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The Arpeggio Blues Lesson - Keeping steady time while moving from one chord to another.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Brass guitar slides

The Arpeggio Blues - The lesson explained.

This lesson should help with a couple of things: Moving cleanly from one chord to another and keeping nice steady time with the right hand picking. It's in the key of G and I've used a not-so-common blues progression as the backdrop.

Playing an 'arpeggio' means playing a chord as single notes. This whole piece is a series of arpeggios, as you can see and hear. The pattern over each chord is not exactly the same each time, as I was also developing a bit of a melody in amongst it all as I played, but (apart from the one pause), the rhythm is consistent: eighth notes throughout.

You'll hear me count 1-2-3-4 at the beginning ... it's really in 6/8 time, but it seemed more to the point to count it in as 4/4. I really should have counted 'one-two-three, two-two-three, three-two-three, four-two-three'.

The chords are all open shapes, nothing too complicated on that front, and you'll see a couple of different names for the same chord shape. I call the chord at bar 8 a Cm6, and the very same shape at the end of bar 15 a Am7flat5 ... that's not a mistake (I don't think, anyway!), I just found that the context of each was a little different. The first was definitely a C minor flavored chord (even though the bass note is A), the second had more of an A minor vibe to it. I'm sure one of our theorists here will correct me if I'm wrong, but chords are weird in that the same group of notes can have different names in different contexts.

Getting a nice steady flow to the picking is harder than you'd think, as I'm sure you'll find out. Some may suggest practicing this kind of thing to a metronome ... I prefer to listen to the one in my brain, myself. If you practice too often to metronomes, you may find that you can't play without one, and you'll look silly getting up on stage to sing a blues over this kind of thing if you first have to fire up a metronome. I tended to zero in on the first and third beats of each measure, give each of those a bit of an accent and let the other notes fall into place. It's definitely a feel thing, you need to zone out slightly, become the listener as well as the player, to really get a nice musical feel going. Keeping that nice flow going while changing chords is the hard bit. It is, as always, just a practice thing. Do it and do it and do it.

The picking hand is following the standard rules ... you can see when the movie starts that my hand is at rest with the thumb ready for the bass notes and the index-middle-ring fingers comfortably relaxed, poised over their respective strings and ready to go. You need to bend the wrist slightly to acheive this. Once you do, you'll find your fingers attack the strings at right angles and it's much easier to get a nice clean ringing note.

I change the regular pattern I set up at the beginning at bar 9 after that little pause. I only did that to add a bit of interest ... you don't need to change anything at all.

Roman numeral wise: It's got a bunch of outside chords in amongst the I-IV-Vs of G. One is a 'minorized four' (the Cm), then there's a 'majorized six' (the E7), a 'majorized two', the A7 ... (the terms 'minorize' and 'majorize' are just my way of putting it ... )

That's about all I can think of to mention ...

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

Kirk LorangeAs well as putting together these fingerstyle guitar lessons, I am also the author of PlaneTalk - The Truly Totally Different Guitar Instruction Package, which teaches a mindset, a way of thinking about music and a way of tracking it all on the guitar fretboard. Yes, there IS a constant down there in the maze of strings and fret wire, a landmark that points to everything at all times. I call it The Easiest Yet Most Powerful Guitar Lesson You Will Ever Learn and many testimonials at my site will back up that rather superlative description. If your goal as a guitar player is to be able to truly PLAY the guitar, not just learn by rote; to be able to invent on the fly, not memorize every note; to be able to see the WHOLE fretboard as friendly, familiar territory, not just the first 5 frets and to do it all without thinking about all those scales and modes, then you should read more here.