In the following video, I go over a two-octave G major arpeggio. As you’ll see, this covers the entire range of the banjo fingerboard. These videos are meant to break you free from playing in fixed positions, what some people like to call BOXES. To have true freedom in your improvisations, you’ll need the ability to see along the entire fingerboard.
In other words, your musical camera should not only zoom in, but zoom out as well. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to check out my Two-octave Scale video as well.
What is an arpeggio?
Arpeggios are simply “broken chords”; they are the notes of a chord played one at a time as opposed to simultaneously. There are many possible fingerings available to you on the banjo fretboard. This video presents only one fingering. I urge you to find
Why spend the time to learn your arpeggios?
Arpeggios show you where the STRONG notes are, or what are called CHORD TONES. Most melodies are centered around these notes.
Without an in-depth knowledge of arpeggios, improvising becomes a game of hit and miss, hunt and peck, or worse, sounding like you’re running scales. Once again, most beautiful melodies consist largely of CHORD TONES. This is the prime reason why people that only work on scales so often sound like they are running scales when they play. They are not aware of the proper placement of the STRONG or CHORD tones. Not every note in a scale is created equal at every moment in time.
Don’t fret (no pun intended), if you don’t understand the point of all of this yet. Many times people get discouraged and don’t push through because they don’t see an IMMEDIATE use of a device. I’ll simply tell you, I wouldn’t be able to play the way I do without knowledge of arpeggios. It opened up my improvisation abilities more than anything else.
Lastly, they are the main thing I recommend to anyone that wants to improvise in ANY type of music. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve transcribed a solo only to realize most of it was made of CHORD TONES (aka ARPEGGIOS). The great guitarist Pat Metheny is an example of someone who uses lots of chord tones in his playing. Here is the instructional video:
My absolute favorite video of an incredible musician demonstrating Arpeggios and CHORD TONES to improvise is this one from Mike Stern, Check it out here:
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