Making connections

Hi everyone, today I would like to talk about arpeggios in general: the way I like to practice them and most important the way I learnt them.

The guitar is a beautiful instrument but it has a really big weak point: you need to practice the same thing again and again in at least five different positions of the neck. I personally didn’t learn arpeggios following the “five boxes/positions” we usually use to learn scales but I will write a specific blog post about it one day! Anyway, let’s go back to the topic. I’m simplifying a lot here but let’s say we have four types of arpeggios: Major7th, dominant 7th, minor 7th, m7b5 (or half-diminished).

For some reason we usually start from Maj7th arpeggio and so we will do here: we have Root (1), 3, 5, 7. We practice it all over the neck, one octave, two octaves, upside down…after a week, or a month, or a year, we decide we finally know how to play this arpeggio and we move to another one: dominant 7th. Now, our dominant 7th arpeggio is simply 1 3 5 b7 (Maj 7th was 1 3 5 7). We need to change only one note to get from Maj7 to 7th. We don’t actually need to memorize new positions, fingering but we only have to think : “ok now I’m playing my major triad 1 3 5 and my 7th goes down half step (one fret on guitar)”. After a while we decide we mastered this 7th arpeggio and we move on to the next: minor 7.  Dominant 7th arpeggio was 1 3 5 b7, minor 7 will be 1 b3 5 b7. As I did before I need to move only one not (the 3d) half step (one fret) down. Last I have my m7b5 arpeggio: 1 b3 b5 b7. Coming from minor 7 I need to change my 5th half step down.

To summarize:

Maj7:                     1 3 5 7

Dominant 7th:       1 3 5 b7

Minor 7th:             1 b3 5 b7

Half-Diminished:  1 b3 b5 b7

At the end of the process you are saving 75% of your brain memory storage. Not bad I would say! Anyway, this way of practicing and learning arpeggios requires a little bit of a deeper knowledge of what we are playing. At the beginning instead of focusing on speed we should focus on the intervals we are using. It takes time but trust me at the end of the day it makes a big difference.I personally think that we should use a big part of our practice time with the goal of connecting our mind/ear to the fretboard/hand. Every time you practice an arpeggio 1 3 5 7 that goes to 1 3 5 b7 focusing on the sounds you are playing, you are creating a strong connection mind/instrument. This skill can be used in every genre you can think of and it is a skill that you will never loose. Keep up the good work!


Comments are closed