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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

@TooBlue

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.

@NaturalMineralWater

I asked that one too: http://www.fluther.com/disc/58547/why-does-major-sound-happy-and-minor-sound-sadscary-in-general/

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arpeggio

and I know this isn’t exactly what you were talking about but it’s similar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triad_%28music%29 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

@tragiclikebowie

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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-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

@tragiclikebowie

Thanks!

And look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50s_progression. 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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