bass pattern image

I'm looking for examples of this repeating pattern as a bass. Not these specific notes, but what is it called when you have five notes played quickly and many times?

  • Might depend on the accent pattern too. If you stress the A and E here, then the remainder are semi-ornamental against the main I - V- I -V pattern. – Carl Witthoft Dec 21 '20 at 16:10

The general term for a repeating bass figure is ostinato. It is rare to see a bass line moving in steady sixteenth notes, but it is very common to see bass lines moving at steady pulses in other notes values: wholes notes, half notes, quarter notes, and eighth notes. You mention that the notes are played quickly, so I'll focus on the last two notes values.

A steady bass line made up of quarter notes is often called a walking bass line. This is common is jazz, but it does not usually feature repeating phrases of five notes. Instead, walking bass lines in jazz tend to be less predicable.

A steady eighth note bass line is a characteristic of boogie woogie. One of the most characteristic boogie woogie bass lines closely matches the contour of your example.

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    Aren't those sixteenth notes? – Tim Dec 21 '20 at 8:42
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    Walking basslines are far more often made up from 4 quarter notes (crotchets) in each bar - of 4/4. Quavers are rare. – Tim Dec 21 '20 at 11:26
  • @Tim I've corrected the typo – Peter Dec 21 '20 at 13:26

As a bass-line, this specific pattern doesn't have a special name. However, there are some terms that apply.

  • pentachord or pentascale: a five-note scale

a pentachord may be any consecutive five-note section of a diatonic scale. (Wikipedia)

  • ostinato: a repeating motif

In music, an ostinato [ostiˈnaːto] (derived from Italian: stubborn, compare English, from Latin: 'obstinate') is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice, frequently in the same pitch. (Wikipedia)

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    I think a pentascale usually (-ish) implies a more equallly-spaced set of 5 pitches spanning an octave. For this to be a pentascale, the last interval would be a Major 4th! – Carl Witthoft Dec 21 '20 at 16:09
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    @CarlWitthoft Pentascale is a five-note scale, usually major or minor (e.g., ultimatemusictheory.com/pentascale-or-pentatonic-scale); a pentatonic scale spans an octave – Aaron Dec 21 '20 at 17:21

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