Us­ing arpeg­gios

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Jon Bishop demon­strates how you can turbo charge your blues play­ing by in­tro­duc­ing a touch of arpeg­gia­tion.

Us­ing arpeg­gios is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to out­line the sound of the un­der­ly­ing chords when cre­at­ing melodies. Many of the most suc­cess­ful melodies ever writ­ten have been ar­peg­gio based, but we as gui­tar play­ers can be guilty of not us­ing arpeg­gios as of­ten as we could.

This fea­ture is de­signed to work specif­i­cally on your abil­ity to ar­tic­u­late mi­nor, ma­jor and dom­i­nant 7 arpeg­gios, and to keep things sim­ple we’ll be us­ing the ma­jor and mi­nor 12-bar blues forms as a fa­mil­iar play­ing field.

From a stylis­tic stand­point blues gui­tar play­ers of­ten like to con­struct so­los us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of mi­nor and ma­jor pen­ta­tonic scales. These core scales are em­bel­lished with tech­niques such as bend­ing and vi­brato.

In this work­out we are go­ing to use the blues form as a foun­da­tion to prac­tise us­ing arpeg­gios with a view to in­cor­po­rat­ing these ideas into fu­ture so­los and im­pro­vi­sa­tions.

Fig­ure 1 ( page 28) out­lines four, easy-touse ar­peg­gio fin­ger­ings for ma­jor triad chords; Fig­ure 2 out­lines four pop­u­lar ar­peg­gio shapes for mi­nor triad chords. You can re­late these ar­peg­gio fin­ger­ings back to the open chord shapes they fit with for ref­er­ence - the ‘C shape’ ar­peg­gio fits with the open C shape chord etc. These shapes can used in any po­si­tion on the neck and will adopt the name of the note they are played from (if C shape ar­peg­gio is played from a G note it will be a G ma­jor ar­peg­gio) but still in essence re­tain the open C shape.

Adding in the mi­nor 7th in­ter­val to these

Us­ing arpeg­gios is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to out­line the sound of the un­der­ly­ing chords when cre­at­ing melodies.

foun­da­tional triad shapes will pro­vide mi­nor 7 and dom­i­nant 7 fin­ger­ings; Fig­ure 3 and Fig­ure 4 demon­strate this ( see page 28). These 7th chords pro­vide ex­tra colour and are only one note short of our much loved pen­ta­tonic scales.

It is a good idea to tie to­gether a chord shape and its ar­peg­gio and scale shape into one po­si­tion as this helps blur the line be­tween rhythm and lead play­ing. This con­cept al­lows the gui­tarist to pick and choose what to play, while stay­ing rel­e­vant to the over­all har­monic con­text.

Once you have di­gested and prac­tised play­ing these ar­peg­gio shapes you’ll find you will be able to use them to nav­i­gate the blues form and sound in­stantly more fo­cused.

Step one is to slowly walk through the 12-bar form us­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate ar­peg­gio and then change to the next ar­peg­gio at the cor­rect time. As you do this you will start to find the ar­eas where the arpeg­gios link up nicely. Ex­am­ples 1 and 3 in the tab and au­dio demon­strate this ap­proach us­ing sim­ple qua­ver (8th note) rhythms. Try learn­ing these ex­am­ples first and then branch out into your own im­pro­vised ver­sions. Re­mem­ber this is a ‘boot camp’ style ex­er­cise to force you into play­ing chord tones (arpeg­gios). You prob­a­bly wouldn’t choose to play a blues solo in this way for a per­for­mance but it’s a great ex­er­cise. To make the tran­si­tions be­tween the chords as smooth as pos­si­ble some pass­ing tones are added. These add colour and link the arpeg­gios so they don’t sound like ex­er­cises.

Step two is to in­cor­po­rate some of these ar­peg­gio ideas into your per­for­mance so­los and this con­cept is demon­strated in Ex­am­ples 2 and 4. You may find that al­ter­nate pick­ing arpeg­gios will help you es­tab­lish a bet­ter feel with good tim­ing (see tech­nique fo­cus for more de­tails). At faster tem­pos sweep pick­ing (play­ing notes on ad­ja­cent strings with a sin­gle stroke) is more ef­fi­cient.

The pick­ing strokes have been no­tated on the ex­er­cises and stick­ing to these may feel a lit­tle awk­ward at first, but will pro­vide the most con­sis­tent re­sults in the long run.

As ever, have fun us­ing arpeg­gios in your blues so­los and I’ll see you next time.

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