#1
Ok, so in looking through the sweeping lessons when I was first learning I noticed that all of the lessons showed what to do but not why you do it. So I have been writing a lesson which would address this, while giving only a cursory look to the technique itself which has been covered extensively in other lessons. So here it is. (If you notice any overt mistakes please let me know - I did a grammar and spell check but my grammar isn't fantastic) General feedback is appreciated.
________________________________

Understanding Arpeggios for Sweep Picking


The Technique

The first thing to understand is the motion you want to achieve. Think fluid. That is to say that your motion should be consistent and require minimal effort. You want to play cleanly and efficiently.

Like in economy picking (and unlike alternate picking) you are moving in one direction at a time. Sweeping can be thought of as extended economy picking.

When sweeping, only one note sounds at a time. After playing the first note your finger lifts, even as you begin to play the second note (and etc...). Eventually this will be done very rapidly and there will be no apparent break in between notes. Notes that have been played are then muted, either with the fingers of the fretting hand, or with the palm of your picking hand.

I'm not going to go any more in depth into that. You can find more information about the physical technique in some of the lessons listed below under "Resources". This lesson is to help you understand why you play what you play.

Why is this important?

If you know how an arpeggio (or anything for that matter) is composed, first it becomes much easier to remember, and second if you understand that it is more than just a shape (or shapes) then that allows you to use the idea much more creatively. For now we'll start at the beginning.

Basic 1, 3, 5 Arpeggios

e|------------9h12p9------------------------------12-----------------|
B|---------10--------10------------------------14----14--------------|
G|-------9--------------9-------------------14----------14-----------|
D|----11------------------11----OR-------14----------------14--------|
A|-12------------------------12----12h16----------------------16p12--|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 1 - 5 String A major arpeggios. A major consists of these notes: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A (1-8 respectively). For these arpeggios we are playing 1, 3, and 5, or A, C#, and E.

e|------------8h12p8------------------------------12-----------------|
B|---------10--------10------------------------13----13--------------|
G|-------9--------------9-------------------14----------14-----------|
D|----10------------------10----OR-------14----------------14--------|
A|-12------------------------12----12h15----------------------15p12--|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 2 - 5 String A minor arpeggios. These are played in the same way as A major in Fig. 1, however for that minor sound we are flatting the 3rd. So, we are now playing A, C, and E instead of A, C#, and E. (For reference: A minor is A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A)

Beyond 1, 3, 5

e|---------------8h12/13\12------------------------------------------|
B|------------10------------10---------------------------------------|
G|-------9h10------------------10p9----------------------------------|
D|----10----------------------------10-------------------------------|
A|-12----------------------------------12----------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 3 - The majority of this looks very familiar doesn't it? We are still playing in A minor, but now we are including the 6th (F) in several locations. Now instead of playing 1, 3, 5 you are playing 1, 3, 5, 6.

e|---------------8h12p8----------------------------------------------|
B|------------10--------10-------------------------------------------|
G|-------9h12--------------12p9--------------------------------------|
D|----10------------------------10-----------------------------------|
A|-12------------------------------12--------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 4 - Here we have included the 7th (G). Like before, instead of playing 1, 3, 5 you are now playing 1, 3, 5, 7 (on the top half I have left it as 1, 3, 5 - include the 7th by sliding to the 15th fret).

You can of course also reorder notes, or add in different notes - these were just examples.

Applications of Arpeggios in Sweep Picking


e|------------7-12/15p12-------------------------14-17/19p15---------|
B|----------8------------13-------------------15-------------17------|
G|--------9-----------------12-------------14-------------------16---|
D|------9----------------------14-------16-------------------------17|
A|-7-10---------------------------15/17------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 5 - From the intro of "Alaska" by Between the Buried and Me.

If you are new to sweep picking don't worry about trying to play this. This is just to show you how a section of sweeping can break down in a song. If we separate this into several different sections it becomes much easier to understand. So:

e|------------7-
B|----------8---
G|--------9-----
D|------9-------
A|-7-10---------
E|--------------

Fig. 5a - E minor

12/15p12------------
---------13---------
------------12------
---------------14---
------------------15
--------------------

Fig. 5b - C major

-------------14-17
----------15------
-------14---------
----16------------
/17---------------
------------------

Fig. 5c - D major

/19p15---------|
-------17------|
----------16---|
-------------17|
---------------|
---------------|

Fig. 5c - E minor

So, the sequence goes like this: E minor, C major, D major, E minor. Transition between arpeggios takes place at the "tops" and "bottoms" of each. If you know this then you don't need to remember every note individually. It also simplifies and speeds up how you learn it.

So why are they played this way, and not in alternate forms? Well, if you wanted to the first E minor arpeggio could also be played like so:

e|------------------------------3-7----------------------------------|
B|--------------12------------5--------------------------------------|
G|---------9-12-------------4----------------------------------------|
D|-------9----------OR----5------------------------------------------|
A|----10----------------7--------------------------------------------|
E|-12----------------------------------------------------------------|

Fig. 6 - Alternate E minor arpeggios. Although these two consist of the same notes in the same octave neither are suited for this particular composition.

Every arpeggio could be played differently but you get the idea. Experiment with different ways of playing the same arpeggios so that you will be able to fit them to your compositions.

Ending

If you are already well versed in theory than this has been simply a look at how it applies to sweep picking. If however, like many, you have little to no knowledge of music theory then perhaps this has given you insight into how theory and technique go hand in hand.

I hope this has helped you understand sweeping (and the arpeggios used in it) a little better. Have fun.

Resources

For more info. on sweeping I like these:
- fingersofflame's Guide to Sweep Picking
- TheSixthWheel's Sweeping Arpeggios 101 - The Crash Course
- mkain's All The Sweep Arpeggios You'll Ever Need

For theory look here:
- slash_pwns' Learning Music Theory. The Beginning
- JoshUrban's The Crusade
- Freepower's Bitesize Music Theory for Guitarists (Video Lessons)
Last edited by jfreyvogel at Jun 17, 2010,
#3
Like

Found it very informative. Granted, I know those arps, but they'd most definitely help anyone who's looking for a bit of guidance
Quote by JacobTheMe
JacobTheEdit: Hell yeah Ruben.

Quote by Jackal58
I met Jesus once. Cocksucker still owes me 20 bucks.
Last edited by diofan88 at Jun 18, 2010,
#5
S' good stuff. Would suggest adding a brief description of how you get the "1 3 5" arpeggios of a major scale - actually putting the scale and scale degrees together and then showing how the notes on the fretboard are the notes of the arpeggio in order would be very helpful.

A second thing is that you need to explain what "flattening" is - as well as explaining the 135 seperately for the minor scale.

Finally, you need to point out that you need to know the notes of the fretboard! Don't forget that many people don't actually know that at all.

Bear in mind your audience is people who are very shaky with theory, you can't take very much for granted at all.
#6
Quote by Freepower
S' good stuff. Would suggest adding a brief description of how you get the "1 3 5" arpeggios of a major scale - actually putting the scale and scale degrees together and then showing how the notes on the fretboard are the notes of the arpeggio in order would be very helpful.

A second thing is that you need to explain what "flattening" is - as well as explaining the 135 seperately for the minor scale.

Finally, you need to point out that you need to know the notes of the fretboard! Don't forget that many people don't actually know that at all.

Bear in mind your audience is people who are very shaky with theory, you can't take very much for granted at all.

Thank you for the advice. I'll work on it a little more before submitting it - polish it up a bit.