Cycling Through Chords - A Musical Lifeline

Chord changes on guitar are more often than not strummed or plucked. While this can work well in most situations, there are other options for when it may not be an ideal approach. 

When a guitarist is performing chord changes in a song, the sound of cycling through chords using arpeggiated picking can be a fantastic way to take your chord playing up to a whole new level... 

Cycling Through Chords - A Musical Lifeline:
Developing cycling patterns across chord changes will greatly enhance the way chord changes are interpreted. And, since this skill is relatively easy to do through continuous down and up stroke picking /alternate picking - there's no reason why you can't add this technique into your skill set as soon as right now.

Having the flexibility for doing this in your guitar playing will offer a unique lifeline to the overall sound of all of the music that you perform. You'll have more control plus you'll be able to cover more musical styles.

The easiest form of cycling through chord changes is to perform direct down and up pick motions across chord voicings. This technique is often called arpeggiated picking. Make a study of the example one progression below.

Example 1). Arpeggiated technique performed directly down and up across chord voicings.

Once you have developed good control over performing across a number of chords in a simple progression, the next step is to work out a cycling pattern across a group of chords.

The pattern that you begin with can be of any sort you wish. However, in the beginning strive for taking one type of pattern and use it consistently. This will avoid the risk of poor technique occurring from being too random. Study the progression shown below in example two.

Example 2). Performing an established picking cycle across a group of chord changes.

Once you've developed a number of cycling patterns and you've learned how to control the way that the chords are being arpeggiated, the next step is to begin combining some strumming technique along side the cycled picking ideas.

In example three, the pattern is broken between strum attacks and picking patterns. Take your time organizing how they operate, then try playing through the exercise.

Example 3). Learn the combination strumming and cycled arpeggio pattern approach shown in the example below.

There are endless ways that picking through a chord using a cycled pattern can be done. You'll need to start this technique using very basic systems. After a number of these systems are developed (in different fingerboard locations), try taking the approach into new directions.

Use different chord qualities like seventh's, extended and altered chords. Try adding suspended tones and invent ways that scales can be included as well. Over time you'll have an arsenal of variations to use when creating cycles through progressions.



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