Moveable Minor Arpeggios

In our previous lesson, we used arpeggios to play melodically up and down the neck (“Exploring Moveable Arpeggios,” Jan. ’06). We took two major fingerings and linked them to form a progression that included smooth position shifts. This time, let’s take the idea a step further by learning three minor arpeggios, and then constructing a progression using minor and major patterns. First, a quick refresher: An arpeggio is simply a chord played as a sequence of individual notes, rather than as a block of harmony.

Ex. 1 offers three minor arpeggios, all arranged on the top three strings. As you play through the progression, try to connect each arpeggio with the next. Ideally, you want the chords to flow together, creating an unbroken series of 12 notes. We’re stepping through the notes of an Em triad (E, G, B) starting with B; a Bm triad (B, D, F#), starting with F#; an Am triad (A, C, E), starting with C; and finally returning to our Em arpeggio. This phrase illustrates an important concept: You can ascend or descend through an arpeggio starting on any of its tones.

Featuring our new minor arpeggios, as well as three-string versions of the major fingerings we tackled last month, Ex. 2 carries us from the eighth position down to the lowest frets. In bar 2, inserting an open E string into the D arpeggio provides rich sus2 color that’s enhanced with hammers and pulls. (To brush up on these slurring techniques, see “How to Nail Hammer-Ons” and “Pull-Off Power” in the April and May ’04 issues.) Once you focus on moveable arpeggios, you’ll hear how they form the backbone of many timeless guitar parts.