Bass arpeggiation

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Fundamental structure: fundamental line on top stave, bass arpeggiation below. About this sound Play 
One possible bass elaboration: I–IV–V–I About this sound Play  as elaboration of I–V–I About this sound Play .[1]

In Schenkerian analysis, the bass arpeggiation (German: Bassbrechung) is the bass pattern forming the deep background of tonal musical works. It consists in scale steps (de: Stufen) I-V-I, each of which may span hundreds of measures of music in the foreground.[2]

The bass pattern is an arpeggiation in the sense that its middle note (V) first arises as the fifth of the elaborated chord (I), of which it is the upper-fifth divider.[3] It is only when it meets with the passing note scale degree 2 of the fundamental line that V becomes an independent chord within the first one.[4] See also Schenkerian analysis, The arpeggiation of the bass and the divider at the fifth.

The bass arpeggiation properly speaking consists in the three scale steps I-V-I exclusively, but it may be elaborated at a remote level: see Schenkerian analysis, Elaboration of the bass arpeggiation.


  1. ^ Pankhurst (2008), p.51.
  2. ^ Pankhurst, Tom (2008). SchenkerGUIDE, p.52. ISBN 9780415973977
  3. ^ Schenker, Heinrich (1979). Free Composition, § 1.
  4. ^ Schenker (1979), § 23.