Create your own arpeggio shapes

Arpeggios are often difficult to play because they are a mix of 1 and 2 notes per string and it can also be hard to use them to make nice lines with extensions. In this lesson I am going to show you how to change your chord voicings to two notes per string arpeggio shapes with extensions.

Whenever we can relate a scale or an arpeggio to a shape we already know like a chord shape we gain not only that it is easier to learn that arpeggio or scale, but we also get an idea about where and how we can use that scale or arp.

The approach I am going to cover here will use that approach to make some arpeggios with added extensions that are easy to play because they are 2 notes per string so we can incorporate hammer on/pull offs to execute them.

A scale and a chord voicing

Let’s first take an F major scale like this one in the 8th position:
Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 1

Now let’s try to make a set of arpeggios from a II Valt I in this position. First we take the Gm7(9) voicing shown in example 2.
Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 2

The arpeggio in the second bar is created by using the note that is in the chord voicing and then another note from the scale. You do need to know what each note in the scale is related to the chord so that you have control over what notes you play. SInce the basic arpeggio of the chord will already give you 4 of the 7 notes in the scale there is usually only one note you don’t want to include.

In the Gm7 example we end up with an arpeggio that is using notes before each note of the chord, but that is also just a choice to make it more playable in this specific example as you will see in the next example!

If we do the same for the Fmaj7 chord shown in example 3 we get an arpeggio that has notes above each note of the chord and we have a nice rich sounding Fmaj7 arpeggio with an added 9 and 13.

Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 3

The altered chord is always tricky

The altered chord is always causing us to take an extra detour. In this case the altered chord we would usually use would be a C7(b13) voicing, but to connect the voicings it is practical to have everything on the same string set. To do this I used tri-tone substitution, so instead of the C7(b13) I am playing a Gb7(9) voicing which is the exact same voicing with a Gb in the bass instead of a C. You can check out more about the relation ship between tritone subs and altered dominants in this lesson: The Altered Scale: Three Approaches

We end up with this chord and from that we can make the arpeggio in bar 2:

Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 4

Making lines with the arpeggios

Now that we have made 3 arpeggios for a II Valt I in F major we can connect the arpeggios and make a simple line. As you can tell I am actually just playing up one down the next, but because the construction of the arpeggios is less predictable than a normal stack of 3rds arpeggio it doesn’t sound so exercise like!
Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 5

If we try the same approach on a II V I in drop2 voicings we can make a completely different set of arpeggios like I have done in example 6 in the key of Bb major. You should notice that I sometimes change the hammer on/pull off to make more interesting melodies. That would be one of the first things you should experiment with when using this approach!

Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 6

The same approach applied to a II V I in the key of C major. Here I am using two drop3 voicings to demonstrate how you might deal with the gap between the two lowest notes in this voicing type. As you can see I turn around the direction of the hammer on/pull offs to make the transition between chords more smooth (especially between G7alt and Cmaj7).

Create your own Arpeggio shapes - ex 7

That was some ideas on how to create your own 2 note per string arpeggio shapes that include some extensions and are great frameworks for melodies.

I hope you can use it in your own playing to get some new ideas. I find it an easy way to create lines that have a larger range.

If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:

Create your own Arpeggio shapes

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