Today we will delve into the world of arpeggios, when, where and why to use them, along with learning an arpeggio exercise which will complete a well rounded introduction. If you have a metronome, now is the time to place it in front of you and set it to 60bpm to 80bpm, or which ever speed you are comfortable with, or you can use our free online metronome.
Arpeggios are most commonly used for…
- Exercises: Playing arpeggios as an exercise, they are fantastic for alternate and sweep picking, great for building up strength in your fretting hand, and excellent for coordination of the left and right hands.
- Soloing: As arpeggios are simply broken chords, they are perfect for soloing when following the rhythm players chord progression highlighting the "sweet spots".
- Sweep picking: Arpeggios are perfect for sweep picking as most patterns are one note per string.
- Theory: Writing arpeggios is very similar to writing chords except the notes are played "one at a time" in succession, rather than all at once for a chord. Arpeggios are also widely used by teachers to reinforce theory concepts.
The following chart is an "arpeggio over chord progression", which means that for each chord played, it's arpeggio counterpart is played over the top. For instance: the first chord is a C major for two bars, the lead is a C major seventh arpeggio played over the top of these two bars. I have had to very slightly alter some patterns to fit within the two bar rhythm. let's start by learning the rhythm, it's a simple I-VI-II-V progression in the key of C major. If you need an idea of how the rhythm sounds then just play the audio sample below this chart and follow the red arrows above each rhythm slash.
Now let's move onto the lead section by playing the C major seventh arpeggio pattern #2 for the first two bars, just slowly learn the pattern (you may want to visualize too) and gradually build up speed making sure to use your metronome or ours.
Once you are comfortable with the first pattern, move onto bars three and four which is an A minor seventh arpeggio pattern #3 using the same guidelines as outlined previously. Now learn bars five and six which is a D minor seventh arpeggio pattern #2, and then onto bars seven and eight which is a G dominant seventh arpeggio pattern #4. Once you are comfortable playing all four patterns separately, join them all together as per the chart. This could take some time but keep practicing and you will eventually be spot on, just go through all four arpeggios until there is no "gap" between them and it sounds fluid. Once you have achieved this, start to play over the top of the rhythm only audio sample below (there is a four beat count in), think of it like your own rhythm player!. You may also want to visit the arpeggio reference section of our site, it has many arpeggio patterns and a tutorial on how to build them from chords.
|Arpeggio exercise chart – Rhythm & lead|
|Arpeggio exercise chart – Rhythm only|
Remember that learning takes time, nothing worth while is easy or quick, it takes patience, practice and dedication to become a professional musician just like any other profession. So make sure you allow yourself plenty of time and practice to nail this lesson, it could take many weeks or as little as a few days depending on your current playing level, either way it will be good for your playing.
Cheers & enjoy!