Guitar Arpeggios in G Blues

Welcome to MeYouMusics Guitar arpeggios in G blues lesson 🙂

Our previous lessons have so far taught you how to formulate your arpeggios based upon the intervals and notes of your chosen scale. We have also touched on creating patterns for sweep picking.

With this lesson in the blues scale, we are going to look at how the notes we pick and their position in the arpeggio can alter the stylistic of our arpeggio, giving you the understanding of which approach you should follow depending on the style you wish to accomplish when composing with your own patterns.

Intervals and notes of G blues scale are:

I♭iiiIV♭VV♭Vii
GB♭CD♭DF

If you are not familiar with this scale, it is good to know that the ♭V interval is also named the “blue note” and is used as a distinguishing characteristic of this scale. It is often used as a passing tone between the IV and the V. The blues scale holds the same intervals as the minor pentatonic but adds the ♭V.

We will be building our extensions based upon how the notes are altered in comparison to the natural minor scale/Aeolian mode.

Remember that is our 6th mode of the Major scale, and so we can start from the 6th position of our Major chord formula:

Major scale:

Major, minor, minor, Major, Dominant, minor, Diminished

(For standard triads, the Diminished and Dominant are often performed as Majors).

minor being the 6th degree would be our starting point, resulting in:

GB♭CD♭DF
minorMajorMajorminorminorDominant

We did not include the Diminished as well as a Major between the D and F as there are no ii or Vi intervals within this scale.

Now we are going to check which chord formations correlate with the given scale under each root tone.

G minor 7I♭iii V♭Vii
GB♭ DF

Since this is the key of the scale and we have already determined a minor 7th fits, we can move on.

B♭ Major 7 IiiiVVii
B♭ DFA

The above 1-3-5 triad fits within the G Blues scale, however, the 7th does not. We also can’t replace this Major 7th interval with a minor 7th, as A♭ is also not in the scale. We do however have the option to place a Major 6th note in here (G), giving us B♭ Major 6 to play with.

C Major 7IiiiVVii
C EGB

In C Major 7, neither the iii nor Vii intervals fit within our original scale. We have the option of raising our iii interval a semi-tone up to a perfect 4th and lowering our Vii down to a ♭Vii, leaving us with C dominant 7sus4.

D♭ minor 7 I♭iii V♭Vii
D♭ EA♭ B

With D♭, neither the triad nor 7th note fits within the G Blues scale. What can we do instead:

  • Raise the ♭iii up a semi-tone to F giving us a Major 3rd interval.
  • Lowering our V interval to G, giving us a ♭V interval; Or Raise our V a whole tone to B♭ giving us a minor 6th interval.
  • Lowering our ♭vii interval a semi-tone to give us a Major 6th interval or raising it a semi-tone to get a Major 7th.

This leaves us with the choices of:

  • D♭ Major 6♭5
  • D♭ Major 7♭5
  • D♭ Major 7add6 (omit 5)
D minor 7I♭iii V♭Vii
DFAC

The V interval in D minor 7 ‘A’ does not fit within the G blues scale. We cannot lower it down a semi-tone as A♭ is also not in this scale, however B♭ is, and so we can raise it a semi-tone leaving us with D minor 7♭6 (omit 5)

F Dominant 7IiiiV♭Vii
FACE♭

Once again the A does not fit, as well as the E♭ (iii and ♭Vii intervals). We can however raise the A a semi-tone to B♭ giving us a perfect 4th and lower the E♭ down to D giving us a Major 6th. This would leave us with F Major 6sus4.

Okay, so a quick overview of our diatonic sequence selections with their main intervals:

G minor 7GB♭ DF
B♭ Major 6 B♭ DFG
C Dominant 7 sus 4CFGB♭
D♭ Major 6♭5 D♭ FGB♭
D♭ Major 7♭5 D♭ FGC
D♭ Major 7 add 6 D♭ FB♭ C
F Major 6 sus 4F B♭ CD

Now we have our Arpeggio notes set, have them appropriately named to diatonic extensions, as well as any backing chords we may wish to perform; it’s time to move ahead and begin playing some shapes!

Example 1:

Below is a simple example of how a G Blues pattern would be formed if it were using every interval in the scale. This is nothing fancy and holds no flare, it is simply to view the notes in action and see how the ♭V alters the sound of the scale to give it a bluesy feel.

It follows the typical I-IV-I-IV-V-IV-I blues pattern but we kept it to 8 bars instead of extending it to 12.

Example 2:

What we could do is Run arpeggio patterns using each scale tone root and perform them as 4 string arpeggio sweeps. However in the short example below we have not placed the ♭V interval between the IV and V.

This is because the ♭V is used more as a passing tone over a scale tone to build shapes and arpeggios from. This is a key element to consider when creating your arpeggios, whether it be using the blues scale or any other scale with passing tones, such as bebop scales. These added tones in your scale are generally not a good root note to build arpeggios from unless you want to create some tension.

Example 3:

This example follows the more traditional I-I-IV-V progression which is often expanded to 12 bars but we have shortened our version to fit just 4 so it doesn’t drag out too much.

It’s easy and a cool foundation which you can build on easily. The very last note on the V interval ends on the ♭V interval which leaves it feeling unfinished.

Example 4:

This exercise is a simple demonstration of how arpeggios can be performed by using chord shapes from the diatonic notes in our scale. This is a common way of performing arpeggios as it allows you to prepare your fingers in position without having to jump around from one note to the other. This exercise simply ascends through the scale tones excluding a D♭ root.

Due to the key we are in, we have some pretty wild shapes to meld around with, but you are completely free to take away or add any additional notes if you wish.

Example 5:

This example demonstrates how arpeggios fit into blues more appropriately as a passing melody. Blues arpeggios tend to be short and either have a chord placed at the end or a melody built on scale tones rather then wider distanced intervals.

Example 6:

With Blues music, long arpeggio sweeps are uncommon as they just don’t sound very “bluesy”. The genre typically runs ascending/descending scales and applies patterns to craft a melody/lead line. However, some shorter length arpeggios are often used like in bars 3, 5 and 6 of the following example.

This is jam packed with a lot of typical blues elements and really is not as difficult as it may look/sound. Practice this at a tempo you are comfortable with and maintain 100% accuracy, then increase tempo until you are able to perform the speed of the midi audio file.

That’s all for this lesson, we hope you have enjoyed learning with MeYou 🙂

To head on over to the rest of our arpeggios lessons, Click Here!

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