• Left Hand Piano Accompaniment Styles: The Alberti Bass

    in Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Playing By Ear

    Post image for Left Hand Piano Accompaniment Styles: The Alberti Bass

    One of the left hand accompaniment style that is commonly used among classical musicians is the alberti bass.

    The basic role of a pianist especially in a band situation, is to provide accompaniment to melodies produced either by the voice or an instrument. However, there are situations where the pianist has to play both the melody and accompaniment.

    In such situations, the pianist plays the melody on the right hand, and provides an accompaniment to it using his left hand. A vast majority of pianists know how to  create accompaniment using both hands. However, in situations where the right hand is dedicated to melodies, the left hand should be able to cope with the accompaniment.

    Although there are a variety of left hand accompaniment styles, we’re focusing on the alberti bass in this lesson. If you invest the next 20 minutes or so in this lesson, you’ll get a proper introduction on the alberti bass.

    An Introduction On The Alberti Bass

    The alberti bass is one of the left hand piano accompaniments that every serious pianist should learn. It was used extensively about 300 years ago and was named after Domenico Alberti – one of the the musicians who used it extensively.

    In the alberti bass accompaniment, the notes of a chord are arpeggiated (played one after the other) in this manner:

    Lowest

    Highest

    Middle

    Highest

    …and this creates an interesting rhythmic pattern that can be used to accompany melodies on the piano.

    The C major triad:

    …can be used to play an alberti bass thus:

    A Short Note On Accompaniment

    The term accompaniment is used to describe a melodic or harmonic element that is used to support a musical part. For example, when a melody is given, like the melody of “When The Saints Go Marching In” given below:

    An accompaniment is basically another element (whether vocal, instrumental, or both) that is added to support the melody. The accompaniment of melodies in any key (whether major or minor) is usually done using the primary triads of that key.

    Primary triads of the major key are triads of the first, fourth, and fifth degrees. For example, in the key of C major:

    …where the first, fourth, and fifth degrees of the scale are C, F, and G:

    …the primary triads are the C major:

    …F major:

    …and G major:

    …triads. Using the above-mentioned triads, melodies can be accompanied in the key of C major:

    Left hand Accompaniment Using The Alberti Bass

    Primary Chords

    The primary chords in the key of C are:

    The C major triad:

    The F major triad:

    The G major triad:

    …and they can be arpeggiated to produce the alberti bass thus:

    The C major triad:

    The F major triad:

    The G major triad:

    Voice Leading Considerations

    Beyond creating a rhythmic accompaniment, one of the things that should be considered while creating an alberti bass accompaniment is the smoothness in chord progression.

    For example, moving from the C major triad:

    …to the F major triad:

    …doesn’t sound smooth.

    Pursuant to voice-leading principles, the inversion of the primary triads are used. For example, the movement from the first inversion of the C major triad:

    …to the root position of the F major triad:

    …sounds smoother than the movement from the root position of the C major triad:

    …to the root position of the F major triad:

    Therefore, I’ll be showing you how to play the alberti bass from these three positions:

    The root position of the tonic triad

    The first inversion of the tonic triad

    The second inversion of the tonic triad

    From The Root Position Of The Tonic Triad

    Chord 1:

    …in root position.

    Chord 4:

    …in second inversion.

    Chord 5:

    …in first inversion.

    Putting it together:

    From The First Inversion Of The Tonic Triad

    Chord 1:

    …in first inversion.

    Chord 4:

    …in root position.

    Chord 5:

    …in second inversion.

    Putting it together:

    From The Second Inversion Of The Tonic Triad

    Chord 1:

    …in second inversion.

    Chord 4:

    …in first inversion.

    Chord 5:

    …in root position.

    Putting it together:

    Application Of The Alberti Bass

    The alberti bass can be used to accompany songs on the piano, and I’ll be giving you two examples in this lesson:

    When The Saints Go Marching In

    Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior

    When The Saints Go Marching In

    Melody:

    Alberti bass:

    Altogether:

    Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior

    Melody:

    Alberti bass:

    Altogether:

    AlbertiBass21

    Final Words

    The alberti bass is one of my favorite left hand accompaniments. Although is found predominantly in classical music and dates back to the classical period in music, it can be learned and applied by musicians who play by the ear as well.

    We’ll continue our discussion on the alberti bass in another lesson, where we’ll explore some advanced dimensions to the alberti bass.

    See you then!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

    4steps600x400jpg



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 Linda Lane

    I don’t get any sound on any of these examples,?

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: