Many synthesizers, both hardware and software, include an arpeggiator feature, which is a built-in function that automatically generates arpeggios based on the notes being played on the keyboard or input via MIDI. The arpeggiator can be customized with various settings, such as:
- Direction: Determines the order in which the notes are played, such as ascending (lowest to highest), descending (highest to lowest), or alternating between ascending and descending.
- Pattern: Specifies a predefined sequence or pattern for the arpeggio, which can include rhythmic variations, chord inversions, or repeating specific notes.
- Octave range: Defines the number of octaves over which the arpeggio will be played. For example, selecting a two-octave range will cause the arpeggio to play the same pattern in the original octave and the octave above.
- Rate: Controls the speed at which the notes in the arpeggio are played, often in relation to a global tempo or clock source.
- Hold or latch: When engaged, this function maintains the arpeggio even after the keys are released, allowing the pattern to continue playing until the hold or latch is disengaged.
Arpeggiators can be used creatively in synthesizer-based music to generate complex and evolving melodic patterns, providing a hands-free way to create rhythmic and harmonic interest. They are commonly used in various electronic music genres, including ambient, trance, and synth-pop.