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I am looking at a bluegrass progression in a book on country piano. One way to play this progression is by playing bass notes in the LH and arpeggiated chords in the RH.

Is playing arpeggiated chords common in bluegrass and something that you could do if you were jamming with some bluegrass musicians?

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Oh, absolutely! What is the most stereotypical bluegrass instrument you can think of? The banjo! What is the most stereotypical thing that banjo players do? Arpeggios and broken chords!

So in terms of mimicking that style, arpeggiating chords is definitely one avenue.

However, if a pianist is playing in an ensemble with three other banjos, s/he'd probably want to leave most of those broken chords to the banjos instead of muddying up the texture with arpeggios on the banjo and keyboard.

  • Indeed I'd argue that when jamming with bluegrass musicians, the piano should better start in a back seat, look out for gaps in the arrangement that might be worth filling, and focus on adding something different when appropriate! Rich Dworsky's work with A Prarie Home Companion is a great example: Chris Thile and the other string players are so present that too much keyboards would oftentimes be counterproductive, but when it makes sense he'll always know what to add to give it a different spin. – leftaroundabout Dec 10 '16 at 19:15

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