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christian howes

Internalizing Harmony on the Violin

December 22, 2012 at 10:34 PM

Happy Holidays!

Many classical players have asked me to suggest easier ways for them to internalize harmony on the violin. After years of prescribing that players work "from their head" to memorize chords and their inversions, I finally decided to create a resource that would allow classical players to easily read over many common 7th chords in all inversions, helping them to digest the information and get it into their fingers quickly.

arpeggios for jazz violin, learn to improvise, jazz cello, jazz viola

To internalize harmony on your instrument, you must be comfortable with commonly used chords, and ultimately be able to recognize all the voice-led relationships between common progressions. Bowed string instruments can articulate some chords with double, triple, and quadruple stops, but I recommend that you first learn to articulate the chords as arpeggios, memorizing common voice-led relationships.

Most classically trained string players are only capable of quickly recalling the root position arpeggio. When improvising over a chord progression, one must be able to instantly recall chords from the root, 3rd, 5th or 7th, depending on the most musical option available. The lack of ability to recall chords from any inversion is one of the biggest handicaps for classically trained players.

To overcome this handicap, I prescribe studying chords/arpeggios, their inversions, and accompanying scales in extended range. This workbook covers commonly used 7th chord arpeggios in three forms:

1) Root position
2) Extended range
3) All inversions in extended range

Here is a video which demonstrates the process of finding the arpeggios in all three forms.

For the next five days, you can download a free copy of my new workbook, "Arpeggios for Jazz Violin, Cello, and Viola" (
I recommend you BOTH read from the page and work without the notation.

Remember, it's all about fundamentals...:)

Happy Practicing!

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