Arpeggios and Chord Hits

So often when it comes to writing a song a player can start with bashing away at a few chord to come up with a progression. It seems quite true of guitarists. It would also be true of beginner musicians, but in all fairness a beginner musician or songwriter doesn't have the expanded palate that more seasoned players have. There's nothing wrong with this approach to songwriting. It works in everything from jazz to metal, from new players to experienced. Let's take a look at a way to break out of this box. We're going to build a single bar using an arpeggio and chord hits.

Watch the video. Then continue reading to get a more detailed explanation of what's going on. 

 arpeggio lesson 1

The first example is in the key of A Major. You'll notice the second chord is labelled Av2 (A Major version 2). The second chord still an A Major but the highest note has swapped from an A note to a C# note. In similar fashion the two D chords are both major chords just different constructions played in different locations. It's a great way to add some sharpness and contrast to your chord progressions.

The next two examples follow the same basic principal of example 1. In exercise 2 the second b minor chord is fully strummed whereas in example one the 2nd chord was more of a diad (two harmonic notes played together). Instead of making a big jump in movement like exercise one the second two chords are played in the same register. One challenge you'll find here is that the substantially fuller G Major chord should be hit softer to keep the loudness of the bar level. However... if you want to give it a strong hit, why not. That can also be an effect. Generally speaking, though, keeping the bar at the same loudness works better.

Exercise 3 borrows the same concept. The first chord uses no third note, but the other two chords in the bar help identify that the G chord is a Major chord. The progression is I-IV-V, first, fourth, fifth (but not to be confused with the standard music progression of the same name). The structure of the C is fairly standard, it's a C Major triad. The D7 is a little more interesting as a D7 requires four notes but this only has three. It's actually the root note which is missing. What a great way to allow for a different instrument to fill out the missing D note. You'll find example 3 will still sound great played without other musicians or your piano or acoustic guitar.

 arpeggio example two

So, there's a few ideas on how to build a bar of music using arpeggios and chord hits. To summarise - try different approaches, experiment with using more than one register for the same chord, try different inversions, and it's ok to leave out notes for other instruments to play.

We hope you got some good inspiration out of that. If you like our videos please subscribe to our youtube channel. Join our facebook songwriter's page. And we'd love to hear your comments and ideas. Happy jamming!

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