Tag Archives: how to improvise with arpeggios

6 Types of Easy 3-Note Arpeggios That You Need To Know

You should always try to learn new melodies that you can use in your solos. And in Jazz, Arpeggios are a great place to start.

In this video I will go over 6 different types of 3-Note Arpeggios which are really useful because they are 3 notes, so they are easy to study and also very easy to use in solos giving you a lot of material that you can use when improvising over a song.

An Arpeggio is a Melody and a Great Building Block

What a lot of people miss is that an arpeggio is really just a short melody. We think about what the notes are and what alterations and extensions it is over the chord, but you often forget to listen to it and just realize that knowing this arpeggio is really knowing a very strong melody that you can use in your solos.

If you play jazz and especially more modern jazz then knowing these structures is really something you need as a part of your vocabulary and you will find it everywhere in the playing of people like Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jonathan Kreisberg and Lage Lund.

The way I made this video is that I played a short solo on minor blues that I will take apart and talk about all the different arpeggios, give you some exercises and ideas on how to use it.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Arpeggios are Melodies!

0:52 The Minor Blues Example

1:42 Phrase #1 The Essential Triads

2:25 A few thoughs on Triads and Finding Triads for a chord

2:50 Practicing Triads and Inversions

3:26 Phrase #2 Quartal Arpeggios and Altered Dominants

5:11 How To Practice Quartal Arpeggios

5:51 Phrase #3 Shell-Voicings

6:43 Break up the groove with 4-note groupings

7:24 Exercise for Shell-voicings

7:42 Phrase #4 Quintal Arpeggios and Sus4 Triads

8:17 Sus4 Triads8:37 Quinatal Arpeggios Exercise / Message in a Bottle

9:04 Sus4 Triads on a 2-string set

9:40 The Two “Weird” Sus4 Triads (That Joe Henderson Knew)

10:25 Phrase #5 – Spread Triads

11:05 What are Spread Triads or Open-Voiced Triads

12:09 Technical exercises with Spread Triads

12:51 Phrase #6 – The Major b5 Triad (That you didn’t know you knew)

14:37 Move the b5 triads through the scale (as a 1 3 4 structure)

14:55 Thoughts on moving Interval Structures Through a Scale

16:02 Like the Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Every Arpeggio in the Known Universe

This video is an overview of different types of arpeggios and how they sound. The Arpeggios are demonstrated in 7 different licks to give you an idea about how they could be used.

Are you an Arpeggio master? Do you know all the different types of arpeggios and how to use them in your playing? The Arpeggio is a very important tool when it comes to jazz and jazz guitar.

Demonstrating arpeggios in a musical context

This video is going over a lot of different types of arpeggios. Showing how you might using them in different licks. Applying the arpeggios in a musical context is a much stronger way to apply them in my opinion.

Table of Contents

0:00 Intro – Are you an arpeggio master?

0:22 Did I miss one? 0:43 Example 1 – Basic Arpeggios

1:14 Example 2 – Diatonic arpeggios and the “from the 3rd rule”

2:05 Example 3 – Harmonic minor?

3:24 Example 4 – Not always 4 notes and a little Melodic minor

4:16 The triads we forget to check out

4:34 Example 5 – Not always 3rd based

5:41 Example 6 – Larger intervals like the Police!

6:45 The Magic Arpeggio!

7:38 Example 7 – Three notes but not a triad

8:42 Another great sound from Melodic minor

9:22 What did I forget?

9:35 Like this video? Check out my Patreon Page.

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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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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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Blue Bossa – Soloing with Arppeggios

Blue Bossa is a great way to start improvising following the harmony because it’s a well known tune that is not too difficult. In this lesson I’ll present a set of arpeggios, some exercises, target notes and strategies for making solos where you can hear the harmony in the improvisation.

The Song: melodies and chords

When you want to learn to solo over a tune you are often better off first learning the melody as well as possible. Most people have an easier time hearing the melody in the back of your mind as a way of keeping track of where you are in the form. I’d suggest you learn the melody by heart and in as many positions as possible. I’d also suggest you memorize the chords because you need that once you want to go through the exercises in this lesson.

Let’s first have a look at the chord progression:

Blue Bossa - Soloing with Arpeggios Ex 1

The form is fairly easy. The song is in the key of C minor. Two bars of tonic (Cm) then two bars of IVm (Fm) followed by a cadence to Cm (Dm7b5 G7 Cm7) and a cadence to Db: (Ebm7 Ab7 Dbmaj7) and then a cadence to Cm again.  The Db you need to treat as a modulation though it could also be seen as a neapolitan subdominant chord (You can read more about these here: IV minor chords)

If you count the chords you’ll see that we have 7 different chords. Since the goal of this lesson is to improvise fluently with well connected melodies using the arpeggios, I have written out all the arpeggios around the 8th position. Shifting up and down the neck is going to make it much more difficult to play logical melodies and almost impossible to do some of the exercises.

Blue Bossa - Soloing with Arpeggios Ex 2

Practicing the arpeggios

First you should probably try to become familiar with the arpeggios in example 2 and then as fast as possible try to start using them on the song.

Besides just practicing each arpeggio it is a very good idea to work on playing the arpeggios in different patterns. I show a few in the video, but playing them in groups of 3 or 4 notes, skipping notes etc are good ways to get more flexible with the arpeggio. You need the flexibilty when you start improvising, and keep in mind that it is about flexibility and overview not about speed when working on this.

The first exercise is to just play through the song with the arpeggios from example 2 in a one octave version. This will not only help practicing the arppegios but also build your sense of the form of the song and help you hear the chords moving and when they change.

Blue Bossa - Soloing with Arpeggios Ex 3

If you are very new to arpeggios you could do this playing the arps in 4th notes and not 8th notes so that the tempo is a bit lower in the beginning.

The next thing that I’d suggest that you start working on is connecting the arpeggios. Practicing the arpeggios in this way over the progression is a way to get closer to how you improvise, something that you should also strive after when making exercises.

The idea is to start playing the arpeggios over the progression and then when ever the chord changes to continue the movement with the note that is the closest in the next arpeggio. It’s quite tricky to get started with but very rewarding when you start getting the freedom while improvising.

Blue Bossa - Soloing with Arpeggios ex 4

With an exercise like this you get a completely new exercise if you start on a different note, and if you keep on going it should keep mutating into new exercises, also a very healthy way to keep your ears and mind busy while practicing something as simple as arpeggios.

Target notes

As I demonstrate in the video the thinking behind making harmony clear in a solo line is to target certain notes of the strong beats (in this case the 1). The idea is that a strong and logical sounding line will be a line that has the direction towards a clear target note. I also discuss this way of making melodies in another lesson that you can check: Target Notes You will notice in the solso I improvise in the video that I am not too concerned with target notes unless the chord is changing.

In the video I demonstrate how I use this principle while playing a simple solo over the progression. The best place to start is to just use the 3rd of each chord as a target you can quickly expand this to other notes but the 3rd is fairly safe and easy to hear.

Here is an overview of the target notes:

Blue Bossa - Soloing with Arpeggios Ex 5

I hope you can use the arpeggios and exercises I went over here to get started making some melodically strong solos that really dig into the harmony.

You can also check out the 3 chorus solo lesson in my WebStore:

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