root position

All of the notes in these four chords combined make up a half-step, whole-step scale from A. This means that in any context where half-step/whole-step scale works over a Dom 7 chord, that any dom 7 chord a minor third, flat fith, or diminished 7 away will work.