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Practical Arps

The whole study of arps/licks has been kind of overwhelming since there are soooo many possibilities. There are only so many hours in a day and even fewer "free" hours for practice time. For example, if I have 100 licks/arps that I like and want to learn and let's say I only practice each one 30 seconds per day (not a lot of time on each) that is almost an hour of practice time per day and that doesn't even include songs, arrangements, rhythm, etc practice. So recently I've tried to limit what I'm practicing rather than trying to learn absolutely every lick/arp/song that I hear. In order to limit the number of arps that I have to practice, for example, I'm currently trying to cull thru the possibilities and only work on patterns that are 'practical' (i.e. where the fingerings lay out well on the fretboard especially for 'gypsy picking'). So many of the arps that I see in books are just not practical to play at faster tempos (unless you are one of the few GJ phenoms). I understand that one needs to know where the basic notes are but I'm just not motivated to work for hours on end on patterns that I am sure I will not use. Like for example, a basic "E position" major triad arp. Obviously, it's important to know that the notes exist in that position but that just isn't a practical pattern to play fast especially when "descending" from high E to low E using gypsy picking so why practice that arp up and down for hours?

So far, just for arpeggios, I have 38 that have convenient fingerings (major, minor, dominant, "horizontal and vertical" for each). That seems like a lot to me and I have not even started getting into culling thru the altered dominant patterns and/or what I would call "licks" (pre-planned phrases) that I like.

Besides not having that much available time I find that I just can't really store that many patterns/songs/etc in my head at any one time and expect to be able to actually recall them and use them on the spot.

I'm guessing this is a common problem (or maybe I'm just lame) but has anyone else figured out a good way to overcome this thing of being overwhelmed by the enormity of the possibilities and limiting practice to a reasonable number of practical and basic patterns? What are your 'go-to' patterns for the basic major/minor/dominant arps/licks that you would use on the spot in a jam session?

Thanks
Josechiky
«13

Comments

  • fourowlsfourowls Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaNew Petrarca Grande Bouche
    Interesting question and to a degree I am in the same boat. I have just purchased Yaakov Hoter's excellent arpeggio course in which he covers 75 arpeggios and related chords. Naturally I won't use all, but knowing the essential 20-30 will definitely help my theory, understanding solos. Time is the key, and it will take time! Look at the major classics, what chords are they in and what solos are they using around these changes?? Anyway, I am curious to see what others think are the most essential arpeggios...but major / minor / dom7 and Major6 and 9 were suggested to me as foundational...
    Josechiky
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆVirtuoso 503
    edited May 15
    Honestly, for me the best one to know is m7b5. If I was only allowed to know and use ONE shape that would be it for sure. If you play it horizontally (i.e. 2 notes per string) then it has a cool kind of symmetry that makes the shape easy to remember. And if you play it vertically (i.e. staying in position), then the notes fall in such a way that makes fast triplet licks pretty easy to execute.

    It's multipurpose, the more you study it you find that you can use it all over the place. And it has a good colour for this style of music, you can evoke many Django sounds using this arp. There are loads of Django licks that land right on these notes, with one or two chromatic passing notes (added as filler to make the picking easier or the timing more convenient).

    In minor keys it's the bomb, you can use it on the tonic directly (e.g. F#m7b5 for minor swing in A-) and the same arp will work pretty well over the ii, iv, and V (e.g. using the Bm7b5 for minor swing in A-). You can play a fairly convincing solo on the entire form of dark eyes by using only m7b5 substitutions.

    In major keys, it works great on the V (e.g. Bm7b5 as the dominant leading to C). When playing over the ii chord, no matter whether you choose the Bm7b5 or the Dm7b5 arp there, the "wrong" note will be a pretty forgiving one. You can even kinda get away with it on the I: playing an Em7b5 chord gets you a playful flavour (throw in the root C note). Playing an F#m7b5 gets you a cool Olivier Kikteff #11 sound or 'The Simpsons' kind of thing (throw in the 5th - G note).

    So, I like this arp for its versatility, you get a lot of bang-for-your-buck in terms of necessary practice hours vs usefulness.
    JosechikyjonpowlScoredogJim KaznoskyBucoaltonNoneJDRooke
  • fourowlsfourowls Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaNew Petrarca Grande Bouche
    Wim Glenn wrote: »
    Honestly, for me the best one to know is m7b5. If I was only allowed to know and use ONE shape that would be it for sure. If you play it horizontally (i.e. 2 notes per string) then it has a cool kind of symmetry that makes the shape easy to remember. And if you play it vertically (i.e. staying in position), then the notes fall in such a way that makes fast triplet licks pretty easy to execute.

    It's multipurpose, the more you study it you find that you can use it all over the place. And it has a good colour for this style of music, you can evoke many Django sounds using this arp. There are loads of Django licks that land right on these notes, with one or two chromatic passing notes (added as filler to make the picking easier or the timing more convenient).

    In minor keys it's the bomb, you can use it on the tonic directly (e.g. F#m7b5 for minor swing in A-) and the same arp will work pretty well over the ii, iv, and V (e.g. using the Bm7b5 for minor swing in A-). You can play a fairly convincing solo on the entire form of dark eyes by using only m7b5 substitutions.

    In major keys, it works great on the V (e.g. Bm7b5 as the dominant leading to C). When playing over the ii chord, no matter whether you choose the Bm7b5 or the Dm7b5 arp there, the "wrong" note will be a pretty forgiving one. You can even kinda get away with it on the I: playing an Em7b5 chord gets you a playful flavour (throw in the root C note). Playing an F#m7b5 gets you a cool Olivier Kikteff #11 sound or 'The Simpsons' kind of thing (throw in the 5th - G note).

    So, I like this arp for its versatility, you get a lot of bang-for-your-buck in terms of necessary practice hours vs usefulness.

    Hi there Wim
    Thanks for the feedback and I will really check that pattern then! I wonder how much it pops up in songs, and will be interesting to see! Really appreciate your feedback!
    Regards
    André H
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited May 16
  • edited May 16
    Dear Bones, 38 in slim-down version?!
    Of course there's nothing wrong with knowing more but I just don't think it's necessary.

    I was gonna say 2 or 3, one triadic, one with 7th and perhaps one with 6th. And then make major/minor/dominant versions or those. Plus as Wim aptly put it m7b5. Explore the fretboard using those, create/compose etudes over popular tunes so that you can come up with ways to connect them.

    When people write instructional books, my feeling is they have to put a lot of material to justify the selling price and give people the bang for buck feeling. However I highly doubt that Yaakov or anyone else will explore 75 arpeggios during the course of a gig, not even come close.

    I think go as simple as possible. Thing is once those basics are mastered everything else will simply open up and be much, much easier to acquire. When I say master I mean being able to effortlessly use and connect those basic arpeggios over any song with a good feel of timing all over the fretboard.

    When you look at the gist of how a lot of great players got there it's all simple really, in my mind at least. Gonzalo; compose etudes, Bireli; transcribe a sh!!tload, also a buddy of mine Koran Agan credits transcribing as something that worked for him, van Hemert (who isn't necessarily at these guys level but nevertheless his development from a guy who didn't even play guitar not that long ago to today is very impressive to say the least); create a lick for minor/major/dominant/m7b5, practice those all over the fretboard and come up with ways to connect them, once you've mastered them you can create slightly different version on the fly...

    Those are the ones off the top of my head, aside from playing your ass off that all of them have in common, it's really simple stuff that brings you there. I don't know, I could be wrong but I like to look at it in simple terms. At least when we talk about mastering the fretboard, connecting the changes, having a good timing etc...

    Really, have you ever read an interview with any of the top players who described some complex practice routine when they were still developing?

    I didn't. It usually boils down to playing your ass off on a daily basis along with something similar to mentioned above, nothing very complicated. Then of course, over the years they amass this enormous body of knowledge and if/when some of them writes instructional book for the rest of us, it appears baffling and daunting.

    Here is van Hemert's video on playing m7b5 arps over I major:
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Hey Wim, yeah I have not even started looking at 'outside' stuff yet. That might be a good place to start. Is that m7b5 pattern written out in any of the common books? thanks!
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Hey Buco, yeah that's ONE of the problems, I'm 'down' to 38 basic arps after cutting out a lot and like I said above I have not even started at the 'altered' stuff yet. :-(

    Ok so that vid is showing dim over the I chord (i.e. Gdim over Gmajor). So the dim is like a m7b5??? thanks
  • No, that would be me not using all my marbles. m7b5 is half-diminished.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • PetrovPetrov ✭✭
    @Buco Is this the vid you were thinking about. It's at the 19:30 mark.

    I'm always thinking of these shapes as minor 6th arps vs m7b5.

    McQ
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Ok so if it is a minor 6 (say Am6) what major chord (I chord) would you use that over? Thanks
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