The most important cadence in all music and exploited extensively in jazz-is the V7 to I chord progression. In the key of C the cadence is G7 (V7) to C (I) in the key of E the cadence is B7 (V7) to E (I) and, as with all music theory, the relationship is the same in all keys. This theory lesson will explore some important and popular arpeggio substitution possibilities for the V7 to I cadence.
Arpeggios can be substituted in the same way chords can. The basic definition of a Arpeggio is playing a chord one note at a time. So yes arpeggios function musically as a chord. For example: It is common in jazz (and less frequently in other styles especially rock) to substitute one chord for another.
For example Am7 chord is often substituted for C chord and C is often substituted for Am7. This concept can be applied to arpeggios also. If you were improvising over a C chord you could play an Am7 arpeggio or if you were improvising over Am7 chord you could play C arpeggio. Substitution can add interest and surprise to any solo.
Am7 (A-C-E-G) shares some of the same notes as C (C-E-G), but you can see Am7 adds an A note to the mixture. Adding an A note (6th interval) the C chord changes the harmony and the actual sound is (when mixed) is C6. C6 is a very common embellishment and substitute for a "Vanilla" C. When you experiment with arpeggio substitution it is important and fun to determine how you have changed the chord.
Diatonic Arpeggio Substitution For the 1 (major) Chord
Substitutions can be Diatonic Diatonic means of the key which means your substitution arpeggios are harmonized from the same scale (or key). According to the rules of tension and resolution described herein these arpeggios can be substituted safely (with the least amount of tension).
In any chord progression the chords function as tension or resolution. This adds interest to the melody. With many jazz standards the tension and resolution may occur many times. As described earlier the most common tension to resolution cadence is V7 to 1. The resolution chord in this V7 to 1 progression example is major (or an embellished major). But no matter how the I chord is embellished (i.e. C, C6, C/6/9, Cmaj7, Cmaj9) you can freely substitute any of the arpeggios listed below. So keep in mind: the arpeggios here are diatonic and safe and can be used when the written chord is Major.
Remember: Improvisation is making decisions on the fly. And ultimately, if you decide the substitution sounds good, then it is good! Here is a list of diatonic arpeggio possibilities for any major chord. This example is in C but the principles and relationships can and should be transposed to all keys.
Diatonic Arpeggio Substitution
For the V7 (dominant seventh) Chord
The V7 chord in the V7 to I progression is a dominant seventh chord (i.e. G7). The V7 chord is a tension (unresolved) chord and needs to resolve to a chord a fourth interval away (the most resolved chord is a major but it can be minor or dominant seventh, i.e. G7 resolves to C, A7 resolves to D, Bb7 resolves to Eb etc.) And since an arpeggio functions the same as a chord, you should practice playing a dominant seventh arpeggio (or substitution) resolving to a major arpeggio (or substitution).
Here is a short list of diatonic arpeggio possibilities for a dominant seventh chord. All these arpeggios are diatonic and "safe" and can be used when the written chord is dominant seventh.
Chromatic Arpeggio Substitution
For the V7 (dominant seventh) Chord
Substitutions can be Chromatic which means outside the key. Chromatic alterations are a mainstay in Jazz-many would say chromaticism is the basic language of Jazz. Chromaticism can occur with any chord but the unresolved or transitional V7 (i.e. G7) is the most likely (and best) chord for chromatic alterations-and this lesson deals with the V7 (i.e. G7).
Some monster jazz guitarist such as Wes Montgomery,Joe Pass, along with many others, simplified their approach to chromaticism by realizing you can only alter the 5th and 9th of a dominant seventh chord (in any combination and order):
You can sharp or flat the 5th and 9th interval (i.e. b5, #5, b9, #9).
These substitutions create tension and dissonance but are very common in Jazz. As the great Pat Martino said about dissonance (I'll paraphrase) "The more dissonance you hear, the more you appreciate and enjoy it."
With this tension you will have to be a little more judicious in your use of these arpeggios. And since they are tension arpeggios they beg for resolution to the I chord (or a note inside the original chord)-and it is important to practice resolving these arpeggio's to any of the 1 chord substitution arpeggios (see above).
The best opportunity for adding tension in the V7 to I progression occurs with the (transitional) V7 chord (i.e. G7). Here is a list of chromatic arpeggio possibilities for the dominant seventh chord. This example uses G7 but the principles and relationships can and should be transposed to all keys. All these arpeggios are chromatic and can be used (judiciously) when the written chord is Dominant Seventh.