Skip to main content

String Theory: Applying Breathtaking Arpeggio Sweeps to the "Autumn Leaves" Chord Progression

The following content is related to the April 2013 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

This month, I’d like to present a sweep arpeggio etude I wrote called “Raking Leaves” (see FIGURE 1). It employs the instructively useful and musically timeless set of chord changes from the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves,” which we’ve explored in the previous two columns.

Guitarists use the term raking synonymously with sweeping and economy picking when refering to the technique of picking two or more consecutive single notes on adjacent strings with one uninterrupted upstroke or downstroke. In this case, I’m using a recurring pattern of a downstroke on the high E string followed by an upstroke sweep across the top three strings to economically perform an exciting, lightning-fast eighth-note/16th-note triplet motif (short phrasing idea) remeniscent of what a skilled jazz saxophonist would typically play.