Tag Archives: jazz arpeggio licks

The Magic Arpeggio Solves A LOT Of Problems

Have you ever found yourself wondering what arpeggios to use when you improvise over a m7b5 or an altered chord? There are quite a few chords where we don’t have a lot of great options with the standard diatonic arpeggios, but the arpeggio that I am going to show you in this video is a great tool to cover a lot of those chords and it works great for a lot of other common chords as well.

This lesson is going to show you where you can use it and some of the things you can play with it, including a dominant sound that is really great and almost nobody uses.

The Arpeggio and The League of Internet Theory Trolls

The arpeggio I am talking about is a Maj7(b5) arpeggio, which is hard to give a correct name, and when I call it a maj7(b5) arpeggio I can already feel the rumble of the internet theory trolls. That is because that description doesn’t really fit with the context it is used in, but the problem is that any other description also doesn’t really fit unless you want to describe it as a Maj7(#11, omit5 omit 9) and my life is too short for that, so let’s call it the magic arpeggio.

If you are in C major then the magic arpeggio would be built on the 4th degree of the scale: F

So it would be F A B E (which if you play it sounds like a maj7 chord with a b5:

A practical and compact way of playing the arpeggio could be something like this:

I am going to show you more ways along the way but this version is one I use a lot.

Side note: The most important skill for super-imposing things in Jazz

What this lesson also will help learn is how to relate a set of notes to a root, something that is very useful if you want to find more melodies by super-imposing triads, and pentatonic scales.

Getting used to relating a set of notes to a root to have an idea about what those notes help you hear what they sound like and if they will work for the chord.

Magic Altered Arpeggio

As you can see I am moving the keys around a little in this lesson so you get used to thinking a little in different keys because that is very useful for getting used to working with stuff like this.

Here I am using the Bmaj7(b5) arpeggio over G7 alt

B Eb F Bb – 3 b13 b7 #9  – Great altered sound

And of course, you also have this note set in the altered scale where G altered is the same set of notes as Ab melodic minor:
Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab Bb (highlight the Bmaj7(b5)

The lick is really just playing the arpeggio pattern and then I am changing the order of two notes, this arpeggio already sounds different from a normal scale or arpeggio melody so it is easy to get it to sound good. You can see how is it really just this pattern:

Augmenting Your Half-diminished Vocabulary with Magic

m7b5 or half-diminished chords are often tricky to improvise over and it is one of the few chords where the arpeggio from the 3rd is difficult to use because of the b9. But the magic arpeggio works really well in a minor II V l like this

Here I am using the magic arpeggio from the b5 of the chord, so Bbmaj7(b5) on Em7b5. This gives us
Bb D E A which is b5 b7 1 11

The line is coming out of this basic arpeggio pattern

EX 6

Tonic Minor – Symmetrical Solution

In the altered example, you saw that we have a magic arpeggio in the melodic minor scale on the 3rd note of the scale.

If you look at A melodic minor that is: A B C D E F# G# A

and the magic arpeggio would be C E F# B

related to Am that is b3 5 6 9  so it is a great Am6/9 sound

that could sound like this:

EX 7

This line is using a symmetrical fingering that you can move up in sets of two strings. This is easy for playing the arpeggio but is limited when it comes to playing more moving melodies with the arpeggio.

EX 8

Phrygian Chord as a Dominant Sound

The Phrygian chord is really a great dominant sound. It is a sus4 dominant with a b9, and the magic arpeggio works really well for that:

EX9

Here I am using the Abmaj7(b5) to create a G7(sus4b9) sound. This works because we have Ab C D G which is b9 4 5 and 1 over a G7. We don’t have a 7th, but if you have a b9 and a root then you don’t hear a maj7th you hear the b7.

The line is made using the “basic arpeggio” that I introduced in the beginning.

EX10

Now that you have seen a lot of the different ways you can use this arpeggio then you can probably also easily see how this works if you use the Magic Arpeggio as a chord voicing. If you want to see some great examples of how that can be applied to different chord progressions then check out this video.

Super-impose Pentatonics

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

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This Is A Great And Easy Recipe For Jazz Licks

You probably already know that a big part of what makes a solo sound like jazz is the are chromatic passage like this:

And another part of it is how there is a close connection to the chord that you solo over using arpeggios to spell out the harmony.

In this lesson, you are going to see how putting these two concepts together is a solid recipe for making some great sounding licks.

Even if you are not that familiar with Jazz then I think this way of making lines could be a good way to try and make your own licks that have more of a Jazz sound.

Let’s start with a basic 1-octave Cmaj7 arpeggio like this. You probably already know this one.

You want to add some chromaticism to this arpeggio and there are a few ways you can do that. Let’s start with this chromatic enclosure.

Here’s an enclosure that I learned from Pat Martino:

What is a Chromatic Enclosure?

In this context, a chromatic enclosure is really just a short melody with some chromatic notes that resolves to a target note, and when we are using it here the target note is one of the notes in the Cmaj7 arpeggio. You can read more about them here: Chromatic passing notes – Instant Bebop guitar lesson! And if you put together the arpeggio and the enclosure then we get:

This already sounds pretty good, but we can add something at the end like this:

Chromatic below – diatonic above

And now I added an extra chromatic approach which is using a scale tone above and a chromatic note below. In the lick it is on the 5th, G and then you have A and F# to resolve to G.

You can do this on the entire arpeggio like this:

And you can even add one more to the lick like this:

Let’s try making another lick, but now start with a descending arpeggio

the lick could be something like this:

Here I am using an enclosure that works really well on the 7th and also on the 3rd like this:

And you can go back up and add another part like this:

Better Rhythm

You can also change the rhythm of the arpeggio a little by making it a triplet and then adding some chromaticism, something like this:

Here we have an enclosure of the C, then the arpeggio played with an 8th note triplet and then a double approach going from B via Bb to A:

Benson’s chromatic run

Another great variation that you can hear George Benson do a lot is using this type of arpeggio and then connect the top-notes with a chromatic run.

Something like this:

And putting this into a lick could sound like this:

Of course he actually stole this from Charlie Parker who also does this all the time, but you probably knew that already…

Descending Benson

And you can also apply the triplet to a descending arpeggio and add an ending to it:

Add More Chromaticism to Your Playing

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Great And Simple Way To Make New Jazz Licks

I think we all know how it is: You are improvising over a song and there is a place or one chord where you always feel like you are playing the Old Jazz Guitar Licks.

One of the ways that I go about finding some new material that I like is actually pretty simple and that is what I am going to show you in this lesson.

In my experience, you are better off working on taking the things that you already know and get better at using them instead of trying to learn a million Star Trek scales that
you can’t make music, so this is actually pretty down to earth.

Very often when I listen to the jazz guitar solos that I love, like Wes on Four on Six or maybe a Kurt Rosenwinkel, then some places really stand out to me, and when I transcribed those passages they were always using very basic things but just creating great melodies with that.

So this is more about getting great melodies or licks out of basic things and that is what I am going to show you a way of exploring in this video because you can make 1000s of great licks with stuff you already know.

For this lesson I am going to take a C7 and the scale that it belongs to which will be an F major scale, so the basic framework is

And it is important to see the Arpeggio or the chord in the context of the scale (Neck Diagrams) Making music is about connecting things, not playing separate ideas one after the other.

We are making licks for a C7 so let’s first try to make some melodies just with the arpeggio and then add in the rest.

The Arpeggio works really well, but for a melody to be interesting then it probably needs to be a little less predictable than just the arpeggio.

#1 Change the order of the notes

The first two suggestions for making licks is really about knowing the arpeggio better and being freer to improvise with it. And this is what you need to work on to do that:

And you can put the 2nd bar from the example above to work on the beginning of a Blues in C:

You don’t always have to play the notes in the same order, we think of them as 1 3 5 7 but when you improvise you can play a lot of other melodies with the same notes in different orders.

#2 Inversions = New Melodies

Just like chords, there are ways you can also change the octave of some of the notes and in that way create inversions which are really just more solid melodies with the same notes.

#3 Repeating Notes

A lot of Great melodies use only arpeggios and one thing that they mostly do is that they also repeat the notes in the arpeggio, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik comes to mind.

In general you can just explore diffierent ways to make patterns by repeating notes as shown here below:

And if you put this to use on a Blues you have this:

#4 Add The Scale Notes

Until now, everything was done using only the arpeggio but we can also add the rest of the scale and create this exercise, which I usually refer to as the Barry Harris exercise:

If we take a few arpeggio patterns to add scale notes to then they could look like this:

And adding the scale could yield an example like this:

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.

Check out my Book: Modern Concepts for Jazz Guitar

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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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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