Explanation of arpeggios and arpeggios for guitar in movable shapes presented by diagrams and tabs.
The scale – chord – arpeggio relationship
Arpeggios are best understood as chords that are played both vertical and linear on the guitar fretboard. While chords can be strummed (vertically), arpeggios involve patterns which can include more than one tone per string. Arpeggios are identical with chords, what differs is the application.
So, when to use arpeggios? They can be played separately or together with scales in improvisation situations. In jazz, for example, can arpeggios sometimes replace scale in lead playing. This is when the strummed chord progressions involve fast shifting among chord and arpeggios, since they normally involve fewer tones, are more suitable for playing over different chord in adynamic fashion (i.e., not using a single scale over all or majority of chords).
Arpeggios can be seen as "scales without passing notes". This mean way will match the chords (e.g., played by another guitarist, the rhythm guitar) to a higher degree. It makes them a safer choice in this lead guitar context, but they may lack same of the melodic richness that can be accomplished by using scales.
Below is the scale – arpeggio relationship illustrated with a diagram. The diagram displays Cmaj7 chord arpeggio notes in dark blue color and the remaining notes in the C Major Scale in light blue color.
These are, of course, two of many ways to play the actual arpeggio and scale, respectively.
Major 7th two-octave pattern
The fingerboard diagram below shows a Cmaj7 arpeggio with the first root note on the 6th string. The shape is movable and can be used for all Major 7th chords.
Listen to the Cmaj6 arpeggio played ascending and descending:
Major 9th two-octave pattern
The major 9th is another chord that lend itself to arpeggios. This chord involves two octaves in its theoretical form, but to be suited for arpeggios the ninth are moved one octave back. Also, to stick with the four-note pattern, the fifth is omitted. Once again, the shape is movable.
Listen to the Cm6 arpeggio played ascending and descending:
Minor 9th two-octave pattern
The minor 9th is another chord that lend itself to arpeggios. This chord involves two octaves in its theoretical form, but to be suited for arpeggios the ninth are moved one octave back. The four-note pattern is intact since the fifth is omitted. Once again, the shape is movable.
Listen to the C9 arpeggio played ascending and descending:
About playing arpeggios
These are many possible shapes for arpeggio concerning these chord types. The chosen once are plausible alternatives and by purpose shapes that are similar for different chord types have been chosen to make it easier to memorize and compare. But sometimes specific shapes can be advantageous for some chord types. As said, there are choices when playing arpeggios.