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Chord Arpeggios

Using Chord Arpeggios for a Melodic Idea

Many composers create melodies using arpeggios. Some famous examples of arpeggio-driven melodies include the cello in Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 (Movement 1), the brass in “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” by John Williams, and sax in “Giant Steps” by John Coltrane. In more recent TV and film music, we see arpeggio melodies using synth instruments – e.g., “Recognizer” from the film Tron Legacy (2010), and the theme music to Stranger Things (2016).

Chord Arpeggios
The image does not include the complete instrumentation of the piece.

We find this method can be an interesting approach for writing basslines. In the above example piece, the contrabass plays a descending E♭7 arpeggio starting on B♭, then slowly descends to D♭ in the last measure while playing all the chord tones of E♭7 in a reversed order.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with our partner site Behind the Score. Discover the Harmony Secrets of Modern Film and Video Games.

View complete editions of music scores (PDF), score analysis (PDF), and HD music examples used in this lesson.

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