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How to Play Flowing Style Accompaniments To Enhance Your Songs with Calm and Fluid Left-hand Backgrounds

Online Lessons with Diana Mascari
Diana Mascari-Piano Teacher for Adults

In this article, you'll learn two of the most useful accompaniment patterns that will enhance your songs with a flowing style background played by the left hand.


What Is the Split Chord Accompaniment?

When chord patterns are made from three-note chords such a C major, A minor, F major over C (F/C), you use the Alberti Bass. To learn about Alberti Bass get my free course: Song Playing Starter Kit for Pianists. When you are using four-note chords to accompany standards from the Great American Songbook, the very fact that each chord has four different tones in it requires a different type of pattern. The type of chords I'm referring to include C major 7, D minor 7, Bb7, G7/D, Em7b5, A7/E, C#dim7, etc. In the chart below, you'll see the patterns for each type for chord or inversion. You will see Diana's "live" demonstration of these in the video below.

The Split Chord Left Hand Patterns


Split Chord Pattern for two beats

C Major 7




D minor 7




C# diminished 7




What Is the Rolling 10th Accompaniment?

10ths are extended versions of chords where the distance between the bottom note and the top note is ten letter names. This means that the interval between the bottom note and the top note is a 10th. If you play a C major chord as a 10th, it is low C up to G-then up to high E. Once you know the 10th of a certain chord, you can set up a 4 beat pattern in a flowing style called rolling 10ths. So the C-G-highE becomes C-G-high E-G-high E-G-high E -G

Counting EVEN 8th notes 1 & 2& 3& 4&.

Chords that are NOT 10ths

There are a few different types of chords that can work with the rolling 10th accompaniment even though they are not 10ths. You can use the same basic rhythmic pattern with minor 7th chords, 6th chords, dominant 7th chords, diminished chords and of course major 7th chords. The main thing is to make sure that you count EVEN 8th notes 1 & 2& 3& 4&.

Two Chords in a Measure in the Rolling 10th System

If there are two chords in a measure, you will have two patterns which have two beats each instead of the 4 beat pattern I explained above in this section.

You'll see these in the chart below.

Left Hand Patterns for Rolling 10ths, Other Chords,

As Well As Patterns for Two Chords Per Measure

C Major 7th

C-G-high E-G-high E-G-high E-G



D minor 7th

D-A-high F-A-high F-A-high F-A



Two Chords Per Measure

Each chord gets 2 beats totaling 1&2&3&4&

C Major 7th-C6

C-G-high E-G-C-G-A-G

D minor 7th- G7

D-A-high F-A-G-D-F-D


Some final thoughts about recognizing the most effective accompaniment pattern to use with a particular song

Just so you know, learning to recognize the best accompaniment pattern to use with a song depends on musical taste and there is a lot of room for individual choices for what to use. However, the more you understand how to play different accompaniment patterns, including the split chords and rolling 10ths, the easier it will be for you the make the right choice for the most effective accompaniment pattern to use with each of the songs you play.


Here are Diana's two arrangements of Long Ago and Far Away using both the split chord accompaniment and the rolling 10ths accompaniment. These are included in the video below.

Here are links to the sheet music for Diana's arrangements of

Long Ago and Far Away


Here's how Diana plays Long Ago and Far Away with both the slit chord and the rolling 10ths left-hand accompaniment patterns:


About Diana Mascari

Online Lessons with Diana Mascari
Diana Mascari-Piano Teacher for Adults

Diana Mascari has taught piano to hundreds of adults and children for more than 45 years. She holds two Masters of Music degrees from New England Conservatory and taught keyboard harmony to music majors while pursuing doctoral studies at Boston University. She was the music director for a multi-cultural Presbyterian Church for four decades, and her jazz and classical compositions have been performed worldwide. Diana has been performing for more than 50 years. From solo jazz piano to commercial groups touring the East Coast to leading her own jazz ensembles at colleges and jazz clubs throughout New England.

To get Her FREE Course: Song Playing Starter Kit for Pianists, click here

To schedule your FREE 30 Minute Piano Lesson Consultation on Zoom,


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