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quodlibet

[kwod-luh-bet] /ˈkwɒd ləˌbɛt/
noun
1.
a subtle or elaborate argument or point of debate, usually on a theological or scholastic subject.
2.
Music. a humorous composition consisting of two or more independent and harmonically complementary melodies, usually quotations of well-known tunes, played or sung together, usually to different texts, in a polyphonic arrangement.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin quodlibetum; compare Latin quod libet what pleases, as you please
Related forms
quodlibetic, quodlibetical, adjective
quodlibeticlly, adverb
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for quodlibet

quodlibet

/ˈkwɒdlɪˌbɛt/
noun
1.
a light piece of music based on two or more popular tunes
2.
a subtle argument, esp one prepared as an exercise on a theological topic
Derived Forms
quodlibetical, adjective
quodlibetically, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin, from quod what + libet pleases, that is, whatever you like
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for quodlibet
n.

"a nicety, subtlety," late 14c., Latin, literally "what you will, what you please," from quod "what," neuter of qui (see who) + libet "it pleases" (see love (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for quodlibet

musical composition in which several well-known melodies are combined, either simultaneously or, less frequently, sequentially, for humorous effect. Quodlibet can also refer to an amalgamation of different song texts in a vocal composition. While simultaneous combinations of two or more melodies go back to the 13th century (motets using, for example, a chant melody and a secular tune), quodlibets were especially popular in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Germany numerous instances are found in manuscript collections of polyphonic (multipart) songs. An English example is the Cries of London by Orlando Gibbons. Perhaps the best-known quodlibet is the finale of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations for harpsichord (published 1742). Terms related to quodlibet technique include fricassee (French: "hash"), ensalada (Spanish: "salad"), centone (Italian: "patchwork"), and, in later centuries, medley and potpourri.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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