Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Jazz Soloing: Lesson 3

Using Arpeggios Against Minor Chords

In the previous two lessons we looked at using arpeggios in jazz soloing, and saw how to use arpeggios over their matching chord, e.g. using a Bm7b5 arpeggio to solo over a Bm7b5 chord. We also looked at substitution, and saw how a Bm7b5 arpeggio can be used to solo against a G7 chord to create a jazzy G9 sound.

In this next lesson we're going to look at a different arpeggio substitution. This time we'll use the m7b5 arpeggio to play over an ordinary minor chord and produce a slightly more colourful sound - a minor 6th.

Listen to the soundclip below to hear the kind of sound we'll be learning:

     Minor 6th sounds Minor 6th sounds using m7b5 arpeggios over minor chords

So, when you're ready, I'll explain how you can create this type of sound using the arpeggio fingering you already know from earlier lessons.

New Arpeggio Substitution

In order to get this sound we need to learn a third use of the m7b5 arpeggio. We substitute in the arpeggio over a minor chord like this:

            Dm chord + Bm7b5 arpeggio = Dm6 sound

Count up Six Steps

Notice that to work out the right m7b5 arpeggio to play against a given minor chord we must count six steps through the musical alphabet, like this:

            D - E - F - G - A - B

We start with D, the note of the minor chord, and end up with B, the note of the m7b5 arpeggio to play against it.

Note: this is a different 6 step count from the one we looked at in lessons 1 and 2! This time we're counting from a minor chord to its matching m7b5 arpeggio. Last time we counted from a m7b5 arpeggio to its matching 9th chord.

Here's a reminder of the fingering diagram for the Bm7b5 arpeggio. Click on the diagram to hear how the arpeggio sounds on its own:

Bm7b5 Arpeggio - click below to listen

Bm7b5 arpeggio diagram

Along with the two uses for m7b5 arpeggios learnt in earlier lessons, this new substitution now gives us three different jobs we can do with the one arpeggio. Here's a summary:

Chord Arpeggio to Play Sound Created
Bm7b5 Bm7b5 Bm7b5
G7 Bm7b5 G9
Dm Bm7b5 Dm6

Arpeggio Substitutes Over Other Minor Chords

Let's try exactly the same thing with a different minor chord now. We'll choose a Gm chord this time.

To work out which m7b5 arpeggio to use against Gm we start on the G and count six steps through the musical alphabet:

            G - A - B - C - D - E

You'll see that we end up with the note E. This means we can use an Em7b5 arpeggio against Gm, and this will make a Gm6 sound.

Here's a reminder of the Em7b5 arpeggio. Click on the fingering diagram to hear how the arpeggio sounds on its own:

Em7b5 Arpeggio - click below to listen

Em7b5 arpeggio diagram

So we can play a Bm7b5 against a Dm chord and an Em7b5 against a Gm chord, and we end up creating some interesting minor 6th sounds against those chords.

Now listen again to the soundclip at the beginning of this lesson to hear how these Bm7b5 and Em7b5 arpeggios sound over the Dm and Gm chords. You'll probably agree that it gives a classic gypsy jazz guitar sound, characteristic of Django Reinhardt and the hundreds of gypsy jazz guitarists that have followed in his footsteps.


In earlier lessons we saw that we could use a Bm7b5 arpeggio to solo over a Bm7b5 chord, or over a G7 chord. In this lesson we've seen how we can use the arpeggio to do a third job: soloing over a minor chord.

A Bm7b5 arpeggio can be used over a Dm chord to give a Dm6 sound. Similarly we can use an Em7b5 arpeggio to solo over a Gm chord and get a Gm6 sound.

Hope you like the minor 6th sounds covered in this lesson, and that they've given you some new musical avenues to explore. In the next lesson I'll show you how to use diminished 7th arpeggios, and then in lesson 5 we'll learn how to use them to solo over dominant 7th chords.

In lesson 6 we'll then be able to combine the diminished 7ths with our new minor 6th sounds and use them to solo over an entire minor key chord progression.

Tony Oreshko

Go to Jazz Soloing Lesson 4

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