Arpeggio Shapes: Major 7

As I said in my last lesson regarding Dom7 arpeggios today is the time to move to Major 7 shapes. If you got the hang of how the Dom7th ones go then it shouldn't be a problem to tackle these.

The difference between the spelling of a Dom7 and a Maj7 is very minimal but very effective indeed! The construction of a Dom7 chord/arpeggio is 1, 3, 5, b7, out of every major scale.Using the key of A Major with the notes A, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A resulting from the WWHWWWH Major scale formula you'll end up with these notes A, C#, E, G. Those were the notes plus some extensions (added notes from the scale to create 9ths 11ths and 13ths) used in our last lesson. Today we're using the Maj7 chord/arpeggios with a new formula - 1, 3, 5, 7 out of every Major scale. That's the formula for the Maj7 hence in the key of A Major it's just taking out the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th degrees of the scale. The result will be A, C#, E, G#. This is the key I used for the tabbed examples but do move them in all keys! It is very important to do with everything you learn.

The usage of the Maj7 arpeggio and the Maj7 chord is the same with the only diffrence lying in the way they're played. So if you're soloing in a Major key just change the pitch of the shapes to that you're playing in. Remember that the Maj7 chord/arpeggio is the I and IV in every harmonized major scale harmony. So, for example, if you're playing in the key of A with A being the root (i.e. the I chord) then all the shapes will work just fine except the last one (Maj13#11) which will work only if A is still the root, but coming from the IV of another Major scale, which means A Lydian key (the 4th of E Major scale). The difference between these two scales is that the Lydian has the same notes as the Major scale, except for the 4th degree which needs to be sharp(#). That's why #11 (octave higher than the actual #4) which means the D from AMajor scale needs to become D#, hence the new scale A Lydian A, B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A. We'll go in more detail in regard to modes and chord/arpeggio extensions in the near future.

But for today, just go and learn the shapes using the 'right' fingers and picking directions I've written down. Then when you feel you got the hang of how they sound and work out on the fretboard use them in your next Major feel solo. Use them to begin/end runs with or just as a spring board to create your own ideas. Remember to memorize the shape, the sound, the location, and in what key they work out. This should give you that push to try new stuff in your playing because an arpeggio can add that missing link in creating a great solo. So go ahead and 'burn' your fretboard with these! Next time we'll talk about the Minor 7th ones.

"Arpeggio Shapes: Major 7" - pdf format

Learn them slowly and perfectly so you can build up to smooth speed playing if needed. In my next lesson we'll switch to Major 7's. But get these under your belt first!

Good luck.

Jean-Pierre Zammit is a guitarist and instructor from Malta who has been playing guitar since the age of 14.

Zammit uses complex techniques, time shifts and scales in his writing, and always puts the song and the message he wants to portray first.

His is endorsed by Music Man guitars to use their Axis BFR models and Ernie Ball strings.

Jean-Pierre Zammit