Starting Arpeggios In The Blues

The next step in your 'making the changes' journey is a big one, but we're going to keep it slow and easy and I'll show you the trick I developed for making it musical and fun!

Step 1 - Learn The Arpeggio Shape

To start with you should spend some time learning (committing it to memory) the A7 Arpeggio shown below. I call it Pattern 1 or the "E Shape" because it fits around the E Chord shape.  Play it up and down slowly and get it right. Fingerings are suggestions but worth starting with and onlu changing if you have a good reason to.

Step 2 - Explore It Alone

Next thing you should do is to use it over a jam track - the best thing you can do is get it cooking with a looper pedal - just jam a little groove in A, a shuffle or a A7 chord, and then explore playing the arpeggio over it. Notice that the fingering you use might change if you start jumping notes - and that is fine - nothing to worry about - a good thing really!

Remember in the real world you're unlikely to play it always up and down, so do mix it up as much as you can but try to be strict with the notes of the arpeggio only.

<< I'll try and get a little jam loop recorded here for you soon! >>

Step 3 - Explore It Over A 12 Bar Sequence

Once you're confident with the one chord thing, have a try at using the arpeggio over the 12 Bar Chord sequence - spend time learning and using the mini shape shown in the video too so that you can easily move through the last 4 bars without starting on the lowest root note which sounds clunky!

Step 4 - Add in the b3

Now we start to get it musical - try adding in a b3 before the 3 (In A, the note C going to C#) to add in some blues flavour. Try to be strict with it to start off with and see how it feels and what changes in sound and how it feels under your fingers!

Step 5 - Add in the 4 (as well as the b3)

The notes in the A7 Arpeggio are:

A7 = A C# E G

The notes in the A Minor Pentatonic are

A Min Pentatonic = A C D E G

We already added in the b3 (going to 3) and now we add in the note D as well (the 4th) and we're back to having what you could think of as a Minor Pentatonic with an added Major 3rd (the C#) but better to think of it as a A7 Arpeggio where you can 'frame the 3rd'.

Framing The 3rd
The term 'framing' means to accent and in this case we play the note D, then C and finish on the C# which really accents it - going from above and then below is a really strong move and usually sounds awesome.

So now have a go at exploring this! You'll have to do a load of thinking at this stage, so take it slow and easy and try to make it musical - you can (and should) stop thinking about it later!


Next lesson we're going to learn a few licks to get you started on making music with the arpeggios - but first you should take some time on your own to explore and probably find some licks on your own. Of course, I'm happy to guide you - but making your own discoveries is important too!


Blues Lead 4: Changes