Definition of arpeggio in US English:



  • The notes of a chord played in succession, either ascending or descending.

    • ‘The virtuoso tour de force begins with a flourish, the piano arpeggios answered by bold chords in the woodwind trio.’
    • ‘Octaves, large chords and arpeggios are all formations that seemingly call for large hand stretches.’
    • ‘In a beautiful and affecting way, Shostakovich evokes the sounds of the Moonlight Sonata, the triplet arpeggios and the dotted rhythm of the main theme, without really quoting it.’
    • ‘As the first song played, I pressed different buttons on the joystick and keyboard and heard notes, chords, cadenzas, arpeggios, and even special effects typical of the piano.’
    • ‘As a result, pianists are required to negotiate unusual combinations of note groupings and clusters that go beyond the fingerings used in traditional scales, arpeggios and chords.’


Italian, from arpeggiare ‘play the harp’, from arpa ‘harp’.