DIATONIC ARPEGGIOS vs. PARALLEL ARPEGGIOS:
Arpeggios are an essential part of the jazz vocabulary. I had that revelation when first looking at some of Charlie Parker’s transcribed solos, and realizing that his lines were mostly arpeggios of all types.
We guitar players need to practice our arpeggios all the time…
I remember that when I started learning them (or at least, some of them…) I quickly figured out that they were far more challenging than scales. Scales can be played somewhat smoothly without too much trouble, but with arpeggios, it’s another story! The picking patterns constantly vary. We often have to randomly play 2 notes per string, or just 1 note per string— and moving that pick evenly across the strings is the tricky part.
Let’s take a look at 2 approaches that I like to practice:
We can relate our arpeggios to a given key. For example in the key of Bb Major, the diatonic arpeggios are:
BbMaj7 (the I chord)
Cm7 (the ii chord)
Dm7 (the iii chord)
EbMaj7 (the IV chord)
F7 (the V chord)
Gm7 (the vi chord)
Am7(b5) (the vii chord)
Those arpeggios may be practiced in different sequences:
1. in the order of the scale degrees (that is in 2nds):
I ii iii IV V vi vii
2. in diatonic 4ths:
I IV vii iii vi ii V I
3. in cadences or turnarounds:
ii V I
ii V I vi
iii vi ii V I
Diatonic arpeggios should be played either in position (vertically) or up and down the neck (horizontally).
You should also explore the diatonic arpeggios derived from minor scales-- especially from the Harmonic Minor scale.
Parallel arpeggios are simply arpeggios that start from the same root.
So, if I choose Bb as my root, I will then play any arpeggio that I wish to work on:
even including some other arpeggios that are not necessarily derived from the usual source scales, such as:
To summarize, Diatonic arpeggios are all derived from the same key (or same scale), whereas Parallel arpeggios all start from the same root.
I always recommend to start working on arpeggios within a single octave at first:
R, 3rd, 5th, 7th, (R).
Then, add whatever extra notes happen to be found in the given position.
Eventually learn them in 2 octaves, and if you are really brave, in 3 octaves…
Don’t forget to start them descending as well, and not just ascending.
Very importantly, you want to be able to sing or hum your arpeggios while practicing them. That is how we internalize and remember their sound.
To facilitate that, you can play a given chord, then run its arpeggio up and/or down, and close again with the same chord. Hearing the chord first will give you an idea of what the arpeggiated notes will sound like.
Here are some of the shapes and fingerings for the most basic arpeggios, next to their corresponding chords and scales (examples below are shown starting from both the 6th and 5th string):
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