Diggin' In with Blues Arpeggios...

Blues arpeggios offer guitar players a fantastic way of outlining the chords that make up our typical blues progressions. 

Whether playing a 12-bar, 8-bar or a 16-bar blues, outlining the harmony of a blues jam with arpeggios will offer guitarists an interesting sound every time... 

The goal of this lesson is to demonstrate how guitar players can break out of the blues pentatonic scale through the use of blues arpeggios. Each chord of our most common blues harmony is a dominant 7th. This allows us to apply the sounds of the "Dominant 7th Arpeggio" to outline each of the chords found in a typical blues.

The Blues Arpeggio is a Dominant 7th arpeggio and represents the 1st, 3rd, 5th and minor 7 tones from the Dominant 7th Chord. These tones create unique fingering patterns on the neck that work well to highlight the chord tones found in a typical blues harmony.

EXAMPLE 1). 6th String Root "Blues Arpeggio"

The above shape can be played anywhere on the neck

The pattern for the Blues Arpeggio is based entirely upon the chord tones of a "Dominant 7th" chord. This means that the outline of the Dominant 7th is the primary goal. The application of this sound can be used on its own, or in conjunction with the "Blues Pentatonic Scale."

The application of this sound is unique and can offer a strong connection in a Blues situation. The example below applies this arpeggio to the first and fourth chords of a Blues in the key of "A."

EXAMPLE 2). Applying the "A and D" Blues Arpeggios.

Coverage of each chord in example two operates around the tones of the "A7" chord tones and the "D7" chord tones. This idea sounds great on its own, or it can be combined with the Blues Scale for another interesting sound.

EXAMPLE 3). Combining the "A" Blues Arpeggios with the "A" Blues Scale.

EXAMPLE 4). Combining the "A" Blues Scale with the "D" Blues Arpeggio

The combination of both Blues scale and the Blues arpeggio can create some fantastic melodic ideas. The effect of either combining these ideas, or isolating the use of just Blues Arpeggio allows for an opportunity to create all kinds of unique melodic ideas.

Begin by recording a loop of an "A7" chord played in a blues feel. Practice applying the "A Blues" Arpeggio over the chord jam. Discover lines and sounds that sound interesting.

Then, add in the mix of an "A Blues" scale along side of the "A Blues Arpeggio." Mix and match sounds and phrasing using both ideas. Come up with cool sounding lines that integrate well between the chord changes.

Record another progression that applies two chords across 4 measures. Record two measures of an "A7" chord and two measures of a "D7" chord. Practice using only the Blues arpeggios at first. Then, when the arpeggios are feeling good, add the use of an "A Blues" scale mixed against the use of "Blues Arpeggios" over the progression.

Record an eight bar blues and apply the same ideas of Blues arpeggios and scales. Then, record a 12-bar Blues and apply the same approach yet again.



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