7th Chord Arpeggio Permutations, Contours, & Chord Cycles

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Below are 24 possible orderings of a 7th chord arpeggio.

I have organized the combinations across a six-day practice cycle for digestibility:

Though notated as C Major 7 arpeggios, these permutations can represent other harmonies. I highly recommend playing the permutations through harmonized scale “cycle” progressions, “tweaking” the intervals to suit the chord qualities involved in a given progression:

Various contours are possible, depending on the octave chosen for each of the tones. Here are four different contours for the same combination (1357):

Here are the same four contours, transposed up an octave:

Now through the harmonized Melodic Minor scale, Cycle 2:

The same four contours, transposed up an octave:

Now through the harmonized Harmonic Minor scale, Cycle 2:

The same four contours, transposed up an octave:

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

Try practicing a few permutations per day through either Major, Melodic Minor, or Harmonic Minor harmonized scales.

Remember to explore the various “Cycle” progressions, listed above.

It’s not reasonable to practice every pattern, but you’ll discover some exciting things if you occasionally dip into this well of possibility.

Contrapuntal Combinations

Here are some really nerdy PDF’s for composers.

These files list all of the possible arrangements of 2 or 3 voiced counterpoint, including the retrogrades (r), inversions(i) and retrograde inversions(ri) of the lines.

When you want to generate some unexpected material, or just marvel at the infinitude of music, give these a try.

Rhythmic Permutations & Systematic Silences

Composers rarely approach silences as systematically as sounds.

In an attempt to remedy this in my own compositions, I’ve created the following PDF’s.

These PDF’s list all of the possible arrangements using eighth notes and eighth rests in 3/4 (6/8) and 4/4 (or 8/8).

Try stringing a few of these rhythms together to create unique (and longer) rhythmic phrases, or put them in different voices to develop rhythmic counterpoint.