Arpeggios Guide. Part 1 - Learn Your Arpeggios

Learn you arpeggios, how to make them and use them!

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First off, an arpeggio is defined as playing chord one note at a time. This is true, but you when you're done here, youwont think of thema chords, but as tools to use to spice up your solos and such. 

Chord Construction

This is a must when learning arpeggios. Chord construction refers to intervals used to make chords. Example: When you see (1 3 5) that means you use the root, the third and fifth of the major scale. If you see (1 b3 5) it is still the major scale. That being said, know your major scales! Even if its numbers that are above 7 (major scale is 1 2 3 4 5 7 1),itisinfered that: 
9  = 2
11 = 4
13 = 6
Just subtract 7.

The Chords

Notes in brackets are optional, but make the arpeggio sound better. 
Major: 1  3 (5)
Minor: 1 b3 (5)
Aug: 1 3 #5
Dim: 1 b3 b5
dom7: 1 3 (5) b7
Maj7: 1 3 (5) 7
m7: 1 b3 (5) b7
Aug7: 1 3 #5 b7
Dim7: 1 b3 b3 bb7
m/maj7:1 b3 (5) 7
m7b5: 1 b3 b5 b7
m7#5: 1 b3 #5 b7
m7b9: 1 b3 (5) b7 b9
With those arpeggios, you should have a great start.

Applying These To Make Arpeggios

By now, you're probably itching to play. So, I'll start with C for simplicity. 
Intervals... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
Cmaj Scale: C D E F G A B C
Cmaj Arpeggio: C E (G)

Cmin: C Eb (G)
Aug: C E G#
Dim: C Eb Gb
dom7: C E (G) Bb
Maj7: C E (G) B
m7: C Eb (G) Bb
Aug7: C E G# Bb
Dim7: C Eb Gb Bbb/A
m/maj7: C Eb (G) B
m7b5: C Eb Gb Bb
m7#5: C Eb G# Bb
m7b9: C Eb (G) Bb Db

Playing Those Arpeggios

  C                   Cm                  Caug 
|-------------------|-------------------|---------------|
|---------------(8)-|---------------(8)-|-------------9-|
|-----(0)-----9-----|-----(0)-----8-----|-----1-----9---|
|---2------10-------|---1------10-------|---2----10-----|
|-3-----------------|-3-----------------|-3-------------|
|-------------------|-------------------|---------------|

Cdim C7 Cmaj7
|---------------|---------------------6-|---------------------7-|
|-------------7-|-----------------(8)---|---------0-------(8)---|
|-----------8---|-----(0)-3-----9-------|-----(0)-------9-------|
|---1-4--10-----|---2--------10---------|---2--------10---------|
|-3-------------|-3---------------------|-3---------------------|
|---------------|-----------------------|-----------------------|


Cm7 Caug7
|---------------------6-|-----------------6-|
|-----------------(8)---|---------------9---|
|-----(0)-3-----8-------|-----1-3-----9-----|
|---1--------10---------|---2------10-------|
|-3---------------------|-3-----------------|
|-----------------------|-------------------|

Cdim7 Cm/maj7
|--------------------|-------------------7-|
|---------------7-10-|---------0-------8---|
|-------2-----8------|-----(0)-------8-----|
|---1-4----10--------|---1--------10-------|
|-3------------------|-3-------------------|
|--------------------|---------------------|


Cm7b5 Cm7+5
|--------------------|--------------------|
|---------------7-11-|---------------9-11-|
|-------3-----8------|-----1-3-----8------|
|---1-4----10--------|---1------10--------|
|-3------------------|-3------------------|
|--------------------|--------------------|


Cm7b9
|--------------------------9-|
|-----------2-------(8)-11---|
|-----(0)-3-------8----------|
|---1----------10------------|
|-3--------------------------|
|----------------------------|

Inversions

An inversion is when the root note is not the lowest note of the arpeggio. A 1st inversion is when the third note is the first note, a 2nd inversion is when the fifth is played first, and when dealing with arpeggios with a seventh, playing the seventh first is the 3rd inversion.

Em7

Root note 1st Inv 2nd Inv 3rd Inv
|-------7--10-|----7--10--12-|------------|---------------|
|----8--------|-8------------|----------8-|---------------|
|-9-----------|--------------|----7--9----|---------------|
|-------------|--------------|-9----------|-------5--9----|
|-------------|--------------|------------|-5--7----------|
|-------------|--------------|------------|---------------|

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Kynyster_K
    I'M SO FUCKIN LOST! ^ just like 80srockerchik... all i know is they're broken up chords! Someone please help me
    HandsomeBastard
    it would be better if you used an easier arpeggio as an example when you talked about arpeggio inversions
    ironwolg
    excellent lesson, but i would have included the major scalein it, hopefully this will help me out some
    80srockerchik
    hmmmmm.....im lost....i didnt understand this really...all i get is that arpeggios are broken up chords but....thats it.... can n e one help?
    Aenx
    Aw man, my head hurts. I'm in the same situation as the guy above, is there actually anyone out there that can help clear this up for me?
    Madhur Damn
    Just look for another article on the subject, someone else might explain it better for those who don't understand.
    wildchild6660
    Kynyster_K wrote: I'M SO FUCKIN LOST! ^ just like 80srockerchik... all i know is they're broken up chords! Someone please help me
    You just have to use the individual notes in a arpeggio when soloing. When a chord is being played, you can play the arpeggiated equalent try this link:
    baltaz7
    it is very easy to my. do you have something more difficult for me
    scottishmob
    ^ Its aight dude. Major is (1 3 5) and minor is (1 flat3 5). It is the same except that the 3rd in a minor is a half step down.
    Axeman2202
    I spotted a typo where you listed all the intervals of the different arpeggios you put the dim7 is 1 b3 b3 bb7 it should be 1 b3 b5 bb7 apart from that not bad
    xhisor
    i really don't get how to start with this... I'm not able to remember what all of the different major scales is etc, and that gives me big troubles with this one
    mikelima
    i think we may have to learn more about theory of scasles and chords before we will understand the arpeggio theory?
    baltaz7
    it is very easy to my. do you have something more difficult for me?
    alphablade7
    i dont get any of this im still a bit of a beginner with this sort of stuff. Intervals... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Cmaj Scale: C D E F G A B C Cmaj Arpeggio: C E (G) Cmin: C Eb (G) Aug: C E G# Dim: C Eb Gb dom7: C E (G) Bb Maj7: C E (G) B m7: C Eb (G) Bb Aug7: C E G# Bb Dim7: C Eb Gb Bbb/A m/maj7: C Eb (G) B m7b5: C Eb Gb Bb m7#5: C Eb G# Bb m7b9: C Eb (G) Bb Db like tht for example? can anyone explain to me what all of this means? it would be a big help, thank you
    shanksxy
    i still dont under stand any of this at all. i honestly need it in even dumber terms. some one help me out
    aledmcc06
    this is great for someone who has had some sort of music theory before. for those who don't understand pick up a book on intervals.
    Deedanny
    Maybe im just stupid or something but i didn't get this, but i dun wanna be the boring one, i just think it's a bit wierd that i can pull of "arpeggios from hell" and not understand a freaking "learn your--" lesson=P but it's probably just me, heh.. anyway good work on the scale thingy ;D
    difitzio
    wow what a fantastic lesson and playing that all together reminds me of a scene from a movie (kind of spooky yet exciting mood)... this stuff is going to realy help me along thanks mate
    difitzio
    fantastic theory lesson this is gonna help me along nicely thank you my friend
    0.Configuration
    u rock man, ur possibly the first person on this site to explain this in a way that people will understand, everyone else who does stuff like this is jus all like, "well you take the diminished phrygian harmonic minor 5th and place it with the augmented loclorian diminished 20th then hey presto were done!" and ppl are all like "phrygian?" "harmonic?" "5th" "screw this"
    DazzlerD
    KEWL!!!! after 10 years of playin with out any tuition finally i can fill in some blanks!!! THIS SITE ROCKS....
    les_kris
    This is a fairly good lesson, nice to see some basics of theory covered, good job dude.
    kdo
    i think il call myself Donald twain...good stuff..loads of info..thanks