A Definitive Arpeggio Practice Method?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by VeganThump, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. VeganThump


    Jun 29, 2012
    South Jersey
    Hello all, I need help. I need, as the title states, a definitive arpeggio practice method. I have searched quite a bit, but I haven't found anything to my liking. I'm not a beginner and I'm familiar with the fretboard, scales, etc. I know what an arpeggio is, I just need a specific way to practice them. I basically need a routine to practice, something like, "do this and this for this amount of time" Can anyone be of assistance?
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Jeff Berlin's book (Comprehensive Chord Tone System) comes to mind. Goes through all chords in all inversions all over the fretboard.

    I used to shed with this, picked three different chords a week and off I went. A bit hard at first but is really a work-out...
  3. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Best advice I have is to do them in an organized fashion from the harmonized scale- something I got from Jaco Pastorious' DCI video instruction. Simply playing arpeggios (like playing scales) is of limited use BY ITSELF. So, if you do not understand the harmonized scale[SUP]*[/SUP] learn that first.

    Start with the I chord and play its arpeggio (and harmonize the 7th chords, do NOT stop at the triad). Play it ascending, and then descend on the ii chord, up on the iii, down on the IV, up on the V, down on the vi, up on the vii, down on the I, up on the ii, etc. until you run out of neck. So, in G you'll play GBDF, then GECA, BDFA, BGEC, etc. Now, here's the key that makes this useful- SING what you're playing before you hit the note- this forces you to HEAR what the arpeggio sounds like and fix it in your ear rather than just making movements with your hands.

    When you can do this smoothly consistently, move up a fourth and start over, e.g. start in the key of C, then F, etc.

    When you have a control of the arpeggios in all 12 keys, then tackle this- pick a song out of a fake book, and work out the arpeggios of each chord in the song. Then take the first chord and start on the lowest root available, play the arpeggio over two octaves ascending and descending. Them move to the next chord and do the same until you've completed the whole song. Now, look at the progression and start on the first chord and play its arpeggio until you run out of beats- if the first chord is one measure you play the first four notes of the arpeggio. When the chord changes, start on the next available note of the next chord- DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF TO STARTING ON THE ROOT!! So, if you're using "My Foolish Heart" where the first phrase is |BbMaj7 EbMaj7|Dmin7 G7| You play |Bb D Eb G|A C D F| where the Bb and D are the first two notes of the BbMaj7, the Eb is the closest note from EbMaj7 from the D, G is the next note, A is the next note available from the Dmin7, C is its b7, D is the 5th of the G7, and the F is the b7.

    Again sing the notes you're playing so this is not simply a physical/mental study, but you're making it be aural too.

    Simply running Major 7th arpeggios in all keys up and down the neck IMO/IME doesn't really give you any of the critical musical benefit that studying arpeggios does.

    [SUP]*[/SUP] The harmonized scale is derived by stacking thirds of the scale- if you're using the key of G, then you stack third using only the notes of the key of G, and stack them on top of each note of the scale. So, if you do this (search for a thread about "order of learning theory" to find more details) in C you'll get

    B C D E F G A B
    G A B C D E F G
    E F G A B C D E
    C D E F G A B C

    Looking at those stacks, you've got the chords that are derived naturally from the C major scale- that's a CMaj7, Dmin7, Emin7, FMaj7, G7, Amin7, and Bmin7b5 (not a B dim!)

    You need to OWN these chords in tonal music so that's why using this as your arpeggio practice is important.

  4. Reddog01


    Nov 3, 2013
    Georgetown, TX
    JTE - good stuff!
  5. VeganThump


    Jun 29, 2012
    South Jersey
    Whoa thanks a lot JTE, that's a huge help!
  6. Wow! I love this! Your explanation is excellent! I'm all over that! Cheers! Edit...I changed the F'S in the original post To F#'s above for the key of G major.
  7. Great book! Hopefully this link works. Here's the entire book for free.

  8. Hi VeganThump,

    I’m afraid no exercise can be definitive.

    One keeps his mind sharp by practicing new stuff or practicing old stuff in different ways.

    John (JTE) suggested a useful strategy and the book of Jeff Berlin is also good.

    I would add to the list:

    http://www.amazon.com/Chord-Studies-Electric-Bass-Technique/dp/0634016466 (hard)

    http://www.amazon.com/Fingerboard-Harmony-Bass-Builders/dp/0793560438 (very hard)

    http://books.google.it/books/about/A_Modern_Method_for_String_Bass.html?id=vTKhnQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y (easier)
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    In addition to practicing each key linearly (I ii iii IV V vi vii) as jte's great post suggests, I recommend descending the circle of 5ths in each key (vii iii vi ii V I IV ) since this places each arpeggio next to commonly used neighboring chords.
  10. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011

    Really wish I had discovered this -- or that the internet had existed so someone could've just told me -- when I was first starting out a gazillion years ago!