Connecting Arpeggios

Hi everyone, so I have learned all the main arpeggios in five positions, and I'm now struggling with using them and connecting them. I see two main issues with this - first is connecting between the 5 positions (e.g. connecting the Am6 positions all over the fretboard), and second is connecting between chords from up, down and inbetween. It seems like an enormous task!!!

To try and tackle this I've been focusing solely on Minor Swing (as it's simpler because it only has three chords).

Methods I've tried so far are
1. Playing to a one chord backing track to try and connect the shapes.
2. Trying to horizontally connect the arpeggio on each string.
3. Playing and switching arpeggios from up, down and inbetween

I'm not sure if any of it's really helping. I've also seen in previous similar threads that Gypsy Fire and and Stephene Wremble's book have been suggested for helping with arps.

Any advice would be much appreciated :)



  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    Posts: 125
    try connecting arps using chromatic notes in between.
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    edited April 2017 Posts: 125
    I would also add and this depends where you are at in skill level. Keep also in mind everyone learns differently...

    I started with the same approach as you. Its a great way to learn the fretboard, but don't get stuck on this too long. Also don't get stuck always starting every measure with the root notes. Start on the minor 3rd, 6th, 9th instead. The big thing in these exercises is to internalize the notes and shapes of the arps, but the end goal is to improvise in and around them hitting those keys notes.
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited April 2017 Posts: 1,457
    Petrov wrote: »
    try connecting arps using chromatic notes in between.
    This is excellent advice, and it works well in practice too.

    It's such excellent advice that I want to describe a bit about how to play it with conviction. Suppose you're playing over a bar that has a chord change on the next bar. When you're playing over the last couple of beats in the bar, start thinking of the next chord already, so you can target a note in the next arpeggio and arrive there with good timing. Then you can just travel to a note chromatically.

    As long as the "out of key" passing note is in a rhythmically weak place (e.g. the "&" of the beat before the chord change) it doesn't even sound out of key at all.

    It's easier if you start off by limiting your choices at first. So, forget 6ths and 7ths, and only consider the root, third (minor or major), and fifth. You can play these notes safely over any major/minor/dominant chord (and you can play ANY chart safely using only major and minor triads).

    Even with this limitation, the furthest away you can be from a note from the next arpeggio is 2 semitones. Usually there's a chord tone just one semitone above, and another one a whole tone below - or vice-versa. And, even when your target note is just the 1 semitone away, it also works well to pick a note the other side of the target for the &, you "overshoot" the chord tone and come back - so you can use a chromatic approach either way.

    It's my opinion that we should be able to play the correct and boring arpeggios, and have them consistently in time on the right changes, before trying to tackle more interesting ideas. Only once you can do it the correct and boring way, without having to sweat the technique, will your sound and timing be convincing enough to do something more fancy. No matter how cool the idea, it just sounds messy/bad when the technique and the timing is not good enough.

    Put the metronome on beats 2 & 4, use a slow tempo. Use only chord notes, on the beats, sometimes passing notes between the beats, but make sure to hit a chord note (1,3,5) on the first beat of each change. Once you can do that on autopilot without thinking about the execution, then you can work on adding more colours in.

    Example stuff that works well in this style:
    • Adding the 6th in some arpeggios (e.g. including the B note over minor swing's D-)
    • Including the b9 and/or the m7 on the dominant arpeggios. In minor keys, the b9 is always ok, major key tunes are harder, you need more context to know whether the b9 or the natural 9 is a better choice.
    • Using a triplet to pass TWO chromatic notes. The first note of the triplet should be on a beat (usually start on 4 or 1). The note after the last note of the triplet will also be on a beat. The picking pattern should be DUDD. Some guys play it DUDU if it's all on one string, but DUDD is better to practice because that extends easily to string crossings too. This is a very common and familiar sound in gypsy jazz, you will hear all the time tchavolo travelling between the 3rd and 5th of a chord using a triplet.
    • Anticipating or lagging the changes, so you're arriving early or late, rather than always putting a chord note on the 1 beat (e.g. the melody of "dark eyes" is pretty much built on this idea)
  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 705
    Gonzalo's "How I Learned" 1 & 2 talks about connecting arpeggios. I noticed that he has recently re-released them on his web site as downloadable mp3s and pdfs.
  • daniel108daniel108 New
    Posts: 8
    Thanks for the advice!

    Having tried some of the advice, I found that to be more specific, the hardest thing right now is mentally processing which shape I'm in when the changes happen.

    Limiting myself to only play the basic triad has already made things much easier (before I was using minor 6 arps).

    With the chromatic approach, it's a nice way to get there, but I'm still lost when I arrive. For this I think that Wim's comment on thinking of the chord arp just before is good and something I'm working on.

    The other points about adding the 6th or other variations and using triplets is probably the next step on.

    To Jon Powi - I took a look at the Gonzalo books and they seem to just teach pre-written solos for a few songs. I'm curious but not totally sure how that's transferable to improvisation skills with arpeggios...
  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 705
    @daniel108 Yes, Gonzalo does offer eighth note solos over standard gypsy jazz tunes. Each solo has an explanation for every bar. The solos are made up of arpeggios, licks, and chromatic runs that connect, and he frequently explains why and how they connect. I don't believe you could actually play these solos on a gig, but you could certainly borrow the arpeggios, licks and chromatic runs to create your own solos. Every time I find an arpeggio I like, I note it down, and practice using it in other songs. There is a "How I Learned" support group in this forum.
  • daniel108daniel108 New
    Posts: 8
    Sounds great. Some interesting discussions in the forum you posted too. To add to that, someone has posted his practice of these etudes on youtube, so if anyone else is reading this you can hear what they sound like finished before buying the book.
  • Posts: 4,783
    daniel108 wrote: »
    I took a look at the Gonzalo books and they seem to just teach pre-written solos for a few songs. I'm curious but not totally sure how that's transferable to improvisation skills with arpeggios...

    You don't have to improvise while practicing to learn to improvise.
    You compose your own etudes and practice those. Take time working out the solutions going between the changes. That stuff will seep into your fingers eventually, in another you will internalize those shapes the more you do it.
    If you work on it long and hard enough you'd be able to pull bits and pieces sort of on demand in the improv situation.
    That's my plan at least...
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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