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How Do You Use Arpeggios?

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  1. bingefeller
    Member

    Hi folks,

    I'm starting to get into arpeggios and trying to work out some arpeggios licks that I can play over standards. Problem is that I have a hard time coming up with anything interesting. How do you guys use arpeggios in your playing?

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  2. Matt
    Member

    i think just having them in your arsenal is a powerful tool. for me, a great exercise was to play arpeggios in their various postions (1, 3, 5, 7) accompanied with the scale(s) that defines that sound. so, it'd take Ab7#5, play it from Ab, C, E, and Gb along with the altered scale in those positions. i think what this helps accomplish is a fluidity between your scalar and arpeggio lines. so instead of playing only a scalar line, or an arpeggio, you conceptualize how you can splice between the two.

    i would say, depending on the situation, arpeggios in themselves can be great to lay into. if you hear another member getting lost in the form, lay into the harmonic progression. it's also great for clarity and obviousness. for tritone substitutions, i almost always think the triad if not the 7#11 so the band can go with me, or accommodate that move.

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  3. aramaya
    Member

    arpeggios are the gateway to actually sounding like you are playing changes and will alter the complexity with which you play if you really dig into them. At this point in my playing, I don't think in terms of scales at all,
    but rather all in harmony. The arpeggio is the means by which you control modal sounds.
    9 pulls towards 1; 11 and 13 pull towards 5. With that basic understanding you can play
    every mode conceivable and actually sound like the gravity of the pitches is oriented in
    the correct manner to convey the sound of the mode.

    example 7(9,#11,13), 7(b9, #9, #11,13) 7(9,#11,b13), 7(b9,11,b13), 7(9, 11,b13) etc.

    also, it simplifies your thinking to a single step that is more direct than thinking about parent scales etc., and what mode
    you are going to play over what chord. there is less of an intellectual head trip involved, you learn the sounds and
    blend them. From there, once you start getting into chord substitutions the sky is the limit... Giant Steps is basically a set of substitutions over a ii-V-I. Harmony within harmony.

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  4. bingefeller
    Member

    Thanks Matt.

    Do you use any arpeggio subs? Like, what do you thnk works well in terms of playing arpeggios from 3rd or 5th degrees?

  5. bingefeller
    Member

    Aramaya - can you please give me an example of what arps you'd maybe play over a ii V I in C?

  6. aramaya
    Member

    if it is F-7 Bb7 Ebmaj7. Start with connecting the notes of the arpeggio.
    then build up. F-7b9 Bb7b13 Ebmaj#9. Notice the shared pitch between all three chords.
    From there you can alter your extensions (9,11,13) staying aware of voice leading between
    the various members of the chord.

    try this ascending single note line (F Gb Bb C) (D F Gb Ab) then descending(F# G D Bb G Eb)
    F-7b9 Bb7b13 Ebmaj7 #9, Hope you get the idea, less than ideal situation for notating...

    Notice that the F-7 is both using a quartal triad, and also imposing Gbmaj#11 to pull out the phrygian sound.
    Bb7 is pretty straight forward. Ebmaj7 pretty straight forward as well, #9 pulling to 3 in this case.

    Look at the head for Groovin' High if you want a pretty straight ahead example. also blues for alice. joy spring etc.

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  7. aramaya
    Member

    With even a basic tri-tone sub you can make the ii-V more interesting.
    Arpeggiate these progressions:

    1) F-7 Bb7 2)F-7 E7
    3) B-7 Bb7 4) B-7 E7

    By following the substitutions the line can sound more complex than it is
    and still resolve because the basic voice leading of your line is moving
    through the progression.

    another line: (B E F# A) (Ab Gb F D) (Eb Bb G Eb)
    B-11 Bb7b13 Ebmaj

  8. aramaya
    Member

    Last one to make the point of how valuable they are:
    |F-7 |Bb7| Ebmaj)

    single note line |(B C# D# F#) (D E F# A)| (G D B G) (Gb Bb D F) (Eb Bb)

    B9, D9 over F-7; G, Bb7b13 over Bb7; Ebmaj

    (diminished subs for F-7, Bb7)

  9. bingefeller
    Member

    Aramaya - thanks for your suggestions,

    Are you saying that you don't think about substitutions so much, but rather think about adding extensions to each chord? eg Playing a minor 11 arp over a minor 7 chord?

    EDIT: ok I can see you've now made a post where you've made a chord sub over the i.

  10. aramaya
    Member

    I am saying that I think about chords and substitutions rather than scales.
    a chord+extensions to me, is a better way of controlling a mode and understanding
    how to use and resolve the pitches that give a mode its characteristic sound.
    These sound palettes are then blended as you play through the changes.

    phrygian to me is -7(b9,11,b13) Dorian -7(9,11,13). the defining pitches in each mode
    are the 9&13. By thinking in terms of the chord you more thoroughly control the defining pitches
    to produce a given sound, rather than just abstractly playing through the scale looking for the right pitch.
    make sense? Once this is applied to a chord progression, the line starts to feel like it has motion moving
    from chord to chord.

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  11. http://we.tl/i2Xup8ubEY

    Hey, I created a spreadsheet of common 4-note arpeggios and what happens when you play them from different starting points. For example, when you play a CMaj7 arpeggio starting on C, you get C, E, G and B. But if you start that same arpeggio on say Eb, you get Eb, G, Bb7 and D; a C-7/9 chord. Which is another way to say you may substitute a EbMaj7 chord over a CMin7 chord.

    I only highlighted chords that have at least a 3rd + a 7th because those two notes are essential in defining the flavor of the chord (In my opinion, and Kurt's and Jamie Abersold) ;) And in the case of a Maj7#11 chord you need the 3rd, 7th and #11th. Same goes for Augmented chords and half-dim, etc.

    This spreadsheet is a work in progress, but maybe someone will find it useful. It is full of enharmonic spellings and there are probably a few omissions or mistakes. But I think you'll get the idea.

    Note: My favorite arpeggio to superimpose is from the quartal Maj7#11/13 chord. Depending on where you begin playing it you can get a Maj7#11/13; or Min6/9; or Dom7sus; or Maj7/9/13; or Min7/11 chords using the exact same 4 intervals. I was also surprised how much of a chameleon the Min7b5 arpeggio can be.


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