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I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to sit down at the piano and play something really moody, dramatic or intense. I find arpeggios a fantastic way to create that emotion, and today I am going to show you four arpeggios you can use to make your playing sound instantly more dramatic.

There are two arpeggios for the right hand, and two for the left. You might find some harder than others, so start with one that’s comfortable for you and go from there.

Before we get to the patterns, a big part of playing dramatic music is using dynamics. That means we’re playing the notes at different volumes, getting louder and softer. Not every note will be played at the same volume, and that goes a long way to creating mood.

Pattern # 1

This is a right-hand pattern, starting with a basic arpeggio. We’re in A minor, so the notes are A, C, E, and A.

 

To play this pattern, we’ll play the first two notes: A, C and then jump up to the top A and back down to E. So the notes will be A, C, A, E.

Pattern # 2

We’re jumping down to our left-hand now. Again we start with a normal arpeggio, but this time we are substituting the top note with a 9th. So in A minor, our arpeggio will be A, C, E, B.

 

This sounds great, but what I like to do is drop the C and rock back and forth between the top B and the E.

 

So it will be: A, E, B, E, B, E

Pattern # 3

Back up to the right-hand! This one is a little bit more difficult, but it sounds really spooky. This is because we are adding a note outside the minor scale to create a really dramatic effect. The note we are adding is an augmented 5th. That note then resolves back down to the 5th.

 

Here is how it looks in A minor: A, C, E, A, F, E

 

So we are doing a normal arpeggio up to A, then coming back down to the F (the augmented 5th) before resolving to the perfect 5th E.

Pattern # 4

Our final pattern is a left-hand pattern, and I think this one is the saddest of all the patterns. It does move around quite a lot, so it may take some practice to feel comfortable!

 

We start (again) with our A. Then we play the 5th E and the top A. Here is where it gets tricky.

 

After the top A, we fly over with our 3rd finger to play the B, then the C with our 2nd finger and up to the E with our thumb.

 

We then come back down to the C and B and stop there. We do NOT play the top A again, instead, we head back down and start again.

 

So together the notes are A, E, A, B, C, E, C, B.

 

The trickiest thing about this pattern I think is getting back from that B on top to our starting position. It involves a quick hand movement, but with practice, you can do it!

Practice, Practice, Practice

So there you go! Now you aren’t going to use ALL of these arpeggios together, so pick and choose which ones are appropriate for the type of song you’re playing. What I like to do is just pick one pattern, and play it over and over and just see what inspiration comes to mind, and then try to practice my improv over the top.

Have fun!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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