Practice Journal: ii-V Arpeggio Cycle

One of the most essential skills for a working musician is the ability to play over a ii-V chord progression. Here is an arpeggio sequence which begins by outlining Am7 and D7 (a ii-V in G major), then moves downward to Gm7 and C7 (ii-V in F major), and so on. Here are the first two bars. Continue until you run out of neck:

ii-V arpeggios excerpt 1

For practicing basic arpeggio patterns through the cycle of keys, this exercise is a good start. But to give it a little bit of an edge for real musical situations, let’s modify it. First, how about extending the minor 7th chords to include the 9th, 11th, and 13th — in other words, building an arpeggio of consecutive thirds. Then, come down on the dominant 7th chords starting on the 9th.

ii-V arpeggios excerpt 2


One thing I try to remember when practicing arpeggios is that there’s no need to always begin on the root. In the context of a solo, you’ll be severely limited if you’re only comfortable beginning arpeggios from their root note. Try simply replacing the root with the 9th:

ii-V arpeggios excerpt 3


Whenever a 7th chord functions as a V of another chord, there’s hardly any note you can’t alter. Here’s the pattern with a flat 9:

ii-V arpeggios excerpt 4


Since we’re altering the D7, let’s take it a step further, adding both sharp and flat 9ths. This could also be analyzed as a transition from arpeggio to diminished scale.

ii-V arpeggios excerpt 5

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