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Superimposing Arpeggios

The Justinguitar.com Arpeggio Guitar Lessons

Superimposing arpeggios on guitar?? um, excuse me... super what? who is doing the imposing here? you! it's fun once you get your head around it...

Superimposing arpeggios are a way of using our basic 4 note arpeggios to better effect. It's a lot of fun and will let you use your arpeggio based licks another way. I'm going to start off here with the dominant 7th chord, G7, in the key of C and then explain the other chord types.

The concept is quite simple to digest, but to use them and put them into practice takes practice and thought.

This is NOT beginners stuff - make sure you are confident with ALL of your arpeggio shapes, and using them, before you waste time learning to do this!!

G7 superimposed arpeggios

Let's start by looking at the notes in G7:

R
3
5
b7
.
.
.
G7
G
B
D
F
.
.
.
G7 arp
G
B
D
F
.
.
.


To make a G7 into a G9 we need to add the 9th note (same as the 2nd) which in this case is the note A. Underneath I have taken away the note G, and you can see that this leaves us with the notes from a Bmin7b5 (half diminished) arpeggio!!

R
3
5
b7
9
.
.
G9
G
B
D
F
A
.
.
Bmin7b5
B
D
F
A
.
.


This is the basic idea of superimposing arpeggios. If you play a Bmin7b5 arpeggio over a G7 chord you are making it sound like a G9 arpeggio. We can take it further of course too...

R
3
5
b7
9
11
.
G11
G
B
D
F
A
C
.
Bmin7b5
B
D
F
A
.
.
Dmin7
D
F
A
C
.


So if we add the 11th degree - so we have a G11 chord, if I take away the first two notes, you can see we are left with the notes of a Dmin7 arpeggio! So playing a Dmin7 arpeggio over a G7 will make it sound like a G11. And there is still one extension left!

R
3
5
b7
9
11
13
G13
G
B
D
F
A
C
E
Bmin7b5
B
D
F
A
.
.
Dmin7
D
F
A
C
.
Fmaj7
F
A
C
E


OK, this last one we now have all the arpeggios that you can superimpose over a G7, well not all of them, there are a few more advanced concepts we may look at later, but this is the main idea.

Exercise 1 *IMPORTANT*
Now it's important to try these for yourself! Record a G7 loop (or have your jam buddy play a G7 for ages, or use a looper pedal, or use a mixolydian backing track) and try each of the arpeggios.

Which ones work for you? Which sound good? Do you have to use them a certain way?

Listen.

Try them again and then see if you can work them into an improvisation.

G Maj 7 superimposed arpeggios

The same rules apply of course to other chord types, here is the chart for a G Maj 7the chord:

R
3
5
7
9
11
13
GMaj7 / 9 / 11/ 13
G
B
D
F#
A
C
E
Bmin7
B
D
F#
A
.
.
D7
D
F#
A
C
.
F#min7b5
F#
A
C
E


Again, it is very important that you listen now to each of them. You will probably find that the first one (using Bmin7 over Gmaj7) sounds good right away but the others are much harder to use.

You just have to try them out and see how you go.

 

G min 7 superimposed arpeggios

And here we are now for the minor chord and extensions:

R
b3
5
b7
9
11
13
Gmin7/ 9 / 11/ 13
G
Bb
D
F
A
C
E
BbMaj7
Bb
D
F
A
.
.
Dmin7
D
F
A
C
.
FMaj7
F
A
C
E


I find the first two of these fun and easy to get going, but the third one is harder. Maybe minor chords are more forgiving!

You have to spend some time now and explore each one. Don't write them off right away if they seem a little hard at the start, new things always take practice!

Moving outside

The further along you go the 'outside' the arpeggio will sound. Using the first superimposed arpeggio (that gives you a 9th chord type) will usually sound pretty cool. The second will be harder to use and sound more 'out'. The third one is very hard to use and makes it sound nice, it's possible, but you have to really be in the zone to make it work well.

My advice is to stick at the arpeggios built of the 3rd of the chord (the first one shown each time) because they will work and sound good without too much effort. As you practice you can play with the others and see what you can do!

 

Hope you enjoy this and will do some more advanced stuff soon!

Lesson ID: AR-111