Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Arpeggio Fingering Considerations

> Hi Barrett,
> I had a question about the Major Triad Arpeggios on p.35 of
> the Chord-Tone Soloing book:
> Just wondering why the Pattern 5 arpeggio is different, in
> that it moves outside the position of the corresponding
> Pattern 5 Major scale with its initial stretch to the
> third, unlike all the other major triad arpeggios which
> stay within their respective scale forms.
> I know these things aren't carved in stone (though the
> CAGED system seems pretty structured to me), but it's
> almost like the Pattern 5 major triad shape moves into
> Pattern 1 initially then back to Pattern 5 again!
> Any thoughts on this?
> - Ed

Hi Ed,

Thanks for writing. Here are some quick thoughts on Pattern 5 arpeggios that also apply to the others.

If you start a pattern 5 arpeggio with the 1st finger on the root, then the one shown on page 35 is easiest to play smoothly, although you're right, it does cross over into pattern 1's territory.

If you start with the 2nd finger on the root, then the way you suggest (similar to patterns 2 & 4) starts off looking easier. But it gets a little tricky when you get to the notes played by the 3rd and 4th fingers on the top 3 strings. It is harder to play cleanly because of the independence required between fingers 3 and 4.

In the long run you'll want to know how to do it either way (and more other ways), depending on which finger happens to be closest at the time, and where your melody is going afterward.

That brings up an exercise that I highly recommend. See what happens when you start the arpeggios from every possible finger on each note, while avoiding any moves that might create a gap or a smear in the sound. (For example: playing two consecutive notes on different strings and different frets with the same finger---I try to avoid that.)

Here is how the exercise physically plays out. Start a major triad arp from a root on the sixth string with each of the 4 fingers, and you often get a different fingering for the same notes. Then try every possible starting finger for the arp but starting from the 3rd, then the 5th, then the next root, and so on. Draw fingering diagrams if necessary.

You'll find it often pushes you into a different area of the neck from where you started. But if you know those first 5 basic shapes it'll help you figure out where the next note is when you get shifted up into the next pattern.

It is lots of work. If you practice this, though, your playing will eventually be ultra-smooth. That's always the final deciding factor: whatever ends up producing the most even, stable, and consistently clean sound is what you should use, even if it creates a conceptual problem or messes up a pattern.

Thanks again,

Barrett Tagliarino

Barrett Tagliarino