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Expand Your Melodic Colors with 9th Arpeggios

Expand Your Melodic Colors with 9th Arpeggios

When learning how to play jazz guitar, many of us know it's important to use arpeggios to outline chords in our licks, phrases, melody lines and solos.

While we know learning arpeggios is important, we often can become bored with our playing if we stick to only using root-position, R-3-5-7 arpeggios to build our licks and melodies. A great way to keep that solid, chord outline in your lines that arpeggios provide, while adding a bit of harmonic color to your ideas, is to learn five-note, 9th arpeggios.

By adding the 9th to the 1-octave arpeggios you already know, you won’t have to start from scratch when learning these five-note shapes, and the 9th will bring a welcomed color tone to your arpeggio-based soloing ideas.

In today’s lesson, we’ll be exploring two common fingerings for 9th arpeggios applied to a ii v I chord progression, as well as explore a classic lick in this style and check out ways to practice these ideas further in the woodshed.

9th Chord Arpeggios 1

To begin, let’s take a look at a ii V I chord progression using 9th arpeggios over each chord in the phrase.

As you play through each arpeggio, notice that you may already be familiar with the first four notes of each shape, and then the 9th is just stacked on top of each 1-octave, R-3-5-7 arpeggio that you may already know.

This is the best way to think about 9th arpeggios, that they are simply a 1-octave arpeggio with one added note at the end of the shape.

This will allow you to take any one-octave arpeggio you already know, add one note to the end, and you will have a five-note, 9th arpeggio already under your fingers, rather than learning new fingerings for these shapes from scratch. Once you have worked on the fingerings below, put on a ii V I backing track in C major and practice improvising over these chords while using each 9th arpeggios as the basis for your lines.

From there, try soloing over ii V I’s in other keys, at various tempos and then apply these 9th arpeggio shapes to ii V I’s within tunes that you know or are working on in your practice routine.


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