Colorful String Skipping
In an earlier column, I talked a little bit
about the concept of superimposition with
arpeggios in order to emphasize colorful non-chord tones. The goal with superimposition
is simply to achieve tonal results similar to
those you’d get by expanding a basic chord
with the inclusion of extensions.
There are seven notes in most common
scales, so the only way to put emphasis on
certain notes is simply to either play them
more often than others, or to play the
others less often. Comprised of only certain
notes of a scale, arpeggios can be very
helpful in assisting with this task. By laying
an arpeggio and its tonality over the top of
whatever chord is being addressed, we are
putting emphasis on specific notes.
For example, if you liked the tonal color of
a Dm6 chord, you could achieve that quality
either by overemphasizing the 6th of a D
minor scale or by playing an arpeggio that
automatically delivers the appropriate notes. In
this case, an ideal arpeggio would be Bm7% 5,
as it consists of the exact notes (B–D–F–A) that
form a Dm6 chord.
Superimposing is a great melodic tool.
However, the complaint I occasionally hear
from players new to this idea is that switching
seamlessly between scales and arpeggios
sometimes proves to be a bit cumbersome.
But this is only a complaint when the intent
is misunderstood. Playing arpeggios is not
actually the goal here. The goal is to produce
colorful passages by emphasizing select notes
within a scale. The blatant use of arpeggios is
one way to achieve that goal, however more
subtle approaches are often more effective.
The 5th-string root arpeggio shapes that
I’ve covered in the past are ideal for
modifying, and we did so last time by
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adding notes to them. This time we will
modify them by eliminating the 4th- and
2nd-string notes entirely and adding notes
to the 1st-, 3rd-, and high 5th-strings.
By doing this, we will have essentially
transformed these shapes into three-note-per-string ideas that still enable us to take
advantage of the tonal qualities that the
unmodified arpeggios would have delivered
in the context of superimposing.
Examples 1–7 illustrate the new three-note-per-string shapes that result from modifying all seven arpeggios from the G major chord scale. The nice
thing about this concept is that you can apply almost any three-note-per-string sequence you may already be comfortable with to these new shapes.
Ex 1 - Replaces Cmaj7 arp
Ex 2 - Replaces D7 arp
Ex 3 - Replaces Em7 arp
Ex 4 - Replaces F#m7% 5 arp
Ex 5 - Replaces Gmaj7 arp
Ex 6 - Replaces Am7 arp
Ex 7 - Replaces Bm7 arp
Examples 8 and 9 feature typical three-note-per-string-type sequences being applied to the new shapes. Try these examples over the following
chords: A minor (for a Dorian sound); C major (for a Lydian sound); and D7 (for a Mixolydian sound).
Ex 8 - Random three-note-per-string sequence applied to string skipping