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So say left hand is doing rolled chord and right hand is playing a single note on the same beat. How does the timing work? My guess is the first note in chord in left hand should line up with right hand note, but didn’t see this confirmed anywhere.

That is, if left hand plays rolled chord CEG and right hand plays E, should left hand hit C at the exact same time right hand hit E?

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There are no hard & fast rules, but in practice, the RH usually plays at the same time as the last (highest) note of the rolled chord in LH. Therefore, in your example, I'd play RH E at the same time as LH G.

For instance, in this March, I play the rolled chords like the pianist in the video (like almost all pianists) from 12:20:



If the rolled chord is in RH, then generally, the LH note(s) coincide with the top of the RH's rolled chord, though in this case, there is less consensus (from 1:12:40):



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Play your RH E with the LH G (the last note), as mentioned by Bennevis. The reason for that is to keep the rhythm uninterrupted. There may be instances when you play the beat with the 1st note of the rolled chord, rather than the last note, but those instances are not very common. Depending on your piece and number of notes in rolled chord, and whether the chord is in a musically strategic spot - like the opening or final chord - you may want to linger a bit on the first note, roll the middle notes faster, and slow down for the final note.



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Thank you both for your answers! This is very enlightening!!

Also I just tried it out... it seems coinciding with the last note in chord sounds better also because, if right hand note is played with the first note in chord, it adds to the sound and sort of drowns out the rest of the chord. Maybe that’s part of the consideration too?

Last edited by Yao; 02/28/21 12:07 PM.
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Yep, last note in the broken chord coincides with the right hand note, so at times (if there are more than 1 note played by the right hand) it actually sounds like another chord at the end.

Interestingly, I've never seen the rule in print that you have to play a broken chord from the bottom up. I guess it's just 'understood'.

But I still wonder if anyone has successfully played the left hand broken chord from the top down...


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Originally Posted by trooplewis
Yep, last note in the broken chord coincides with the right hand note, so at times (if there are more than 1 note played by the right hand) it actually sounds like another chord at the end.

Interestingly, I've never seen the rule in print that you have to play a broken chord from the bottom up. I guess it's just 'understood'.

But I still wonder if anyone has successfully played the left hand broken chord from the top down...


Here is a tutorial with the rule of from bottom to top


If they are to be played from the top down to the bottom, there will be a ‘down arrow’ beside a wavy line


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Cool! I've never see the downward arrow in any music I have ever played.


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For me it works similar but a bit more elaborate

* if you want to keep a steady beat, the note that you want to have the accent in the rolled chord has to be on the beat. So if you roll up, and the top note needs the accent, then the top note on the beat and the rest before the beat. But if you roll down or want the lowest note to have the accent then it's different
* If you want the rolled chord to have a bit of slowing-down or relaxing effect, it may be better to start it on the beat instead of ending it on the beat. Eg if the rolled chord is on a fermate/at the end or at a place where you are slowing down.

Combining the above, I sometimes feel it's better to roll down especially if I want the lowest note to get the accent but keep the rythm tight.


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I assume that in the past rolling up and down was used according to taste.

Check eg Händel Suite in B-flat Major. HWV434

Part of the arpeggios are written out and part are written as chords. I understood when I learned this piece that the written block chords could also be arpeggiated to your liking. Eg doing several up and down sweeps where only a full-measure block chord was written.Also depending on the melody you want to bring out, good taste etc.

I assume you can still do that with more modern music,

Last edited by wouter79; 02/28/21 04:24 PM.

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Originally Posted by wouter79
For me it works similar but a bit more elaborate

* if you want to keep a steady beat, the note that you want to have the accent in the rolled chord has to be on the beat. So if you roll up, and the top note needs the accent, then the top note on the beat and the rest before the beat. But if you roll down or want the lowest note to have the accent then it's different
* If you want the rolled chord to have a bit of slowing-down or relaxing effect, it may be better to start it on the beat instead of ending it on the beat. Eg if the rolled chord is on a fermate/at the end or at a place where you are slowing down.

Combining the above, I sometimes feel it's better to roll down especially if I want the lowest note to get the accent but keep the rythm tight.

I assume you are discussing jazz or pop? There is a lot more discretion there


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No I'm talking about classic music.


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I'm not meaning that you can change block chords with arpeggios everywhere.
But that you have some freedom in execution of arpeggio's


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