How To Use Arpeggios In Jazz – Important Skills

Like everybody else, you are trying to play jazz and improvise solos, but it is difficult not to sound mechanical or robotic because you can really only choose between playing either a scale or an arpeggio which makes your solo boring. You need to learn how to use arpeggios in your solo lines in a more creative way!

In this video, I am going to give you 4 different ways to create melodies with arpeggios that you can add to your vocabulary and really change up how your solos sound.

In fact, with these techniques, you can take any chord and make a lick over that using diatonic arpeggios.

The Arpeggio and How To Practice Them

First, let’s look at a simple way to learn and think about arpeggios in the context of the scale then I will get into how you use this to make lines.

When you play jazz lines then the chords often change very often so it makes sense to mostly use arpeggios in one octave.

That means that you can get a lot out of practicing arpeggios in the scale as diatonic arpeggios in an exercise like this.

First the scale :

and then these arpeggios:

I have another lesson where I talk about this and how to use it that you can check it out here: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

Now let’s get to using scale notes, arpeggio patterns and chromaticism to make some great jazz lines with arpeggios.

1 Adding Diatonic notes

The easiest way to create strong melodies with arpeggios is to mix them with the scale tones.

If you take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and then add scale notes between the chord tones then you can make lines like this:

The way you should practice and work with this is probably more spending time figuring out how to make your own lines than practicing the exercises.

2 Arpeggio patterns

The next place to explore is to start playing the notes of the arpeggio in a different order. Below are a few examples of how you can do this:

If you use this in a lick then it could be something like example 6 and 7:

3 Chromatic notes

Another great feature is to use chromatic leading notes in an arpeggio. As an exercise you can add a chromatic leading note before every note in the arpeggio as shown in example 8:

Making lines with this and some of the previous concepts would give you something like these examples:

4 Inversions and Octave Displacement

Arpeggios can be inverted and you can also use octave displacement to create some very solid melodies that also contain larger intervals.

Doing exercises like this is really good for getting flexible with arpeggios, but you can also just take out one and work with that.

Octave displacement is another way to break up the direction of a melody. The idea is to have a melody is moving in one direction and then move a part of the melody an octave up or down. You can find an explanation of it in this lesson in Jazz Lick #4: Jazz Licks on a Maj7 chord – How To Sound Like Bebop

Some examples of licks on a Cmaj7 using Octave displacement and inversions are shown here below:

If you want to explore more things you can do with arpeggios and take it more into a bebop direction then check out 3 Easy Bebop Licks – How To Sound Like Jazz

Want to learn how to use this on a song?

Or check out the Easy Jazz Standards Bundle with this lesson at a reduced price:

Easy Jazz Standards Solo Bundle

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