Extended Diatonic Arpeggios - Upper-Structure of Chords and Superimposition
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 article 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.
What Are Extended Diatonic Arpeggios?
Extended diatonic arpeggios are seventh chord arpeggios (R-3-5-7) from the diatonic scale (a.k.a major scale) that contain supplementary notes above the root. These extensions are 9th, 11th and 13th.
Harmonizing The Major Scale
The best way to understand how diatonic arpeggios are built is to harmonize the major scale by stacking thirds in order to get seven distinct chords. You can see that each tetrad chord (four note chords) can be extended with a 9th, 11th and 13th.
It means that 9th chords are built with five notes (1-3-5-7-9), 11th chords are built with six notes (1-3-5-7-9-11) and thirteenth chords with seven notes (1-3-5-7-9-11-13). The extensions are represented by the red rectangles.
Upper-Structure / 7th arpeggios / Secondary Arpeggios / Superimposition
The upper-structure of an arpeggio includes the notes above the seventh (9-11-13). This upper-structure takes part of the formation of secondary arpeggios.
For example a Cmaj13 arpeggio is in fact based on a tetrad chord (Cmaj7 : 1-3-5-7) composed of a root (C), major third (E), perfect fifth (G) and major seventh (B). The extensions (the upper-structure) of Cmaj7 derived from the C major scale (the diatonic scale) are the ninth (D), the eleventh (F) and the thirteenth (A).
These three chord-tones represent the upper-structure of Cmaj13.
From this you can see that a Cmaj13 arpeggio is built with four distinct secondary arpeggios that are Cmaj7, Em7, G7 and a Bm7b5. This is closely related to another technique very used by improvisers, composers and arrangers called diatonic substitution.
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