Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[het-uh-rof-uh-nee] /ˌhɛt əˈrɒf ə ni/
noun, Music.
the simultaneous performance of the same melodic line, with slight individual variations, by two or more performers.
1940-45; hetero- + -phony
Related forms
[het-er-uh-fon-ik] /ˌhɛt ər əˈfɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for heterophony


the simultaneous performance of different versions of the same melody by different voices or instruments
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for heterophony

in music, texture resulting from simultaneous performances of melodic variants of the same tune, typical of Middle Eastern practices as well as of a vast array of folk music. Balkan Slavic epic singers, for example, accompany themselves heterophonically on the gusle (fiddle). In Persian art music, instrumentalists are expected to vary the singers' improvised lines. A complex heterophony, with different types of variation assigned to different instruments, characterizes the gamelan (tuned percussion orchestra) music of Indonesia. Medieval European monophonic song (unharmonized melody), too, appears to have been heterophonically accompanied on many occasions. Heterophony also occurs in jazz, especially of the Dixieland and Chicago varieties

Learn more about heterophony with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for heterophony

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for heterophony

Scrabble Words With Friends