Don’t spend too much time on this exercise!

Don’t spend too much time on this exercise!

If you are trying to learn an instrument you are of course daily working on technical exercises and etudes that will give you a better command of the instrument and a larger skill set when playing.

There are however also other exercises you don’t have in your daily routine, but that can be very useful as ways of exploring new ideas for melodies and licks.

In this lesson I am going to discuss an exercise like that.

The Exercise

The idea is to take a one octave Fmaj7 arpeggio and look at all the ways you can play that set of notes. 

If we look at the arpeggio as degrees related to the root we get: 1 3 5 7 for F A C E.

If we take these 4 notes and make all combinations I get:

1357 1375 1537 1573 1753 1735

3157 3175 3517 3571 3751 3715

5317 5371 5137 5173 5713 5731

7351 7315 7531 7513 7153 7135

Of course this you can apply to any 4 note chord.

Making them into melodies

If we take the first row, so the ones starting with the root and apply them to our Fmaj7 arepggio we get:

In itself it is of course a good idea to try to play all these combinations as an exercise to gain more flexibility with the arppegio. But now we can also take one of them out and try to see if it is possible to make a melody with it.

In the examples I am using the Fmaj7 as an arppegio over a Dm7 in the key of C. A line with this could be something like this:

So this line is a scale run from D to G then the 1 7 5 3 arpeggio. The ending of the arpeggio is nicely encircling the 3rd of G7 which is then taken further with a G7b9 line before resolving to the 3rd(E) of C.

The point of this is partly to try and see if this way of playing the arpeggio is a nice melody. You are also working on connecting the new shape in a melody made with the vocabulary you already have. 

Examples of lines with this concept

We can of course also apply the permutations to the arpeggios we use over the Dom7th chord which I will also do in the coming 3 examples.

In the beginning of the video I play a line using this idea on several arpeggios:

This line is using the permutations on the Fmaj7 and also on two arpeggios on the altered dominant. On the Dm7 it starts out with the Fmaj7 in a 3157 pattern. Then it contiues down a Dm triad. On the G7 altered I am using two arpeggios first the Fm7(b5) in 3157 and then a Db7 in a 1375 permutation.

The example above is first using a 5137 version of the Fmaj7 followed by a Dsus4 triad. On the altered G7 it’s first a high octave version of an Fm7b5: 3175. This is is followed by a Bmaj7#5 in a descending or 7531 permutation.

The third example is using a 1375 version of the Fmaj followed by a scale run. On the altered dominant it’s first a normal ascending AbmMaj7 that continues into a Db7 arpeggio in a 5713 before it resolves to the 3rd of C.


The method I used for this way of constructing lines works well for me because I can just check out some of the new melodies and then listen if it is resonates with me and if I can make a line with them. It is also important to work on your skills in terms of making melodies and trying to fit these intervallic structures in there can be a really good exercise.

How I use these concepts in my solos

If you want to check out some of the ways I use arpeggios and reharmonizations on a standard you can check out this solo and transcription:

There is no greater love – solo transcription

If you want to download a PDF of the examples you can do so here:

Don’t spend too much time on this exercise!

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