Hey, everyone! Been trying to develop my own soloing style/abilities, and what really appeals to me is this "going through arpeggios" (as opposed to a more "lick-based" style of soloing, such as that of AC/DC, for example) method that I've seen in a few songs. Here are some observations:

[url="(Invalid video video code)] - If I had to pick a favorite solo, this would without a doubt be it. The one piece of theory that I was able to pick up, is that when it switches from G5 to D5, the lead guitar moves from a G note to an A note, creating a Dsus4 (which is also a Gsus2) over the D5 (hope I explained that well enough). What strikes me is just how smoothly the arpeggios flow from one another- something I haven't really been able to recreate. I know they say "Music first, theory second.", but I feel some degree of analysis is in order. Green Day also does this sort of thing in a lot of their other songs, too.

[url="(Invalid video video code)] - Another great example. A good amount of other "bits" besides the arpeggios really help this one sound musical, IMO. When I try to develop my own "going through arpeggios" solos, though, it just sounds like I'm running through scales rather than creating music.

[url="(Invalid video video code)] - The harmony arpeggios at the end. Not a lot going on, but still very musical.

If anyone could offer insight on the above solos (either from a creative or theoretical standpoint), I'd really appreciate it.

My main issue is coming up with leads that have this arpeggio-centric sound, but that are also still musical and connected.

Also, if anyone has any examples of similar solos, I'd definitely appreciate that, too.

There is a well known concept that involves targeting chord tones for the chord of the moment, and when the chord changes, often targeting the nearest chord tone you can find for the new chord.  This means you need to know your seventh chords (maj7, min7, m7b5, dom7) at least.  "Knowing" ideally means you know the intervals in each chord and their sound.  But you can "know" by the chord shape, plus being able to find octaves of the notes in the chord.  Worst case is you just know the chord shape, which will limit your choices severely.

You can then plan pathways from one chord tone to another .... the idea is a chord tone is usually played on a strong beat in the rhythm. The stuff in between can be scale notes (from the key, or from the something that suits that chord specifically, or just something that is near to the chord tone you're aiming at.

Listening to Hotel California, there's 2 guitars playing out the chords (basically triads), with the guitars each playing a different chord tone from the chord of the moment.  So, for the Bm, one guitar is play 5 b3 1 (repeat) ... i.e. F# D B    and the other is playing b3 1 5 (below the 1), so D B F# 

If you listen to the main solo, you'll hear chord tone targeting all over the place

Green Day.  Similar idea.  Pretty much following the triads (I V vi IV).  But he's adding a sus sound to the V chord (C#), and decorating the IV (adding a 6th going back to the 5)
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at May 26, 2017,
Thanks for the info, Jerry- very helpful! I can't believe I never realized it was as simple as finding the nearest chord tones among each chord. About your comment on seventh chords, though, the idea is just to be able to have a wider selection of notes available than just the standard 1 b3/3 5, right?
Quote by Jake P
Thanks for the info, Jerry- very helpful! I can't believe I never realized it was as simple as finding the nearest chord tones among each chord. About your comment on seventh chords, though, the idea is just to be able to have a wider selection of notes available than just the standard 1 b3/3 5, right?

Where and when 7ths sounds good in the melody is highly contextual. You're not just gonna lay on the 7th for no reason, because it definitely sounds 'outside' of the triad. In traditional harmony it's usually just a passing tone over non-dominant chords.

And don't think that arpeggios are a niche melodic device. Arpeggios are a very basic tool, and they're as interesting as you make them. The straightforward arpeggiation in those clips is just the start of how you can use arpeggios in melodies. Look into jazz and and RnB, and you'll see that arpeggios are often the foundational material for the melodies and solos. Good players make arpeggios melodically interesting by applying technique, rhythm, and harmonic concepts t them. When you start to think in those terms, it really broadens your ideas of what arpeggios are and their place in melodies (scales, too).
Jake P HI Jake.  Chord tones will often involve the appropriate 7 or b7 interval.  Such chords are less restful than the triad at their base  (i.e. Cmaj7 is less restful that C triad).  Going beyond the 7th (i.e. 9th, 11th, 13th) are even less restful, and are considered as chord extensions rather than the "basic" chord tones.  A major or minor key chord progression using just extended chords with no triads at all just doesn't seem to sit right.  

But my point about 7th chords is that they really are something you want in your musical toolbox (with suspensions where applicable (e.g 7 sus4) , and also triads with suspensions (sus2, sus4).  They give you landmarks, help you not get lost, and work well for connecting chords together.

But you don't have to think arpeggios for playing chord tones.  Better to think of involving them in phrases (which could be based around the arpeggio, but doesn't have to be), and using different time points within the rhythm (and duration) to emphasise the chord tone(s) you want.  For example, you could give a bluesy effect to a Gmaj7 chord by playing G mixolydian, but at a strong beat bend the b7 in G mixolydian (the F) up to F#, which is the 7 of Gmaj7.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jun 18, 2017,
jerrykramskoy cdgraves Hey Jerry and cdgraves- just wanted to pop back in and say thanks for all of the great info. Been working on my chord tone soloing skills a lot. Definitely not quite where I want to be- even with the basic Green Day-type stuff- but it's definitely a start!
Jake P That's great, Jake.  If you aren't already doing this, I suggest you learn the interval shapes for the octave, 3rd (maj and min), 5th, and 7th (maj and min).  This is truly a simple task.  For example, if the lower pitch of the interval (an interval ALWAYS has two (possibly identical) pitches) is located at some fret N on the 6th string, then  the upper pitch of a major 3rd can be found 4 frets higher (N+4) on the same string.  Or it can found at fret N-1 on the adjacent string.  Some examples...

a:  0  4   9   <=== upper pitch
e:  1  5  10   <=== lower pitch        or, on same string  1 -> 5,  5->9,  10->14.

The same idea is true if the lower pitch is located on the 5th, 4th, or 2nd string.  e.g.

e: 0
b: 1
g: -  -   -   -  -12
d:  -  -  7 -  - 13
a:  -  -  8

Because of the guitar tuning. when the lower pitch is on the 3rd string, the upper pitch of the major 3rd lines up at same fret.  EASY!!

Look at some major chords, and try and identify the major 3rd.  e.g D triad

e:  2     <=== the upper pitch of the major 3rd interval.
b:  3     <=== lower pitch
g:  2
d:  0

Look at this fragment from a major scale  (below just shows the frets involved) ...

e:  2  3  5
b:  3  5

Can you spot the major 3rd there?