false note

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false note (plural false notes)

  1. (music) An incorrect note which is sung or played in a musical performance.
    • 1819, Washington Irving, “The Lovers”, in Bracebridge Hall:
      Sometimes he even thrums a little on the piano, and takes a part in a trio, in which his voice can generally be distinguished by a certain quavering tone, and an occasional false note.
    • 1860, Wilkie Collins, chapter 15, in The Woman in White:
      Her fingers wavered on the piano—she struck a false note, confused herself in trying to set it right, and dropped her hands angrily on her lap.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) In a remark or narrative, an indication (as discerned by the listener or reader) of untruth, insincerity, or inconsistency.
  3. (idiomatic, by extension) In a non-verbal display or presentation, an indication of incongruity or inappropriateness.
    • 2009 February 20, Hilary Alexander, “London Fashion Week: Caroline Charles”, in Telegraph, UK, retrieved 16 April 2015:
      The only false note in an otherwise classic and elegant collection was the gratuitous flash of black fishnet stockings and suspenders under otherwise unremarkable paisley and floral shirts.


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