[ob-li-gah-toh; Italian awb-blee-gah-taw] Music.
(used as a musical direction) obligatory or indispensable; so important that it cannot be omitted.
noun, plural obbligatos, obbligati [ob-li-gah-tee; Italian awb-blee-gah-tee] .
an obbligato part or accompaniment.
a continuing or persistent subordinate or background motif.
a subordinate part of a solo.
Also, obligato.

1715–25; < Italian: bound, obliged < Latin obligātus; see obligate

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World English Dictionary
obbligato or music obligato (ˌɒblɪˈɡɑːtəʊ)
1.  not to be omitted in performance
n , -tos, -ti
2.  an essential part in a score: with oboe obbligato
[C18: from Italian, from obbligare to oblige]
obligato or music obligato (ˌɒblɪˈɡɑːtəʊ, -tiː)
[C18: from Italian, from obbligare to oblige]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

musical instruction, 1724, from It., lit. "obligated," from L. obligatus, pp. of obligare "to bind" (see oblige).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


(Italian: "obligatory"), in music, essential but subordinate instrumental part. For example, in an 18th-century aria with trumpet obbligato, the trumpet part, although serving as accompaniment to the voice, may be as brilliant in its writing as that of the voice itself. The term obbligato accompaniment has a more specialized meaning in some 18th-century music (see accompaniment)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Perhaps it is adequate, but its strikes a layman's ear as a faint obbligato to his portrayal of the athletic and amorous brigand.
Also includes vn obbligato part, holograph, in one half page.
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