7th Arpeg­gio

Sweep pick­ing is a great way of play­ing speedy arpeg­gios within your regular so­los, says Paul Biela­tow­icz. In this in­ter­me­di­ate to ad­vanced les­son he shows how great 7th arpeg­gios can sound when sweeped.

Guitar Techniques - - PLAY: SWEEP PICKING -

sweep pick­ing arpeg­gios is a great way to bring ex­cite­ment into a solo. it looks im­pres­sive too, and although it sounds like it must be re­ally hard to do, in truth it’s sim­ply a case of learn­ing the ba­sic ap­proach, choos­ing some cool shapes to play, and then hon­ing your skills. so let’s dive straight in!

Our first arpeg­gio is the ma­jor 7 (1-3-5-7), a tool great for play­ing over ma­jor chord pro­gres­sions. one fea­ture that dis­tin­guishes it from other arpeg­gios is the in­ter­val of a semi­tone (mi­nor 2nd) be­tween the 7th and root of the chord. This in­ter­val should be em­pha­sised as much as pos­si­ble to cre­ate a unique feel­ing of ten­sion and res­o­lu­tion.

Dom­i­nant 7 arpeg­gios (1-3-5-b7) are great for out­lin­ing chord tones in a dom­i­nant blues pro­gres­sion. Ex­am­ple 5 demon­strates this ap­proach by arpeg­giat­ing ev­ery chord. aside from us­ing dom­i­nant 7 arpeg­gios to mir­ror the chords there’s a sim­ple but ef­fec­tive trick that will pro­vide you with in­sis­tent jazz­i­ness. it’s called tri­tone sub­sti­tu­tion which, as the name im­plies, means play­ing a dom­i­nant 7th arpeg­gio a tri­tone (or b5/#4) away from the chord in the ac­com­pa­ni­ment. This cre­ates the illusion of an al­tered dom­i­nant chord and is usu­ally used when the ac­com­pa­ni­ment is play­ing a 7th on the V chord of the key (D7 in G ma­jor). In this case our tri­tone sub­sti­tu­tion for D7 would be Ab7 (bar 12 of Ex. 5).

it doesn’t take long to no­tice that a mi­nor 7th arpeg­gio (1-b3-5-b7) is re­mark­ably sim­i­lar a mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale (1-b3-4-5-b7). In fact a mi­nor 7 arpeg­gio is a mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale with the 4th re­moved. As this scale is of­ten de­scribed as the gui­tarist’s best friend, this sim­i­lar­ity can be ex­tremely use­ful when we want to slip a mi­nor 7 arpeg­gio into a solo. For this rea­son, you should prac­tise your mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scales and mi­nor 7 arpeg­gios to­gether, so that the next time you’re play­ing your favourite pen­ta­tonic lick, you’ll be able to move seam­lessly into a mi­nor 7 arpeg­gio run.

if you’re a rock or blues player you’d be for­given for skip­ping over our next arpeg­gio and writ­ing it off as some­thing a lit­tle too ob­scure… af­ter all, how many times do we come across songs with con­tain­ing m7b5 chords at the lo­cal pub jam? How­ever, to over­look this arpeg­gio would be to over­look an en­tire pal­ette of in­ter­est­ing and use­ful sounds you can eas­ily add to your next Pen­ta­tonic-based solo. Again, the key to this arpeg­gio’s use­ful­ness lies in us­ing it as a sub­sti­tu­tion. When you play a m7b5 arpeg­gio (1-b3-b5-b7) from the 3rd de­gree of a dom­i­nant chord, it cre­ates the sound of a dom­i­nant 9 - G7 (G-B-D-F) plus Bm7b5 (B-D-F-A) equals G9 (G-B-D-F-A). Sim­i­larly, when you play a m7b5 arpeg­gio a mi­nor 3rd be­low a m7 chord, the re­sult is a m13 chord - Gm7 (G-Bb-D-F) plus Em7b5 (E-G-Bb-D) equals Gm9add11 (G-Bb-D-F-A-E).

if this all sounds a bit com­plex and the­ory-heavy, fear not: all you need to know is how your m7b5 arpeg­gio shapes fit with the rel­e­vant dom­i­nant 7 and mi­nor 7 shapes, so Ex­am­ples 9 and 10 demon­strate this clearly.

Un­less you’re com­pletely new to sweep pick­ing, the chances are you’ve come across a di­min­ished 7 arpeg­gio (1-b3-b5-bb7) be­fore. They’re loved by many, due to the fact that their sym­met­ri­cal na­ture (there’s al­ways a mi­nor 3rd be­tween one note and the next) means that you only need to learn one shape to be able to play the arpeg­gio up and down the neck: sim­ply re­peat any di­min­ished 7 lick three frets higher or lower, and you’ll be play­ing an­other in­ver­sion of the same arpeg­gio. good luck, and happy sweep­ing!

in truth it’s sim­ply a case of learn­ing the ba­sic ap­proach, choos­ing some cool shapes to play, and then hon­ing your skills.

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