melisma

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Ancient Greek μέλισμα ‎(mélisma, song), from μελίζω ‎(melízō, (I) sing, modulate; (I) celebrate in song), from μέλος ‎(mélos, song, tune, melody; limb, part; member)

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

melisma ‎(plural melismas or melismata)

  1. (music) A passage of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in Gregorian chant.
    • 2007, Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road, Sceptre 2008, p. 38:
      At the top of the hill in the archway of the main house, an eyeless old man sat on a bucket, scratching at a two-stringed gourd, warbling weird melismas on a madman's text.
    • 1985, Anthony Burgess, Kingdom of the Wicked:
      A choir sang one of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The mournful melisma accompanied the slow procession to the palace built by Herod the Great, at present untenanted.

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Portuguese[edit]

Noun[edit]

melisma m (plural melismas)

  1. (music) melisma (a passage of several notes sung to one syllable of text)