Arpeggiation and Compound Melody


Arpeggiation is the process of outlining a vertical sonority as a melodic figure. This may be in ascending or descending order or may leap back and forth. Arpeggiation of any interval beyond the third will often create a ‘polyphonic line’, i.e. a single line that suggests several voice-leading patterns.

Unless the arpeggiation is very long and virtuosic, make sure your arpeggiation and polyphonic melody expresses an actual voice-leading pattern. This is especially important in cadences – where the leading tone should resolve. However, it is also important in sequences and other progressions.

Niedt, the Musical Guide (1707)

Diminution of a Compound Cadence

Vivaldi Violin Concerto RV 317 – the solo violin offers a polyphonic melody diminution of the accompanying strings

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