I already have a lot of lessons about different types of arpeggios and structures, but I though it would be useful to approach this not from the type of arpeggio but from the chord you use it on. Therefore I made this lesson with 10 different arpeggios you can use on a minor 7 chord.
The chord and the key
The examples in this lesson are all in the key of C, and over the II chord: Dm7. The ideas will work for II chords, but also in modal dorian situations and often also on tonic minor chords.
To keep the lesson a bit compact I chose to make the example lines just a Dm7 resolving to a G7. You can fill in the rest yourself, and otherwise I would spend more time talking about lines that don’t actually have anything to do with the topic.
I could have made the list longer but decided to keep it a bit short and only include arpeggios that at least had an F in them, so that they can still really convey the sound of the chord.
1. The Dm7 arpeggio
The first example is of course the basic arpeggio of Dm7, you should never underestimate how much milage you can get out of the basic chord tones and how many great melodies you can make with a m7 arpeggio and it’s inversions.
The line is very simple, just the ascending arpeggio and a little chromatic approach to the 5th(D) of G.
2. The arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord: Fmaj7
The arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord is probably one of the best places to start looking for other options when finding new structures to make lines with.
In the line I use the Fmaj7 arpeggio, but it is not played strictly ascending, but instead it’s a melody created by repeating the A and skipping up to the E. In general you should always try to make up melodies with the arpeggios and not just play them, the more they become a set of notes that you can make melodies with the more options you will have when you improvise.
3. The D minor triad
It might seem like this is already included in the Dm7, but the tonic triad is another sound and you can get a lot of interesting melodies out of it. Especially if you also start to work with it as an open triad: Open Voiced Triads in solos Another strategy is to use inversion or re-order the notes as I have done in the example.
The line starts off with the Dm triad, but the notes are played in a different order, namely: b3, 1, 5. When you practice diatonic triads in your scales it is a very useful exercise to try to order the notes differently, this is a good example of that. From the triad the line continues with a leading note and a scale run before ending on a G on the G7.
4. The F major Triad
In the same way the Dm triad is useful, the triad from the 3rd is a very handy arpeggio. It also will surve you very well as a chord voicing.
The line is using a 4 note melody with the F major traid and then continues with a Dm cliche which is actually derived from the Dm triad, before it resolves to the root of G7.
5. Dm7 Shell Voicing
A Shell Voicing is a set of notes containing the root, 4rd and 7th of the chord. If you want to see more on how to use them in solos you can check out this lesson: Shell Voicings as Arpeggios I really like the shell voicings because of how I often find it easier to introduce larger intevals with them and still make sense melodically.
In the example line I am using the shell voicing and then via a diatonic leading note playing an F major triad before resolving to the 3rd(B) of G7.
6. Fmaj7 Shell Voicing
The Fmaj7 Shell voicing is also a great device on a Dm7. WIth the more spread out structures like the shell voicing inversions are probably a bit harder to make use of, though you can try it out. Perhaps you’ll find your favourite way to use arpeggios.
In the line it is first the Shell voicing followed by a Dm triad where the A is chromatically resolved to the root of G7.
7. Dm7 Drop2 voicing
The Drop2 voicings are a great tool to have a way to add structures with larger intervals and still have a connection to what you are playing. It’s a one of my favourites to make lines with a large range since you cover more than an octave in 4 notes and most of the time the melody of the voicing still makes sense melodically. With Drop2 voicings it is often also possible to work with the inversions of the chord.
The example line is a Dm7 drop 2 voicing followed by a scale run before resolving to the 5th(D) of G7.
8. Fmaj7 Drop2 voicing
With a large structure like a drop2 voicing you probably need to have a strong connection with the chord you are using it over, in terms of notes. Using the one found on the third is mostly still possible though. For more inspiration you can also check out my lesson on this subject: Drop2 voicings as Arpeggios
In this case I took a really low Fmaj7 Drop2 voicing to have a good example of how I might use this to get a relatively short line with a large range. The line starts of with the Fmaj7 drop2 voicing and then continues scale wise before skipping to the fifth(A) of D that is resolved to the root of G7, two octaves above where it started.
9. Quartal arpeggios
Using quartal harmony as arpeggios is also a great way to introduce some larger intervals into your lines. In this case I chose what could be viewed as a Dm7(11) voicing: G(11),C(7), F(b3). There are others you can use too of course since I tried to limit myself to structures that contains the F this is the easiest to use in this context. If you want to dig deeper into this you can check out my lesson on the subject: Quartal Harmony in solo lines
The example uses the arpeggio with first a pivotted top note and then ascending up the arpeggio. Then it is followed by a line that could be interpreted as an Am pentatonic fragment that encircles and resolves to the 3rd(B) of G7.
10. Quintal Arpeggios
The last example is ironically the same note set as the previous one, but now the interval structure is changed so the melody you get is quite different. Stacking 5ths is not only something you find in Jimi Henrix and Andy Sumners playing, and they are also a nice way to quickly move through bigger intervals. The three notes of example 9 and 10: C, F and G could also be seen as a Csus4 triad, a topic I also did a lesson on here: Sus4 Triads as upperstructures
The line is in fact just chaining two arpeggios, first the quintal voicing from F and followed by an Fmaj7 arpeggio where the line ends on the 13th(E) of G7.
A few conclusions
As you can probably tell there are a lot of options when picking arpeggios, and I could probably have gone into much more detail with inversions and other structures to make the list much longer. Maybe I can go into more detail in some way or another in later lessons.
I mention in the beginning of the video that the note choices are not so important, I think the different examples clearly illustrates this. The notes are for the biggest part the same, but the way they sound in a melody and in the context of each structure is more important than what note is being used. The only conclusion you can draw from that is that you will always have to work on making good melodies with the notes that are there and not spend all you time looking for a way to make something with weird note choices.
I hope you can use this list as a source of inspiration to find some new things to mess around with when working on lines. The way to go about this is probably to work on them one at a time and see what you can make out of it before trying to insert that into your playing.
If you want to download a PDF of the examples I went over here for later study you can do so here: 10 arpeggios over a m7 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 thme fit what you want to hear.
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