For some instruments, arpeggios are very easy to execute because you can keep the same finger pattern or hand position and move it up and/or down the instrument. As a trumpet player, they can be a little more difficult to perform. I have loved playing the major 7th arpeggio in my improvisations because of the half step motion between the major 7th and the root. And, like many arpeggios, it can be played over more than just one harmonic context.
Since we have a number of people who visit this site from all over the world as well as different ability levels-we are going to take a quick look at what an arpeggio is and then start executing some basic arpeggiated ideas.
An arpeggio is a musical device where notes in a chord are played in a sequence. Below is a Cmaj7 chord and then a Cmaj7 arpeggio in quarter notes:
I like descending arpeggios. I like their sound more so than ascending (not that I do not like ascending or do not use them). In part 1 we are going to look at a simple descending arpeggio pattern. The first below takes the root of the chord and arpeggiates down.
For my ears, I love the half-step movement between the root and the major 7th. However, it still has an arpeggio type sound to it when it starts on the root. So, let’s take the same arpeggio and start on the 3rd:
Maybe it is just me, but this sounds more like a line that I can use in an improvisation. If you like this sound, try playing through it in all keys and getting the sound in your ears and the technique under your fingers. I have listed the example above in all keys below:
In the next couple of parts we will look at some other arpeggios as well as how we can apply them to our improvisations. However, before we do that, you should probably start playing through your arpeggios this week!
Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground. The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).
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