Friday, August 30, 2013

Super Arpeggios

Theoretically simple arpeggios are not so simple on the guitar. Playing the sequences of major and minor thirds which, at the simplest, can be expressed as "every other white key on the piano;"

Because arpeggios are actually chords, the notes in an arpeggio may be numbered accordingly. The first note of a simple arpeggio is the Root. The keyboard diagram shows an extended G dominant arpeggio in the key of C;

The equivalent arpeggio on the guitar is shown below;

If the convoluted blue pattern above is confusing, try breaking it in half. Here's the upper part;
... and the lower part;

As you can see, each half of the full extended arpeggio is quite symmetrical. When combined the form is more complex, but visualizing the dual symmetry makes it easier to navigate.

There are seven super-arpeggios in this system. Below you see them all, labeled for the major scale degree on which each one is rooted;

You can treat these arpeggios as we've done with the G dominant, playing the lower three strings and the upper four strings of each separately, then joining the upper and lower forms.

Here's notation for all nine patterns shown above;

Here are sound files of each 6-string arpeggio as shown in the diagrams and notation above;

... E Mediant (Open position) Arpeggio
... G Dominant (3rd fret) Arpeggio
... B Leading Tone (7th Fret) Arpeggio
... D Supertonic (10th Fret) Arpeggio
... F Subdominant (1st Fret) Arpeggio
... A Submediant (5th Fret) Arpeggio
... C Tonic (8th Fret) Arpeggio
... E Mediant (12th Fret) Arpeggio

You can find  more about arpeggios elsewhere in this blog.

All contents of this blog are © Mark Newstetter


DKaraba said...

I Love this blog!
I can now jam along with just about any song now...
For the past two years I have taught myself this system and have recommended it to anyone wanting to learn the fretboard. I have searched through the internet and for me this is clearly the best system - especially for visual learners. The modes are now so clear!
This post has a few confusing points.
The G Dominant 7th _ I thought this was the dominant of the key of C ( rather than G).
Also the the diagram for the G major and D major seem to have the notation of chords for the key of C. Thanks, Mark for such a revolutionary and rudimentary blog. I am forever grateful.

Mark Newstetter said...

DKaraba. Thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. You are correct that G Dominant 7th is the dominant in the Key of C. Not sure where you see anything in this blog post "Super Arpeggios" about the key of G, though. I'm at a loss to see which G major and D major diagrams you're referring to.

Thanks again.

Mark Newstetter said...

Ah .. now I see. The next more recent post is what you're referring to. Thanks. Will fix that now.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I'm missing something, but your description of how to build a Super Arpeggio does not agree with the method employed by Larry Carlton whom I consider the 'God Father' of Super Arpeggios:

Mark Newstetter said...

The term "Super Arpeggio" is not a standard musical term, it's an arbitrary term anyone is free to use. In my case I'm describing a fingering pattern on the guitar fretboard. Playing an extended arpeggio as a series of triads is also a standard exercise, some people call such arpeggiation a "coil." There are a lot of euphemisms different people use different ways, "Super Arpeggio" is one of those general euphemisms different people use different ways.

That said, of course you can use these arpeggio fingerings in the way Carlton describes. Here's a link to a page with a similar pattern: The arpeggio is played as a continuous run and as a "coil."