What are Arpeggios? – Definition & Meaning [4 TYPES]

Introduction

Arpeggios are a fundamental part of music theory and are often used in instrumental technique as well. If you want to learn how to build arpeggios or perform music, you are in the right place. Here we go!

Table of Contents

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What is "Arpeggios"? - Meaning and Definition

A musical arpeggio is nothing more than a chord, with the notes played successively instead of simultaneously.  “Arpeggio” is an Italian term that comes from arpeggiare, which means “playing the harp”, and this name is due to the fact that it is a very common technique in this instrument. 

Arpeggios and Chords. Is it the same?

In Dublin Music School Damvibes and in Berlin Music School Damvibes we are always very clear about this; Technically an arpeggio is a way of playing or writing chords, so the truth is that an arpeggio is no more than a chord played successively instead of simultaneously. 

4 Types (examples) of Arpeggios (in terms of chords)

As expected, we have as many arpeggios as chords, but just for you to have an idea about what we are talking about, we are going to explain 4 types, but first, if you are not familiarize with Intervals in Music, I recommend you read it before you continue

Major arpeggios

Here in the first measure we see the major chord of C, and in the second the arpeggio that comes from this chord. We see that between the fundamental note (C) and the third (E) there is an interval of Major Third,  and that between the fundamental (C) and the fifth (G) there is an interval of Perfect Fifth. 

Major arpeggio

Minor Arpeggios

Here in the first bar we see the minor chord of C, and in the second the arpeggio that comes from this chord. We see that between the fundamental note (C) and the third (E flat) there is an interval of Minor Third, and that between the fundamental (C) and the fifth (G) there is an interval of Perfect Fifth.

minor arpeggio

Augmented Arpeggios

Here in the first measure we see the augmented chord of C, and in the second the arpeggio that comes from this chord. We see that between the fundamental note (C) and the third (E) there is an interval of Major Third, and that between the fundamental (C) and the fifth (G sharp) there is an interval of Augmented Fifth.

Diminished Arpeggios

Here in the first measure we see the C triad diminished chord, and in the second measure the arpeggio that comes from this chord. We see that between the fundamental note (C) and the third (E flat) there is an interval of Minor Third, and that between the fundamental (C) and the fifth (G flat) there is an interval of Diminished 5th

diminished arpeggio

Arpeggios and Scales

Like scales, “arpeggios” are just patterns of notes that follow one another in succession, and there are different kinds of them to learn. What we recommend is that you first learn harmony, this is to say, chords, so you can afterwards practice arpeggios.

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