Applying a Triplet Arpeggio Sequence to the Cycle of Fourths

Last month, we explored playing ascending and descending arpeggios over a cycle-of-fourths chord progression, which is a sequence of chords wherein each is the intervallic distance of a perfect fourth above (or a fifth below) the previous one. To review, the figures in the previous column began on Am; if we count four scale degrees or note letter names up from A — A B C D — we find that D is the intervallic distance of a fourth above A. To find the fourth above D, we apply the same letter counting method — D E F G. So G is the fourth of D. Starting from G, we’d have G A B C, and so on. (Bear in mind, however, that this method can get a little more complex and specific when sharps and flats are involved, but this is basically how it works.) So, our resultant cycle-of-fourths chord progression is either A D G C or, in our application, Am Dm G C. If one were to continue the process through all 12 tones, we can generate the progression Am Dm G C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E, which we can then resolve to A (or Am). In this lesson, I’d like to continue working with this progression and show you how to apply an interesting and useful melodic pattern to it.

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Andy Aledort

Guitar World Associate Editor Andy Aledort is recognized worldwide for his vast contributions to guitar instruction, via his many best-selling instructional DVDs, transcription books and online lessons. Andy is a regular contributor to Guitar World and Truefire, and has toured with Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, as well as participating in several Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tours.