Some of the things that I really like to play in my solos are not just an arpeggio or just a scale run, but more a combination of things or a certain way of playing something that makes it more interesting.
In this lesson, I am going to show you 10 different patterns that I like to use for C7 chords. Most of them are longer runs for just a single chord, but you can, of course, use them in many ways.
Let’s just start with some of the basic arpeggios because there is a lot to be said for being creative with the things you already know and you can always get more out of them. Then gradually it is going to get more complicated and even outside.
#1 Know Your Arpeggios (even better)
This is coming out of a basic C7 arpeggio like this one:
But playing the pattern that I am using here makes it sound much more interesting because the pattern creates groups of 3 notes that move around on top of the meter in a very nice way.
A lot of what you want to explore with material like this is finding a combination of what makes the notes, arpeggio or scale or something else, sounds good and also practical and easy to play.
Before I am going to get into the less common structures then the next logical candidate is the arpeggio from the 3rd of the chord, Eø which becomes a great intervallic melody like this:
#2 It Doesn’t Really Sound Like An Arpeggio
This example is just a way of playing this basic arpeggio shape:
Here I am using legato-technique to make the line easier to play, by giving your right hand a bit more time to move, so the pull-off is giving you time to change to the next string.
This pattern is something you can apply to a lot of different arpeggios to get melodies that move around more instead of running up and down arpeggios or scales all the time.
Let’s check out some less obvious examples that sound really solid.
#3 Is It A Pentatonic Scale Or An Arpeggio?
This example is using a group of 5-notes, and I am playing it so that it repeats in octaves, something you will see quite often in this video, again really just because that is practical on the guitar.
The 5 notes are G A Bb D E which sort of spells out a Gm6/9 or you could consider it a type of Gm6 pentatonic scale. Against the C it is C7(9,13) so it is pretty spot-on for the sound of the chord.
The way I am using it here, it is turned into a melody that is a group of 6 notes. If you just play the pattern then you get 5 note groupings, and while groups of 5 notes might seem hipper, then the melody with the 6 notes is a bit more interesting and it is also easy to play.
If you want to practice the 5 notes you could turn that into this exercise:
The next example is a more distinct or dissonant sound on the chord but still works great.
#4 Digging The Wrong Note!
This pattern is a way to really emphasize a wrong note on the C7.
The basic group of notes is a Bb major triad with an added #11, which you could practice like this:
The note F is, sort of, a wrong note on the C7, and this pattern is really playing with that sound to get it to stand out.
I often convert melodies to chords to have an idea about how it sounds, and in this case, that would be this:
And the melody I am using here is designed to really make the E and the F come out on top of the chord to get that dissonance because that is the interesting effect here.
That is also why it is great to have it as a repeating pattern
Let’s have a look at some triad options that sound incredible!
#5 The Only Thing Better Than One Triad
I think that the only thing that is better than a triad is two triads, or rather a triad pair.
Here I am using Gm and Am triads, and the way I am improvising with them is pretty free, but I am using one triad at a time to create shifting colors on top of the chord.
If you want to improvise with triad pairs, then spend time learning triads in inversions, as diatonic triads in scales, positions and inversions, and string sets. That way it will get a lot easier to put them together in lines and create great sounds like this.
You can check out this video on practicing triads if you want some more strategies and exercises:
Now it’s time to add some interesting notes to the mix before I’ll show you some structures that are not really arpeggios like the ones I have used until now.
#6 Using Fancy Arpeggios
This arpeggio is from the C Lydian b7 or G melodic minor scale and it is not really a diatonic arpeggio:
Diatonic Arpeggios of G melodic minor:
GmMaj7 Am7 Bbmaj7(#5) C7 D7 Eø F#ø
But you can still construct it:
F# G A Bb C D E F# G
F# G A Bb C D E F# G – F# Bb D E
and it sounds great on the C7 chord as a C7(9,#11)
#7 Modern Structures And Great Melodies
You can view this as one large quartal arpeggio or two 3-note quartal arpeggios, and you can use it either way. I like this way of playing it because it creates a melody that is less one-directional.
You probably know the sound as chords like this:
But all of these you can also explore as arpeggios and they sound great because they are so different from the regular stacked 3rds that you use all the time.
Let’s check out a more exotic-sounding triad pair before it’s time to get into some outside stuff!
#8 Inside and Outside
Once you start to also use the Lydian dominant sound on the C7 you can actually get some really interesting sounds by finding the right way to emphasize that sound.
As you know the Lydian b7 and the basic C7 scale are identical except for the F# and F
C D E F G A Bb C
C D E F# G A Bb C
Using triad pairs can be a great way to create some beautiful sounding melodies that really get the sound across in an interesting way:
Here I am using the Bb augmented and the C major triads which together actually form a C7(9,#11)
C E G Bb D F#
1 3 5 b7 9 #11
I love how these shift on top of the chords and you should explore these for all sorts of melodic minor modes like altered dominants or Lydian dominants.
Now we can take it a bit outside!
#9 Wrong Triads Are Great As Well
This is Close to the sound of the Lydian b7, but it is more dissonant and more out.
I am using triads a tritone apart from the diminished scale.
The dim scale that goes with C7 is:
C Db Eb E F# G A Bb C:
and in there you have C, Eb, Gb, and A major triads.
This example uses the A and the Eb together:
This pattern gives you a lot of tension on top of the C7 but it is also not completely far away.
The next example is pretty out there and atonal so it should sound a lot more outside and dissonant than it actually does
#10 This Should Sound A Lot Weirder Than It Does
The Augmented scale is a weird-sounding scale because it is symmetrical and atonal but that is also why it can be such a nice effect on the chord. In this case, I am using the Bb augmented scale:
There are three major triads in there: Bb, D, and F#
If you think about the material in the scale it should sound pretty weird, but it actually sounds really cool and not that far out because of the strong symmetrical melodies.
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