Tag Archives: how to play jazz arpeggios on guitar

Arpeggios – Things To Get Right From The Beginning

When you start learning arpeggios then usually it is in positions and that is great for having an overview of all the chord tones of a chord but it is not immediately easy to use them and to add that to your playing in a way that sounds good, it is this separate pattern that you can’t really get to work.

This video will help you fix that so that you start playing better jazz solos and don’t waste time when you are practicing arpeggios.

Problems with Positions

Most of us start learning arpeggios like as complete positions, so something like this:

This is a great way to see where all the Cmaj7 chord tones in one position of the neck, but it is not immediately going to help you use this when you solo, mainly because it is a separate thing that is pretty big with a lot of notes and if you are playing a song with a Cmaj7 chord then there is a big chance that you end up just starting on the root and playing up the arpeggio

A few things are missing with this:

  • It isn’t flexible at all
  • It doesn’t really fit with what you play before
  • The melody is pretty predictable and boring

But there are some good things as well, you

  • Are Playing the Changes
  • You Do Know and Playing an Arpeggio

Let’s fix this! so that you can practice arpeggios in a way that makes sense and really get them into your playing. It is a lot easier than you might think.

And then later I am going to show you one exercise for arpeggios that really helped me open up my jazz playing and made everything a lot easier.

Arpeggios in their natural habitat

In the first example, it is clear that you can play a Cmaj7 and know the diagram, but also that it isn’t really something that is a part of your playing.

One really important part of making melodies with an arpeggio is to also use scale notes around it. Another important part of using an arpeggio is that you use that arpeggio but you also want to get to the arpeggio of the next chord, and that is also in the scale.

So try to see how we have a Cmaj7 arpeggio

and around that, we have the rest of the C major scale:

Right now this is about understanding where the arpeggio comes from and how it is a part of that scale, but later in the video, you will see how it is useful for a lot of other things.

Make It Easier To Create Great Lines

To get started using the arpeggios and also to become a little freer with them then it makes sense to not use the whole position, but instead use a single octave, making it just 4 notes.

In Jazz, you will actually find that this is also how we play arpeggios most of the time.

So let’s go from a full position to this simple 1-octave shape:

Now it is easier to make some melodies, and you can start to hear melodies, simple but strong things like this and add a little phrasing and dynamics:

Make It More Natural And More Free

Now you can start to add the scale notes around the arpeggio and this is really where you can use the material and start making music with it.

Here is an example of that

You can see how the scale notes are inserted between the arpeggio notes because you still won’t really nail the sound of the chord. The scale notes are extra notes in between HIGHLIGHT Arpeggio Notes

Similar to the previous example this is adding scale notes between the arpeggio notes but still creating a strong melody.

What to Practice and Explore

I think that it is a good idea to practice arpeggios in positions, it gives you an overview, and if you also can get used to seeing it in the scale around it then that is very useful.

Besides doing that it is very important that you also spend time composing lines using just a few notes and mixing that up with the scale. In the beginning, I would use a basic single octave as I did here, and then you can always expand on that. (Diagram again?)

In this position, you also have this complete octave:

The Best Exercise For Combining Scales and Arpeggios

One of the exercises that really helped me get better at making bebop lines and using arpeggios was to practice the arpeggios in the scale, so what you can call diatonic arpeggios.

This way of combining the chords and the scale is really great for having a library of things to use and also for connecting the scale with the chords you solo over.

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The Great Thing About Jazz And Arpeggios

Learning to play jazz we practice a lot of scales and a lot of arpeggios. But you also want to make sure that you get as much out of your practice as possible. It is also more fun to work on making new lines and coming up with new things you can use in your solos, so you want to use arpeggios as much as you can and explore where they might sound good.

In this video, I am going to show you this process and help you get a lot more out of the arpeggios you know by finding more chords you can play them on.

To keep this simple, let’s take a Cmaj7 arpeggio and look at where we can use that.

You can play a Cmaj7 arpeggio like this:

I will probably use other fingerings as well in the examples, and in general, I think you should practice arpeggios in scales as diatonic arpeggios as I talk about in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

#1 Cmaj7

The obvious place to start is using the Cmaj7 arpeggio on a Cmaj7 chord.

In this example, I am using inversions of the Cmaj7 arpeggio. The first part of the phrase is a descending 1st inversion Cmaj7 which is then turned into a 6 note phrase and repeated from beat 4 of bar 1. The second repeat is a descending root position Cmaj7.

The last part of the phrase is a series of descending chromatic 3rd intervals.

#2 Am7

If you have seen more of my lessons then you have probably seen examples of using the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord.

Here I am using the Cmaj7 as the arpeggio from the 3rd of Am7.

Am7: A C E G and a great arpeggio option here is the Cmaj7 arpeggio: C E G B.

#3 D7

Similar to how the Cmaj7 works well on Am7 then it is also a solid option on the V chord associated with Am7: D7.

In this example, I am using the Cmaj7 at the end of bar 1. Similar to the previous example I am playing the Cmaj7 arpeggio as a triplet with a leading note.

#4 F#ø

The Maj7 from the b5 of a half diminished or m7b5 chord is a great very useful arpeggio. This is also related to the previous examples, but probably you would see this in the context of a minor key.

In this case, that is a II V I in Em and the F#ø is coming from the harmonic minor scale:

E harmonic minor: E F# G A B C D E

Diatonic Chords: EmMaj7, F”ø, Gmaj7(#5), Am7, B7, Cmaj7, D#dim

#5 Fmaj7

The Cmaj7 arpeggio is also a useful tool to use on a Fmaj7(#11) chord.

In this example, I am mixing it with material that really spells out the Fmaj7 sound: Fmaj7 arpeggio and Am pentatonic.

6 Abmaj7(#5,#9)

The final, more exotic, sound is using the Cmaj7 as a part of the augmented sound on an Abmaj7 chord.

The scale sound this is using is the Augmented scale.

The Augmented scale is a symmetrical 6 note scale that can be seen as the combination of two augmented triads or as the sum of 3 maj7 chords.

In this case: Abmaj7, Cmaj7, and Emaj7.

The scale consists of Ab B C Eb E G Ab

With a little enharmonic spelling (since this is an atonal symmetrical scale) you can construct the 3 maj7 chords.

The example here below is using first an Abmaj7 arpeggio and then continuing in a Cmaj7 arpeggio really bringing out the #5(E) and #9(B) over the Abmaj7.

A great Arpeggio Workout!

Here is a great foundation when it comes to working with arpeggios and pentatonic scales on a Jazz Standard:

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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 Triads

8:37 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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