Despite its fancy name, arpeggios are very simple conceptually. They are simply the notes of a chord played in succession. Yes, it is indeed that simple, so don't let anyone impress you by tossing around the word 'arpeggio.'
See below about the basic theory behind triads which will come in handy in other guitar lessons since a lot of other topics relate to triads.
The most basic arpeggio is the triad, and just like triad chords, a triad arpeggio is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a given scale. I recommend you check out some basic theory websites to gain a better appreciation of chords/arpeggios, but for the sake of simplicity, let me just say that if we go through every mode, and then take the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note of the mode, we will see that each mode is associated with one of three triad types. See below:
In the above, what we are doing is starting from each note of the C Major Scale, then adding every other note above the starting note - so C, E, G then D, F, A and so on. We also refer to this as taking the root, 3rd, and 5th of the scale/mode to build the triad. Notice that certain types of triads appear, with certain intervals between the first and second triad note, and between the 2nd and third triad note - the various intervals that appear are Major Third (2 whole steps) and Minor Third (1 and a half steps). The triad types we see are Major, Minor (indicated above by 'm') and Diminished (indicated by dim).
Triad types formed from Major Scale and Modes
|Triad Type || Intervals between 1st and 2nd, and 2nd and 3rd triad notes |
|Major || Major - Minor |
|Minor || Minor - Major |
|Diminished || Minor Minor |
Note: Don't let the fact that a minor third interval appears in a Major Triad confuse you. People sometimes make too big a deal about it. Because there are three notes in a triad, that means there are going to be several intervals. It is the first interval - the one between the first and second note of the triad that really defines the character of a Major and Minor triad. So a Major Triad, starts with Major Third interval, followed by Minor Third. With Minor Triad, it starts with Minor Third, followed by Major Third. Nothing scary about that, so let's move on. Understanding just this tiny bit of theory can help you develop your lead guitar playing skills as chord knowledge as well as composition skills, since one can write a great deal of music based on triad-based chord progressions, and have a grasp of the arpeggios that one can play over chords. That is just a starting point, but hey, you have to start somewhere!
Since each note of a Major Scale corresponds to a mode (like Dorian, etc), that means each mode is associated with a certain triad that starts from the first note of the mode. Make sense?
No matter what Major Scale we are talking about, be it C, D, G, Bb, etc, etc, they all have the same pattern of triads. So let's take G Major, which has the notes G, A, B, C, D, E, F#.
See the table below:
Triads formed from G Major Scale Modes
|Major Scale Mode || root, 3rd, and 5th of the mode |
|Ionian || G, B, D: G Major Triad |
|Dorian || A, C, E: A Minor Triad |
|Phrygian || B, D, F#: B Minor Triad |
|Lydian || C, E, G: C Major Triad |
|Mixolydian || D, F#, A: D Major Triad |
|Aeolian || E, G, B: E Minor Triad |
|Locrian || F#, A, C: F# Diminished Triad |
The table and notation above tells us something about every Major Scale. It tells us that
the 1st, 4th, and 5th modes correspond to Major Triads, the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th modes correspond to Minor Triads, and the 7th mode corresponds to a Diminished Triad
Ok, the more I write about this topic, the more I want to dig deep into the theory of harmony, but I need to keep this site focused on guitar technique, since theory is its own vast topic! So let's get started with the guitar triad arpeggio exercises!