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--- Jan 05 2013 Go to category
Subject: Arpeggios or chord tones
Category: Improvisation/Soloing
From: Mads Rosendahl (Denmark)

Dear Pat, I've been practicing soloing with only arpeggios or chord tones for some time now, but it donsn't feel or/and sound like music to me yet. Someone posted a recording, on the internet, of a lesson you ones gave, and it blew me away. I mean - WOW - in that 30 minutes I learned so much more than I’ve learned in the last two years. It made me aware of things I could work on forever.

Anyway, in that lesson you demostrated how too play with only arpeggios or chord tones and an interesting rythme, but how can I get from implying or spelling the changes to really saying something with them? How did you practics this in your early years? Is there any practic advice you can give on this topic?

Thanks for the great music we all enjoy and come to Denmark soon again! Mads...

Pat’s Answer:

Hi Mads, I appreciate that. Lots of people seem to want to know about things like that and the book of warm up "etudes" (maybe not the best word for what they are...) that came out on Hal Leonard a while back is sort of a response to people wanting to take a look at that general area. At some point I want to release a companion CD of what those exercises should really sound like because I think maybe it isn't clear enough as is (they were originally recorded on my iphone and the quality is terrible; i would have to replay them...). Basically my point would be that the "chord scale" system as it has evolved underestimates the value of the main chord tones and by working on direct arpeggios etc. you get more of a sense of the intrinsic voice leading that can occur as you move around. In terms of how to apply that way of thinking to a way of improvising, I think it is very personal; what works for me probably wouldn't for you. However, it is worthwhile have that vocabulary together no matter how you wind up applying it, in my opinion.