in music, a short, recurring melodic pattern in the bass part of a composition that serves as the principal structural element. Prototypical instances are found in 13th-century French vocal motets as well as in 15th-century European dances, where a recurrent melody served as a cantus firmus, or fixed theme. With the rise of idiomatic instrumental music in the 16th century, the practice of improvising or composing new melodies above a repeated bass pattern became widely popular, especially in music for the lute and guitar (especially in Italy, England, and Spain) and harpsichord (especially in England); this practice, known in Spanish music as diferencias and elsewhere in Europe as divisions, is an early manifestation of the technique of theme and variations.
Learn more about basso ostinato with a free trial on Britannica.com.
|a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.|
|a fool or simpleton; ninny.|
Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.