Why Learn Arpeggios?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question is with another, and that is, what are arpeggios exactly?

Arpeggios are the notes of a chord played one at a time; or think of them as ‘liquid chords’ or alternatively chords could be ‘frozen arpeggios’. With that in mind let’s get down to where they are used.

  • Arpeggios can be used over chords, you could change arpeggio every time a chord changes. Or keep the same arpeggio idea repeating while the chords change (this is called an ostinato)
  • They can be used very easily in basic melody playing – by learning the arpeggio shape that goes with the chord you instantly have all the notes that work with that chord
  • And in blues, they can give a more sophisticated sound to your playing by spelling out the changes in the underlying chords
  • Because arpeggios are liquid chords, they can also outline the harmony without having to play the chords. If somebody is using arpeggios well, they can outline the chord progression and it almost sounds like the chords are being played, but they are not – they are just being suggested by the arpeggios.
  •  Playing scales and arpeggios will help you understand music better
  • Arpeggios can be played using many techniques, Tapping, Alternating picking, Legato, Sweep, Harmonics – all will give arpeggios a unique character.
  • By using Arpeggios in conjunction with scales you greatly increase your repertoire of ideas.


Blues and Arpeggios – a good place to start using arpeggios

When you start learning to play blues you will most likely be playing a minor pentatonic over the whole sequence, maybe you learn some licks and stuff, but for the most part you will be playing the one scale over a group of chords. At some point you will probably want to start thinking more chordally and playing notes that are related to the chord being played and this is where arpeggios come into action! As previously stated playing arpeggios over the blues can give a jazzier more sophisticated sound to your playing.

Jazz and Arpeggios

There are basically two different methods of improvisation, one employs the use of scales over a given chord or chord progression, the other, the use of arpeggios. It is, however, much easier to outline the chord changes in songs with fast tempos and many key changes such as in Bebop, using arpeggios. The important thing to remember is that arpeggios are born from scales, just as the diatonic chords.

Hopefully this article will inspire you to start learning and practice your arpeggios, check out our free arpeggios lessons at www.internet-guitar-lessons/page27.html

Duncan Jones