10 Arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

It is often difficult to keep coming up with fresh ideas for solos and not play the same lines all the time. Looking for new arpeggios is a great way to expand on your vocabulary for lines.  It is important that we always keep developing new options and solid melodies that we can apply to the chords that we solo over.

In this lesson I am going to go over 10 different arpeggios that you can use in your Maj7 lines. All the examples are played overa Cmaj7 and I chose to keep it in the 8th position just to make it easy to mix up the different ideas. I decided to keep it all major so not any Lydian sounds. I can do that in another lesson if you are interested.

I have written out all the examples in C and I am not going to give you a formula, but you can move this to other keys yourself and figuring it out in other keys will give you a better overview of those keys.

1 The Cmaj7 arpeggio

The first arpeggio is of course the arpeggio of the chord itself. In the example I am using it as a triplet where the 7th is the target of the arpeggio. It is followed with a chromatic line that is also quite common. Both of these ideas are fairly common bebop lines but will work in a lot of contexts.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 1

2 The Em7 arpeggio

The next place you should always look for arpeggios is to look at the arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord. In this case that is the Em7 arpeggio. In the line I am chaining together an Em7 and a Cmaj7 arpeggio in a way that gives you a line with a fairly big range (an octave and a fifth).

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 2

3 C major triad

The triad may sometimes be overlooked because we are so busy with extensions and alterations, but a lot of good lines can be made with it. Especially if you use a sequence like I do in the line. Practicing arpeggios in different sequences is an almost limitless wealth of possibilites for making lines.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 3

4 The E minor triad

Since the C major triad is a strong structure it makes sense that the triad on the 3rd of the chord is also a good candidate. In this line I am using the same melodic idea to chain an Em and an Am triad together as I did in the 2nd example.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 4

5 The Am7 arpeggio

In the same way that we can use the arpeggio that is found a diatonic 3rd higher than the root we can also use the one found on the note 3rd lower: Am7. In fact the Am7 is of course also an inversion of a C6 chord.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 5

6 Cmaj7 Shell voicings

If you focus too much on the notes that you play and not on the melody you might forget to check out structures like Shell Voicings as Arpeggios. But if you try to make some lines with shell voicings you’ll probably quickl start to enjoy the sound of the structure. In the example I am using the shell voicing and then leadin into an Am pentatonic line.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 6

7 Stack fo 4ths from A

Quartal Harmony is such a rich sound in melodies and plays a huge part in the modern jazz language. Probably because it is so closely related to pentatonics. In the example I am using both the stack of 4ths found on the A and on the D. Both are in fact a part of the Am pentatonic scale. Do you really know the pentatonic scale?

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 7

8 Stack of 4ths from B

Another great stack of 4ths is the one found on the B. It spells out a Cmaj7(13) and is easy to use as a clear definition of the color of the Cmaj7. In the example I am combining the arpeggio with a G major triad. If you want to check out more about stacks of 4ths in solos you can check out my lesson: Quartal Harmony in Solo lines

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 8

9 Cmaj7 Drop2 vocings

For lines with a big range it is a grreat idea to experiment with using Drop2 Voicings as Arpeggios In this example I am using the Cmaj7 drop2 voicing. Because it is a melody with almos only large intervals it is easier to use if you put it at the beginning of the line so that it sounds like a sort of pickup. This is also how I use it in the example.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 9

10 Quintal Arpeggios

The stack of 5ths or Quintal arpeggio from G is a cool structure that you may or may not know more as “the police chord”. In the example I am using it in the position and the melody is mixing it up with an Em7 shell voicing which creates a line that moves quite a bit in big intervals.

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord 1 - ex 10


That was 10 different structures you can take out and experiment with. I hope you got some new ideas and that some of the examples sounded inspiring to you!

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

10 arpeggios over a Maj7 chord

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you want to hear.

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