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DominicX's avatar

What do you think of this particular musical pattern (read more)?

Asked by DominicX (28762points) February 10th, 2010

There is a particular motif in music (usually serves as the background) that I absolutely love. In my opinion, it is the happiest possible sound in music. I call it the “bergamasca”, but it may have a real name. I call it “bergamasca” after an old Italian dance form that followed this pattern.

The pattern is, in the example of C major, C-F-G-C. or C major chord, F major chord, G major chord. Play those three notes on a piano and you’ll see. In my opinion, it doesn’t get any happier-sounding than that. Does anyone know the actual name for this, if it has one?

Here’s examples of actual bergamascas to illustrate what I’m talking about:
Bergamasca – Uccellini
Bergamasca – Anonymous
Bergamasca – Respighi

The “bergamasca” motif is found in many popular songs such:

Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Knock You Down – Keri Hilson
Smily – Ai Otsuka
Buddy Holly – Weezer (in the chorus)
Make Your Own Kind of Music – Mama Cass

Know any songs that have this “bergamasca” pattern for a lot of the song? Has anyone else even noticed this pattern? My brother plays it on the guitar sometimes. I just love it and I incorporated it into a lot of my music.

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12 Answers

TooBlue's avatar

I think nothing because I have no idea what I just read.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

It is a nice, upbeat chord pattern. No distinctive minors or sharps or dissonance to deal with.. just… happy majors.

It begs the question: Why do we respond/react/perceive minors as melancholy and majors as swell and golly?!

DominicX's avatar


I knew it would be perceived as confusingly outrageous… :( I’m a bit of a super amateur composer, so I think about these kinds of things. I composed 14 very short variations on a “bergamasca”-type theme not too long ago. I’ve loved the sound for as long as I can remember. Even as a little kid, I was drawn to it.


I asked that one too:

tragiclikebowie's avatar

You can pretty much plug the 1–3-5–1 progression in any key and get the same results. I think it has more to do with the intervals than the actual chords. In solfege it’s do-mi-sol-do but I don’t know if the particular progression has any name.

I know that playing notes of a scale (usually major), in a 1–3-5–1 pattern is called an arpeggio but that’s more of an exercise than anything else.

and I know this isn’t exactly what you were talking about but it’s similar it more refers to individual chords rather than chord progressions.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Doh, nevermind, it’s late and I’m retarded. That would be I-IV-V. Fml.

DominicX's avatar


I’m actually in a music theory class as of now, but I haven’t gone as far as to learn about triads and such (I think it was mentioned once). I plan on continuing to study this topic, so I’ll have to get back to this question once I do. I did know about arpeggios, though.

Also, isn’t the one I referenced 1–4-5–1 rather than 1–3-5–1? do-fa-sol-do?

Edit: haha…‘tis okay, I know what you meant. :)

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Yeah, I’m just dumb. Never mind anything I said!

I-IV-V is from the 12 bar blues.

I was was music major a few years back before I switched and all my theory and harmony knowledge seem to have faded away.

DominicX's avatar



And look at this: It’s really similar to what I was thinking of. Because often I noticed the “bergamasca” thing was modified to have 1–6-4–5-1 (I-vi-IV-V-I), which is extremely common in Danish bubblegum dance music, some of my most favorite music of all time. “Lucky” by Britney Spears has that progression.

A variation of it is 1–6-2–5-1. Much less common, but I’ve heard it too and it sounds really good. I use it all the time in my music.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

It’s so funny how such different music can be structurally the same.

Strauss's avatar

@tragiclikebowie The I-IV-V os one of the progressions used in the 12-bar blues. It also shows up as I-IV-I-V-I, or as I-VI-II-V-I, and many other variations. You see the I-IV-V in many folk songs that aren’t necessarily related to the blues. A good example of that is Spanish Pipe Dream by John Prine.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

I know but the 12 bar blues at the simplest reduction is I-IV-V, I read somewhere, don’t quote me on it though. Plus I said it was from it, not that it was it.

Strauss's avatar

@tragiclikebowie You’re right! I misread you. I have come across it for all the time I’ve been playing guitar (almost 50 yrs?). And I am not trying to minimize the important of the 12-bar blues in Western popular music.

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