88 MPH: Jukebox The Ghost Resurrect The 'Alberti Bass'

Anyone who has seen OurStage artist Jukebox The Ghost perform can attest that the band puts on one hell of a show. Pianist Ben Thornewill rocks back and forth so wildly that he almost falls off his stool. Guitarist Tommy Siegel careens across the stage and drummer Jesse Kristin pounds away on the skins with a huge grin spread across his face. Their sonic output is so full it’s easy to forget they lack a bassist, the traditional fourth member of any rock band. That makes sense because Jukebox The Ghost is no ordinary rock band.

Combining dance beats, instrumental complexity and pop songwriting, the group stands out as a unique act in the crowded indie rock scene.  Their supporting tours with Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies haven’t hurt their cred either. For the past year, they’ve been riding a wave of positive reviews of their sophomore album Everything Under The Sun and will tour Europe this fall. While it isn’t exactly a homecoming for the Philly-based band, the group’s sound is deeply indebted to the European classical tradition. Specifically, the legacy of one Domenico Alberti.

When people list the most famous classical composers of all time, Alberti generally isn’t up there with Mozart and Beethoven. In fact, the majority of the piano sonatas and operas that he wrote are barely remembered and rarely performed. His one lasting contribution to classical music was the Alberti bass, a left-hand piano pattern that outlines the three notes of a triadic chord. For any three-note chord, the Alberti bass pattern arranges the notes in the order of lowest pitch, highest pitch, middle pitch, highest pitch, as shown in the video above.