#1
I have recently been putting more time and effort into learning how to play arpeggios over chord progressions. I have a couple questions. It just doesn't seem to sound all that great - I've been working with straight 8th notes this whole time, just focusing on switching arpeggios with the chords and landing on the correct root notes.

I'm wondering where one goes with this technique. Are there certain notes that you aim for that lead into other arpeggios well?

It just sounds pretty bland to me. Like I'm, well, playing up and down a bunch of arpeggios. I have a hard time keeping track of the actual notes and their intervals in real time as I play, and I end up just not being able to control the feel of the melody I want to play as much as I would if I forgot the arpeggios altogether and just played by ear.
#2
so just play by ear. in the end, that's what you'll end up doing anyway. learn techniques, but don't be a slave to them. if you hear a place where an arpeggio would work, use it. if you don't, don't.

but yeah, there's nothing that says you have to go straight 8ths on arpeggios, or that you have to play them from low to high and then back down again.

the same principles that apply to good melodies apply to the note choices for arpeggios, btw. if the two chords share a tone, you can use it as both the end of one and the beginning of the other, or you may find a better pattern. a step up or down between notes is also nice, or you may find large leaps to fit the song better.

music is infinitely variable. if you can play by ear, you have a good ear, so don't be afraid to use it.
#3
Well, this is something more complicated than I feel confident to explain, but I'll give it a go, although you should find a nice jazz teacher and talk to him about it, no matter what style you intend to play.

Or, you could get into the Berkly (sorry spelling) series of books, I think book 2 goes over this extensively.

Firstly, lets just say you have a II, V, I progression in G, so Am7, D7, Gmaj7. Firstly, pick the arpegios you want to use. So you could obviously use Am7, D7, and Gmaj7 arpegios, but those will sound bland because youre playing the same notes as the chord.

Now lets break down each chord:

Am7 is the ii chord of G, making it a subdominant chord. This means you could play the other subdominant chord of G, which is Cmaj7 (the IV).
You might notice that this is the relative major of Am.

D7 is the V chord of G, making it a dominant sound. this means the other dominant chourd, the vii would work, so you could play F#m7b5.

The Gmaj7 is the tonic chord, which means you could play any other tonic sounding chord. So Bm7 (iii) or Em7 (the vi) would work.

Furthurmore, to lead into the next chord you can play the arpegio of the upcoming chord. Therefore over Am you could play D7, for D7 you could play Gmaj7, and for Gmaj7 you COULD play Am7, however the II chord (I think) sounds rough over the I chord, therefore you can substitute another minor chord for it, so Em7(vi) or again Bm7(iii).

There are plenty of ways this can work and I don't know them all but thats the basics that I understand. Also, try starting the arpegios somewhere other than the root. If youre playing straight 8th notes, try to start a new arpegio on the same string in the same position as the one you are on as this adds fluidity.

EDIT: The subdominant, Dominant, Tonic arpegio substitutions will work in any key with any progression, although "work" and "sound good" arent always the same. You should use youre ears as a guide.

Tonic: I, iii, vi
Subdominant: IV, ii
Dominant: V vii
Last edited by suburbanrampage at May 2, 2011,
#5
Quote by brothertupelo
so just play by ear. in the end, that's what you'll end up doing anyway. learn techniques, but don't be a slave to them. if you hear a place where an arpeggio would work, use it. if you don't, don't.

but yeah, there's nothing that says you have to go straight 8ths on arpeggios, or that you have to play them from low to high and then back down again.

the same principles that apply to good melodies apply to the note choices for arpeggios, btw. if the two chords share a tone, you can use it as both the end of one and the beginning of the other, or you may find a better pattern. a step up or down between notes is also nice, or you may find large leaps to fit the song better.

music is infinitely variable. if you can play by ear, you have a good ear, so don't be afraid to use it.


Right, right. My best improv comes when I put scales and everything on the back burner and just let my ears and fingers drive. But I hear guitarists fitting perfect arpeggios into their music and it seems like a good tool to be able to whip out anywhere. Maybe i've been looking at it the wrong way.


Quote by suburbanrampage
Well, this is something more complicated than I feel confident to explain, but I'll give it a go, although you should find a nice jazz teacher and talk to him about it, no matter what style you intend to play.

Or, you could get into the Berkly (sorry spelling) series of books, I think book 2 goes over this extensively.

Firstly, lets just say you have a II, V, I progression in G, so Am7, D7, Gmaj7. Firstly, pick the arpegios you want to use. So you could obviously use Am7, D7, and Gmaj7 arpegios, but those will sound bland because youre playing the same notes as the chord.

Now lets break down each chord:

Am7 is the ii chord of G, making it a subdominant chord. This means you could play the other subdominant chord of G, which is Cmaj7 (the IV).
You might notice that this is the relative major of Am.

D7 is the V chord of G, making it a dominant sound. this means the other dominant chourd, the vii would work, so you could play F#m7b5.

The Gmaj7 is the tonic chord, which means you could play any other tonic sounding chord. So Bm7 (iii) or Em7 (the vi) would work.

Furthurmore, to lead into the next chord you can play the arpegio of the upcoming chord. Therefore over Am you could play D7, for D7 you could play Gmaj7, and for Gmaj7 you COULD play Am7, however the II chord (I think) sounds rough over the I chord, therefore you can substitute another minor chord for it, so Em7(vi) or again Bm7(iii).

There are plenty of ways this can work and I don't know them all but thats the basics that I understand. Also, try starting the arpegios somewhere other than the root. If youre playing straight 8th notes, try to start a new arpegio on the same string in the same position as the one you are on as this adds fluidity.

EDIT: The subdominant, Dominant, Tonic arpegio substitutions will work in any key with any progression, although "work" and "sound good" arent always the same. You should use youre ears as a guide.

Tonic: I, iii, vi
Subdominant: IV, ii
Dominant: V vii


Thanks for that! New stuff to try. I'm familiar with several of these common substitutions already.. I guess a lot of it is about just playing with everything a lot and learning how it all sounds against backing chord progressions.

I suppose my immediate goal is to be able to outline any diatonic chord progression using arpeggios at any position on the neck. I have been doing a slow process of writing up a progression, picking a spot on the neck to use, and figuring out the arpeggios for each chord in that position of the neck. Then, stumbling through it working on changing arpeggio shapes at the right times.

When I do this, I find myself playing up and down 2 octaves of the arpeggio - across all 6 strings. Do you guys recommend I break away from this shape approach, and try to view it as notes? Rather then playing an Am pattern and then a G pattern up and down the strings for example, play one set of the Am chord's notes and then 1 set of the G chord's notes arpeggiated. If that makes sense?

I'm not sure how to approach it best. Or how to word what I'm looking for into a question. Haha. Thanks for the help though guys!
#6
That's not how you write music.

Music is sounds...decide what sound you want to hear, not what shape you should be playing or even what note.
Actually called Mark!

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#7
Quote by steven seagull
That's not how you write music.

Music is sounds...decide what sound you want to hear, not what shape you should be playing or even what note.



I'm aware. I've been playing and guitar and improvising for a long time - only relatively recently (2 years or so) have I been studying theory consistently. My interest in this is not to learn how to write music - it's the best way to approach these arpeggios over chord changes as etudes, if you will, to maximize the internalization of the sounds ontop of each other and how they interact, as opposed to simply playing arpeggios in shapes ontop of their relative chords. Maybe you misunderstood - but my improvisation has developed to the point of playing with my ear as the guide, and I want to be able to use arpeggios effectively in that mix to the same end, without having to think about shapes and the works. I'm looking for the most musical approach.
#8
The way I'm going about it is that I learned 5 major scale shapes, each in its own position and all the arpegios to that scale (theres like 35 or so in all because some repeat) and then try to stay in one position for each arpegio because flashy solos are nice but as my teacher says "you dont wanna change positions every note in a dark bar with 60 people listening". And you can do some pretty sweet sounding things like that, and I don't really ever feel confined because I will usually do one or two in one position and then use a vertical lick or something to change positions. This seems to balance safety with fluidity and motion for me.
Last edited by suburbanrampage at May 2, 2011,
#9
Quote by cm880999
I'm aware. I've been playing and guitar and improvising for a long time - only relatively recently (2 years or so) have I been studying theory consistently. My interest in this is not to learn how to write music - it's the best way to approach these arpeggios over chord changes as etudes, if you will, to maximize the internalization of the sounds ontop of each other and how they interact, as opposed to simply playing arpeggios in shapes ontop of their relative chords. Maybe you misunderstood - but my improvisation has developed to the point of playing with my ear as the guide, and I want to be able to use arpeggios effectively in that mix to the same end, without having to think about shapes and the works. I'm looking for the most musical approach.

Well, honesly the most genuine musical approach is to indeed use your ears.
It seems you already are aware that the knowledge of what chords "work", and the "shapes" of chords, is not alone fully adequate for skilled improv.

I would say you really just need to practice improvising a lot. I mean a lot.
That's how you'll internalize sounds, and figure out what sounds good to you.
At the end of the day, an arpeggio by itself is just a sequence of intervals/notes.
It's up to you to turn all that knowledge into good music.

So experiment. Loop one simple chord progression for three hours straight and try different ideas.
Mix up your phrasing. try different chord voicings. Start/end chords on notes other than the root, then try to connect between chords with leading tones. etc. etc. etc. I could go on but it's getting late.

Hope that helped. I'm might not be entirely sure what your asking for.
#10
well, a lot of people who play a lot of arpeggios... that metal shred sound is rooted in classical music. there's a lot of paganini there. i don't know. if you want to study classical music for arpeggio ideas, there's hundreds of years to choose from.