Lesson Five • Using Triad Arpeggios

Last time out, I wrote some triad fragments to get you started playing triad arpeggios. This lesson is about why you might want to use them in solos. Major triad arpeggios can be superimposed over a bass note to provide a characteristic chord sound. Like so:

These triads (Eb and F) are contained in the scale that goes with a C-7 chord (Dorian) and provide strong melodic ideas that help define the chord sound. Here’s an example for a Maj7+4 chord:

This is one of the easiest ways to evoke the sound of this chord. These triads (F and G) are also found within the scale (Lydian).

Now check this out:

The E major triad creates a lot of altered notes against the dominant chord. You would use this in situations where the dominant chord will resolve up a fourth — also known as “around the cycle”. This triad over the root implies the Diminished Scale.


If you take apart the scales that you are familiar with, you will realize there are at least two major triads in each one (except Harmonic Minor). You can figure out which triads evoke the sound of the chord that goes with the scale, and use the triads to create melodic ideas.

A similar concept is explored in greater detail in my book Jazz Guitar Structures, available from Mel Bay.

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