How to Apply Arpeggio Patterns to a Cycle-of-Fourths Progression

Over the last two columns, we examined different approaches to playing arpeggios over a cycle-of-fourths progression, for which each chord is rooted either a fourth above or a fifth below the previous one. As you recall, the method for determining what note or chord is a fourth above another one involves counting up through the seven-note major scale. In the key of A, the notes of an A major scale are A(1) B(2) C#(3) D(4) E(5) F#(6) G#(7). We can see D is the fourth of A. We can then use the same formula to find the fourth up from D. The D major scale is spelled D(1) E(2) F#(3) G(4) A(5) B(6) C#(7). And so the fourth of D is G, as G is that scale’s fourth degree. If we were continue this process 12 times, the resultant cycle-of-fourths progression eventually brings us back to A, as follows: A D G C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A.

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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.