Tip #214 – Using the Blues Arpeggio

An interesting topic that I found from other composers is the use of the blues arpeggio. It looks something like this:

Just like how you can arpeggiate the chord harmony, the blues arpeggio works great over dominant-seventh chords in the blues format.

Notice that even as you are going down in the arpeggio, the lowered-third comes before the raised-third. This is so you can obtain that classic blues slide sound as well as the microtonal blue note in-between. Of course, this is a preference, not a strict rule.

In addition, just as the chords change in the 12-bar blues format, so will the arpeggiation. It does not stay strictly to the key signature; more so, it is determined by the root of the dominant-seventh chord.

Try practicing with them!

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Tip #88 – Breaking a Chord Rhythmically

Say you have a chord and a really good voicing too for a measure. It sounds great… but it is lacking a sense of motion that you desire.

Without disrupting the harmony, how do you accomplish it?

One way is by breaking apart the chord so that each of the chord members sound at different times within a period of length. You see this already in stuff like “boom-chuck” guitar accompaniment, Travis picking, arpeggiating, etc.

Besides breaking it apart, try to come up with a pattern as well for it. Below is a common pattern found in ragtime music used to break-apart a chord:

Notice that there are a few arpeggiations of single notes, and broken parts of group chords as well.


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