Making Music from Arpeggios

You’ll see a lot of arpeggio exercises out there, heck I even have some myself! But my goal is always to get you making music, not just playing arpeggios and scales.

But knowing where chord tones are is very useful, and we can also use the arpeggios in solos but not as you see them in most exercises.

So I decided to make some examples that you can check out. All the examples are over Am7 to D7 (first 2 chords of Autumn Leaves) and many ii-V-I and ii-V progressions. The same concept can be used between any two chords.

The examples below show how you can start to making music from arpeggios. We’re mostly focusing on the Am7 chord and related arpeggio to land on chord tones of D7, but sometimes I expand a bit further into the D7 measure.

I talk about the examples after the sheet music below.

Make sure you swing the notes and I often slide into notes that are a half step below the next note, rather than pick every note.

If you don’t see the sheet music below make sure you have javascript enabled in your browser and no addons/plugins that are disabling javascript (noscript, etc)

Arpeggios – Musical Examples

You can play the arpeggios but add some rhythmic variety. Don’t just play quarter notes. Start on different beats. If you start on beat 3 the arpeggios I show would become eighth notes to fit them into 2 beats as example 1.

Approach each arpeggio note from a half step below. I did this in example 2 and others plus I compressed the notes so that I played a triplet.

Approach the next chord with an arpeggio from the previous chord in a smooth manner as I do in example 5 (3rd line). For example for Am7 to D7 play A, C, E, G then land on F# over the D7. Notice how the F# is encircled by the E and G. Check out my lesson using approach arpeggios.

Sometimes I use chromatic approaches from one chord tone over Am7 to D7 (Eg. E to F to F#).

Arpeggios are chord tones, ie notes from the chord so you can target any chord tone in your solo, without playing the arpeggio. So when each chord goes by you know which notes will sound good as you’ve learned where the chord tones are.

Study the examples and understand which are chromatic approach notes, which are chord tones (part of arpeggio), when I started in the measure, the rhythms I used and how I connect the chords (closest chord tone, encircling, etc).

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