Tag Archives: arpeggio jazz guitar

2 Arpeggios and How to make 15 Great Licks with them

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: 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 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 a II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

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.

10 – Reverse Rosenwinkel

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 difficult. This pattern is pretty challenging for your right hand if you pick it, but if you take your bluegrass chops (or ambitions?) and give it a try you might like it. The lick sounds quite modern and angular

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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If you want more inspiration then check out my book, 5 topics and 50 licks plus of course explanations and exercises. It also includes a transcribed blues solo applying all the material in the book.

It comes with a free download of all Audio examples.

Check it out here: http://geni.us/Jens

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Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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