Arpeggio in baroque piano literature ENG | AP School Of Arts Skip to main content
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Arpeggio in baroque piano literature

‘Arpeggio’, the breaking of chords, is known today as a generally accepted and applied technique on harpsichord. However, the question is to what extend this can be interpreted historically. Until now there is no complete comparative study of resource material about arpeggio, although the performance practice of baroque music is richly represented. Thorough research is therefor more than necessary.

It is possible to make a distinction between ‘singular’ (in which a chord note usually only occurs once) and ‘multiple’ breaking (in a rhythmic pattern with repeated chord notes). The first type is now universally applied, regardless of context, style, land or period; the second type, however more elaborately described in historical sources, is rarely used due to the lack of knowledge.

Arpeggio was rarely noted in a score, except in cases where a composer explicitly asked for it. In many cases a notation was also not relevant, for example when the player was apprenticed to a master. Performers today are hereby confronted with the question to which extend arpeggio can be applied, also where it is not explicitly prescribed.

Promotoren: Ewald Demeyere & Bruno Blondé