Adele - and arpeggios on the piano

by Bill on March 14, 2011

An arpeggio is a pattern of notes that you make by playing the constituent notes of a chord individually, in some kind of order. Arpeggios have been an essential part of piano playing for a couple of hundred years - in fact, ever since the sustain pedal was invented, which allowed them to be played smoothly. This video tutorial looks at the basics of arpeggios and broken chords and how you can use them in your piano playing, songwriting and improvisation.

In this video tutorial I use the song Someone Like You by Adele as an example of this. The piano accompaniment to the song uses very simple arpeggios based on broken triads.

If you’ve ever had piano lessons you’ll probably be very familiar with arpeggios, because they’re a key part of piano education, especially as you get into higher grades and start playing a lot of nineteenth century piano music, where they feature very heavily. In particular, you’ll probably have been taught how to pedal broken chords properly, which is important, as it’s very easy to overpedal and end up with a mushy sound.

One of the big advantages of learning arpeggiation skills is that it helps you develop comps for certain types of song very quickly, and, if you’re a songwriting, you can also use them to work up provisional piano parts fast.

In fact, if you get the combination of fingering and pedalling right, and arpeggios are an incredibly powerful all-round tool, as the accompaniment to Someone Like You shows. You can put a great deal of expression into them very easily, and use them to create rhythm, movement and harmony all at once. On a real piano, or a high end digital piano, you can get very rich, powerful, rolling sounds. You just need to exercise a certain amount of precision and care on the keyboard, and you also need to know your piano chords very, very well - as usual, it all comes down to practice!

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