In this lesson we’re going to look at arpeggios within a scale and an exercise that will be sure to twist your fingers and your mind.

Arpeggios From A Scale

What do I mean by the arpeggios within a key? In any key or scale for that matter we can build arpeggios from each note.  An arpeggio is a chord played one note at a time and the basic chords like triads or seventh chords are built by stacking thirds. To find out more about chord construction and this stacking of thirds check out these lessons:

In building arpeggios within a scale, because they’re built from these stacked thirds, it’s easy to think of them with a simple method of

  • Play a Note
  • Miss a Note
  • Play a Note
  • Miss a Note
  • Play a Note

Let’s take the C major scale as an example. C major contains the following notes:

C D E F G A B

If we use our method of play a note, miss a note we can build a triad from the C as follows:

Play the C, miss the D, play the E, miss the F, play the G.

This gives us the notes C, E, G. This is the C major triad. So chord number 1 in the C major scale is the C major triad.

We can perform this method on each scale degree giving us the following sequence of chords:

  • Chord #1: C Major
  • Chord #2: D Minor
  • Chord #3: E Minor
  • Chord #4: F Major 
  • Chord #5: G Major
  • Chord #6: A Minor
  • Chord #7: B Diminished

We can label chord progressions using these numbers. A 1625 progression in C Major would be as follows:

C Major – A Minor – D Minor – G Major

We can apply the same method of creating triads to seventh chords and any other chords by just adding notes from that major scale palette.

We can also apply the same method to any scale. The natural minor scale would give us a diatonic set of chords for the minor key. We could also create arpeggios in modes like the Dorian, Mixolydian, Phrygian scale etc. Any scale can act as a palette for creating chords.

Exercises

We can play through these arpeggios in a single position to create a variety of exercises.

Exercise #1 Arpeggios Ascending

Exercise #2 Arpeggios Descending

Exercise #3 Arpeggios Ascending/Descending

Exercise #4 Arpeggios Descending/Ascending

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