I noticed that I made my favourite own tracks with this technic:

  • take an ostinato build from a 4 bar phrase, repeat it over and over after a little repetition
  • take a pure chord progression (Chord ostinato?) with the same length and add this layer to the first one ... repeat the first, the second or both steps with a little repetition between adding the layers
  • take a melody with a "strong" dynamic effect which is purely hearable but doesn't shadow the layers out fully

With each repetition there is a little variation in the melody, then there is a "climax" section, where some layers are taken out, maybe new ones come in, here there can be a melody + only one layer or "only melody" cases, these cases can folow each other or this section can be short too.

  • Possibly jump back into the music. From a sheet music point of view I mean using coda. Than jump to an "ending" section, which is really short but add some resolving, calming effect to the composition. -

  • If the music is in a video game, then start over and leave the resolving part out.

I know that there are video game tracks with a similar pattern but I was curious if maybe there are a specific name for this genre? I like this "layering", "evolving" effect but I don't find any term for this.

1 Answer 1


I think the term you are looking for is "ground bass." Where the bass keeps repeating - and the basic harmony doesn't change - but the melody over it changes. I think it's pretty typical with ground bass that the melodic variations go from simple and slow rhythmic values to more complex and shorter rhythmic values.

Keep in mind "ground bass" connotes Renaissance and Baroque music. Think Pachelbel's Canon. I suppose you can use the term in other styles, but there is this strong association.

  • 1
    It is unfortunate "ground bass" connotes Renaissance and Baroque music since so many different varieties of music especially from around the world use ostinato-like patterns. From a western music standpoint, you might also want to look up passacaglia and chaconne. Though these are old techniques, many have updated them with a modern approach.
    – Heather S.
    Dec 14, 2018 at 14:43

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