I sometimes hear a guitar player described as having an 'arpeggiated' style, such as Peter Buck of R.E.M.

I know that an arpeggio is the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 8th of a scale, but exactly what does it mean to play this style on the guitar?

  • 3
    Note, that an arpeggio is not always the 1st, 3rd and 5th; it's a decomposition of the chord, so e.g. for a Dsus4, it's the 1st, 4th and 5th. Feb 16, 2011 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


An arpeggio is simply a chord played one note at a time. So if you're playing in an arpeggiated style, then instead of strumming the chords, you'll play each note of the chord one at a time. You mention Peter Buck, whose playing on "Everybody Hurts" is a perfect example of arpeggiated playing.

Strumming a D-chord:

$D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 | $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 | $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 | $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 $D.0.$G.2.$B.3.$e.2 ||

Arpeggiating a D-chord:

$D 0 $G 2 $B 3 | $e 2 $B 3 $G 2 | $D 0 $G 2 $B 3 | $e 2 $B 3 $G 2 ||

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