Sweep Picking 7/9 Arpeggios

by Eugen Leonhardt

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  • Hi guys!

    This lesson is all about the sweep picking of Major and Minor 7/9-Arpeggios.

    The example in this video is taken from my song "Religious War" which I published recently on youtube: link

    Once you take a look at it more closely you’re going to realize this passage is taking you over three different keys wich are:

    D-lydian / D-dorian / D-aeolian

    So, in the following lines I want to give you a deeper view to all the details around this lick.

    The rhythm:

    The idea here is to combine some jazz-common "Shell Voicings" (root-third-seventh) with some pop-rock-common power chords.

    It all starts up with the Dmaj7 so we are in the D-lydian mode from my point of view.
    After that we play the same chord one third apart which is a Fmaj7 so it takes us to a minor-mode which is a D-dorian mode. Notice that there is always a D played in the bassline. So we're basically just changing the colour of our D from Major7/9 to Minor7/9. After that we're repeating the same idea about changing from Major to Minor with power chords on the third which is a F#5 and a F5 still with the D as a root in the bass.

    1st: Dmaj7 - D + F# + C#
    2nd: Fmaj7: F + A + E —> Fmaj7 with a D in the root is nothing else than a Dmin7/9
    3rd: F#5: F# + C# + F# —> F#5 with a D in the root is nothing else than Dmaj7
    4rth: F5: F + C + F —> F5 with a D in the root is nothing else than Dmin7/9

    So as you can see it’s all turning around the D but changing from major to minor 7/9 which is the main idea behind this riff.

    The Sweep Picking Passage

    Now we take the same idea of changing keys and take it all the way through some 6-string arpeggios.

    In my opinion it’s very important to talk about the technical side once you start sweeping.

    For sure there are many different tutorials about sweep picking, you might have seen before.
    In my case I figured out that there are two big challenges as clarity, stretching and also sliding from one shape to the other.

    As you might noticed these voicings are based on fifths, so you might consider them also from this angle as ongoing diatonic 5ths all the way through the attendant harmony. That’s what it makes technical so difficult, beside the clarity and timing, you also need to practice stretching! It is very important that you first start with some stretching and warm-up exercises before playing the entire lick. I can not say often enough how important is this point, because it is really easy to receive a tendonitis!

    Once you made it through the shapes, as they are:

    Dmaj7/9 —> F#min7/9 —> F#min9/G#min7 upper structure (stacking two chords above each other)
    Fmaj7/9 —> Amin7/9 —> Gmin7/9

    Please start with a very slow speed and take your time for getting faster.
    Just for instance take (depending on your level and experience) maybe one or two weeks for practicing just on 60 or 70 bpm. Once you succeed with that, you might increase the bmp by 5 or 10 and go on for one or two more weeks and so on and on.

    Just few more words about the right hand technique.

    In my opinion it’s only possible to approach some good sounding sweeps by picking the strings very very softly by holding your pick very loose. I believe the tone becomes more round if you use the side of the pick. Try to use more the front side of the pick for all the downstrokes-motion and the backside for all the upstrokes-motion. Please be aware of doing just one motion through all the strings and not one on each string separately. Once you notice your hands and fingers are not relaxed, please stop for a second and give it a new start, as I believe it is one of the most important competencies for playing aN instrument especially at this level of technical development.

    Gear: Ibanez RG550/ENGL Ironball 606/Grossman IsolationCab/Mic Shure SM57

    Tuning: Standard E-A-D-G-B-E

    Tempo: 157 bpm

    Time signature: 4/4
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