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[pawr-tuh-men-toh, pohr-; Italian pawr-tah-men-taw] /ˌpɔr təˈmɛn toʊ, ˌpoʊr-; Italian ˌpɔr tɑˈmɛn tɔ/
noun, plural portamenti
[pawr-tuh-men-tee, pohr-; Italian pawr-tah-men-tee] /ˌpɔr təˈmɛn ti, ˌpoʊr-; Italian ˌpɔr tɑˈmɛn ti/ (Show IPA),
portamentos. Music.
a passing or gliding from one pitch or tone to another with a smooth progression.
Origin of portamento
1765-75; < Italian: fingering, literally, a bearing, carrying. See port5, -ment Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for portamento
Historical Examples
  • The portamento being an embellishment that pertains to the cantabile, it is very little used in declamatory singing.

    Style in Singing W. E. Haslam
  • Does she overdo the use of portamento, messa di voce, and such devices?

    The Merry-Go-Round Carl Van Vechten
  • It should be practiced very slowly at first, and with portamento.

  • It is even likely that she will improve her knowledge of portamento while she is washing dishes.

    The Merry-Go-Round Carl Van Vechten
  • The portamento—gliding from one note to another—is also a lovely effect.

    Violin Mastery Frederick H. Martens
  • At one point the boys took a portamento—a grace which very few choirmasters would attempt with boys.

    The Boy's Voice J. Spencer Curwen
  • You, who know what is meant by singing with portamento, would find rare satisfaction in her singing of it.

  • Every note must be distinct, and not the faintest suspicion of a "slur" or portamento can be allowed.

    Advice to Singers Frederick James Crowest
  • The tones must also follow each other cleanly, unless the character of the music makes the use of portamento desirable.

    Essentials in Conducting Karl Wilson Gehrkens
  • Some minor effects utilized in Style in singing may be briefly alluded to: portamento; variations of Tempo.

    Style in Singing W. E. Haslam
British Dictionary definitions for portamento


noun (pl) -ti (-tɪ)
(music) a smooth slide from one note to another in which intervening notes are not separately discernible Compare glissando
Word Origin
C18: from Italian: a carrying, from Latin portāre to carry
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
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