Arpeggios - Minor Ninths
This month we will continue our exploration of expanded arpeggios by taking a look at the Minor Ninth Arpeggio, and variations that can be used to play it, as a continuation of last month’s look at the Major Ninth arpeggio.
The example, we will use is the the Fm9 chord. We will start by first, building the arpeggio with the appropriate notes from the F Major scale. This arpeggio consists of the root, flatted third, fifth, flatted seventh, and ninth of the scale. If you compare this to the Major Ninth arpeggio, you will see that it is the flatted third and flatted seventh that is the difference between these two chords. Building the arpeggio then, gives us F, Ab, C, Eb and G. Use this as the starting point for your practice before moving on to the examples below.
Now, like we did last month, let’s try starting our arpeggio on notes other than the root. First, try starting on the third of the chord. Your note sequence would be Ab, C, Eb, and G. If you remember what we did in the past, you will recognize this as an Abmaj7 chord. We have continued to repeat that, you want to take something you already know, and apply it in new places. In this case, you can see that anytime you want to play a Minor Ninth arpeggio, you need only play a Major Seventh arpeggio built on the third, which contains all the notes of the arpeggio, except the root. Notice how it is a Major Seventh built on the third for a Minor Ninth and a Minor Seventh built on the third for the Major Ninth.
Next do this same thing starting on the fifth of the chord. In this case, you will have the notes C, Eb and G, which is a Cm Triad. The rule here is to use a Minor Triad, built on the fifth to generate your pattern. Compare this to the Major Nine, which results in a C Major triad. It is not necessary, or desirable, to play every note of the arpeggio when improvising. Often you will only want the upper extensions, and using already familiar patterns makes this task much easier, and greatly reduces the learning curve, since these are patterns that, by now, you are comfortable with, and can execute smoothly.
As always, practice these in all twelve keys, using all three of the patterns shown above. You want to be equally comfortable in all twelve of the keys, not just the ones that are comfortable on your particular instrument. Too many players fall into this trap. You never know what key you may end up playing in, especially if you work with a vocalist. Often you may have to make "on the spot" transpositions right on the gig, so you don’t want lack of familiarity with a key to become a problem for you. Plus, the added mastery of your instrument will make you that much more comfortable and skillful in the keys that you are familiar with, so the time spent doing this will be well worth it.