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In Fig. 5, we work with a basic Em7 arpeggio that starts on the 5th string. Compare the intervallic sound to the previous scale-based examples.
We can push our lines further outside the norm by adding some non-diatonic tones and mix up the rhythm a bit, as in Fig. 6. To break up the monotony that some sequences might generate, we alternate between descending groups of three and six notes.
Instead of grouping by a specific number of notes, we can also sequence by intervals. I call these “melodic” sequences. In Fig. 7, I took a C major scale (C–D–E–F–G–A–B) and sequenced it in thirds. This means each note is separated by a third interval. An easy way to think about this interval is to imagine playing every other note in a scale. Practice this type of sequence using other types of intervals, such as fourths, fifths, sixths, and sevenths—they’re all valid.
Finally, let’s take a look at a pair of examples that are a little more complex and combine several of the approaches we’ve discussed so far. In Fig. 8, we’ll stick with the C major scale, first ascending with an arpeggio and then descending through the scale. In the first measure play a Cmaj7 (C–E–G–B) arpeggio and then descend to the next scale degree (D). Repeat the arpeggio up/scale down process until you’ve worked through all the diatonic chords.
To go a little deeper—harmonically speaking—in our final example (Fig. 9), we’ll add some outside sounds to our line. We start with a C major triad (which in this context implies an A7#9 sound) and land on the root note before descending to the next chord tone.
Order of operation is something that should fascinate any aspiring musician. Taking a scale and running it through a process that completely changes its sound is challenging, yet rewarding. Sequencing can stimulate us creatively and help us raise the bar on our technical abilities.