Alberti Bass Piano Accompaniment
The piano (or keyboard) is such a versatile instrument, capable of being played in so many different ways and styles. It's used to accompany other musicians in the absence of a band or orchestra, and yet even as an accompanying tool it holds so many possibilities.
Unlike most other instruments, the piano allows you to play with two hands, one hand playing a melody and the other providing accompaniment. This is oversimplifying the process a little, but it nevertheless is true in much of the music we listen to.
What is Alberti Bass?
In simple terms, Alberti bass is a way of playing broken chords following a certain pattern. It's based on the basic 3-note chord or triad and the notes are played alternately, starting with the root of the chord like so: 1st, 5th, 3rd, 5th.
That's all there is to it. Like so much of music, once you know the pattern, the rest is easy. Here's an example of the C chord written as a solid chord, followed by the Alberti bass version of the same chord. It's written out for the right and left hands so you can have a go at each one, but normally you'd play it with the left hand, leaving your right hand free to focus on the melody.
A Little Mozart
Here's the opening of one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's piano sonatas. You can clearly see how the left hand follows the Alberti bass pattern.
Try playing this extract yourself before moving on to the next step.
Clementi's Alberti Bass
Many Classical and Romantic composers used the Alberti bass to provide an accompaniment for a right-hand melody. Here's one in a sonatina written by Muzio Clementi.
Notice that this time the piece is in 2/4 time and in the key of G major. That means the chord you'll be playing to start with will be the G chord, G, B, D. And the first four notes should therefore be G, D, B, D, or the 1st, 5th, 3rd and 5th notes of the G chord.
Just as composers have used the Alberti bass to create pieces, so too you can do the same. For example, below you'll see J.S. Bach's "Minuet in G" rewritten with an Alberti bass.
You'll notice that this time the Minuet is in 4/4 time instead of the original 3/4. That's nothing new, though, because it was done when Bach's famous tune was turned into a pop song in 1965 by the group "The Toys."
If you're accustomed to playing the Minuet in the original version, you might find it difficult to get used to the new time signature. Have a go, anyway. It's a lot of fun and won't do you any harm.
Did you manage it? I hope you did.
Alberti bass is another way of providing an interesting accompaniment to liven up any tune. You can use it to make up your own piano pieces, or simply try changing one that you already know. It's amazing what a change it makes to even the simplest song, like "Jingle Bells" for example.
Try using the Alberti bass pattern in a song you know well. And be sure to check out some of my other piano related hubs, too.