Lick it Up! — Arpeggios 2

Here’s another look at arpeggios and how you can use them to navigate yourself through some changes. Most of this, as in the first example I did, HERE, relates to what I’ve learned from playing Gypsy Jazz & Swing music, but you can apply the concepts to anything. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to tab these examples out like I did before, but I play most of them very slowly, so you should be able to pick up what I’m doing. If you can’t, download audacity and record all of them and slow them down even further. If you have trouble at the speed I’m playing, you’re probably just getting into this stuff, so it helps to hear it slow, play it slow and get your ear accustomed to what’s going on.

The video is pretty self-explanatory. All of these arps are over a typical 2-5-1 progression. You can find these throughout jazz and popular music songs and it’s very important to learn a whole lot of ways to navigate them well. It’s possible to use scales — you can use all of the notes of the “C” scale and just time them right so you are hitting the notes that correspond to the changing chords — or you can play a different scale or mode over each. I had originally planned to do some of that for this video, but time is a factor, so hopefully I can add to this soon. Gypsy-Jazz players use arpeggios or licks in a lot of these situations, so that’s what’s on this movie. I just realized the tuning in the video is a little bit flat so if you’re going to try and play along, take that into account

Segment one is just mean playing over a few simple examples of the chord progression — Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj. Of course this also means colored variations of those chords like Dmin9 — G7b9 — C6/9 etc, etc. There are a few sites in my links section which will show you the fingerings for these chords if they are unfamiliar.

Segment two is a Dmin run into a Ab half-diminished (diminished run to the C root. All of the Gypsy players use this A LOT and you should definitely try to work this thinking into your playing.

Segment three is a very “IN” sounding run that cycles over the chords. I play the progression right after and then play the run again. Do you hear how you can hear the chords without any backing track on the run. That is effective “outlining” and this is a very simple and solid type way to do that.

Segment four uses a tritone substitution in place of the G7. The tritone of any not is it’s flatted 5th, which for G is Db. Moving chromatically from Dm to C, the not in the middle is, of course, Db, so if you play a Dm run into a Db run into C, no matter what the rhythm does, it will work. Cool eh?

Segment five is an open position Dm run into a G altered scale that is whole-toned in nature. It gives it a kind of weird impressionist kind of vibe or something. The whole-tone scale is another tool that Django Reinhardt, Romane and many GJ players use all of the time.

Segment six is a variation on segment five, making use of open strings and moving up the neck to end on the E note, which is the 3rd of “C.” It’s hip to try to end your runs on notes like the 3rd, the 5th, the 9th, or whatever sounds good for the situation or vibe you’re trying to get across. You don’t HAVE to end on the root.

Segment seven contains a couple of runs that are similar to ones I’ve just explained only higher on the fretboard. The second one is a favorite lick in the style of Stochelo Rosenberg.

Segment eight contains two licks…it’s just going for it and having nice phrasing while playing on only a couple of strings.

The last two are just things I was doing on the fly and this is what YOU should do. Start making up your own. There are literally a million different ways to play over a figure like this and you can mix and match everything you know and whatever you come up with on the spot. Of course, you have to be able to do this in every key and when you get to that point, playing will be a whole lotta fun!