A broken chord is a chord broken into a sequence of notes. A broken chord may repeat some of the notes from the chord and span one or more octaves. An arpeggio (Italian: [arˈpeddʒo]) is a type of broken chord, in which the notes that compose a chord are played or sung in a rising or descending order. An arpeggio may also span more than one octave. The word arpeggio comes from the Italian word arpeggiare, which means to play on a harp. Even though the notes of an arpeggio are not played or sung all together at the same time, listeners hear the sequence of notes as forming a chord. When an arpeggio also contains passing tones that are not part of the chord, different music theorists may analyze the same musical excerpt differently. Arpeggios enable composers writing for monophonic instruments that play one note at a time (e.g., flute, saxophone, trumpet), to voice chords and chord progressions in musical pieces. Arpeggios and broken chords are also used to help create rhythmic interest. A notable example of which is the Alberti bass figuration which was widely used in piano music from the Classical music period.
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