A short theme, usually in the bass, which is constantly repeated as the other parts of the music vary.
- He produced many fine sets of variations on popular melodies and ground basses as well as stylized dance music (especially pavans and galliards) and such abstract pieces as fantasias and preludes.
- The passacaglia, strictly speaking, pits variations over a ground bass, although most composers from Brahms on shift the bass material around to all the voices, which he does as well.
- L' Arpeggiata's way of improvising on these ground basses and repeated harmonic patterns is deliciously entertaining.
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