The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Arpeggios seem to me to be more useful vs scales, especially when it comes to improvising. Is this true or just wishful thinking on my part? For the record, I know very little theory.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    true for me ....

    up the Arp
    down the scale (to a chord tone)

  4. #3

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    Good tip - where can the OP find examples of this?


  5. #4

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    I love arps. For me, they make sense of scales. Rather than plodding through a G major scale, for instance over a tune, or section of a tune, "using your ear", nail the arpeggios for the chords. That helps fine tune my ear also ... I think .
    Now you see your scale tones around the arps = passing tones. You'll see the notes of the arps moving from one chord to the next, forget the scale and try the note between ... when there is one.
    You may be learning great big patterns for arpeggios that go top to bottom of the fretboard. Nice to know, but at the speed of a tune you may find time for just 2 or 3 notes, so I break those patterns down to "mini arps" ... is that a thing ? At that point it's easier to learn the degrees of the chord (even notes) and start recognizing #5, b9, 13 ..etc.

    I'm not a real jazz guy ...( maybe I should've started with that ) so I'll be curious to read what insights they have.


  6. #5

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    You could check out the truefire course bebop dojo by sheryl bailey. You would learn a lot of arpeggios there.

  7. #6

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    I think arps are a bit easier to make into melodies. They were easier for me when I got started and now that I have some experience, I still use them primarily to get licks going. However, scales are essential too. You have to fill in your arp ideas with scale tones, and if you want to run faster rhythms, scales are a good idea. But yes, I do think if you skip around on arps it will be more inspirational than going around scales. However, you should know how to mix up the placement of the notes with each device to make them melodic, and be able to combine them.

  8. #7

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    This site has a very good section on arpeggios. I would start there

    Jazz Guitar Arpeggios - The Best Beginner's Guide

    But I would encourage you to start here with Gene Bertroncini, and start learning the fretboard horizontally.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jumpnblues
    Arpeggios seem to me to be more useful vs scales, especially when it comes to improvising. Is this true or just wishful thinking on my part? For the record, I know very little theory.
    Arpeggios and scales are tools of harmonic melody, and they're building blocks of a melodic solo. The idea of arpeggios vs scales is a question you're framing in a way where you see them separately.
    I'm not dismissing your question but saying listen to what they contribute individually and as part of a well thought out solo. Listen to pop music, the music you know and love. Do you hear the contribution of chord notes and how they frame strength of melody? Listen to classical music you might like, from Bach to Debussy, do they use arpeggios or scales and what effect do the notes have on the piece or on you? Do you think songwriters or composers see this as a scales vs arpeggios dichotomy?
    I know as you're learning, you're trying to prioritize your study and practice time but also include ear time, listening, and observations about good music you like. Try to understand each element and how they work in concert to craft music out of musical elements.

    Each accomplished soloist has gone through this process of deciding the roles of the elements. All must acknowledge that scales have their place as the parents of linear melody and arpeggios have their place of harmonic and longer linear melodic devices. Each player assimilates both of these ideas (and much more) and it's tied together through the ear.

    To a baker you might ask: flour vs eggs, what's more important?
    To a carpenter you might ask: Load bearing wall or floor and roof, what makes for a better house?

    Don't think of them as one being more important than another, but as a developing player, put the time in, listen to a LOT of music and be aware of how they balance. It might reframe your question and your thinking. You may discover something about WHY and not just WHAT you're doing.

    Hope you have fun in the process.

  10. #9

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    Bartoncini video suggests, "As humans we have an intellectual and then an intuitive side. The intuitive side is the ear stuff. The intellectual side is really knowing the notes in the scale, what goes into the structure of a chord, harmonically."

    That's backwards in respect to sense what would be called really knowing.
    The intellectual side is phenomenologically once removed by using names.
    The intuitive side is directly apprehending through the ear, without names.

  11. #10

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    Arps tend to make the solo have more sense by default.
    Scales tend to give a lot of freedom.

    It's a choice between security and the... hm. chaos.

  12. #11

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    So arpeggios are very useful for anchoring the sense of the harmony on the fretboard in a way that scales are not. However they are not themselves music although they sound more musical at the early stages.

    It is in my opinion and important first step to be able to connect chord tones through a tune in quarter notes and eighth notes. Very good exercise! Never gets old

    But it is just an exercise. For music you need to go to the music. Scales and arpeggios are part of that; pay close attention to how they are used. Scale tones can be used to connect chord tones. Extended or substitute harmonies can be used to generate colour.

  13. #12

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    Definitely practice arpeggios and scales but also prioritise playing jazz that you like. Transcribe or look for tab on YouTube or in books. I found this amazing channel called Francois Leduc

  14. #13

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    My view is to try to make melodic statements -- to scat sing in your mind and play that.

    Which would help more, scales or arps?

    Of course, the planets don't always align and allow you to do that.

    In that case, I think knowing chord tones and tonal center are both important. Not to play the notes in order, but to know which ones they are.

  15. #14

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    A question. When you learn the arp of Maj7 well, what does it actually mean?
    Do you play it all over the neck and think its ready? NO ! ! ! ! !

    You can call it learned when you can connect it with all other arps, all scales you'd care to learn, all chords... smoothly. Intentionally. Thinking ahead instead struggling every moment.

    When you can play a nice effortless solo in arps, it's something to be proud of. And would be worth to listen. But it is.. there is more to it.
    Got to decide ASAP whether to become frustrated or excited to go on

  16. #15

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    A guitar teacher told me that it can be good to not constantly think about the "usefulness" of everything I practise, like scales, intervals, arpeggios.
    (It's not just black and white, it is also good to practise "using" stuff you practise).

    The goal is not to play scales up and down during a performance. The goal is more to get familiar with the instrument. Being able to play the scales, scale patterns, melodies, arpeggios, etc. without effort. You want to move it from being effortful to being effortless.

    Scales can also used to work on sound production, dynamics, technique, timing etc etc

    Enjoy your scales