Hi I am wondering what the correct term is for play a sequence of notes where you leave all the notes ringing together. I'm not talking about rolled chords, I'm talking about having a larger amount of time between the attacked notes than that.

  • What instrument do you play?
    – user1044
    Jun 28, 2015 at 5:30

5 Answers 5


You can use English: let vibrate Or Italian: l.v. lasciar vibrare

  • 1
    For guitar music i see "Let ring" a lot. Jun 27, 2015 at 19:06
  • Can also be notated with short ties to empty, open space, with a specific duration of time (e.g. 4 seconds), and / or if the instrument has a pedal (piano, vibraphone, tubular chimes) a pedal indication may also be used. Jun 27, 2015 at 19:29

Uhm, arpeggio? "Leave all the notes ringing together" (the effect depending on the sustain of the respective instrument, so one pretty much needs a percussive instrument) is rather the definition of arpeggio. Otherwise you have something else, like a broken chord.

You cannot arpeggiate on a monophonic instrument (like voice or most wind instruments).

  • 1
    "You cannot arpeggiate on a monophonic instrument (like voice or most wind instruments)." You can if you are performing in an average English cathedral. The reverberation time in St Paul's in London is about 9 seconds.
    – user19146
    Jun 27, 2015 at 22:12
  • 2
    From my internet research, broken chords refer to any scenario where a chord is played when the notes are not attacked simultaneously, this encompasses arpeggios and rolled chords among other types of broken chords, but I saw no mention of what I'm looking for. Jun 28, 2015 at 10:34

From the perspective of piano, a measure that has a clear arpeggiation may or may not have an indication to use the pedal, which would pretty much leave every note to ring until it was released. Not pedaling would, in turn, have a more staccato effect. In my experience, it's either called "pedalling," which is fairly straightforward, but which only relates to piano.

The better series of terms to differentiate how notes are sounded (across any instrument) would be 1. staccato, 2. marcato, and 3. legato, for 1. short, 2. "normal," and 3. "flowing into one another," respectively. To my knowledge there is no specific term when an arpeggio or any other named phrase is called to be one of these three, so I'd merely put what you're talking about at "an arpeggio played legato."


An Arpeggio is when the notes of a chord are played (and released) consecutively, (normally low to high): arpeggio

When the played notes in the chord are not released, it called an Arpeggiato:
[see Dolmetsch Music Dictionary : Ar - Ar] arpeggiato

On a brass or woodwind instrument, you can play an arpeggio but you cannot play an arpeggiato. But on a guitar, glockenspiel, or an actual harp, an arpeggiato is much easier to play (as you don't have to dampen the previously played notes). On a piano either is easily playable.

  • In the wiki article you linked, the section just above your linked section, shows an arpeggio embellishment, a wavy line on a chord in half notes, that arpeggio would hold the notes. Releasing the notes is not part of the definition, it's just breaking up the notes of a chord so they aren't played simultaneously. Oct 7, 2020 at 15:50
  • someone else added the link to wikipedia (which I have now removed), that's not my source (now added) Oct 7, 2020 at 16:04
  • My real source in my music teacher, who harped on an on about the subtle difference. Oct 7, 2020 at 16:23
  • OK, but the other source mentions nothing about holding/not holding the notes. Either way, how do you reconcile releasing the notes with an arpeggio on long notes values? Oct 7, 2020 at 16:29
  • Quoting from the Dolmetsch Dictionary: " Arpeggiato : a way of playing a chord - starting with the lowest note, and with successively higher notes rapidly joining in ... " : Oct 7, 2020 at 16:33

I think there is no specific term for a slow arpeggio.

The basic arpeggio - as an embellishment - is to hold the notes...

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...but there isn't really a standard for how fast to play it.

An option is notate the speed you want and use ties...

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...from Kornlein, Morgengruss. The separated chord tones in that example anticipate the beat, but you could notate something similar that starts on the beat.

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