Tech Tip:Forming Arpeggios

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Jennifer Collins; Alabama



Q: I see arpeggios all over the place, and it's driving me darn near crazy trying to figure out how you build them. From what I've seen, this is how I think it may be done:


For example if you want to form the C major arpeggio, would you go up the C major scale in degrees of three to build the arpeggio; such as C, E, G, B, D or is that not the way to do it?




A: You are so close but a little off. First let me start with the proper definition of an arpeggio.


An arpeggio is the notes of a chord picked out separately.


So the first part of what you were thinking works out to be correct because you were counting up a scale in thirds...C-E-G-B and this is also the way to form a major chord. The section where you were incorrect was when you went to D after B. The arpeggio only uses the notes of a chord and repeats them over and over. C Major chord consists of the following notes C-E-G, a C Major 7th chord consists of these notes C-E-G-B.


So by finding the notes that form a chord, you have also found the notes that form an arpeggio. You should start with basic major and minor arpeggios then move up to more challenging types such as major 7th, minor 7th, dominant 7th, and diminished.


Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House