Scales and Arpeggios are not inspiring, and you can’t immediately go from Arpeggios to Jazz Guitar solos. But this challenge might be a good way to try.
You probably know how it is to feel like you are always playing the same things and nothing sounds fresh. I think we all have that, and mostly we then go look for something completely new to work on.
Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple: a II V I and then 2 arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for the V chord, and then see how many licks I could make. That also gave me a chance to use some patterns and melodic ideas that I picked up from people like Jesse Van Ruller, Pat Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Grant Green and a few tricks from Metal as well.
The Challenge: 2 arpeggios and a lot of Jazz Licks
Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple:
The advantage is to use a very limited set of notes (4 per chord) and then really focus on what you can do with the melody. And since the notes are the same all the time it is not about that.
Let’s first look at the two arpeggios: It’s
Get some fresh ideas!
If you ever had trouble coming up with some new II V I licks with the arpeggios you already know then I am sure this video will help you. In this video I am taking two arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for a V chord and then make 15 II V I licks.
1 – The Basic Arpeggios
I am just playing the II V and then resolving on the G, so on the Am7 I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd, Cmaj7 and on the D7alt I am using the arpeggio from the 7th: Cm7b5.
The first basic example would probably be something like this:
Here the idea is voice-leading, and the arpeggio is treated as 4 separate voices.
2 – One Direction Rosenwinkel
Another way of playing the two arpeggios would be as a movement in one direction ala Kurt Rosenwinkel:
3 – Two Direction Arps
So here I first play one arpeggio and then continue with the closest note in the next one.
You can also try to change direction with the arpeggios:
4 – 1 5 3 7 Pattern
Playing Arpeggios in patterns can be a great way to get some new melodies, and while you should not get lost in all the possibilities it is a great thing to check out and also a good way to practice more flexibel with the melodies you can play.
5 – Grant Green’s Rose
Grant Green likes to use the Honeysuckle rose phrase which is really just an inversion of a Maj7 arpeggio, that works really well like this.
You could also look at the Honeysuckle Rose phrase as an example of what Barry Harris is calling a pivot chord, so the low root is moved up an octave (so pivoted)
6 – A Honeysuckle Variation
A variation on the honeysuckle rose idea and now with a bit more skipping around with the Cm7b5 arpeggio.
7 – Drop2 Not From Mark Turner
I guess this is a Jens Larsen thing that I thought I heard Mark Turner do in a solo, but actually, he was playing something else.
8 – Metheny’s Melodic Voice-leading
Pat Metheny uses this type of melody which is a more elaborate way of using voice-leading:
of course when he does that he usually plays a faster subdivision like 16ths and repeats the patterns several times. You can check out some examples of this in this video on Metheny: Pat Metheny Is Not About The Notes, Are You?
9 – Drop2 Inversions
You can also work with inversions of the Drop two voicings and then not use a drop2 arpeggio for one of the chords.
The Kurt Rosenwinkel melody that moves in one direction can of course also be done descending. We could call it a “Reverse Rosenwinkel”
11 – Metal Arpeggios
Metal players have very practical ways to play arpeggios and sometimes focus more on easy fingerings than strong melodies, but it does make sense to use some of the easy fingering ideas in jazz as well.
12 – Metal Arpeggios #2
Another very common repeating pattern is this one that you could turn into a lick like this: EX11
13 – Jesse Van Ruller Pattern
A Jesse Van Ruller lick that I transcribed a long time ago used an arpeggio like this Maj7 arpeggio. That’s a very nice pattern and not used too often. It is almost like a shell voicing for the first three notes of the Cmaj7 arpeggio.
14 – Mixed up Drop2 Voicing
Drop2 voicings can be played in patterns as well even if it is a bit
15 – Angular Voice-leading
Taking an Arpeggio played in a pattern can also be a great way to create melodies. Here I am playing the Cmaj7 as 5 7 3 1 and then doing the same with the Cø arpeggio.
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