Tony Oreshko jazz and gypsy jazz guitar


by Tony Oreshko
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Jazz Soloing: Lesson 7

Using Ornamented Arpeggios

In this lesson we're going to learn a simple but highly effective trick to use for soloing with simple major arpeggios.

It's a device that the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt often used in his playing. By the time you've got to the end of this lesson and learnt how to do it yourself, you'll recognise it as a distinctive sound that appears in many of Django's recordings.

Simple Major Arpeggios

An arpeggio is just the notes of a chord played one after another rather than all at the same time. This means that an arpeggio can be used for soloing against a chord with the same name.

We're going to look at one fingering for a basic C major arpeggio. As we'd expect, this C arpeggio can be used to play over a C major chord.

Click on the fingering diagram below to hear how the arpeggio sounds. It's followed by an open C chord, just so you can tell how the arpeggio relates to the chord:

C Major Arpeggio
Click diagram to listen

C Major arpeggio diagram

So if you play this C major arpeggio over a C chord it will fit perfectly. However, you might be inclined to agree that even though the arpeggio fits, it's not actually a very interesting sound - perhaps it fits too well, and is a bit bland as a result.

What we can do is ornament the arpeggio a little to make it sound a bit more exciting. Here's where the trick comes in.

Lower Auxiliary Notes

The trick is really, really simple. All you have to do is this: before playing each note of the arpeggio, first play the note one fret immediately below it. This extra note is called a lower auxiliary note.

Listen to the soundclip below to hear how this sounds, first slowly then just slightly faster:

     C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes

However, that's not quite all there is to the trick. If you really want to sound like Django there's just one more thing you need to do.

Repeat Yourself...Yes, Repeat Yourself!

Here's what you do to play the complete pattern:

First play the note a fret below the arpeggio note, then play the arpeggio note. Then play those two notes again. Now repeat this four note pattern for each arpeggio note in turn.

Here's how it all sounds:

     C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes Repeated C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes Repeated

Did you get that? Now when you're ready, here's what it sounds like when played up to speed:

     C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes Repeated - Fast C Major Arpeggio with Lower Auxiliary Notes Repeated - Fast

Minor Arpeggios

This lower auxiliary note trick will work with different arpeggios, too. Here's how you can adapt it to work as a minor arpeggio: just play the 3rd (middle) note of the C major arpeggio and its auxiliary note one fret lower than usual, and this will turn it from a C major into a C minor pattern.

You can also try using lower auxiliary notes with the m7b5 and diminished 7th arpeggios we looked at in earlier lessons. Remember: for any arpeggio note, all you have to do is first play the note one fret below it.

Well, that's it for another lesson. I hope you've managed to come away with something useful to add to your bag of guitar tricks!

Tony Oreshko

Go to Jazz Soloing Lesson 8

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