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Electric Bass Lesson: Arpeggios for Common Chords Found in Jazz


Three fundamental elements define the structure of all western music—scales, chords, and arpeggios. Chords highlight the most critical notes of a scale and do so by sounding these prominent tonalities in unison. Arpeggios, on the other hand, outline the tonalities present within a chord individually, allowing players to create melodic lines that draw attention to the most critical notes within a composition’s chord changes. Jazz music, in particular, is known for utilizing very complex harmonies. So, sometimes crafting arpeggios can feel a bit daunting for jazz musicians of all instruments and levels.


In this online bass lesson, Grammy Award-winning bassist and ArtistWorks jazz instructor, John Patitucci, introduces us to the arpeggios of some of the chords most commonly found in jazz music. He teaches how to outline these chords and craft their respective arpeggios from the ground up, and also how to read a jazz lead sheet and what the most common chord symbols mean.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play the bass guitar from a master musician like John Patitucci? Sign up for John’s course today for just $29!


“As jazz musicians, we often work off lead sheets with all these different chord symbols seemingly scattered throughout the page. For those that are new to jazz music, this can often look like Greek,” John explains with a chuckle. “These symbols really look much more complex than they really are though, and, once we learn what they mean, they’re really quite easy to dissect.”


As a bass player, it’s not only critical to understand how to outline arpeggios on the fretboard, but also to be able to analyze chord symbols on the written page and be able to translate them onto your instrument. When we’re analyzing chord symbols and determining the notes that make up each chord’s arpeggio, we call that spelling out the arpeggio.


“We need to know how to spell these chords,” explains John. “We need to know how they’re represented, what their symbols look like, and what it means when we spell the chord out. This is particularly important in jazz because we have so much harmonic diversity.”


To learn more about identifying the arpeggios of chords commonly found in jazz and implementing them into your playing and improvisations, dive into this online bass lesson from John Patitucci:


Arpeggios for Common Chords Found in Jazz with John Patitucci:




ArtistWorks online music lessons are recorded and taught by more than 40 world-renowned master musicians who not only have rich musical legacies but have a deep passion for teaching and sharing their knowledge.


Our teachers also provide notation, tablature, backing tracks, and other amazing supplemental materials to round out their holistic curricula in each course. Students can learn anything from electric and acoustic guitar to banjo, piano, mandolin, fiddle, saxophone, ukulele, how to sing—just about any instrument you can think of. And, our esteemed faculty can teach you how to play everything from bluegrass to jazz to rock to blues to classical and beyond.


Sample some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



ArtistWorks Music Roundtable Podcast—Episode 5: Howard Levy & Victor Wooten

Bass Guitar Lesson: An Introduction to 5-String Bass with Nathan East

Electric Bass Lesson: Creating Harmonic Chords with Stu Hamm




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