Arpeggios are an amazing musical technique which you will come across all the time in lots of different styles.
The music theory term arpeggio (or broken chord) simply describes when the notes of a chord are played one after the other rather than at the same time. This is as opposed to a block chord where the notes are all played at the same time.
Have a look/listen to this example showing a block chord followed by an arpeggio:
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Why are Arpeggios so amazing?
Arpeggios are an amazing musical technique because they:
- sound great (have a listen to the Bach and Coldplay examples below)
- add rhythm to an accompaniment
- allow instruments that can only play one note at a time (monophonic instruments. e.g. trombone) to play a chord
- develop technique in a performer – every teacher tells their students to “practice your scales and arpeggios”!
Some Amazing Examples of Arpeggios
Here are 3 great musical examples of pieces which contain arpeggios:
Bach Prelude in C major
Jean Michel Jarre “Oxygene”
This is a great example of an automated arpeggio generator called an arpeggiator which is used a lot in dance music.
Using arpeggios in your compositions
It’s really easy to use arpeggios in your compositions and you will find that they take them onto a whole new musical level. As soon as you have a chord progression worked out try paying the chords as broken chords instead of block chords. Have a look at this example below:
Here is my chord progression:
Am G F E
Now listen to the difference between when I play them as block chords and then as arpeggios/broken chords:
Can you hear how it takes the piece onto a new level straight away?
Hope this helps!
Good luck trying them out!