Music Theory
Arranging
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Acoustic Composition
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Common Accompaniment Patterns

Many accompaniment patterns are derived from chord progressions. Let’s look at a few different patterns over a common chord progression.

  • Basic Chords – This pattern is simply playing the chord when the harmony changes.
  • Bass note + Chords – This pattern involves playing a single low note, followed by the full chord.
  • Alberti Bass – This pattern is named after composer Domenico Alberti because he used it extensively, even though he did not create it. The chords are played one note at a time, usually following the contour pattern: Low, High, Middle, High (or 1-3-2-3).
  • Rhythmic Chords – This pattern involves chords that are played with a repetitive rhythmic figure.
  • Arpeggios – This pattern, like Alberti bass, uses the individual notes of the chords, however, it does not need to follow to any specific contour.

Note, that in each of these patterns the chords can occur in any inversion and can involve simple or complex harmonies. It’s also worth mentioning that good composers often vary the accompaniment pattern throughout a piece of music. Change, in moderation, is often a good thing in music.