Audio: arpeggio (0:11)

Figure: arpeggio

arpeggio plays two part harmony in the key of A natural minor. The arpeggio figure shows the score:

  • The melody is played by a mbira or kalimba, a type of piano played with the thumb.
  • The bass guitar plays arpeggiated chords.
  • The drums plays a syncopated reggae rhythm.
  • When an E major chord is played the key briefly modulates to A melodic minor.

An arpeggio is a broken chord.

An arpeggio is a chord whose notes are broken up and played sequentially instead of simultaneously.

Arpeggio directly links melody with harmony. Play the notes in a chord in turn to form an arpeggiated melody. Play an arpeggio simultaneously to form a chord.

In each bar of arpeggio the first note of the melody forms the root of a triad. The bass part plays a complete triad in arpeggio, except for the last bar, and alternates between playing the triad upwards in pitch then the next triad downwards in pitch. The sequence upwards is root-third-fifth, the sequence downwards, in root position chords, is fifth-third-root, and, in the inverted Em chord, root-fifth-third.

Some arpeggio patterns are so widely used that they have their own name. Alberti bass is one such, it plays a triad in the sequence root-fifth-third-fifth.

An arpeggio can be fast or slow. A guitarist strumming a chord is in fact playing a very fast arpeggio.