Technique, Theory

Arpeggio Exercise for Guitar

For any musician, learning and practicing arpeggios can be an effective way to build technique, and, in the right context, can help to improve your ear and develop your sense of harmony. For the guitarist, arpeggios can also help develop fluency across the fretboard.

The Arpeggio Exercise below is based on an embellished and harmonized G major scale. First, each note of the major scale is harmonized with a seventh chord. The quality (major, minor or half diminished) of each of these diatonic chords (diatonic = notes or chords within a key) depends on its position in the scale.

Harmonized Scale – G Major

Inserting diminished chords between each diatonic chord embellishes the harmonized scale and “tonicizes” (directs attention toward) each successive chord. Think of diminished chords as connecting chords that link adjacent chords.

Harmonized Scale Embellished with Diminished 7th Chords

The exercise below uses two-octave arpeggios based on this embellished, harmonized scale. (Click here for a pdf). Once you are comfortable with this exercise in the key of G, try transposing it to other keys to begin to train your ear and develop fretboard visualization skills in new harmonic contexts.

Arpeggio Exercise – 7ths

For more technique training in various diatonic contexts, including 7 diatonic modes, 7 harmonic minor scale shapes, 5 major/minor pentatonic shapes, arpeggio studies, interval and scale segment studies, check out Scales, Modes & Arpeggios for Guitar, available in various keys.

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