Frankenzilla Arpeggios

It's easy to get trapped by patterns and boxes. The Frankenzilla Arpeggio concept, otherwise known as the Super Arpeggio is a great way to break out of patterns and boxes. Let's start with a simple arpeggio. Basically we have a Major 7th arp. consisting of the root (R), third (3), fifth (5), and major seventh (maj7). The physical structure of the arpeggio is obtained by stacking intervals of major and minor thirds on top of one another. The idea of the Frankenzilla Arpeggio is to take this stacking of thirds to its furthest extent possible.

Here, in the second example, we're stacking major and minor thirds on top of one another from A to A.

The result is a sequence of notes: A C# E G# B D# F# Bb C# F G# C D# G Bb D F A

This is simply the result of stacked major and minor third intervals: M3 m3 M3 m3 M3 m3 M3 m3.....on and on. Another way of looking at this that requires a few extra brain cells is to think in terms of superimposed arpeggios with only R 3rd and 5th. You would see instead of an arbitrary collection of notes: A maj arp, C# minor arp, E maj arp, G# minor arp, B minor arp, D# major arp.....etc. So you could use this concept as a way to approach your solos. Now the Amaj, C# min, E maj, and G# min arpeggios are going to sound "in" or diatonic because they are related to the parent or root A maj chord. As you move into the realm of the other arpeggios starting with the B maj on down to the F minor you will be increasingly "out" of the diatonic scale of A maj. But that is just more color. The cool thing about this concept is that it allows you to go "out there" and provides a systematic and logical way to get "back" to the diatonic scale. So the long and the short of this is that against the Amaj chord you could play a whole series of arpeggios each starting on different roots: the C#min, Emaj, G#min...B D# F# Bb.....etc. There is another way of "looking" at this. Literally. Let's see what this all looks like as a visual construct.

Ah, a wise guy, eh? Well, just try to connect the dots in their logical order. And then examine this methodically as a series of shapes or geometric lines.

You can also think of this in terms of chromaticism or passing tones and approach notes. Here we find approach notes one half step below the chord tones.

In this next diagram we see approach notes a whole step above the chord tones. Also try connecting notes with a passing tone say from D to E with the inclusion of Eb.

The point of all this is, of course, not to replace one set of patterns and boxes with another set. Rather, it is designed to make you think of the neck as something more open and fluid as opposed to something static. Think of the approach notes and passing tones as available colors to be exploited rather than avoided. You might even begin to think in terms of geometric shapes that look beautiful. After 20 years of playing I can often look at a fingering or a lead shape in my mind and tell if it is going to suit the moment -- it just 'looks' right. Have fun and smile when you play.