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Tip: Approach Tones

Here’s a pattern that introduces us to approach tones. Approach tones are those notes used for melodic embellishment that happen before the note you actually want to play. For example, if you’re going to play a C, E, G (C major arpeggio) you could dress it up by instead playing B, C, Eb, E, Gb, G. This is just one example of approach tones. There are many different ways of using this type of melodic embellishment.

Let’s work with the F major arpeggio:


This pattern can go equally well over a Dm7 chord. Try to play this by first stressing the first note in each 2-note group. Then, play again but stress the 2nd note.

If you like working with this exercise, you’ll probably want to create other patterns based on the common open position chords as follows: a major arpeggio pattern with root on string 5, under finger 2. Then, major arps whose roots fall here:

string 6, finger 4
string 6, finger 2
string 4, finger 1.

We’ll learn a dominant 7 pattern for approach tones next time.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © 2008 Darrin Koltow

This first appeared in the Guitar Noise News – March 15, 2006 newsletter. Reprinted with permission.

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