Scales & Arpeggios
Learning scales and arpeggios on guitar is a very important part of jazz's apprenticeship. You will find here a whole load of free guitar resources on this blog section as guitar neck diagrams, licks, tabs, formula charts and theory. These jazz lessons don't follow a sequence, you can jump into them in any order you choose.
Here is 12-bar jazz-blues study in Bb with guitar tab and standard notation mixing basic jazz chords and minor blues scale fragments. You'll find it for free (or Pay What You Want) on jazz-guitar-licks Gumroad store.
A new guitar poster referencing the most used arpeggios shapes is available on Jazz Guitar Licks Teespring Store. This reference chart includes 50 diagrams to help guitarists figure out arpeggio positions all over the guitar neck. The size of this poster is 24 x 36 inches (60 x 90 cm), the arpeggio types covered are:
- Major 7
- Minor 7
- Dominant 7
- Diminished 7
- Minor Major 7
- Augmented Major 7
- Augmented 7
Arpeggios are the backbone of jazz improvisation, they are simple to learn, they allow to easily outline the harmony and create fluid lines. Arpeggios are very popular in all styles of music (rock, metal, blues, pop), that's why it is very important to learn them.
This guitar lesson provides the most important arpeggio shapes that any beginner jazz guitarist must know, classified this way :
major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, half-diminished, diminished 7, Major 7#5 and minMaj7.
You'll find in this tutorial three kinds of guitar diagrams for each arpeggio type :
one-octave shapes (notes within the space of one octave), two-octave shapes (notes within two octaves) and CAGED shapes.
This guitar chart contains 12 shapes that show how to play the main dominant scales used in jazz music (Mixolydian, Lydian dominant, Mixolydian b9, Mixolydian b13, dominant bebop, Phrygian dominant).
You'll find in this blog post several cheat sheets for guitarists about the Phrygian mode, third mode of the major scale. These infographics are related to the YouTube video below. They show how this minor scale is built, how to play it on guitar, what are the related chords, how to use it over common chord progressions, etc.
This infographic chart with guitar shapes show the main 6 major scales used in jazz:
- Ionian Mode
- Major Pentatonic
- Lydian Mode
- Major Bebop
- Lydian Pentatonic
- Lydian Augmented
This infographic with guitar shapes show the main 6 minor scales used in jazz as :
- Minor pentatonic
- Minor blues
- Dorian mode
- Aeolian mode
- Melodic minor
- Harmonic minor
This blog post contains free cheat sheets (infographics) for guitar players about the Dorian mode. You will find useful information on how to play chords, arpeggios and minor licks directly related to this minor scale.
Major Scale Aka Ionian Mode - YouTube Video - Cheat Sheets For Guitar - Scales, Chords, Patterns and Licks
Here are some free cheat sheets for guitar teachers and students about the Ionian mode aka The Major Scale. Here, you'll find chord and scale shapes with easy patterns and licks related to the Ionian mode.
This guitar lesson sheds light on the different types of minor modes and scales that can be used in jazz music. They are built with different combinations of intervals starting on different steps of several scales as the major scale, the melodic minor, the harmonic minor, the harmonic major, the pentatonic scale and the bebop scale.
The triad pair system is a technique used by many jazz improviser to build modern improvised lines. It consists of playing two adjacent triads from a scale. The most used are from the major diatonic system, however it is possible to use triad pairs from other scales as melodic minor, harmonic minor and harmonic major. This guitar lesson with tabs, shapes and theory is focused on triad pairs from the major scale only.
The minor II-V-I sequence is equivalent to the major II-V-I sequence, but played in minor harmonic key. It is a must know for any guitarist who wants to learn to solo over tunes in minor keys.
You will find minor II V I progressions in many jazz tunes as Autumn leaves, Blue Bossa, Black Orpheus, Stella by Starlight, The nearness of you, I love you, Speak low, Soul eyes, Valse Hot, Along came Betty, Stablemates, Are you real, I'll remember April, I hear a rhapsody, Tangerine, In your own sweet way, Nuages and many more.
This guitar lesson for beginners explains what is the minor 2 5 1 progression, what scales and what chords can be used for improvising over it.
Whether simple or compound intervals are a very important part of music theory. Knowing them allow understand how scales, arpeggios and chords are built. Intervals are useful tools to visualize the notes and understand their relationships on the guitar fretboard. This lesson with downloadable pdf, guitar shapes and theory will help you better figure them out and play them on guitar.
This lesson dedicated to the harmonic minor scale explains how to build drop 2 and drop 3 seventh chords from it. This action which consists in stacking notes in interval of thirds starting on each tone of a scale is commonly called "harmonization".
This infographic printable for free provides diatonic arpeggio and scale shapes for guitar practice. It shows the relationship between arpeggios and modes of the major scale.
The II, the V and the I (chords and scales) are constructed based on the corresponding second (II), fifth (V) and first (I) step of the major scale.
In this guitar lesson you will learn what's the 2 5 1 progression and how to play easy jazz lines over a 2-5-1 using the most common scales found in jazz music.
What Scale to Choose for Improvising?
One of the most common question a beginner asks when he wants to start improvising on guitar is : Which scale to choose over which chords? However, there is a lot of scale and a lot of chord, it is easy to get lost. That's why it is important to make the relation between them, trying to understand what is the appropriate scale that fit the chord and vice versa.
This guitar lesson provides the seventeen most important scales with shapes and formulas to know for improvising over the most used chord types in jazz music (major, minor, dominant and diminished).
In this lesson we will see how to harmonize the melodic minor scale in thirds with seventh chords. In other words we will see how to build seventh chords by stacking thirds from each degree of the melodic minor scale.
Dominant 7 flat ninth chords (7b9) are generally related to the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale known as Phrygian dominant scale, which makes it the most obvious choice for improvising over 7b9 chords. However, we will see in this article that there are many other options.
This lesson contains five free guitar studies for beginners that outline the use of arpeggios over a Bb jazz blues progression. There are different kinds of jazz blues progressions. The one that is used in this eBook is built with a secondary dominant (VI7), a passing diminished (#IVdim7) and a turnaround (I7, VI7, iim7, V7).
Bb7 G7 (b9)
Pentatonic scales are scales with five notes per octave. They are frequently used in music all over the world. The word "pentatonic" comes from the Greek word "pente" meaning five and "tonic" meaning tone.
Talk of "the" pentatonic scale generally make reference to the major pentatonic scale and its relative minor. It's a mistake, indeed there are many types of pentatonic scales (Egyptian, Ritusen, Man gong, Altered, Locrian...).
Pentatonic scales are considered earlier than heptatonic scales (seven-note scales) and can be divided into two categories :
- Containing semitones (hemitonic)
- Without semitones (anhemitonic)
The purpose of this post is to propose some tips and ideas for practicing and develop pentatonic scales.
What's a Major Scale?
A major scale is a scale containing a major third (3) and a major seventh (7). There must be four half-steps between the root and the major third and one half-step between the major seventh and the root. The most known is the major scale spelled 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7.
What Are the Twelve Types of Major Scales?
When we think about major scales, the first that comes to mind is the Ionian mode, best know as THE major scale. However, there are several other types of major scales (Ionian #5, Lydian augmented #2, Ionian b6) which deserve a little more attention. Here they are listed with guitar shapes and formulas.
These lines come from the first chapter of David Baker's book "How To Play Bebop Vol.2 - Learning the bebop language". They correspond to the first ten exercises of the section named "The Use of The II V7 Progression in Bebop".
You 'll find in this lesson a quick analysis of each pattern with scale diagrams (Dorian, Dorian bebop, Mixolydian, dominant bebop, Mixolydian b13, altered, mixo-blues and half-whole diminished).
What Are Dominant 7 Arpeggios?
Dominant 7 arpeggios are built with root (1), major third (3), perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). They are basically used to play over dominant 7 chords.
Dominant 7 Arpeggio 1 3 5 b7 G7 G B D F
You will find here a free cheet sheat about major 7 arpeggios. This quick guitar lesson provides a brief description of major 7 arpeggios including neck diagrams and formula charts. This document is available in three versions : PDF (for printing), JPEG and PNG for on-line publication.
What's a Tritone Substitution?
The tritone substitution is one of the most common substitution found in jazz. The basic application of a tritone chord substitution is to take any 7th chord and play another 7th chord that has its root a tritone away from the original. This guitar lesson demonstrates how you can play scales and arpeggios starting from the b5 (a tritone away) of the V7 chord in a II V I chord progression. This way you will highlight altered tones as the b9 and the #11.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the most important device to master is to play each tone of a chord in order to outline a specific progression.
This is what we call arpeggios. They are great melodic tools when you want to highlight the chords you are soloing over.
This lesson is focused on diatonic seventh arpeggios and their extensions. In a first time, before applying these extensions, it is recommended to have a very strong knowledge of the triads, both the chords and the arpeggios.
The minor blues scale is mostly referred to as the minor pentatonic scale with a b5 thus giving the interval pattern 1 - b3 - 4 - b5 - 5 - b7. However, few musicians know that there are three types of minor blues scales depending on wether you incorporate the flat fifth (b5), the major third (3) or the major seventh (7) to the minor pentatonic scale. In this lesson you will learn how to build, play and recognize each of these three minor blues scales.
Arpeggios are essential musical tools that allow you to build pure and beautiful lines while highlighting the harmony. When playing over chord changes, using arpeggios is the most efficient way to connect these chords together.
This lesson provides four exercises with tabs, standard notation and diagrams that will help improve your guitar skills and your theoretical knowledge.
Here is a list of the main musical scales and modes.
Giant Steps is one of those tunes in jazz that sends a bolt of fear through a lot of young or even experienced jazz musicians. It certainly does that to me anyway! The fast harmonic rhythm and the seemingly distant relationships between the chords means it is a very daunting challenge.
However, there is a very cool and simple way of practicing navigating through these changes and it involves using 3 different pentatonic scales.
Learning and playing scales can be an important part of any guitarist’s practise regime. By playing scales in a variety of ways we can develop our familiarity with the fretboard beyond simply going up and down scales.
In this tutorial we will look at combining two different scale patterns by shifting between them on various strings. For this we are going to use two patterns of an Eb Melodic minor scale, patterns 2 and 3. The Melodic minor scale consists of the intervals R 2 b3 4 5 6 7 (R is for the Root note).
When I first joined my high school jazz band, it was a humbling experience. I knew my major scales and modes, but only with the roots on the E and/or A string. This worked fine for playing pop music, but the way jazz progressions were always changing chords with each measure, my hands were constantly getting lost.
If I was playing a C major line in eighth position, how did I switch to a Bb mixolydian scale without jumping my hand up or down and making the improvisational idea totally disjointed ? I could never understand how jazz guitarists could keep their ideas going as the chords changed from moment to moment. And how did players like Joe Pass know how to run an improvised line right into a chord voicing? Additionally, as I progressed to the higher registers of the guitar, I could never tell where I was in the scale anymore. It seemed impossible!
What's the Blues Arpeggio ?
Traditionally, when a student learns to improvise over a jazz, blues tune, he taught pentatonic scales, major triads or dominant 7th arpeggios, but there is something missing to get this specific and exciting jazz-blues sound, "The Blues Arpeggio". This is a very interesting and important device to use over this musical genre. It is a mix of a major triad and a minor triad, it contains both major and minor thirds, representing one of the most vital elements of the blues. In this jazz guitar lesson we will see how to build the blues arpeggio, how to practice it and how to play it on a blues.
When a jazz beginner starts to improvise over a II-V-I progression, he generally plays arpeggios corresponding to the chords of the sequence.
In other words, he learns to play minor arpeggios over the minor chord (II), dominant 7th arpeggio over the 7th chord (V) and major arpeggio over the major 7 chord (I). This way the harmony is highlighted without taking risks.
In the long-run there is nothing exciting. That's why there is a nice trick used by number of jazz players to add smoothness to a dominant line. This is a little tip that makes all the difference which consists of playing a major 7th arpeggio over the V7 rooted on its b7 degree.
The minor pentatonic scale is by far the most used scale in the world all styles taken together (jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, country).
One of the explanation is given by the structure. Indeed, there are no semi-tones in it. It is easy to play on the guitar and it can be used in a whole lot of very different contexts.
This lesson will show you eight ways to use the minor pentatonic scale over a dominant seventh chord. The principle is easy to understand, this consists in playing the minor pentatonic scale starting on each tone of the Mixolydian scale (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7).
This method helps to highlight certain notes and brings interesting colors to your jazz guitar lines depending on you want to play outside or inside.
Arpeggios are surely the most important devices to master when you want to start improvising. Every jazz players use arpeggios in their improvisations. Great guitarists, all kinds of styles use arpeggios : John Scofield, Kurt Rosewinkel, Birelli Lagrene, Django Reinhardt, and many more.
Arpeggios are played extensively because they use only the notes found in a single chord. Therefore, they create a more harmonized sound when played with their corresponding chord. Arpeggios are very helpful to easily outline the chord changes.
This guitar lesson is focused on the most basic forms of arpeggios made out of three notes called "triad arpeggios".
In this lesson we will see how to use the minor pentatonic scale over a II-Valt-I sequence. The principle is simple, it consists in playing three minor pentatonic scales spaced apart of 1 semitone one from the other. This way you will bring out interesting colors to your jazz lines.
- II chord: Play the minor pentatonic scale starting on the 5th degree of the II chord. This way you will highlight the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7), the root (R), the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11) of the minor II chord. (Exemple for Cm7 play G- pentatonic).
- V chord : Play the minor pentatonic scale up a half step starting on the #9 of the V7alt chord (Ab-pentatonic over F7alt for example). Therefore, you will play the main altered tones of the V7alt namely #9, #11, b13, b7, b9.
- I chord : Play the minor pentatonic up a half step again starting on the 7th of the I maj7#11 (Example with A minor penta for Bbmaj7#11). Thus, giving the 7, 9, 3, #11 and the thirteenth of the I chord.
One of the fundamental theoretical elements to understand music is the harmonization of the major scale. Harmonizing scale is building chords with notes. This lesson explains how to create triads and seventh chords from each note of the major scale.
Mastering arpeggios is inevitable for anyone who wants to improve its sense of improvisation and bring more musicality to its playing. Practicing and mastering them is a necessity for all jazz guitarists, arpeggios are great tools to improvise over chord changes and jazz standards.
The first thing to do before starting exploring the twelve different scales shown in this lesson is to understand how to build a basic dominant 7th chord and what its role is.
What's a Dominant 7 Chord?
A Dominant 7th chords is made up of a root / tonic (1), a major third (3), a perfect fifth (5) and minor seventh (b7). It is one of the most versatile chords. It is considered as a major chord because of the major third (3).
Indeed, the 3rd tell us if the chord is minor or major. The minor seventh (b7) indicates whether the sound wants to move or not (resolve) to another chord. Usually dominant chords tend to resolve to a chord down a perfect fifth (or a chord up a perfect fourth).
C dominant 7th chord C E G Bb Intervals 1 3 5 b7 Related Arpeggio 1 3 5 b7
What Are Ecclesiastical Modes?
Ecclesiastical modes, also named "Greek modes"or "church modes" or "Gregorian modes" formed in the Middle Ages a set of scales whose use has weakened because of the appearance of the major / minor tonal system.
Several centuries later these modes have reappeared. They are very used in jazz improvisation as scale of chords and modal playing.
This lesson explains how are built modes and how to play them on guitar.