Improvising Over II V I With The Arpeggio Fingerings
II V I, as you may or may not know, is THE most heavily used chord progression in jazz.
If you can improvise really well over this progression, you are a huge step closer to becoming really good at jazz improvisation.
A great exercise to get better at soloing over II V I’s: is soloing with arpeggios, combining the closest possible arpeggio fingering for each of the 3 chords.
This would of course require that you know the fingerings first.
You can learn them here:
In the key of C:
II V I = ||: Dm | G | C | C :||
The notes in a C chord are: C E G
The notes in a Dm chord are: D F A
The notes in a G chord are: G B D
In the above 2 links showing the fingerings for the C major triad and the A minor triad:
- Move all three C major arpeggio fingerings up 7 frets to make them G arpeggios. In other words:
- Move the root position fingering from C on the 8th fret to G on the 3rd/15th fret.
- Move the 1st Inversion fingering from E on the 12th fret to B on the 7th/19th fret.
- Move the 2nd Inversion fingering from G on the 3rd fret to D on the 10th fret.
- Move all three Am arpeggio fingerings up 5 frets to make them Dm arpeggios. In other words:
- Move the root position fingering from A on the 5th fret to D on the 10th fret.
- Move the 1st Inversion fingering from C on the 8th fret to F on the 1st/13th fret.
- Move the 2nd Inversion fingering from E on the 12th fret to A on the 5th/17th fret.
Practice that really well first so you have all Dm and G arpeggios down.
Once you’ve gotten the Dm and G arpeggios pretty well memorized, you are ready for the drill I wanted to cover in this blog.
You will improvise over the II V I progression in the key of C, combining the closest fingerings for each chord.
Here are those fingering combinations:
- Dm from the root, G from the 5th, C from the 3rd
- Dm from the 3rd, G from the root, C from the 5th
- Dm from the 5th, G from the 3rd, C from the root
This is a really good exercise in soloing over chords with chord tones while moving your hand around the guitar neck as little as possible.
Only moving the notes that need to move from chord to chord, is called “voice leading”.
When you voice-lead, you smoothly move from 1 chord into the next, and your melodic phrases sound connected over the chord changes.
Following video showcases the above:
Hit me up anytime at email@example.com if you would like me to send you backing tracks for any of the above chord progressions, if you have any questions, or if you would like to book a lesson.
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Have fun! 🙂
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