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:


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.


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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